Now that we have challenged some scholarly portraits of the polis, we can go on to discuss more positive evidence concerning the continuing vitality of civic life. I begin by addressing the significance, for the polis, of social networks of benefaction in the Hellenistic and Roman eras; then, I continue by using inscriptional evidence for associations in Roman Asia as an indication of involvements in, attachments to, and identifications with numerous dimensions of the polis on the part of its inhabitants from various social strata.
One can see important continuities within many of the central political, social, and cultural institutions and structures of the polis, from the classical period into the Hellenistic and Roman eras. The constitutions of cities that were founded on the model of the Greek polis continued to consist of the two main bodies of civic authority: the council (boule), which usually numbered between two hundred and five hundred members; and the people (demos), which included the citizen body divided according to tribes (phylai), along with various civic official positions and boards (whose titles could differ from one city to the next). Social-cultural institutions, including some mentioned earlier by Pausanias, remained prominent in civic life. Yet one of the most significant developments in the structure of the polis in the late-Hellenistic and Roman eras, which is also essential for understanding competition, rivalry, and co-operation between different groups, was the emergence of a systematic pattern of benefaction (euergetism), which relied upon social network connections and was accompanied by a particular cultural world view.
By the time the regions of western Asia Minor were incorporated into the Roman province of Asia (ca. 133 bce), this system of benefaction—an elaboration and systematization of conventions that characterized the Greek polis in earlier times—had become a prominent structural element with special relevance to the social system and economic well-being of the cities. Space does not permit a discussion of the origins of this system of benefaction or euergetism (see Veyne 1990; 1987, 95-115; Gauthier 1985; 1993; cf. Wallace-Hadrill 1990, 150-54; Mitchell 1993, 1:210; Sartre 1991, 147-66). Basically, Veyne differs from Gauthier in emphasizing a sharp caesura between the classical/democratic and the Hellenistic/non-democratic period, in connection with the emergence of euergetism as a system in Hellenistic times. Gauthier, on the other hand (correctly, I believe), puts emphasis on the continuing importance of democracy, and suggests that euergetism flows naturally from the competitive ethos of democracy; he sees the era of full-fledged euergetism from the second century bce onward. Wallace-Hadrill discusses ways in which "the Romans absorbed the Greek honorific idiom gradually, almost without realising it" (1990, 166).
This system involved webs of reciprocal relations within social networks marked by a clearly differentiated hierarchy, though the potential for relations was quite fluid at all levels. The most prominent characteristic of these reciprocal relations within social networks was the exchange of benefits or gifts of numerous kinds (e.g., protection, financial contributions for various purposes) in return for appropriate honours. The system was reciprocal, in the sense that both the benefactor and the beneficiary (whether gods, individuals, groups, or institutions) stood to gain from the exchange, whether the benefit was tangible or otherwise. The system was also self-perpetuating, in that a benefaction was followed by fitting honours, which in turn ensured the probability of further benefactions from the same source in the future, as well as benefactions from others who might seek to outdo their competitors in the pursuit of honour.
The appropriateness of the honours depended on both the nature of the benefits conferred and the position of the benefactor and the beneficiary within the overall hierarchy of relations. Failure fittingly to honour a benefactor resulted in shame (aischyne); as Dio of Prusa suggests, this was akin to impiety (asebeia) toward the gods (Or. 31.57, 65, 80-81, 157). Correspondingly, failure of the wealthy to provide such benefactions appropriately was a threat to the position they strove to maintain within society: in this sense, benefaction became an obligation, not simply a voluntary action. The pro vision of benefactions and the granting of honours reaffirmed the relative positions of both the benefactor and the beneficiary within the social system of the polis and cosmos.
At the top of this hierarchy, as powers external to the polis, were both the gods and the rulers, whose ongoing protection and benefaction ensured the well-being of the polis and its constituent groups. The deities' protection of the polis and its inhabitants, holding off earthquakes, famine, and other natural disasters, while providing safety (soteria), stability, and peace, was deserving of the utmost honours, especially cultic. Dio Chrysostom, for example, describes the role of the gods in causing (or preventing) such natural disasters (Or. 38.20). A deadly plague in various cities of Asia in the mid-second century ce led the city of Hierapolis to consult Apollo at Klaros, whose oracular response advised that sacrifices be made to several gods in order to appease their wrathful displeasures (Parke 1985:153-54). When natural disasters occurred, it was assumed that the gods had not been fittingly honoured; Jews or Christians accordingly became more likely to face local harassment and sporadic persecution (cf. Tertullian, Apol. 40.1-2). By the Roman era, the rulers' relation to the polis was considered to be parallel to that of the gods, and rulers whose beneficence and provision of stability were comparable to those of the gods were thought to be equally deserving of cultic honours. Examples of this parallelism between the roles of the gods and of the rulers can be drawn from various upper-class authors from Asia Minor, for instance, Artemidoros, who says: "rulers, like gods, also have the power to treat people well or badly" (Onir. 3.13).
Scholars who think that cultic honours given to rulers epitomize the failure of the polis and represent the utter debasement of its ideals and values fundamentally misunderstand the meaning and function of such honorary activities (cf. Price 1984; Friesen 1993; Harland 1996). Instead, the incorporation of emperors within the existing framework of the polis actually served to reinforce the ideals, values, and structures of civic society, rather than to undermine them (cf. Price 1984; R.R.R. Smith 1987; Wallace-Hadrill 1990, 152-53). What this incorporation of the emperors also means, as Fergus Millar (1993) stresses, is that having a relationship with the distant emperor was very much a part of what the polis was in Roman times.
The gods and emperors may have been at the top of the social networks upon which the system of benefaction rested, but they were certainly not the only important players. Imperial officials in the provinces also held sufficiently high positions within this hierarchy that local elites and groups were sure to cultivate contacts with these powerful figures. Per haps more importantly for the everyday life of the average polis, the wealthy elites and other inhabitants or groups in the cities were expected to provide various services and benefactions for the well-being of the polis and its inhabitants. Such contributions could take the form of official liturgies or magistracies, both of which required considerable financial outlay (which led to a blurring between the two). But, apart from these official roles, inhabitants could also make benefactions to the polis or its constituent groups in the form of financial contributions for the establishment of buildings, festivals, statues, and other structures that were dedicated to honour civic institutions, gods, or emperors. Benefactions could also take the form of banquets or food distributions in times of famine, such as the provisions made for the inhabitants at Termessos in Pamphylia by a wealthy woman named Atalante (TAM III 4, 62). The beneficiaries of such actions were expected to reciprocate with appropriate honours, such as the erection of an inscription of gratitude or a statue, in honour of the benefactor. Gratitude for the benefaction of a festival could be shown in less tangible ways; a statement by Petronius well sums up this mentality: "He gave me a spectacle, but I applauded it. We're even: one hand washes the other" (cited in Veyne 1987, 113).
This leads to the question of what motivated such contributions to the life of the polis, thereby ensuring the stability of this systematic pattern of benefactions. Motivations naturally differed from one person and situation to the next, but three main components tend to stand out. First, the role of genuine feelings of civic pride should not be discounted. Second, honour (timê) was highly valued in and of itself, and its pursuit (philotimia) was among the most highly praised virtues. The desire to have one's benefactions or deeds remembered after death, in order to preserve one's reputation for posterity, was accordingly significant (cf. Dio, Or. 31.16; Polybius 20.6.5-6; Laum 1964 [passim]; Woolf 1996, 25-27).
A third motivating factor, however, must not be forgotten: the wealthy elites' fear of what might happen if conspicuous donations were not made. There was a set of values and expectations which made such benefactions virtually a duty; failure to meet these expectations, especially at critical times, could result in angry mobs seeking revenge against the wealthy, as happened during a food shortage in Prusa, when an angry mob came after Dio and his neighbour (Or. 46, 7.25-26; cf. Philostratos, Vit. Apoll. 1.15). Contributions by the wealthy on a regular basis ensured the maintenance of their position and prestige within the city, while also limiting the potential for social conflicts when the contrasts between rich and poor, ruler and ruled, were particularly stark (Mitchell 1993, 1:206).
It is not hard to see how competition and rivalry, as well as co-operation, played important roles within ancient social systems. Competition for pre-eminence among wealthy elites was matched by competition among the potential recipients of such benefactions. The constituent groups of the polis were in many ways competitors with one another in their attempts to maintain contacts with and receive ongoing support from important persons within social networks. Beneficiaries also had something to gain from publicly advertising, through the medium of honorary inscriptions, their connections: namely, the advantage that such connections accrued, in their competition for prestige within the civic context. In setting up an honorary inscription, for example, an association or guild was not only honouring its benefactor but also making a claim regarding its own place within society, reaffirming in a very concrete way its ties within the networks of the polis (cf. Woolf 1996, 29; Harland 1999).
Yet co-operation was also essential to the system. Individual inhabitants of the lower social strata—such as a purple-dyer alone, for instance—were not very likely to gain the attention and benefaction of a wealthy imperial or civic official. But by co-operating together in the form of an association, united purple-dyers could ensure the possibility of such relations within the social networks of the polis and empire. On a broader scale, too, apart from its own intramural competitions, the sense of civic pride and identity, belonging to the polis as such, meant that its inhabitants as a whole co-operated together in broader-scale competitions and rivalries with other cities (cf. Dio, Or. 38-39).
Now that we have a framework within which to discuss the polis in Roman times, we can provide some concrete examples of the working of this system of benefaction and the nature of social relations within it. I have chosen to use as a starting point for this discussion the epigraphic evidence for small social-religious groups or associations in Roman Asia (for abbreviations for primary sources in this section, see G.H.R. Horsley and Lee 1994), not only because it happens to be the area with which I am most familiar (cf. Harland 1996, 1999, 2000), but for two other reasons as well. First, associations play a key role in common scholarly scenarios of civic and religious decline; second, many of these groups represent the lower strata of society which many scholars of the decline-theories think were the farthest removed from civic identity and participation. Therefore, if an investigation of the actual evidence for these groups shows signs of continuing attachments to the civic community and its institutions and structures, along with a sense of belonging among their members, then the theories of decline are questionable from another angle.
Strong feelings of civic pride and identification with the polis or homeland (patris) are clearly evident not only among wealthy benefactors or elite authors, such as Aristides of Smyrna, Dio of Prusa, Artemidoros of Daldis, and Strabo of Amaseia, but also among various other segments of society, including those represented within occupational and other associations. Regarding the first group, Aelius Aristides delivered an epideictic speech in praise of his homeland, Smyrna, speaking of the polis as "the very model of a city," which "recommends a love of itself among all mankind" (Or. 17.8). When an earthquake heavily damaged Smyrna, Aris-tides mourned over this catastrophe that had struck the most beautiful city, "the eye of Asia"; his letter to Marcus Aurelius requesting support for rebuilding was a success (Or. 18, 19, 20). Dio's epideictic speech in response to the honours that his homeland of Prusa granted him is full of references to his pride and attachment in relation to the polis (Or. 44). Artemidoros dedicates Book Three of his dream interpretations to Daldis, "his native land...in gratitude for my upbringing" (Onir. 3.66). Strabo is sure to specify that Amaseia is his city and homeland (patris), and his description is wholly positive (Geogr. 126.96.36.199).
Individuals or groups could express their sense of belonging to the polis or homeland through their involvement in benefactions for (or dedications to) the polis and its institutions, either as benefactors or as beneficiaries. The association of fishermen and fishmongers at Ephesus, for example, representing a spectrum of social-economic levels, built and dedicated the fishery toll-office to the imperial family of Nero, the people (demos) of the Romans, and the people of the Ephesians (lEph 20; mid-first century ce; cf. lEph 1501; G.H.R. Horsley 1989). The guild of silversmiths and goldsmiths at Smyrna expressed both its piety toward the goddess Athena and the civic pride of its members by repairing her statue "for the homeland" (ISmyrna 721; ca. 14-37 ce). The dyers at Hierapolis (Lykos valley) who set up a statue of personified Council (Boule) evidently identified with the institutions of their polis (SEG 41, 1201; ca. 100-150 ce). Several civic officials and some groups at Smyrna, including theologians (theologoi), an association of hymn-singers (hymnodoi), and, likely, an immigrant group of Judeans (hoipote loudaioi), displayed civic-mindedness by joining together to provide financial contributions toward a project of the polis in the early second century (ISmyrna 697; ca. 124 ce).
Civic inhabitants might also express their identification with the polis by honouring an individual who acted as a benefactor and showed good will toward the homeland. Examples of occupational and religious associations participating in this aspect of the civic networks of benefaction could be cited for many cities in Asia.4 An inscription from Smyrna, for example, involves the sacred synodos of performers (technitai) and initiates (mystai) gathered round Dionysos Breseus, who are honouring Marcus Aurelius Julianus, a civic official and benefactor, "because of his piety towards the god and his goodwill towards the polis" (ISmyrna 639; mid-late second century ce ).
What is perhaps even more telling, concerning the involvement and participation of various segments of society within these networks of civic life, is the degree of co-operation and contact between such groups and important civic and imperial officials and institutions. There is abundant evidence for associations honouring on their own important civic officials, thereby maintaining connections with powerful citizens of the polis, such as when the therapeutai of Zeus honoured a foremost leader of Sardis for his piety toward the deity (ISardBR 22; ca. 100 bce).5
The institutions and inhabitants of the cities often maintained important links with Roman imperial officials of equestrian or senatorial rank (who could also be local notables). The involvement of associations in imperial aspects of the honorific system further attests to some of the ways in which they cemented their relationship with the polis, identifying with its interests (see Harland 1999). In various cities, for example, several associations honoured members of the prestigious Julius family, who were descendants of Galatian royalty, entered imperial service as equestrians, then became senators as early as the late first century ce. Julia Severa, at Acmonia, was a high priestess in the local imperial cult, who acted as benefactor to both the local elders' association (gerousia) and the group of Judeans, for whom she built a synagogue (MAMA VI 263, 264; mid-first century ce). Her relative, C. Antius Aulus Julius Quadratus, was a prominent Pergamene, who reached consular rank and held important imperial posi
4 Attaleia (near Pergamon; IGR IV 1169, leather-workers); Hierapolis (IHierapJ 40, second-third century ce, wool-cleaners); Miletos (SEG 36, 1051-1055, linen-workers and sack-bearers devoted to Hermes); Temenothyrai (AE , no. 802, late first century ce, clothing cleaners); Thyatira (ZAM V 932, 933, 986, 989, 1098, slave merchants, linen-workers, tanners, dyers, Juliastai association devoted to a hero); Tralles (ITrall 74, third century ce, mystai).
5 Cf. IEph 425 (ca. 81-117 ce): The silversmiths honour T. Claudius Aristion, grammateus of the people and imperial high priest; TAMIV 33 (late first century ce ): The shippers at Nikomedia (in Bithynia) honour a leader of the polis and high priest; TAM V 955 (third century ce): The hymn-singers (hymnodoi) of the Mother of the gods honour a civic magistrate and liturgist.
tions in various provinces of the Greek East, including the proconsulate of Asia; he was honoured as a benefactor by various cities, including Perga-mon. But he was also the benefactor of local associations at Pergamon, including the young men (neoi) and the Dionysiac dancing cowherds, who honoured him on more than one occasion (early second century ce).6 One of his cousins, Julius Amyntianus, likely the brother of C. Julius Severus of Ankyra, was a member in the Panhellenion institution of Athens and also, for a time, the priest of Isis and Sarapis at Tralles, for which the initiates (mystai) honoured him with a monument (ITrall 86; post-131 ce). Evidently, associations and the spectrum of inhabitants who belonged to them were very much involved in the webs of relationships that characterized civic life and linked the polis to the empire.
Yet what is even more striking, and indicative of widespread participation in the life of the polis, are the numerous examples of various types of associations and guilds collaborating together with the principal civic institutions (the council and the people) in honouring eminent citizens and benefactors. This is true of the groups of Roman businessmen throughout the cities of Asia who evidently became well integrated within the life of the polis, as well as the various age-group organizations officially attached to the gymnasia.7 Yet even less official occupational and other associations joined with the political institutions in honouring benefactors.
At Smyrna, for example, the council and the people joined with a syn-odos of initiates (probably devoted to Demeter) in honouring two female theologians for their display of piety toward the goddess in providing their services at a festival of the group (ISmyrna 653; first-second century ce). At Thyatira, the dêmos and the Juliastai joined together to honour posthumously Julius Xenon, a prominent hero and member of the polis ( TAM V 1098; first century ce). At Erythrai, the homeland (patris) and the sacred theatrical synodos joined together in honouring Antonia Tyrannis Juliane, the agônothetis of the great Hadrianic games (IErythrai 60; 124 ce). At Tralles, the provincial league of Asia joined with the dêmos of Tralles and the Dionysiac performers in honouring the association's high priest (ITrall 65; first century ce).
Similarly, it was common for guilds and associations to set up honours for a benefactor on behalf of the civic institutions, often in accordance with
6 For the former, see IPergamon 440; for the latter, IPergamon 486, and Conze and Schuch-hardt 1899, 179, no. 31. On Quadratus and his family, see PIR I 507 (with family tree).
7 Cf. Adramytteion (IAdramytt 19); Acmonia (IPhrygR 533); Assos (IAssos 13-14, 19-21, 28); Apameia (IGR IV 785-786, 788-791); Iasos (IIasos 90); Tralles (ITrall 80).
a specific provision in a decree or decision of the polis (see, e.g., IEph 728, 3079, guilds at Ephesus; IGR IV 788-791, guilds at Apameia; IGR IV 907, leather-workers at Kibyra; Quandt 1913, 177, mystai at Sardis; ITrall 74, mystai at Tralles). Some scholars, such as Ramsay (1895, 105-106), A.H.M. Jones (1940, 15, 17, 43-44), and those who follow them, even suggest that the constitutions of civic communities in Lydia may have been organized by guilds instead of tribes (phylai); but this is not a certainty.
Even those citizens who left their native polis to pursue business and other activities in other parts of the empire could count on the continuation of attachments to their homeland and its institutions. The city from which one came very much defined who one was in the Greco-Roman world, as Bruce J. Malina and Jerome H. Neyrey emphasize in their 1996 study of the ancient personality. The very existence, throughout the empire, of associations based on common geographic or ethnic origin, with corresponding names, attests to the continuing importance of both civic and regional identity.8 When the council and the people of Nysa (east of Ephesus and Tralles) passed a decree honouring their wealthy benefactor, T. Aelius Alkibiades, for his love of honour (philotimia) and benefactions, they were also sure to single out for mention his benefactions to an association (kollegion) of Nysaian citizens living in Rome, who evidently maintained contacts with the wealthy elites and institutions of their homeland (ca. 142 ce).9
This evidence of positive involvement by inhabitants of various social-economic levels with civic institutions in Roman Asia suggests that the situation in Tarsus, Cilicia, toward the end of the first century ce, is more
8 For example, Sardians (IGR I 88-89 [Rome]); Ephesians (IGR I 147 [Rome]); Smyrnians (IMagnSip 18 [Magnesia near Syplos]); Asians (IGBulg 480 [Montana, Moesia], IG X.2 309, 480 [Thessalonika, Macedonia]); Phrygians (IG XIV 701 [Pompeii]); Pergaians (ILindos 392 [Rhodes]); Alexandrians (IGR I 604 [Tomis, Moesia], I 800 [Heraklea-Perinthos, Thracia], I 446 [Neapolis, Italy]); Tyrians (OGIS 595 = IGR I 421 [Puteoli, Italy]). Numerous inscriptions from Delos could be cited involving Tyrians, Berytians, Egyptians, and others (cf. IDelos 1519, 1521, 1774). On associations of Romans, see Hatzfeld 1919. See La Piana (1927) for a discussion of various immigrant groups at Rome, including Phrygians and Judeans.
9 Alkibiades was also a benefactor of the Roman and Asian branches of the worldwide Dionysiac performers; their honorary inscription to him is found on the other side of the same stone. Side A includes the Dionysiac performers' honorary decree; and side B, the decree of the Nysaian polis (see Clerc 1885 for both sides, IEph 22 for side A only). This man was likely the son of Publius Aelius Alkibiades, a freedman who was prefect of the bedchamber for emperor Hadrian, who granted him Roman citizenship (see PIR2 A134, Robert 1938, 45-53; cf. FGrHist II 257.1-34: the father commissions P. Aelius Phlegon of Tralles to write a history).
an exception than the rule. There, linen-workers were consciously excluded from participation in the polis. Dio's response (Or. 34.21-23) indicates that this was not a regular practice in most other cities. There certainly were occasions when involvement by an association or a guild in certain activities was perceived by either civic or Roman officials to be subversive. Examples of such incidents in Asia Minor include the proconsul's edict regarding the riots of bakers in Ephesus (IEph 215, mid-second century ce; cf. Acts 19 and, further, below) and Pliny the Younger's dealings with associations in the cities of Bithynia-Pontus during his special appointment as governor there in the early second century ce (Ep. 10.33-34, 92-93, 96-97). In general, however, these sporadic incidents have been overemphasized by many scholars (see Harland 1999, 153-93). Ste. Croix, for example, discusses the involvement of associations in lower-class forms of protest, such as strikes and other disturbances, and the resulting Roman suspicion toward them; he does not mention at all the sort of positive relations between such groups and both civic and imperial officials which are so well attested in the inscriptional evidence (1981, 273, 319-20). Paul J. Achtemeier correctly looks to associations for understanding the social context of the Christian groups addressed by 1 Peter, but wrongly oversimplifies his portrait of associations in stating that they were a "constant problem to the governing authorities" (1996, 25-26; cf. Balch 1981, 65-80).
The preceding evidence clearly shows that the members of many different types of associations, representing a spectrum of social-economic levels within society, from the more prestigious occupations of Roman businessmen and silversmiths to the less desirable professions of dyers and clothing cleaners, actively participated in the networks of civic life and, in important ways, closely identified with the polis and its structures. So much, then, for the widespread scholarly view that associations and guilds were a replacement for the declining structures of the polis, and the equally untenable view that they were a consistently subversive element in society, removed from civic identity and involved primarily in negative relations with imperial and civic authorities.
This attachment to the institutions of the polis, and the accompanying sense of civic identity or pride, is evinced in various other ways as well, besides involvement in civic networks of benefaction. Some of the principal social-cultural institutions of the polis, often built or renovated through the benefactions of the wealthy, were marketplaces, baths, gymnasia, stadiums, and theatres. Here, too, there is clear evidence of active participation by inhabitants of the cities. The age-group organizations of girls or boys (paides), youths (ephêboi), young men (neoi), and elders (gerousia) were a very prominent feature of gymnasium life for members of citizen families. Jews also could participate in the life of the gymnasia in Asia: there was a group of "younger Judaeans" (neoteroiIoudaioi) at Hypaipa (CIJ 755), and several Jewish names are included in lists of ephêboi from Iasos and elsewhere (see Robert 1946, 100-101). Guilds of performers and athletes were similarly active in the gymnasia, stadiums, and theatres, where they competed during the various festivals held in honour of gods or emperors.
Yet ordinary associations and guilds also had a place (often in a literal sense) within these institutions of the polis. The stadiums at Aphrodisias, Didyma, and Saittai, for example, included bench reservations for guilds and associations of various kinds (IAphrodSpect 45; IDidyma 50; Kolb 1990). Several latrines at the Vedius bath-gymnasium complex at Ephesus were set aside for groups of bankers, hemp-workers, wool-dealers, and linen-weavers, all of whom evidently frequented the place (IEph 454). Quite well known is the Jewish synagogue contained within the bath-gymnasium complex at Sardis in the third century ce, right next door to the imperial cult hall. Such groups could also have special seats reserved for them in the theatre where the assembly of the people, as well as various theatrical and other performances, took place; the theatre at Miletos included reservations for guilds such as the "emperor-loving goldsmiths" and the "Judaeans (or Jews) and God-fearers," who sat just a few rows from the front, right next to the benches reserved for the "friends of the Augusti" (philaugustoi).10
Discussion of these kinds of social-cultural institutions leads us to another important aspect of civic life, which attests to the vitality, not the decline, of the polis and its social-religious life: festivals, processions, and related activities.11 As we noted earlier, the gods, rulers, and emperors were an integral part of the webs of relations that characterized the social systems of the cities; festivals were one means by which appropriate honour could be shown to these godly benefactors, who protected the polis and its inhabitants. Thus, Plutarch, who was quite emphatic about the need for moderation in the pursuit of honour (philotimia), felt that the best pretext for benefaction was one "connected with the worship of a god [which]
10 Unfortunately, most of the fopos-inscriptions from the theatre at Miletos are as yet unpublished; on some of these inscriptions, including the Jewish one, see Kleiner 1970, 18-20. The theatre at Aphrodisias included a bench for the butchers, alongside others (IAphrodSpecf 46).
11 For a general discussion of festivals (especially those in honour of emperors), and their importance for all strata of society, see Price 1984, 101-32. For an excellent study of festivals and foundations in the cities of Asia Minor, focusing on the recently discovered Hadrianic inscription from Oenoanda (one of the most extensive festival-foundation inscriptions yet found), see Worrle 1988 and Mitchell 1993 (with English translation).
leads the people to piety; for at the same time there springs up in the minds of the masses a strong disposition to believe that the deity is great and majestic, when they see the men whom they themselves honour and regard as great so liberally and zealously vying with each other in honouring the divinity" (Mor. 822b).
The pan-Hellenic festival established by Magnesia in honour of Artemis Leukophryene in the second century bce, after an epiphany of the goddess and a consultation of the oracle of Apollo at Delphi (cf. IMagnMai 16, 17-87, 100), is paralleled by similar festivals, both local and regional (pan-Hellenic or provincial), which were established in cities throughout the Hellenistic and Roman periods. The proliferation of associations of athletes and performers in the Hellenistic and, especially, Roman eras is just one clear indication of the continuing popularity and importance of festivals, and the gods and goddesses they honoured.
To cite just one example from the Roman era, Salutaris gave a substantial financial foundation to Ephesus in 104 ce (lEph 27). The council and the people decided that the income from the funds would be used for processions expressing various elements of civic identity. Several groups participated, most prominently the youths (epheboi), who carried images not only of Artemis and the Ionian and Hellenistic founders but also of the emperors. As Rogers (1991, 80-127, 136-51) convincingly argues, the composition of the biweekly procession was an expression of the multi-faceted identity of the city, not only encompassing the Roman imperial family and regime but also reaffirming the Ionian origins and sacred identity of Eph-esus as the city of Artemis. The procession, in fact, began and ended in her sanctuary.
There is varied evidence for the continuing importance of gods and goddesses (whose popularity was not dying, as some scholars imagine) in the life of the polis, especially in connection with civic identity and pride. Virtually every city chose a particular deity as benefactor and protector, to whom proper honour was due. The relation between the civic community and the gods was taken seriously, and any threat to this relationship was a grave offence. The account, in Acts (19:21-41), of the silversmiths' riot at Ephesus, whether documenting an actual event or not, realistically portrays the attachment that inhabitants felt to their patron deity (cf. Oster 1976). In reaction to Paul's preaching that gods made with hands are not gods, the silversmiths are said to have gathered together a considerable crowd of other craftsmen and local inhabitants in the theatre, shouting (for two hours), "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!" The more important of the motives Acts mentions for this protest relates to the need appropriately to honour the goddess: "There is danger...that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be scorned, and she will be deprived of her majesty that brought all Asia and the world to worship her" (Acts 19:27; cf. lEph 24 [ca. 160 ce]).
The official patron deity was not the only deity, however, to whom honour was due. Temples and altars for various gods and goddesses, both foreign and local, dotted the cities of Roman Asia. At Ephesus, for example, there is surviving evidence of cultic activity for Zeus, Aphrodite, Apollo, Asklepios, Athena, Demeter, Dionysos, Cybele, Isis and Sarapis, and others; a similar array of evidence has been found at Pergamon (cf. Knibbe 1978; Oster 1990; Ohlemutz 1968). As well, possession of an official provincial imperial-cult temple could be a source of rivalry among cities in Asia, as illustrated by one particular incident Tacitus relates from the reign of Tiberius (Ann. 4.55-56). Other local shrines or cults of the emperors, including cultic activities practised within associations, likewise attest to the importance of the emperors as gods within the civic system (cf. Pleket 1965; Price 1984, 190-91; Harland 1996).
The foundation and continuation of cults or associations in honour of gods other than the patron deity of the polis were also bound up with civic identity and well-being. An inscription from the second century ce, claiming to be an ancient oracle, records the myth of the introduction of Dionysiac associations (thiasoi) to the city of Magnesia (IMagnMai 215). It tells a story about the people of Magnesia sending messengers to consult the god Apollo at Delphi concerning a miraculous sign and epiphany of the god Dionysos, which happened at Magnesia "when the clear-aired city was founded but well-cut temples were not yet built for Dionysos" (lines 19-21). The oracular response implied that the well-being of the Magnesians depended upon an obedient response to the will of both gods, Apollo and Dionysos, that associations devoted to Dionysos should be founded. This oracle may have been a useful weapon in establishing the pre-eminence of these particular Dionysiac associations within the context of religious rivalries at Magnesia at the time.
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