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Regionalism in Hellenistic and Roman Asia Minor

 | 
Hugh Elton
, 
Gary Reger

From the Greek Polis to the Greco-Roman Polis Augustus and the Artemision of Ephesos

Guy Mac Lean Rogers

Texte intégral

  • 1 Knibbe 1981, B1, 14-15 (IK, 14-Ephesos, 1001).

1Incised into one of the Doric columns of the prytaneion of Ephesos, under the name of a prytanis, Nikomachos Theudas, there is a list in Greek of six eusebeis (pious) Kuretes1. Reading this list of eusebeis Kuretes from the reign of Tiberius, citizens of Ephesos might have been struck by the fact that four of the six Kuretes had Roman names. But it is far more likely that ancient readers of this text would have reflected upon other recent changes with respect to the Artemision and the polis of Ephesos which this inscription signified.

2By its very location, this inscription first of all would have reminded ancient readers that the Kuretes, who banged their shields atop Mt. Solmissos each year on the sixth of May to frighten Hera away from Leto during the reënactment of the birth of Artemis, were no longer based at the Artemision. Furthermore, the prytanis, under whose name the list of Kuretes appeared, now directed the reënactment of Artemis’ birth during the celebration of mysteries each year. Finally, the inscription did not mention the administration of the Artemision, or the Artemision, at all.

3How did the shield-banging Kuretes of Ephesos come to be based at the prytaneion? How and why did the prytanis of the polis become responsible for the celebration of Artemis’ birth at Ephesos? What is the wider significance of the fact that the polis of Ephesos, not the administration of the Artemision, came to control the celebration of the foundation myth of the greatest city in the province of Asia?

  • 2 E. g. Rives 1995; Schulte 1994; Friesen 1993.

4In recent years, many scholars rightly have emphasized the active role of provincials in defining religious and political relations with Rome2. At the same time, it is important to recognize that at times the Roman government not only initiated changes in religious and political relations with the provincials, but also interceded directly in the operation of the institutions of cities. In Ephesos epigraphical and archaeological evidence from the polis and the nearby villages of Büyük Kale, Küçük Kale, and Çatal, shows that Octavian Augustus himself first intervened directly in the financial affairs of the Artemision, and then re-defined the spatial and political relationship between the Artemision and the polis of Ephesos. Perhaps somewhat later, Augustus probably took control of the central foundation myth of the city away from the Artemision and handed it over to the prytanis. Thereafter, the polis, through the prytanis of the city, was in charge of how the birth of Artemis was celebrated at the mysteries.

5Augustus’ transfer of the celebration of the mysteries of Artemis from the Artemision to the prytaneion of Ephesos represents one of the decisive moments in the story of how and why the Greek mysteries of Artemis became Graeco-Roman mysteries. At the same time, the transition from Greek mysteries of Artemis to Graeco-Roman mysteries is part of the larger story of how and why the Greek polis of Ephesos became a Graeco-Roman polis within a Roman province.

  • 3 Plut., Ant., 24; for his reception see Pelling 1988, 176-181.

6After the defeat of Brutus and Cassus at Philippi on 23 October 42 BC, Antony came to Ephesos in 41 BC3. In partial compensation for the cooperation of the priests of the Artemision, Antony extended the area of asylum surrounding the temple established by Mithridates; Mithridates had shot an arrow from the corner of the roof of the temple and thought the arrow had traveled a little more than a stadion. Anthony doubled that distance and thereby included within the area of asylum of the sanctuary part of the polis itself (Strabo 14.1.23).

  • 4 For these events, see Millar 1984, 37-38.
  • 5 D. C. 51.20.6; for the date see Karwiese 1995, 78; for the cult and the temple see Friesen 1993, 1 (...)
  • 6 D. C. 51.20.7: pros° taje. The location of this temple is disputed; I am inclined to agree with Sc (...)

7After Antony’s defeat in 31 BC, Octavian immediately came to Ephesos4. At that time, Ephesos became the political and religious focal point of the Graeco-Roman world. It is against the immediate background of Actium and Octavian’s presence in Ephesos after the battle that Octavian’s permission for the dedication of a sacred precinct in Ephesos to Rome and to his father Caesar, whom he named the hero Iulius, as reported by Cass. Dio, must be seen5. Unfortunately Dio does not record to whom Octavian gave the permission, although his language implies that the initiative did not lie with Octavian. Nevertheless, he commanded the Romans resident in Ephesos to pay honor to the two divinities6. Octavian also permitted the aliens, whom he called Hellenes, to consecrate precincts to himself, the Asians to have theirs in Pergamon and the Bithynians in Nikomedia (Cass. Dio 51.20.7).

8It was presumably at the very same time that these new cults were being installed in 29 BC that the geographer Strabo visited Ephesos and gathered the material for his gloss on the mysteries of Artemis at Ephesos which he later would include in his Geography (14.1.20). He recounts the myth of the birth of Artemis and Apollo to Leto with the help of Ortygia, after whom the place was named, and the Kuretes, who “by the din of their arms frightened Hera out of her wits when she was jealously spying on Leto”. He ends his brief account of Artemis’ birth at Ephesos with the statement that “A general festival is held there annually; and by a certain custom the neoi vie for the honour, particularly in the splendour of their banquets there. At that time, also, the archeion of the Kuretes holds symposia and performs certain mystic sacrifices”.

  • 7 Picard 1922, 278; for subsequent treatments of the festival see Keil 1939, 127; Knibbe 1981, 70-73

9This passage presents the most important evidence for the association of the Kuretes with the myth of the birth of Artemis, and the celebration of the mysteries. According to C. Picard, it was at the “general festival” described by Strabo that the reënactment of the birth of Artemis (which Picard called “le drama de la Nativité”) and the celebration of the mysteries by the Kuretes took place7. Tacitus (Ann., 3.61) relates that in AD 26 the Ephesians themselves told the story of Artemis’ birth in the grove of Ortygia to the Roman Senate, in the context of a reexamination of rights of asylum. Thus far no scholar has successfully challenged the connection Picard made between the Kuretes and the reënactment of Artemis’ birth at Ortygia each year on 6 Thargelion. But what was the archeion of the Kuretes and where was the archeion based?

  • 8 See Picard 1922, 75-76, 277-287; Oliver 1941, 53, no 1; Robert 1946b; Knibbe 1981, 13-14, 74.
  • 9 Knibbe 1981, 74.

10We find our first substantive item of information related to the Kuretes in a fragmentary inscription from the early Hellenistic period, which records a grant of citizenship for Euphronios of Akarnania in 302 BC (IK, 15-Ephesos, 1449, l. 1-6)8. The Kuretes appear, along with the neopoiai (functionaries of the Artemision) as appointed (katastathentes), probably by the Gerousia and the epikletoi (since it was the decree of these two bodies that was subsequently brought before the Boule for discussion), in regard to matters then discussed before the Boule; the central matter for discussion must have been whether Euphronios deserved Ephesian citizenship for helping the sanctuary to obtain freedom from the billeting of troops and the right of the goddess to be exempt from duty. Based upon the association of the Kuretes with the neopoiai in this inscription, Dieter Knibbe concluded that the Kuretes were based at the Artemision during the Hellenistic period9.

  • 10 For the inscription see Keil 1932, 82, no 2; Knibbe 1981, 74, no A1.

11Our only other piece of evidence related to the Kuretes from this period is another fragmentary inscription, probably from the early third century BC, which records some kind of agreement between those renting out (misthosamenoi) a building where frankincense was sold (libanotopolion) and the renters (IK, 17.2-Ephesos, 4102)10. Two (?) of the neopoiai and probably six Kuretes attested to the fairness of the agreement about leasing rights of the frankincense sales (for sacrifices). Here we find the Kuretes once again associated with the neopoiai, but not assessing the merits of an individual for a grant of Ephesian citizenship. Rather, the Kuretes and the neopoiai function in a notary capacity. Although the location of the libanotopolion has not been identified, it is at least possible that the building was located somewhere within the temenos of the Artemision.

12At the time when Strabo visited the city, the Kuretes, like the neopoiai, probably still were attached administratively to the temple of Artemis; their transfer to the prytaneion should be associated with the publication of the Kuretes’ lists, which date from the early first century AD.

  • 11 Knibbe 1981, 85.
  • 12 Picard 1922, 300; cf. Knibbe 1981, 73, n. 25.

13If we return now to the passage from Strabo (14.1.20), the archeion of the Kuretes appears at the end of the first century BC, if not completely in charge of the celebration of the mysteries, certainly participating in the actual celebration of the mysteries. The mystic sacrifices that Strabo describes undoubtedly were central to the celebration of the mysteries of Artemis. Unfortunately, Strabo tells us nothing about the form which these mystic sacrifices took; according to Knibbe, these were animal sacrifices, accompanied by incense and drink offerings11. It is much more difficult to say what made the sacrifices of the Kuretes at Ephesos “mystic.” Without going into detail, Picard has suggested that the “mystic sacrifices” involved initiation rituals12; this may suit the context, but it cannot be proven.

  • 13 Knibbe 1981, 75.
  • 14 Knibbe et al. 1979, 139.
  • 15 IK, 17.2-Ephesos, 3503-3505; cf. Knibbe et al. 1979, 139-147.

14Strabo’s gloss upon the archeion of the Kuretes and their mystic sacrifices is the last time we meet the Kuretes before Octavian/Augustus himself and imperial legates restored some of the revenues of the goddess, re-established the boundaries of the sanctuary, and limited some of its sacred privileges. During the proconsulate of Sextus Appuleius, probably in 23/22 BC, Augustus restored the goddess’ sacred revenues (IK, 12-Ephesos, 459)13. It is probable that Pompey, the assassins of Caesar, and Antony all had appropriated funds generated from these sacred fields to use in their struggles against Caesar, the Triumvirs, and Octavian14. Two inscriptions (IK, 17.2-Ephesos, 3501-3502) probably refer to the restoration of the revenues under Augustus, and we have three of the actual boundary stones found in the villages of Küçük Kale and Çatal (just south of ancient Larisa?)15.

  • 16 Augustus’ adoptive father twice prevented his rivals from removing funds from the temple of Artemi (...)

15The inscription from 23/22 BC is important because it shows that Augustus could and did intervene in the affairs of a sanctuary located within a province which had been given back to the Senate and the people; indeed, the inscription is quite emphatic on this point. The restoration of the revenues was made “[Iud] icio Ca[esaris]” (line 1) (or Greek in l. 7-8). Augustus undoubtedly was motivated by a desire to see that the “Bank of Asia” was placed on a secure financial footing, after the attempts of his predecessors to make unscheduled withdrawals16. The temple of Artemis had to be stable financially if Ephesos and Asia as a whole was to remain at peace. But if Augustus showed little hesitation about involving himself in the financial affairs of the goddess, presumably both to her own and his own ultimate advantage, he showed no less willingness to limit her rights in other areas.

  • 17 For Lysimachos and the Artemision see Lund 1992, 83, 118, and especially 135.

16Augustus nullified Antony’s extension of the asylum of the sanctuary after Antony himself had doubled the area included in Mithridates’ expansion. As we have seen, Antony’s extension included part of the polis itself. Although it often has been overlooked, Strabo’s account indicates that before Antony’s extension of the asylum, the sanctuary and the polis were at least physically separate entities. Antony’s extension of the asylum broke down the clear, physical boundary between the sanctuary and the polis. From Augustus’ point of view, including a part of the polis within the area of refuge of the sanctuary proved to be harmful; it had put the polis in the power of criminals, kakourgois (Strabo 14.1.23). Augustus Caesar therefore re-established the physical boundary between the sanctuary and the polis, which in turn helped to keep the two entities politically separate as well. Following in the footsteps of Lysimachos17, Augustus literally drew a line in the sand, or more accurately, the flood plain of the Marnas river, between the Artemision and the polis.

  • 18 Wood 1877, no 1 (Inscriptions from the Peribolus wall of the Artemisium and the Augusteum); (IK, 1 (...)

17Although we do not know when Augustus nullified Antony’s extension, an inscription found in place by J. T. Wood shows that by 6/5 BC there was an Augusteum, perhaps next to, or within, the precinct of the Artemision itself18. In that year, at any rate, Augustus caused the temple of Artemis and the Augusteum to be surrounded by a wall; the cost of the wall was to be defrayed from the sacred revenues of goddess. The legate Sextus Lartidius had been put in charge of the work. It is possible that this inscription marked the new boundaries of the asylum of the temple. Perhaps more importantly, it reveals that, perhaps after limiting the area of asylum and separating the sanctuary from the polis, Augustus, through his legate, was intervening directly in the financial affairs of the sanctuary as well.

  • 19 Wood 1877, no 2, 3 (Inscriptions from the Peribolus wall of the Artemisium and the Augusteum); (IK(...)

18Two inscriptions from the same year (6/5 BC) from the peribolus wall of the Artemision perhaps add some additional information about Augustus’ cancellation of Antony’s extension of the asylum of the temple19. Under the direction of the legate Sextus Lartidius once again, Augustus had caused to be erected to Artemis sacred boundary-pillars of the roads and watercourses. It is likely that these inscriptions reflect the need to define the limits of the authority of the goddess over the roads which led to the temple itself. The purpose of the sacred stelai mentioned in the two inscriptions (IK, 15-Ephesos 1523 l. 5 and 1524 l. 5) was to mark the length and width of the roadways claimed by the goddess.

  • 20 Wood 1877, no 2 (Inscriptions from the Peribolus wall of the Artemisium and the Augusteum); (IK, 1 (...)

19Another very fragmentary inscription, probably also from the reign of Augustus, refers to the work (probably) of the horistai, who marked the boundaries that had been restored by Augustus, referred to in the previous two inscriptions (IK, 15-Ephesos 1523, 1524)20. In the fragmentary inscription, the authors record that they had set up a fifteenth stele against the sacred land, a sixteenth against the temples, where the stone fence was, opposite to that which had been set up, a seventeenth stele against some other boundaries, and then, in like manner, the eighteenth, nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first stelai just opposite the other specified landmarks. The complete inscription undoubtedly gave a full list of all the stelai which marked off the land of the goddess. Unfortunately, due to the inscription’s fragmentary nature, we cannot tell exactly where the sacred land of the goddess ended and that of the polis began.

  • 21 IK 17.2-Ephesos, 3514-3516 also gives fragmentary references to boundary stones which may be assoc (...)

20Yet another fragmentary inscription, broken into two parts, the first found built into a wall in Selçuk and the second discovered in Ephesos itself, probably also refers to the work of the horistai during the reign of Augustus; in a context which cannot be completely reconstructed, there are references to the horistai, probably some of the actual boundary stones, some kind of financial manager, probably of the sacred monies of the deities, and perhaps places or stelai on the left side of the sanctuary (IK, 17.2-Ephesos, 3513 [a] [b]). In the second fragment of the inscription, we find references to the placing of stelai, the financial manager again, the act of setting up the stelai, and the first boundary stone. It is possible that this fragmentary inscription gives some kind of record of the management of the process of setting up the boundary stones by the horistai. Most importantly, in l. 7 of the first fragment, this inscription perhaps suggests that the work described was paid for out of the sacred monies, just as we have discovered that Augustus ordered in the case of the wall surrounding the sanctuary and the Augusteum21. Indeed, it is possible that this fragmentary inscription is the record of that work.

21The evidence from Strabo and these inscriptions shows that, although citizens of Ephesos may have taken the initiative in the organization of the double cult of Roma and Iulius in 29 BC, by 6/5 BC the emperor Augustus himself and his legate were intervening directly in the affairs of the Artemision. Augustus’ restoration of the revenues from the sacred fields to the goddess must be seen against the background of the use of those revenues by his Roman predecessors and rivals; Augustus wanted to deny the use of those sacred revenues to any potential political rivals. At the same time, he must have wanted to put the sanctuary on a firm financial basis.

22Because of his fear of “criminal” elements within the polis, Augustus limited the extension of the asylum area of the sanctuary. The effect of this measure was to draw a hard line on the ground between the sanctuary and the polis. Moreover, as we have seen, there are some indications that he caused the drawing of that line to be paid for by the sanctuary. Finally, we know that when a wall was put up surrounding the Artemision and the Augusteum, it was the sanctuary which was directed to pay for the construction of the wall.

  • 22 See Knibbe 1981, 75.

23It is against the immediate chronological background of this imperial intervention into the financial affairs of the Artemision, its spatial boundaries, and its relationship to the polis, that the removal of the Kuretes from the Artemision to the newly built prytaneion of the polis must be viewed. Our first piece of epigraphical evidence that the Kuretes had moved from the Artemision to the prytaneion comes from the list of Kuretes mentioned at the beginning of this paper. In that list, after the name of the prytanis, Nikomachos Theudas, we found the names of six Kuretes. Since Nikomachos’ prytany probably should be dated to the early years of the reign of Tiberius (AD 14-37)22, the removal of the Kuretes from the Artemision to the prytaneion could be dated to the reign of Tiberius. Nevertheless, there are circumstantial reasons for believing that the transfer took place earlier, perhaps around the turn of the first century BC, or shortly thereafter.

  • 23 Knibbe 1981, 75; we possess a fragmentary inscription setting out the details of some of the work (...)
  • 24 Both statues are now displayed in the Selçuk Museum (inv. no 712 and 718); on the cultic character (...)

24Such a date would certainly fit much more closely with the completion date of the prytaneion itself. The excavators of the prytaneion have dated this completely new structure to the last few years of the first century BC, or the first years of the new millennium23. A statue of Artemis found in front of the building, and another, carefully buried within the prytaneion itself, indicate that this new prytaneion probably was at least a sanctuary of Artemis as well, rather than of Hestia Boulaia alone24.

25The transfer of the Kuretes to the prytaneion in the middle of the reign of Augustus would also fit much better into the pattern of Augustus’ interactions with the Artemision than Tiberius’. As we have seen, Augustus himself was directly involved in managing the revenues and sacred rights of the Artemision from 29 BC, right up to the time when construction on the prytaneion already must have begun. Indeed, as we have seen, there seems to have been a new imperial initiative undertaken around 6/5 BC, after significant dealings with the temple in the immediate aftermath of Actium. In this regard, Augustus’ actions are perfectly consistent with the kind of pragmatic, trial and error approach, that Augustus practiced in other areas of his regime, perhaps most notably with regard to his constitutional position.

26The evidence for Tiberius’ interventions into the affairs of the temple stands out by contrast. We have no record of Tiberius adjusting the area of asylum of the sanctuary or restoring revenues of sacred fields to the goddess. Although, in the absence of further evidence, it must remain only a hypothesis, it is reasonable to suppose that the Kuretes were transferred to the prytaneion as soon as it was finished, or shortly thereafter.

  • 25 Knibbe 1981, 75-76.

27Dieter Knibbe, who published the inscriptions from the prytaneion, believes that the transfer of the Kuretes should be associated with the policies of Augustus. Knibbe has argued that the move was part of the new political order established by Augustus. In this order, the temple of Artemis was stripped of its political role in the life of the city: while the sacred revenues of Artemis were restored, the area within which the temple claimed the right of asylum (which had been expanded by Mithridates and Antony) was limited. Another part of the Augustan policy was to move the Kuretes from the temple of Artemis to the prytaneion, which was to be the new religious center of “Roman” Ephesos25.

  • 26 See Scherrer 1995, 5.

28In this area of the polis, the monumental building complex of the Augustan era, including the three-aisled Basilike Stoa, symbolized the unification of foreigners and Roman citizens as residents of the free city of Ephesos26.

29It is quite true that, based at the prytaneion, the Kuretes are no longer found recommending citizenship for foreigners like Euphronios of Akarnania, as they had done during the Hellenistic era (IK, 15-Ephesos, 1449). Nor do we find the imperial era Kuretes of the prytaneion attesting to the fairness of leases, as they also had done during the early third century BC (IK, 17.2-Ephesos, 4102). The transfer of the Kuretes from the Artemision to the prytaneion undoubtedly removed from the Artemision an association which had played an important role in the politics of the city during the Hellenistic period. After the transfer of the Kuretes from the Artemision to the new prytaneion, we do not find the association playing an overtly political role again.

  • 27 Knibbe 1981, 91 ff, 102 ff, 162-164, 77, 94, 99.

30But the removal of the Kuretes to the prytaneion also simultaneously robbed the Artemision of some of its religious power. What Augustus did was to take control of at least part of the central foundation myth of the city away from the administration of the temple and hand it over to new management, specifically, the prytanis. The prytanis was an official of the polis, who reported, not to the administration of the temple, but to the demos and to the boule of Ephesos. In the course of the first century AD the number of Roman citizens who served as prytaneis, bouleutai and Kuretes steadily increased; by the middle of the second century AD Roman citizens dominated all three of these institutions numerically27.

31While the temple of Artemis remained the center for the overall cult of the goddess, the prytaneion became the office for the celebration of her birth and the mysteries of Artemis. The boule and demos of the polis now controlled how the birth of Artemis at Ephesos would be celebrated. Augustus did not just strip the Artemision of some of its political power; rather Augustus diminished the overall power of the sanctuary with respect to the polis of Ephesos.

Notes

1 Knibbe 1981, B1, 14-15 (IK, 14-Ephesos, 1001).

2 E. g. Rives 1995; Schulte 1994; Friesen 1993.

3 Plut., Ant., 24; for his reception see Pelling 1988, 176-181.

4 For these events, see Millar 1984, 37-38.

5 D. C. 51.20.6; for the date see Karwiese 1995, 78; for the cult and the temple see Friesen 1993, 11, n. 21.

6 D. C. 51.20.7: pros° taje. The location of this temple is disputed; I am inclined to agree with Scherrer 1995, 4 that it should be identified with the six by ten column temple in the western section of the Upper Agora.

7 Picard 1922, 278; for subsequent treatments of the festival see Keil 1939, 127; Knibbe 1981, 70-73.

8 See Picard 1922, 75-76, 277-287; Oliver 1941, 53, no 1; Robert 1946b; Knibbe 1981, 13-14, 74.

9 Knibbe 1981, 74.

10 For the inscription see Keil 1932, 82, no 2; Knibbe 1981, 74, no A1.

11 Knibbe 1981, 85.

12 Picard 1922, 300; cf. Knibbe 1981, 73, n. 25.

13 Knibbe 1981, 75.

14 Knibbe et al. 1979, 139.

15 IK, 17.2-Ephesos, 3503-3505; cf. Knibbe et al. 1979, 139-147.

16 Augustus’ adoptive father twice prevented his rivals from removing funds from the temple of Artemis: first, when the news that Caesar had crossed the seas with his legions led to the departure of Scipio from Ephesos and put an abrupt end to his plans for withdrawing sums of money from the temple (Caes., B. Civ., 3.33); and later, when Caesar actually arrived in Asia, he found that T. Ampius had attempted to remove sums of money from the temple but had fled when interupted by Caesar’s arrival (Caes., B. Civ., 3.105).

17 For Lysimachos and the Artemision see Lund 1992, 83, 118, and especially 135.

18 Wood 1877, no 1 (Inscriptions from the Peribolus wall of the Artemisium and the Augusteum); (IK, 15-Ephesos, 1522).

19 Wood 1877, no 2, 3 (Inscriptions from the Peribolus wall of the Artemisium and the Augusteum); (IK, 15-Ephesos, 1523, 1524).

20 Wood 1877, no 2 (Inscriptions from the Peribolus wall of the Artemisium and the Augusteum); (IK, 15-Ephesos, 1525), combining the two fragments found by Wood and the third fragment associated with them by Merkelbach.

21 IK 17.2-Ephesos, 3514-3516 also gives fragmentary references to boundary stones which may be associated with this work.

22 See Knibbe 1981, 75.

23 Knibbe 1981, 75; we possess a fragmentary inscription setting out the details of some of the work on the architectural elements of the new prytaneion but, unfortunately, the inscription is undated; for discussions of the prytaneion inscription see Miltner 1959, 295-296; also J. and L. Robert, “Bull. Ép.” 1967, 512.

24 Both statues are now displayed in the Selçuk Museum (inv. no 712 and 718); on the cultic character of the prytaneion, see Knibbe 1995, 146.

25 Knibbe 1981, 75-76.

26 See Scherrer 1995, 5.

27 Knibbe 1981, 91 ff, 102 ff, 162-164, 77, 94, 99.

Auteur

Macricostas chair of Hellenic and Modern Greek Studies, Western Connecticut State University

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