Cult associations in the post-classical polis
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This thesis investigates the emergence, spread and characteristics of voluntary associations in the Greek cities of the Aegean world in the Hellenistic and Roman periods. It is based on archaeological and epigraphic evidence and contains two case studies on Athens and Delos and three thematic chapters. The first chapter provides an introduction and definition of the subject matter, material, methods and state of research and the leading questions. The second chapter is a case study in which the evidence referring to voluntary associations in post-classical Athens is analysed. Chapter three comprises another case-study, investigating the evidence from Delos. Chapter four investigates the people involved in voluntary associations from founders to benefactors and ordinary members. I compare the evidence from various places and cults, focusing on the origins of people and their choice of deity. The fifth chapter discusses the location of buildings within cities, the kinds of building and facilities used by voluntary associations, and possible patterns in the structure of buildings. In chapter six I analyse the relationship between voluntary associations and civic institutions in the cities of Athens, Delos and Rhodes. Chapter seven provides a conclusion of the thesis. The concept of the voluntary association offered worshippers in Greek poleis an opportunity to establish a religious identity that was characterised by new social spaces, new rituals and new approaches to older rituals that had previously not been provided by the polis religion. The successful establishment of a voluntary association was secured by various factors, yet one main concept seems pre-eminent: by using the pre-existing terminology and categories of civic institutions of each polis for their own purposes, voluntary associations of worshippers paved a way of communicating with both the civic authorities and individual inhabitants. In doing so, they also signalled openness to their environment, an aspect of particular importance to those worshippers who had immigrated to a new city.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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