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‘Priest’—‘Eparchy-arch’—‘Speaker of the ethnos

The Areas of Responsibility of the Highest Officials of the Eastern Provincial Imperial Cult

In: Mnemosyne
Author: Marco Vitale1
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  • 1 Faculty of Classics, University of Oxford, The Ioannou Centre for Classical and Byzantine Studies, 66 St Giles’, Oxford ox1 3lu
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In the Roman Eastern provinces, the concept and rituals of a province-wide imperial cult were based on a pre-existing tradition of Hellenistic ruler’s divinization and worship. But its formal mise en place was conformed to the new territorial framework of Roman administration: a gubernatorial provincia/ἐπαρχεία appears subdivided into several administrative sub-provinces that were likewise called provinciae/ἐπαρχεῖαι. The cities of almost all known eparchies in terms of sub-provinces formed koina responsible for the provincial imperial cult and the political representation of the provincials headed by priestly officials, such as bithyniarchai or ‘(high-)priests of the eparchy/-ies’, whose titles refer explicitly to the represented sub-province. The correlation between these koina and Roman territorial administration from almost all Eastern provinces demands more political functions of the koinon-officials than only priestly ones, as shown by the frequently combined titulatures.

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