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Ritual and Communication in the Graeco-Roman World

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Eftychia Stavrianopoulou

Ritual Traditions in the Discourse of the Imperial Period

Stephan Hotz

Texte intégral

  • 1 Pausanias, VIII, 31, 9 – 32, 3.
  • 2 Paus., VIII, 15, 5: ἐνταῦθα ἔτι ϰαὶ Ἀπόλλωνι Φενεᾶται ϰαὶ Ἀρτέμιδι θύουσιν.

1If one accompanies Pausanias on his way through Arcadian Megalopolis in the 2nd century AD, it is remarkable how often he talks of ruined temples: this apparently was the fate of the temple of Athena Polias and that of Hera; of the sanctuary of the Muses, of Hermes, and of Apollo only foundations remained, according to Pausanias, and nothing was left of the temple of Herakles, but an altar. Even worse was the condition of the temple of Dionysos, which had been struck by lightning some two lifetimes ago, but had not been rebuilt.1 Although Pausanias himself reports that the inhabitants of Pheneos, an Arcadian town, carried out the sacrificial rituals for Apollo even in the ruins of their temple,2 it seems very probable that the dilapidation of temples, which could be observed in many places, went hand in hand with a neglect of the traditional rituals for the gods (sacrifices, mystery festivals, banquets).

2The notion of ‘neglect of traditional rituals’ subsumes many different situations, which can often only be vaguely grasped in the sources. We should distinguish between a threatening and an already occurring neglect. The former connotes the questioning of rituals, whereas the latter indicates that rituals are carried out only to a more limited extent or are no longer practiced. There were local initiatives, the common purpose of which was to counteract the negligence on both levels and to restore cult traditions or to confirm them. This will be shown in the following overview of the epigraphic evidence, which ranges from the 1st to the 3rd century AD, and which has an emphasis on Asia Minor. In the first part of the paper (§1) I will present a selection of epigraphic sources concerning the restoration of neglected old cultic traditions. Following the presentation of the evidence I will consider (§2) possible causes of neglect as well as the initiators (§3), the addressees, and the strategies used in the discourses (§4).

1. Evidence for the restoration of cult traditions

  • 3 I.Didyma 199, 1. 6-7.

3During the reign of Augustus, the Milesian Epinikos, about whom no further information can be obtained from the epigraphic evidence of that Ionian city, attempted to renew the tradition of sacrifices and cult activities for Zeus Soter (π[αρ]ὰ Δ<ί>[α Σ]ωτῆρα θυσίαν ϰαὶ ἱερουγίαν) as annual rituals.3

  • 4 In the scholarly discussion the dates of the resolution vary between the time of Sulla and the Imp (...)
  • 5 SEG 26, 121, 1. 7.

4A decree from Athens (SEG 26, 121),4 probably passed also under the first Princeps (10 or 3/2 BC), stipulated the restoration of some 80 sanctuaries for gods and heroes together with their rituals ([τὰς τῶν θεῶν ϰαὶ τῶν ἡρώων θυσία]ς ϰαὶ τειμὰς ἀνεῖται) in all of Attica.5

  • 6 I.Labraunda 54A with the comments of the editor (p. 87-88).
  • 7 Cf. I.Labraunda 54B.

5From the sanctuary of Zeus Labraundos comes a very fragmentary inscription, dated by J. Crampa to the Early Empire.6 It includes cult regulations for sacrificial rituals during the festival of Zeus from the reign of the Karian dynast Maussolos (mid-4th century BC) and – judging from the letter-forms – was re-inscribed in the Imperial Period probably due to the restoration of the festival at Labraunda.7

  • 8 IG VII 2712, 1. 56. Cf. L. Robert, Opera minora selecta. Épigraphie et antiquités grecques VII, Am (...)
  • 9 IG VII 2712, 1. 67.

6In the Boeotian city of Akraiphia, during the reign of Caligula, a respected citizen named Epaminondas undertook the initiative to renew the festival in honour of Apollo Ptoos, which had been interrupted for a period of thirty years (ἐγ[λε]λοιπότος γὰρ ἤδη τριάϰοντα ἔτη τοῦ τῶν Πτωΐων ἀγῶνος).8 According to the inscription, Epaminondas renewed the sacrifice (ἐπιτελεῖ τὰς θυσίας) and arranged the procession and the cyclic dance according to the customs of the ancestors ([τ]ὰς δὲ πατρίους πομπὰς μεγάλας ϰαὶ τὴν τῶν συρτῶν πάτριο[ν] ὄρχησιν)9.

  • 10 LSAM 53 (= Milet VI 1, 134).
  • 11 Cf. A. Chaniotis, “Negotiating Religion in the Cities of the Eastern Roman Empire”, Kernos 16 (200 (...)
  • 12 LSAM 53, 1. 13-16.
  • 13 LSAM 53, 1. 16-17.

7The next example is a Milesian decree dated to the end of the lst century AD, the initiator of which was the president (archiprytanis) of the council of Miletos, Tiberius Claudius Damas.10 The resolution concerned two banquets connected with the cult personnel of the kosmoi and the molpoi.11 While the prophet of the oracle at Didyma was responsible for the feasting of the kosmoi, the stephanophoros was to feast the molpoi.12 The resolution of the demos of Miletos to oblige prophets and stephanophoroi to arrange the feasting according to ancient tradition (ϰατὰ τὰ π[ά]τρια ἔθη) can be taken as an indication that this ritual custom had been neglected.’13

  • 14 I.Ephesos 1024.
  • 15 I.Ephesos 1024, 1. 8-9.
  • 16 I.Ephesos 1024, 1. 11-12.

8According to an Ephesian honorary inscription of the years 105-120 AD,14 the prytanis Dionysidoros had altars in the sanctuaries in the entire territory of the city either repaired or built in order to ensure the due ritual offerings to the gods.”15 The prytanis did not leave matters with a one-time renovation, but effected a popular resolution that all of his measures should be recorded (διὰ χρηματισμοῦ),16 in order to oblige future prytaneis to act respectively.

  • 17 On the Ephesian gerousia: J.H. Oliver, The Sacred Gerousia, Baltimore, 1941, p. 20-27.
  • 18 I.Ephesos 26, 1. 5: ἀϰ τῶν ϰοινῶν τῆς γερουσίας χρημάτων.
  • 19 I.Ephesos 26, 1. 5-6: [λαβόντας εὐωχεῖν ϰαὶ θύειν] τῇ θεῷ.
  • 20 I.Ephesos 26, 1. 7-8.

9Another Ephesian inscription from the reign of Emperor Commodus (180-192 AD) records a decree of the gerousia, which in Imperial times was responsible for financing the cult of Artemis.17 In the narratio of the decree it is stated that the Elders are to receive a sum, now not identifiable, from the funds of the gerousia,18 so that sacrifices and banquets for the goddess during the mysteries could be hold.19 Tiberius Claudius Nikomedes, the legal representative of the gerousia (ϰαθολιϰὸς ἔϰδιϰος τοῦ συνεδρίου), provided the necessary money through a private foundation for these sacrifices and banquets.20

  • 21 I.Ephesos 10 (= LSS 121)
  • 22 I.Ephesos 10, 1. 3-4.
  • 23 I.Ephesos 10, 1. 5-7.
  • 24 I.Ephesos 10, 1. 14-15.

10An unknown prytanis from Ephesos had an ancient cult law re-inscribed in excerpts in the 2nd or 3rd century AD.21 This inscription summarizes the ritual obligations of a prytanis, which consisted primarily of the offering of sacrifices. According to this, the prytanis had to light fires and to burn frankincense and aromatic scents on all altars (ἐπὶ τῶν βωμῶν πάντων)22 as well as to provide 365 sacrificial animals at his own cost – one animal for every day of the year (ἱερεῖα προσάγοντα τοῖς θεοῖς νενομισμέναις ἡμέραις τὸν ἀριθμὸν τξε’).23 Furthermore, he was obliged to arrange and perform the processions and nocturnal religious celebrations, according to the regulations of the forefathers (δεῖ γενέσθαι ϰατὰ τὰ πάτρια).24 Prytaneis who neglected these duties had to pay a fine that was used, among other things, for the renovation of the Prytaneion.

  • 25 R. Merkelbach, J. Stauber, Steinepigramme aus dem griechischen Osten I, Stuttgart/ Leipzig, 1998 ( (...)

11In conclusion, an oracular statement of Apollo Didymaios from the 2nd or 3rd century AD should be mentioned. The enquiry of the priestess of Artemis, Alexandra, as to whether the mysteries should continue to be celebrated for the goddess, was answered by the priests with a confirmation of the ritual tradition: σύμβολα, ῥέζ[ειν] Δηοῦς ϰαὶ ϰούρης Δηωίδος ὄργια τῇδε.25

2. Possible causes of neglect

12The initiatives seen in the aforementioned inscriptions can be interpreted e contrario as an indication that cult rituals considered traditional were being neglected. All these initiatives testify to measures that had to be taken because a cessation of a ritual had already occurred or was threatening to occur. There are nonetheless a number of differences among them. The sources permit us to identify quite different causes of neglect.

  • 26 I.Ephesos 26, 1. 6.
  • 27 I.Ephesos 25.

13The decree of the Ephesian gerousia explicitly names the cause of neglect of the mysteries for Artemis, a custom (ἔθος) that had existed for a long time: financial difficulties had put a stop to sacrifices and banquets (ἔϰδιαν χρημάτων).26 A lack of money appears to have plagued the gerousia rather often, for only twenty years before (AD 162/3) the logistes of this Ephesian board appealed to the Emperors Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus for help.27

  • 28 SEG 15, 330.

14Although the inscription from Akraiphia does not reveal why the festival for Apollo Ptoos was not celebrated for thirty years, financial problems will have played a role here too. This is suggested, at least, by another honorary decree of this Boeotian city in AD 42, which concerns the revival of the cult of Apollo Ptoos after it had suffered financial difficulties owing to a poor harvest. Similar financial straits could, then, have led to the festival being cancelled prior to its restitution by Epaminondas.28

  • 29 Cassius Dio, XLVIII, 26.
  • 30 E.g. Tralleis, Olympia. A list can be found in L. Robert, Études anatoliennes. Recherches sur les (...)

15While the neglect of rituals may have been caused by financial problems, these were not the only cause. In the case of the festival of Zeus at Labraunda J. Crampa put forward a different hypothesis as to why this was interrupted. Crampa has pointed to a report by the historian Cassius Dio (3rd century AD) on the involvement of Mylasa in the civil wars of the late Roman Republic.29 As cult rituals frequently were cancelled owing to conditions of war,30 it is possible that in the case of Zeus Labraundos the chaos of civil war had led to a reduction or even cessation of the rituals. When Mylasa was incorporated in the Roman province of Asia under Augustus (12 AD) the Carian city was able to recover from the chaos of the civil war, a recovery, which included the reinstatement of cult life in Labraunda.

  • 31 I.Didyma 199, 1. 9-10.
  • 32 Aelius Aristides, 40, 38-39.

16The inscription of Epinikos of Miletos explicitly states that nobody had remembered the sacrifice for Zeus Soter for quite a long time already (διὰ τὸ [ἐ]ϰ πλείονος χρόνου μηδένα ὐπομεμ[ε]νηϰέναι),31 and this can be taken as a clear indication for rituals being forgotten. This potential cause of the neglect of ritual actions is also illustrated by a tale from Aelius Aristides’ reports on sacred matters. The orator describes how the population of Asia Minor, terrified by numerous earthquakes in AD 149/150, hurried to undertake processions to the altars of the gods, in order to ask for divine intervention (ἱϰετηρίας); with time this did, however, die down again (τελευτῶτες ἱϰετεύοντες ἀπεῖπον).32

  • 33 SGO, 01/19/05. 2-7.
  • 34 An oracle of the Imperial period from Didyma (I.Didyma 499), unfortunately very fragmentary, may h (...)

17The two enquiries of the priestess of Artemis, Alexandra, in the oracle at Didyma suggest that uncertainty about the efficacy of rituals could be a further reason for rituals being threatened with neglect. In her first question the priestess, who was consulted by the Milesians as a seeress, enquires worriedly why she has received no more dream visions from the gods since taking office.33 Apparently these problems of a cult functionary entailed consequences beyond the merely mantic aspect of the cult. It was unclear whether rituals for the goddess should be continued, if Artemis remained silent and the cult appeared to be of no use for human beings. Alexandra’s second consultation of the oracle shows, indeed, that the continuation of the rituals was definitely doubtful. The exact words of her question are not preserved, but the content can be fairly confidently conjectured from the answer: Should the mysteries of the goddess be continued at all, when she no longer appears to her people?34

3. The initiators of the discourse

18If one turns one’s gaze from the causes of the neglect to the attempts made to preserve or reinvigorate traditional rituals, the first question that poses itself is that of who was responsible for these initiatives. As far as the source material provides information on this point, we can say that they were exclusively members of the ‘educated elite’ of the polis. Of the above-mentioned people, Damas, Nikomedes, Dionysidoros, and Epaminondas, as well as the unknown prytanis from Ephesos, all belonged to this class of well-off benefactors. Where did they obtain the impulses for their actions, what was their motivation? Do their initiatives only show an interest in preserving tradition, or were there other motives? These questions will now be addressed more closely.

  • 35 I.Ephesos 18B, 1. 1-7; See now B. Dignas, Economy of the Sacred in Hellenistic and Roman Asia Mino (...)

19A glance at the dates of the initiatives shows clearly that several attempts at the ananeosis of rituals were made during the reign of Augustus (Epinikos of Miletos, Mylasa, Athens). A connection could be seen here between these initiatives and the attempts by the princeps to restore the cult activities everywhere in the Empire, which had been ceased or neglected as a consequence of the confusion of the civil strife and the resulting financial troubles. A representative piece of evidence in this regard is the decree issued by the consuls Octavian and Agrippa in the year 27 BC, which ordered the restoration of sacred territories expropriated for other purposes to the poleis of which they were part; Octavian supported in particular the Artemision of Ephesos.35

  • 36 The scholarship on the interest in the Greek past under Roman rule is very extensive; see e.g., E. (...)
  • 37 Cf. Weiss, l.c. (n. 36), p. 193-194; Chaniotis, o.c. (n. 36), p. 139.

20The frequency of local initiatives, which can be observed in the 2nd century AD, suggests a likelihood of a connection with the particular interest of the urban elite in the past, which is displayed in the Greek-speaking East during the first centuries of the Empire. This recurrence to the past took on various forms, as is well known.36 Thus, the literature followed the style and diction of older epochs, personal names patterned on Homeric examples, old rituals and sanctuaries were described (Pausanias, Plutarch), mythographic works by historians sought to prove the relationship between poleis, the memory of important events in Greek history was kept alive (the Persian Wars). This interest fulfilled an important task in the present, as this reference to tradition was used as an aid to determine one’s position in the present. The revitalisation of old rituals was intended to strengthen the patriotic feelings of the citizen towards his homeland and to create a more noticeable profile in an increasingly multicultural world.37

  • 38 LSAM 53, 1. 17-18.
  • 39 LSAM 53, 1. 28.
  • 40 Cf. the archival research of the priest Leon of Panamara: I Stratonikeia 7 with the comments of Ch (...)

21Against this background, it is not surprising that many inscriptions clearly reflect an interest in the past. In the case of Damas, for example, it is not only possible to confirm this in a general way, but also in a detail of the inscription. In his proposal he refers to older laws and resolutions on this matter (προνενομοθέτηται ϰ[αὶ] προεψήϕισται),38 which is not just a hollow phrase. Damas must have read the old resolutions and absorbed them. How can one otherwise explain that 500 staters are threatened as a fine in case of a potential breach of the resolution?39 This currency was in use in the poleis of Asia Minor in Classical times, perhaps still in Hellenistic times. Damas must have borrowed this fine from a considerably older document.40 Even though the currency as such was no longer familiar, its use gave the resolution a ‘traditional’ character.

  • 41 M. Wörrle, “Die lex sacra von der Hallenstrasse (Inv. 1965, 20), in C. Habicht (ed.), Die Inschri (...)

22The same recourse to traditions no longer current can be observed in the case of an Ephesian prytanis of the 2nd/3rd centuries AD, who had old cult laws re-inscribed.41 By means of collecting and archiving of older texts the corpus of one single tradition has been created here, which was to function as a point of reference and commencement, thus a kind of canon.

  • 42 Cf. Chaniotis, l.c. (n. 11; 2003), p. 183.

23These initiatives must be seen in the light of attempts by the urban elites to construct an identity and a social position for themselves, but the personal motivation of each initiator should also be taken into consideration. Thus, Damas’ initiative was based not only on his interest in preserving tradition, but also on his personal piety. Piety is not just an empty word in his case, but a plausible motivation, as A. Chaniotis has persuasively shown.42 For if his piety were but an excuse, and if he had really intended simply to increase his reputation, then he would have had to organise a banquet for all the people (not just the cult personnel) or a spectacular agon, as many of his class actually did.

24While in these initiatives the purpose was to restore ritual traditions and to strengthen the identity of the polis involved, there were also initiatives in which an interest in the past was conjoined to the new developments of the present. The examples of Epaminondas, Nikomedes and Dionysidoros show, in fact, how tradition can be applied as an argument for adapting to new political and religious constellations.

  • 43 IG VII 2712, 1. 57-58: ϕιλοδοξήσας τὸ ἀνανεώσασθαι τὴν ἀρχαιότητα τοῦ ἀγῶνος.
  • 44 IG VII 2712, 1. 58-59: τῶν μεγάλων Πτωίων ϰαὶ Καισαρήων ϰτίστης. The combination of the emperor cu (...)
  • 45 IG VII 2712, 1. 37-46.
  • 46 IG VII 2712, 1. 74. I owe the interpretation of σϰηνίτης to A. Chaniotis.
  • 47 IG VII 2712, 1. 82-85.

25Even though Epaminondas emphasises that he has taken the great age and the ancient traditions into consideration in renewing the festival for Apollo Ptoos,43 it cannot be overlooked that he also had other motivations, and that his festival was not just simply an unchanged re-introduction of the old one. Epaminondas connected the old rituals for Apollo with the new element of the Imperial cult and thus created a new festival.44 This step, of course, cannot be considered in isolation; it is rather a part of a comprehensive strategy by means of which Epaminondas wished to make his loyalty known to the ruler. Already before the renewal of the Ptoia Epaminondas had volunteered to accompany the Panhellenic congratulatory mission to Caligula’s ascension to the throne, when no other member of the Boeotian elite was willing to do so.45 By establishing a personal relationship to the princeps, he was attempting to increase his prestige among the other members of the elite. Thus, Epaminondas presents us with the figure of a representative of the local upper class who intended to raise his profile among this elite by declaring particular loyalty to the Emperor. But he did not want to win respect through his relationship to the Emperor alone; this was also to be achieved by beneficial acts for the people, such as the distributions of money and food during the festival as well as banquets and wine. How much of this was really an innovation on the part of Epaminondas and how much had already existed before the festival was interrupted is difficult to tell. The only certain innovation (ὃ μηδεὶς ἄλλος τῶν προτέρων ἐποίησεν) was providing food for festival overseers and participants.46 Without any doubt the numerous gifts to the various social groups made by Epaminondas show that he was attempting to increase his prestige. His efforts were certainly successful: the citizens of the polis gathered for a spontaneous demonstration in his honour,47 and his expenses for the festival were the talk of the neighbouring cities.

  • 48 I Ephesos 26, 1. 24.

26The festival of the Ptoia in Akraiphia is not the only example of a connection between old and revered cults and the cult of the emperor. Nikomedes did much the same thing by connecting the sacrifice and mysteries of Artemis with a sacrificial ritual for the divine Emperor Commodus. Like in the case of Epaminondas, Nikomedes’ major motive consisted in the upgrading of his personal social position. Nikomedes’ family acquired a permanent right to a seat in the gerousia of Ephesos (πατρογέ[ρ]οντας),48 a right which should not be underestimated.

  • 49 I Ephesos 1024, 1. 10.

27There is no doubt that Dionysidoros of Ephesos was a pious man and very attached to the traditions of his home. After all, he himself paid for repairs to the altars, took over the cost of the sacrifices, and put forward a proposal to record all of his measures in order to obligate his successors to do the same.49 But he, too, was more than simply a ‘traditionalist’, for by establishing an oracle in the prytaneion of the city he ensured that the cult obligations of an Ephesian prytanis would be extended by an element that had not previously existed in Ephesos.

4. The addresses and the persuasion strategies

28Independently of their various motives, all the men who actively involved themselves in the preservation or renewal of traditional rituals had to persuade their fellow citizens of the importance, urgency or use of their suggestions. In other words, they had to face public debate, although in different contexts. Their inscriptions alone indicate that, beyond individual cases, a wider public was to be influenced in favour of preservation of old rituals.

  • 50 Cf. Chaniotis, o.c. (n. 36), p. 276.
  • 51 I Ephesos 1201A, 1. 1-4: νόμοι πόλ[εως πάτρια ἀναγεγραμμένοι εἰσὶν] ἐν τοῖς ὐμετέροις [ἀρχείοις·· (...)
  • 52 Unfortunately, the stele was found in the street paving in front of the theatre, so that its origi (...)

29The re-inscribing of older cult regulations as seen in the example of the Ephesian inscription can serve as a proof of such discussions.50 A very fragmentary inscription from the same period is closely connected to the recording of old cult laws; it contains the speech of a prytanis, who exhorts all citizens, and in particular his colleagues in office, to follow the laws of their forefathers, which are recorded in the archive.51 Possibly both the renewed inscription and the speech are to be ascribed to the initiative of the same person. The magistrate may have had the old leges sacrae inscribed on a stele in the archive first, and then approached the public with the speech. The richly decorated stele, with its Ionian aedicula and ornamented top, appears to reflect the connection with tradition in its exterior.52

  • 53 LSAM 53, 1. 4-10.

30Whatever the context of the above-named initiatives, their initiators had to use arguments in order to win support for the matter. The appeal to collective piety and the consciousness of tradition represented an important means of persuasion, and can be seen in the reasons given for the popular resolution initiated by Damas: ὁ δῆμος ἡμῶν τὴν ἐϰ προγόνων εἰσϕερόμενος εὐσέβειαν εἴς τε … Ἀπόλλωνα Διδυμέα ϰαὶ εἰς τὸν Δελϕείνιον … ϰαὶ εἰς τοὺς … Σεβαστούς.53

  • 54 L.Ephesos 26, 1. 2-4.
  • 55 Cf. G. Rogers, The Sacred Identity of Ephesos. Foundation Myths of a Roman City, London/ New York, (...)

31The Ephesian gerousia appealed to a similar sort of ‘living’ tradition in the attempt to revive the sacrifice and mysteries for Artemis, by pointing out that King Lysimachos had formerly regulated the cult: [ἐν μὲν τοῖς ἄν]ωθεν ὑπὸ τὸν οἰϰισμὸν τῆς πόλεως [χρόνοις Λυσίμαχον τὸν βασιλέα …] πάντα περί τε μυστηρίων ϰαὶ θυσιῶν [… ἄριστα διαϰεϰοσμηϰέναι].54 The position occupied by Lysimachos in the consciousness of the citizens,55 as the new founder of the polis, makes it probable that this was not a reference to some long-forgotten past, but an important argument in the discussion of the Elders.

  • 56 IG VII 2712, 1. 78-79.
  • 57 Dion Chrysostomos, XXXI, 102.

32Epaminondas, too, appealed to the common tradition, but he added a further element to the discussion. There is an explicit mention in the inscription of the fact that the so brilliantly revived festival became the talk of the town in neighbouring poleis.56 This can be seen as an indication that Epaminondas used the concept of competition as an argument in favour of his initiative. His fellow citizens were to understand that their polis would be able to outclass other towns in this manner. For, as the rhetor Dion of Prusa stated, the Greek poleis of the Imperial period were no longer able to distinguish themselves through wars and colonisation, but certainly by means of sacrifices and festivals.57

33The idea of competition among cities or sanctuaries also played an important role in the arguments of the Ephesian prytanis Dionysidoros. He will have reminded his fellow citizens that the Ionian metropolis had no oracle of its own, while at no great distance the oracle of Clarian Apollo flourished. If Ephesos founded a competing oracular cult of this kind in the city itself, then this would not only increase the fame of the city, but also be financially advantageous. Oracles brought visitors, who would spend money for goods and services in Ephesos and thus contribute to the prosperity and economic wealth of the city.

  • 58 According to the model of cult economy as presented by A. Michaels, Zur Dynamik von Ritualkomplexe (...)
  • 59 I.Ephesos 26, 1. 11-12: ἔξωθεν ϰαὶ ἐϰ τῆς το[ῦ Νειϰομήδους ϕιλοτειμίας λαβείν] ἀττιϰὴν μίαν.

34This last point, the expectation of economic advantages, represented a strong argument as such. We may assume that a discussion preceded every resolution of the popular assembly or other political body concerning the revival of a ritual, a discussion in which the costs and benefits of this step were compared. What were the arguments presented by the initiators to justify the renewal of sacrifices, mystery festivals, and similar rituals, and how did their opponents present their position?58 The concrete arguments may have varied from case to case, but the collective benefit to be expected from the suggested initiative must have been one of the persuasion strategies. This benefit consisted not only of a general increase in the prestige of the town as compared with other poleis, as in the case of the festival of Akraiphia, but also in material advantages for the initiators. Nikomedes, for instance, did not just call on the memory of King Lysimachos. Following a tendency, which can be observed in other places during the Imperial period, he combined sacrifice and banquets with distributions of money for the members of the gerousia.59 Epaminondas, too, did not forget to attract support among the population not only by pointing to the expected financial benefits, but also with the distribution of money, gifts of sweet wine or extensive feasts.

35Financial considerations could sometimes be used in favor of rituals, but in some cases they could become a source of opposition. In Miletos at the end of the 1st century AD we can assume that the molpoi and the kosmoi preferred to receive payments rather than participate in the traditional ritual banquet. In Athens (cf. also further below) a small percentage of the population was not interested in the revival of cults in Attica, as these citizens had in all probability acquired the properties on which the corresponding sanctuaries were located, and understandably they were reluctant to give them back.

36Since decrees, in effect, only record the end of a public process of discussion, but not its course, they tend to give the impression that a general consensus had been reached on the basis of the arguments mentioned. The rare examples, which throw some light on possible opposition, are all the more interesting for this reason.

  • 60 Cf N.A. Robertson, “Point of Precedence at Plataia. The dispute between Athens and Sparta over lea (...)

37Fortunately, the opposition is quite visible in one of the initiatives investigated here. For, on the basis of the resolution for the restoration of some 80 sanctuaries in Attika, we can see that these measures did not correspond to the will of the entire demos. The list of restored sanctuaries clearly shows that this resolution emphasized the city’s traditions. Most sanctuaries had some connection to the Persian Wars and thus to a famous epoch in the history of the Athenian polis, which was still commemorated centuries later with pride.60 However, not all Athenian citizens recognized the necessity of reviving these traditions, which had been suspended in the meantime.

  • 61 SEG 26, 121, 1. 3.
  • 62 Cf. Culley, l.c. (n. 4), p. 288.
  • 63 SEG 26, 121, 1. 8-9.

38The decree records, in fact, the votes cast against this resolution: 155 Athenian citizens refused to sanction the resolution.61 But what does this ballot reflect? For what reasons did these citizens vote against the resolution? G.R. Culley has examined this question and put forth the hypothesis that the restoration of so many sanctuaries would have been a considerable burden on Athens, in view of the costs for sacrificial animals, incenses etc.; this reason resulted in its rejection.62 This hypothesis is certainly justified, but the motivation of the opponents can be established in much more concrete terms, if one examines more closely the conditions of execution connected to the restitution. There, the strategos Metrodoros is instructed to prevent the following in future. Transactions concerning the property of sanctuaries and its misappropriation for security or as gifts (ἀποτίμημα ἢ δῶρον λαβεῖν).63 If one considers these provisions, then it seems quite probable that hidden behind the 155 opposing votes were those in some way in possession of a sanctuary (and its sacral land). The resolution, then, would have meant a financial loss for them. In comparison to the 3461 votes in favour of the resolution, the 155 opposing votes represent a minority, but one which preferred personal gain to a glorious past, and defended its position correspondingly. The cults and rites had indeed been suspended long since, not only for the 155 opponents, but also for those in favour of the resolution – as the detailed description of all places involved and their history makes probable.

39The observation that opposition to resolutions of restoration could exist throws up another question: what were the long-term chances of success for such an initiative of restoration? Some sources do permit us to draw a few conclusions in this direction, based on indications.

  • 64 I Ephesos 26, 1. 16.

40The initiative of Nikomedes of Ephesos is such a case. Here members of the gerousia obliged themselves to carry out the rituals without curtailment, even if Nikomedes’ foundation could no longer function as a source of funding. In this case the income from other resources was to be used for sacrifices and banquets.64 In other words, the supporters of new or revived regulations were aware of the fact that their initiatives could be short lived; therefore, they attempted to take measures in order to counteract this. Nikomedes’ initiative represents the impulse of a single individual, but the majority of the corporation (the gerousia) supported and guaranteed it.

  • 65 Cf. Chaniotis, l.c. (n. 11; 2003) p. 180.

41The example of Damas of Miletos, too, confronts us with this same problem. Achieving broad acceptance in the community certainly increased the chances of survival of such an initiative. The threat of sanctions in case the regulation was somehow violated represented a kind of security mechanism. Thus, Damas had to use all his prestige in the ekklesia to overcome opposition. This opposition can undoubtedly be seen in the fact that a catalogue of sanctions for potential contravention is considerably longer than the actual regulations of the decree.65 Why should Damas have insisted on such numerous mechanisms of enforcement, unless he had seen threats to his regulations from various sides? There were, firstly, the citizens of Miletos, who were excluded from the revived ritual for the most part; the prophets in their turn could find the duties onerous, so that they would attempt to substitute the banquets with payments to the molpoi and kosmoi. Damas wanted to see this, at least, prohibited under threat of sanctions. Not even the cult personnel themselves, then, appear to have supported the renewal of ritual traditions, but preferred a payment instead. The fact that Damas himself had to take on two further terms of office as prophet also illuminates the limited chances for his ‘attempt at revival’. Further, fragmentary inscriptions of a later time, in which other prophets claimed merit for the renewal of ritual traditions, indicate that these traditions fell into disuse and had to be renewed. Continuous success clearly was not the lot of these initiatives, but rather a changing course of restitutions and neglect.

42This variation between restitution and neglect can be confirmed for the ritual duties of the Ephesian prytaneis as well. Twice the attempt was made to regulate these duties anew: Dionysidoros renewed numerous altars in the city territory during his term of office as a prytanis, and managed to have the assembly approve the recording of his activity as a guide for later officials. Around two hundred years later, another holder of this office compiled a collection of ancient cult regulations (ϰεϕάλαιον νόμου πατρίου) and had this inscription put up at the town theatre. From this we may conclude that the Ephesian prytaneis were repeatedly neglectful of their ritual duties. The reasons for this may be seen most probably in the financial burden imposed by this office – one need only recall the costs for 365 sacrificial animals per year -, which many attempted to avoid. There was, however, evidently no will to alter these circumstances either. Seen against this background, the initiatives of a Dionysidoros and his colleague are to be evaluated as nothing more than the activities of individuals interrupting long periods of neglect. Characteristically, Dionysidoros had the altars renovated that had been so long in disuse and for this reason in poor condition.

  • 66 I.Didyma 199.
  • 67 I.Didyma 262; 263.

43The case of Epinikos of Miletos, too, is an impressive example in the series of initiatives whose success was limited. The Milesians did succeed in having a commission of synedroi and strategoi set up,66 who dealt with the suggestion that a sacrifice for Zeus should be revived. But what he attained with this committee was much less than what his compatriot Damas was to attain. Epinikos could not even get the popular assembly to debate the matter. The commission only permitted him to pay for the ritual out of his own pocket. The limited interest shown by the polis of Miletos in the revival of this ritual can also be seen in the fact that the commission did not even give Epinikos money to have these meagre results inscribed; he himself had to pay for a stele with the names of those who followed his example. For in the years following Epinikos’ initiative there were some citizens who were prepared to carry out the sacrifice, although their names cannot be identified owing to the fragmentary condition of the stele. The oracular inscription of a certain Theon, son of Theon, hardly twenty years after Epinikos, is the last epigraphical evidence for the sacrifice being carried out.67 After this, the traces of the renewed sacrifice vanish.

44‘There are men who do not forget the old ways’, notes Athenaios (XIV, 632a-b). The analysis of the individual cases permits the conclusion that recourse to tradition or to the traditional cults and rituals was used both as an argument for their preservation and revival and for their alteration. But we cannot assume that these initiatives were sucessful in a long term. Where the local context permits an examination of the chances of success, this examination frequently shows how temporary these attempts of restitution were. But this did not discourage the initiators from trying again and again to persuade their fellow-citizens of the worth of a dying or already extinct traditional ritual practice.

Notes

1 Pausanias, VIII, 31, 9 – 32, 3.

2 Paus., VIII, 15, 5: ἐνταῦθα ἔτι ϰαὶ Ἀπόλλωνι Φενεᾶται ϰαὶ Ἀρτέμιδι θύουσιν.

3 I.Didyma 199, 1. 6-7.

4 In the scholarly discussion the dates of the resolution vary between the time of Sulla and the Imperial period. Here, I follow their attribution to the Augustan period, which, in my opinion, G.R. Culley, “The Restoration of Sanctuaries in Attica”, Hesperia 44 (1975), p. 207-223 has quite persuasively supported with orthographic, palaeographic, prosopographic and archaeological evidence. For this text see more recently W. Ameling, K. Bringmann, B. Schmidt-Dounas, Schenkungen hellenistischer Herrscher an griechische Städte und Heiligtümer. Teil 1. Zeugnisse und Kommentare, Berlin, 1995, p. 60-61, n° 26a. For further bibliography (in particular for the date) see SEG 31, 107 and 33, 136.

5 SEG 26, 121, 1. 7.

6 I.Labraunda 54A with the comments of the editor (p. 87-88).

7 Cf. I.Labraunda 54B.

8 IG VII 2712, 1. 56. Cf. L. Robert, Opera minora selecta. Épigraphie et antiquités grecques VII, Amsterdam, 1990, p. 761.

9 IG VII 2712, 1. 67.

10 LSAM 53 (= Milet VI 1, 134).

11 Cf. A. Chaniotis, “Negotiating Religion in the Cities of the Eastern Roman Empire”, Kernos 16 (2003), p. 179-180; id., “Das Bankett des Damas und der Hymnos des Sosandros: Offentlicher Diskurs über Rituale in den griechischen Städten der Kaiserzeit”, in D. Harth, G. Schenk (eds), Ritualdynamik. Kulturübergreifende Studien zur Theorie und Geschichte rituellen Handelns, Heidelberg, 2004, p. 291-304. The association of the kosmoi was responsible for the ornamentation of the sanctuary in the cult of Apollo Didymaios, whereas the molpoi were singers in the cult of Apollo Delphinios.

12 LSAM 53, 1. 13-16.

13 LSAM 53, 1. 16-17.

14 I.Ephesos 1024.

15 I.Ephesos 1024, 1. 8-9.

16 I.Ephesos 1024, 1. 11-12.

17 On the Ephesian gerousia: J.H. Oliver, The Sacred Gerousia, Baltimore, 1941, p. 20-27.

18 I.Ephesos 26, 1. 5: ἀϰ τῶν ϰοινῶν τῆς γερουσίας χρημάτων.

19 I.Ephesos 26, 1. 5-6: [λαβόντας εὐωχεῖν ϰαὶ θύειν] τῇ θεῷ.

20 I.Ephesos 26, 1. 7-8.

21 I.Ephesos 10 (= LSS 121)

22 I.Ephesos 10, 1. 3-4.

23 I.Ephesos 10, 1. 5-7.

24 I.Ephesos 10, 1. 14-15.

25 R. Merkelbach, J. Stauber, Steinepigramme aus dem griechischen Osten I, Stuttgart/ Leipzig, 1998 (= SGO), 01/19/05. 10-11.

26 I.Ephesos 26, 1. 6.

27 I.Ephesos 25.

28 SEG 15, 330.

29 Cassius Dio, XLVIII, 26.

30 E.g. Tralleis, Olympia. A list can be found in L. Robert, Études anatoliennes. Recherches sur les inscriptions grecques de l’Asie mineure, Paris, 1937, p. 426-429. See also A. Chaniotis, War in the Hellenistic World: A Social and Cultural History, Oxford, 2005, p. 122 and 162.

31 I.Didyma 199, 1. 9-10.

32 Aelius Aristides, 40, 38-39.

33 SGO, 01/19/05. 2-7.

34 An oracle of the Imperial period from Didyma (I.Didyma 499), unfortunately very fragmentary, may have had a similar background: a man named […]μμίας Ἑρμ[ίου] asks whether a festival should take place earlier than usual. In this case, too, the god recommended keeping up the traditional rites ([ἐ]στὶ τελεῖν [πατριϰ]ῇ γνώμη λῷον ϰ[αὶ ἄμεινον]).

35 I.Ephesos 18B, 1. 1-7; See now B. Dignas, Economy of the Sacred in Hellenistic and Roman Asia Minor, Oxford, 2002, p. 170-177.

36 The scholarship on the interest in the Greek past under Roman rule is very extensive; see e.g., E.L. Bowie, “Greeks and the Past in the Second Sophistic”, in M.I. Finley (ed.), Studies in Ancient Society, London, 1974, p. 166-209; P. Weiss, “Lebendiger Mythos. Gründerheroen und städtische Gründungstraditionen im griechisch-römischen Osten”, WJA 10 (1984), p. 179-208; A. Chaniotis, Historie und Historiker in den griechischen Inschriften, Stuttgart, 1988, p. 138; R. Lindner, Mythos und Identität. Studien zur Selbstdarstellung kleinasiatischer Städte in der römischen Kaiserzeit, Stuttgart, 1994; A. Spawforth, “Symbol of Unity? The Persian Wars Tradition in the Roman Empire”, in S. Hornblower (ed.), Greek Historiography, Oxford, 1994, p. 233-247; S. Swain, Hellenism and Empire: Language, Classicism, and Power in the Greek World, AD 50-250, Oxford, 1996; CP. Jones, Kinship and Diplomacy in the Ancient World, Cambridge Ma. / London, 1999; T.A. Schmitz, “Performing History in the Second Sophistic”, in M. Zimmermann (ed.), Geschichtsschreihung und politischer Wandel im 3- Jh. n. Chr., Stuttgart, 1999, p. 71-92; P. Veyne, “L’identité grecque devant Rome et l’empereur”, REG 112 (1999), p. 510-567; D. Braund, J. Wilkins (eds), Athenaeus and his World. Reading Greek Culture in the Roman Empire, Exeter, 2000; S. Goldhill (ed.), Being Greek under Rome. Cultural Identity, the Second Sophistic and the Development of Empire, Cambridge, 2001. There are more examples of this antiquarian interest in literature of the Imperial period, but also in inscriptions. Thus, according to Athenaios, Emperor Hadrian is supposed to have founded a cult of the Athenian statesman Alkibiades (Athenaios, XIII, 574), and the polis of Bargylia renewed a cult of Alexander the Great under the Empire (OGIS 3).

37 Cf. Weiss, l.c. (n. 36), p. 193-194; Chaniotis, o.c. (n. 36), p. 139.

38 LSAM 53, 1. 17-18.

39 LSAM 53, 1. 28.

40 Cf. the archival research of the priest Leon of Panamara: I Stratonikeia 7 with the comments of Chaniotis, o.c. (n. 36), p. 302-303.

41 M. Wörrle, “Die lex sacra von der Hallenstrasse (Inv. 1965, 20), in C. Habicht (ed.), Die Inschriften des Asktepions, Berlin, 1969, p. 186 n. 99.

42 Cf. Chaniotis, l.c. (n. 11; 2003), p. 183.

43 IG VII 2712, 1. 57-58: ϕιλοδοξήσας τὸ ἀνανεώσασθαι τὴν ἀρχαιότητα τοῦ ἀγῶνος.

44 IG VII 2712, 1. 58-59: τῶν μεγάλων Πτωίων ϰαὶ Καισαρήων ϰτίστης. The combination of the emperor cult with a pre-existing festival is very common, as the names of agons reveal; e.g., the old festival of Artemis Perasia at Kastabala became the agon Sebereia Peraseia (j. Nollé, Side im Altertum. Geschichte und Zeugnisse. Band II, Bonn, 2001, n° 130); in Thessalonike, old agons for Apollo Pythios and the Kabeiroi were connected with celebrations for the emperor (e.g., SEG 49, 817: Kaisareia Epinikia Kabeiria Pythia); in Perge, the festival of Artemis was connected with that for Vespasian (I.Perge 60-61: Artemisioi Vespasianioi Agones).

45 IG VII 2712, 1. 37-46.

46 IG VII 2712, 1. 74. I owe the interpretation of σϰηνίτης to A. Chaniotis.

47 IG VII 2712, 1. 82-85.

48 I Ephesos 26, 1. 24.

49 I Ephesos 1024, 1. 10.

50 Cf. Chaniotis, o.c. (n. 36), p. 276.

51 I Ephesos 1201A, 1. 1-4: νόμοι πόλ[εως πάτρια ἀναγεγραμμένοι εἰσὶν] ἐν τοῖς ὐμετέροις [ἀρχείοις·· πάντας οὖν τους πολίτας, μά]λιστα δὲ τοὺς πρυτ[άνεις χρὴ δρᾶν πᾶν τὸ νενομισ]μένον ϰατὰ τοὺς π[άτριους νόμους].

52 Unfortunately, the stele was found in the street paving in front of the theatre, so that its original position can no longer be identified.

53 LSAM 53, 1. 4-10.

54 L.Ephesos 26, 1. 2-4.

55 Cf. G. Rogers, The Sacred Identity of Ephesos. Foundation Myths of a Roman City, London/ New York, 1991, p. 114.

56 IG VII 2712, 1. 78-79.

57 Dion Chrysostomos, XXXI, 102.

58 According to the model of cult economy as presented by A. Michaels, Zur Dynamik von Ritualkomplexen, Forum Ritualdynamik 3, Heidelberg, 2003, p. 6-10.

59 I.Ephesos 26, 1. 11-12: ἔξωθεν ϰαὶ ἐϰ τῆς το[ῦ Νειϰομήδους ϕιλοτειμίας λαβείν] ἀττιϰὴν μίαν.

60 Cf N.A. Robertson, “Point of Precedence at Plataia. The dispute between Athens and Sparta over leading the procession”, Hesperia 55 (1986), p. 88-102. One need only think of the verbal duel between Athens and Sparta on the occasion of the festival of Eleutheria of Plataia, with which the Greeks commemorated their victory over the Persian invaders (479 BC). The Athenians vehemently insisted on the first place in the procession (propompeid) on the grounds of their efforts to save Greece. See also A. Chaniotis, “Gedenktage der Griechen: Ihre Bedeutung für das Geschichtsbewuistsein griechischer Poleis”, in J. Assmann (ed.), Das Fest und das Heilige. Religiöse Kontrapunkte zur Alltagswelt, Gütersloh, 1991, p. 124, 132-134, 141-142.

61 SEG 26, 121, 1. 3.

62 Cf. Culley, l.c. (n. 4), p. 288.

63 SEG 26, 121, 1. 8-9.

64 I Ephesos 26, 1. 16.

65 Cf. Chaniotis, l.c. (n. 11; 2003) p. 180.

66 I.Didyma 199.

67 I.Didyma 262; 263.

Auteur

Seminar für Alte Geschichte und Epigraphik Marstallhof 4 D – 69117 Heidelberg Email: mailto:Stephanhotz@web.be

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