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Les Associations cultuelles en Grèce et en Asie Mineure aux époques hellénistique et impériale. Compositions sociales, fonctions civiques et manifestations identitaires (époques hellénistique et romaine)

Stella Skaltsa
p. 392-395
Référence(s) :

Julien Demaille et Guy Labarre (dir.), Les Associations cultuelles en Grèce et en Asie Mineure aux époques hellénistique et impériale. Compositions sociales, fonctions civiques et manifestations identitaires (époques hellénistique et romaine), Besançon, Presses universitaires de Franche-Comté, 2021. 1 vol. 16 × 22 cm, 208 p. (Collection Institut des sciences et techniques de l’Antiquité, 1523). ISBN : 978-2-84867-866-5.

Texte intégral

  • 1 It may suffice to mention the latest publications on associations that appeared almost simultaneo (...)

1The volume assembles nine chapters, including a short introduction, originating in two workshops held in Tours (“Priests and religious associations in the cities of Macedonia and Asia Minor in antiquity”) and Besançon (“Cult associations in Greece and Asia Minor”) in 2016 and 2017 respectively. The publication comes as another contribution to the “associational phenomenon”, which has recently seen a remarkably augmenting interest.1 All chapters revolve around the topic of “association cultuelle” or “religieuse” in Greece (with an emphasis on Macedonia) and Asia Minor in Hellenistic and Roman times. Religious associations designate groups centred around the worship of a deity, with religious festivities informing its calendar; yet the manifold pool of names that associations could draw on in order to define and identify themselves underlines the diversity and plurality of the phenomenon. The objective of the volume is to demonstrate the workings of associations on two levels; associations operating on an infra-state level (“infra-civique”) as well as associations operating on a supra-state level (“supra-civique”). Issues about membership profile, social composition, cultural practices and the political agenda of associations are addressed in individual chapters, which focus either on associations anchored in a specific area (e.g. chapters by Demaille, Maillot, Labarre, Pillot and Frija) or on associations centered around the worship of a specific deity and attested over a broader area (chapters by Jaccottet, Rizakis, Piguet).

2Jaccottet, an expert on Dionysiac associations, argues that a supra-regional Dionysiac community in Roman times, when Dionysiac associations proliferated across the empire, is only conceivable on a conceptual level, as part of a cultural koine. The technitai of Dionysos present the closest tangible manifestation of a universal Dionysos, in the sense that a cult epithet is absent from the name of the deity. Adjectives such as παλαιός, νέος, πρῶτος, πρεσβύτερος, etc. that overtly feature in the names of Dionysiac associations and the titles of magistrates across the empire ascertain the association’s social standing and prestige within local communities. Taking as a case study the boukoloi (a map nicely illustrates their dissemination by the second century AD), J. argues that rituals and cult activity are tightly anchored to local practices and traditions.

3Rizakis focuses on female participation in Dionysiac associations in Macedonia during the Imperial period. R. distinguishes two distinct traditions in the naming practices of female devotees of Dionysos in Macedonia. In Philippi female adherents of Dionysos are called Maenads, while in the rest of Macedonia (e.g. in Thessalonike, Lete, Pella etc.) female devotees and/or priestesses are called εὐεία—from the ritual Dionysiac cry εὐαί. For the sake of clarity, I should mention that the epigraphic evidence does not attest to associations of eueiai as such, but only to eueiai as priestesses of Dionysos in the context of associations of mixed gender (i.e. Asianoi in Lete and a thiasos honouring Prinophoros, an epithet of Dionysos, in Thessalonike). To my knowledge, despite a long tradition of female participation in Dionysiac ritual activity, the only secured attestation of an association consisting exclusively of female followers of Dionysos in Macedonia is the inscription from Philippi (thiasus Maeanad[um] regian[um]; the A. discusses all the problems and interpretations related to the restored name). In light of a wide range of textual evidence R. contextualises these names within local religious practices that evoke the mythical past, and especially Theban myths related to Dionysos.

  • 2 CAPInv. 42; 478; 667; 756: these are examples found in the open-access Inventory of Ancient Assoc (...)
  • 3 See also CAPInv. 41.
  • 4 CAPInv. 477 (Beroia); CAPInv. 721 (Thessalonike).

4Macedonia is also the focus of Demaille’s chapter but it deals exclusively with a single association, that of the worshippers (θρησκευταί) of Zeus Hypsistos in Pydna. After an exhaustive analysis of the text with regard to its date as well as the prosopography and social status of the association’s members, the A. raises the question whether this particular association has a Semitic cult affiliation. The semantics of the title archisynagogos used for the chief official of the group and the expression ἐπὶ θεοῦ Διὸς Ὑψίστου (lines 6–7) could point in this direction. Despite the A.’s claims, the rich epigraphic record of Macedonia in fact supports a different interpretation: the chief official of associations in Roman Macedonia, let alone in associations of Zeus Hypsistos, is often designated as an archisynagogos.2 In other words, the association appears to be embedded in local practices. Moreover, the expression ἐπὶ θεοῦ Διὸς Ὑψίστου (lines 6–7) should be read in connection to the participle συνελθόντες, the latter referring to a gathering of the threskeutai. What remains unclear is not whether the preposition ἐπί refers to the mighty God of the Israelites but whether the preposition refers to a place (i.e. sanctuary of the god) or bears temporal connotations (i.e. festival of the god).3 D. seeks to connect the cult of Zeus Hypsistos in Pydna to the cult of Zeus Hypsistos in Dion (ca. 40 km away from Pydna). Notwithstanding the rich archaeological and epigraphic record for the cult and sanctuary of Zeus Hypsistos in Dion, it should be noted that the cult of Zeus Hypsistos or Theos Hypsistos was quite popular in this part of Macedonia as associations devoted to this cult have been attested in Beroia and Thessalonike as well.4

  • 5 Astypalaia was not incorporated in the Rhodian State in the Hellenistic period, see P.M. Fraser a (...)

5Taking as a case study the koinon of the Phrygians on the island of Astypalaia (not part of the Rhodian State as the A. states),5 Maillot proposes that this association is comprised of slaves and freedmen (61 members including 9 women). In collecting all attestations of names of Phrygians in the Aegean (Appendix 1), M. argues that the term Phrygian has connotations of a servile or lower status. Although the vast majority of names in the inscription are Greek, M. suggests that the personal name in genitive that follows consistently all names in the inscription stands for the name of a master or prostates and not an expected patronym. As this is a subscription list that records donations of members to pay off the debt of the oikia of the association (822 dr. collected in total), one would have expected social/political affiliation to be recorded, especially if members of the association were of mixed status. In subscription lists from Rhodes donors state their status (e.g. as metics etc.) or origin. Names can be elusive, especially if one draws evidence from a broad chronological spectrum and a wide range of sources. If the name Phrygian is simply interpreted as evoking religious affiliation to a Phrygian or eastern cult, then members do not need to be of servile status

  • 6 Association of Asklepiastai in Kolophon by the Sea (OMS II, 1171–1173; see recently S. Skaltsa an (...)
  • 7 The publications of B. Boyxen, Fremde in der hellenistischen Polis Rhodos: Zwischen Nähe und Dist (...)
  • 8 The inscription from Alexandria Troas is I.Alexandria Troas 4 and not no. 9 (p. 127, n. 46).
  • 9 In connection to this particular association O.M. van Nijf, The Civic World of Professional Assoc (...)
  • 10 See S. Skaltsa, “Associations and Place: Regulating Meeting-Places and Sanctuaries”, in Gabrielse (...)

6Piguet’s chapter discusses associations of Asklepiastai in the SE Aegean and western Asia Minor. She notices that there is a high concentration of Asklepiastai in the Rhodian State—Rhodes (8), Syme (1) and the Rhodian Peraia (3)—while just three associations are attested in Asia Minor, i.e. in Alexandria Troas, Smyrna and the hinterland of Pergamon. One should add to Piguet’s list another association in Kolophon and two more in the island in Kos (18 attestations instead of 15).6 Within the Rhodian State,7 associations of Asklapiastai display some standard features of Rhodian associations: e.g. composite name; honours to benefactors; membership to more than one association; social integration and mobility. Moving to associations in Asia Minor, some features that might seem peculiar at first glance, such as the sale of the priesthood of Asklepios in Alexandria Troas,8 should have been better contextualised within the associational rather than the civic cadre; sales of priesthoods are known in other associations, such as the association of Sarapiastai in Thasos (CAPInv. 365; IG XII Suppl. 365). Likewise, approval of a decree by the proconsul should not be interpreted as direct intervention of the Roman authorities into the affairs of the porters (phortegoi) of Asklepios in second-century AD Smyrna; instead of imperial interference, such act should rather be seen as bearing symbolic value and adding to the prestige of the association.9 As for the Asklapiastai in the hinterland of Pergamon, membership drawn from the soldiers of the local phrourion indeed points to a closed group or “un univers fermé, circonscrit au phrourion” (p. 135). Yet, a distinction should be made between membership and cult practice. The purity regulations that were set up in the sanctuary founded by the association and addressed to any worshipper point rather to the inclusivity of the cult.10

  • 11 G. Arena, Communità di villagio nell’Anatolia romana. Il dossier epigraphico degli Xenoi Tekmorei (...)

7Labarre, an expert on the cult of Men in Antiochia by Pisidia, focuses his analysis on the association of Xenoi Tekmoreioi, as a response to the recent studies by Arena (2017) and Blanco-Pérez (2016).11 His objective is to give a nuanced overview of the material, clarify issues related to the rich epigraphic dossier (e.g. provenance, date) and the connection of the association to the sanctuary in Sağır. L. connects 37 inscriptions to this association (contra 51 in Arena). He maintains that all inscriptions should have originated from Sağır (a few were found in Kumdanlı, 13 km away from Sağır), where the sanctuary of Artemis should be located, which was also the gathering place of the association. Although the Xenoi Tekmoreioi take their name from a ritual (tekmor and tekmoreuein: “pledging allegiance”) that so far has been attested within the cult of Men in Antiochia in Pisidia, L. argues that their epigraphic dossier shows that they worshiped other deities as well.

  • 12 A set of analytical criteria has been outlined by V. Gabrielsen and C.A. Thomsen, “Introduction: (...)

8The last two chapters of the volume discuss two koina that differ profoundly from all other associations treated in the volume, in the sense that their members are not individuals coming together to found a group but cities associating on a supra-state level—one of the objectives of the volume is to examine associations at this level. W. Pillot treats the koinon of Athena Ilias, a modern designation used to refer to the cities partaking in the sanctuary and the festival of Athena at Ilion. G. Frija discusses the koinon of Ionians in the Roman Imperial period. As these koina brought together cities that took part in a common cult, performed collaborative actions, and advanced their interests on an inter-state level, they have traditionally been left out of discussions of religious associations or of private associations in general. The ubiquity of the term koinon in ancient Greek to describe different entities over hundreds of years should act as a warning: we need to carefully define this term in its different contexts and refine our criteria for designating different groups, groupings and organisations.12 Regardless of the prominence of cult activities in the life of the supra-civic koina (e.g. the organisation of the Panathenaia at Ilion in the case of the koinon of Athena Ilias), this alone does not justify their inclusion in a volume about religious associations (“associations cultuelles”), unless this modern designation is made so capacious—and therefore so vague—as to include all groups and organisations that partook in cult activity.

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Notes

1 It may suffice to mention the latest publications on associations that appeared almost simultaneously with this volume: R. Last and P.A. Harland, Group Survival in the Ancient Mediterranean: Rethinking material conditions in the landscape of Jews and Christians, London, 2020; B. Eckhardt, Romanisierung und Verbrüderung. Das Vereinswesen im römischen Reich, Berlin, 2021 (Klio, Beiheft 34); V. Gabrielsen and M.C.D. Paganini (eds.), Private Associations in the Ancient Greek World. Regulations and the Creation of Group Identity, Cambridge, 2021; A. Cazemier and S. Skaltsa (eds.), Associations and Religion in Context. The Hellenistic and Roman Eastern Mediterranean, Liège, 2022 (Kernos, suppl. 39).

2 CAPInv. 42; 478; 667; 756: these are examples found in the open-access Inventory of Ancient Associations (https://ancientassociations.ku.dk/CAPI/) for the region of Macedonia.

3 See also CAPInv. 41.

4 CAPInv. 477 (Beroia); CAPInv. 721 (Thessalonike).

5 Astypalaia was not incorporated in the Rhodian State in the Hellenistic period, see P.M. Fraser and G.E. Bean, The Rhodian Peraia and Islands, Oxford, 1954, p. 138 n. 2.

6 Association of Asklepiastai in Kolophon by the Sea (OMS II, 1171–1173; see recently S. Skaltsa and A. Cazemier, “Introduction”, in CazemierSkaltsa (2021), cit. above, p. 9–20, esp. p. 9–11) and associations of Asklepiastai on Kos (IG XII.4 2806, 2807: see recently J.-.M. Carbon, “Funerals and Foreigners, Founders and Functionaries: On the Boundary Stones of Associations from Kos”, in CazemierSkaltsa [2022], cit. above, p. 167–204).

7 The publications of B. Boyxen, Fremde in der hellenistischen Polis Rhodos: Zwischen Nähe und Distanz, Berlin, 2018 (Klio, Beiheft 29) and C. Thomsen, Politics of association in Hellenistic Rhodes, Edinburgh, 2020, that extensively treat Rhodian associations, probably appeared too late for Piguet to take into account. To mention some factual errors with regard to Rhodian associations: the honorand of the koinon of Asklepiastai Nikasioneioi Olympiastai (not IG XII.1 162 but MDAI(A) 25 [1900], p. 109, no. 108) is a woman and not a man (p. 120); Aristombrotidas held the priesthood of Athena Polias and not of Athena Lindia (p. 123); the name of the association in Tit.Cam. 78 is Asklapiastai kai Pythiastai kai Hermaistai and not simply Asklapiastai (p. 124, n. 33); the founder of the koinon of Asklapiastai Pasiphonteioi is Pasiphon and not Pasiphontos (Tit.Cam. 87) (p. 124); the Asklepiastai in Lindos honoured Lapheides and his son, not his wife who was honoured by other associations; Lapheides’ wife held the priesthood of Athena Lindia only (p. 124).

8 The inscription from Alexandria Troas is I.Alexandria Troas 4 and not no. 9 (p. 127, n. 46).

9 In connection to this particular association O.M. van Nijf, The Civic World of Professional Associations in the Roman East, Amsterdam, 1997, p. 222, points out that “confirmation of a local decree by a governor was a symbolic act designed to lend weight to the decision, and thus that this particular confirmation was a compliment to the porter’s association”.

10 See S. Skaltsa, “Associations and Place: Regulating Meeting-Places and Sanctuaries”, in GabrielsenPaganini (2021), cit. above, p. 117–143, esp. p. 133–140.

11 G. Arena, Communità di villagio nell’Anatolia romana. Il dossier epigraphico degli Xenoi Tekmoreioi, Rome, 2017; A. Blanco-Pèrez, “Mên Askaenos and the Native Cults of Antioch by Pisidia”, in M.-P. De Hoz, J.P. Sánchez Hermández and C. Molina Valero (eds.), Between Tarhuntas and Zeus Polieus. Cultural Crossroads in the Temples and Cults of Graeco-Roman Anatolia, Leuven, 2016, p. 117–169.

12 A set of analytical criteria has been outlined by V. Gabrielsen and C.A. Thomsen, “Introduction: Private Groups, Public Functions?”, in V. Gabrielsen and C.A. Thomsen (eds.), Private Associations and the Public Sphere. Proceedings of a Symposium held at the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters, 9–11 September 2010, Copenhagen, 2015, p. 7–24, esp. p. 10–12.

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Stella Skaltsa, « Les Associations cultuelles en Grèce et en Asie Mineure aux époques hellénistique et impériale. Compositions sociales, fonctions civiques et manifestations identitaires (époques hellénistique et romaine) »Kernos, 35 | 2022, 392-395.

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Stella Skaltsa, « Les Associations cultuelles en Grèce et en Asie Mineure aux époques hellénistique et impériale. Compositions sociales, fonctions civiques et manifestations identitaires (époques hellénistique et romaine) »Kernos [En ligne], 35 | 2022, mis en ligne le 01 février 2024, consulté le 23 avril 2024. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/kernos/4450 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/kernos.4450

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Stella Skaltsa

Saxo Institute — University of Copenhagen

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