The Religious Taxonomy of Attic Associations

In: Acta Archaeologica
Christian Ammitzbøll Thomsen Assistant professor, Archaeology, Ethnology, Greek & Latin, History, SAXO Institute, University of Copenhagen Copenhagen Denmark

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Judging from the epigraphic record, the first through third centuries BCE saw the rise of a large number of private cult associations throughout the Greek-speaking world. This was particularly true of Athens. Some associations, however, were more devout than others, at least according to modern historians who have seen in associations of eranistai groups of “venture capitalists” operating under a religious pretext. This paper challenges the traditional taxonomy of cult associations by way of a re-examination of the literary and epigraphic evidence and a comparison between eranistai and other cult associations, primarily thiasōtai and orgeōnes, with a specific focus on various aspects of organisation, membership, and activities in Hellenistic Athens.

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