Abstract of Dignas, Beate. Economy of the Sacred in Hellensitic and Roman Asia Minor.

Dignas, Beate. Economy of the Sacred in Hellensitic and Roman Asia Minor. Oxford Classical Monographs. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. [Israel/Rome]

Abstract: This book challenges the idea that sanctuaries in Hellenistic and Roman Asia Minor were fully institutionalised within the cities that hosted them. Examining the forms of interaction between rulers, cities, and sanctuaries, the book proposes a triangular relationship in which the rulers often acted as mediators between differing interests of city and cult. A close analysis of the epigraphical evidence based on inscriptions illustrates that neither the Hellenistic kings nor the representatives of Roman rule appropriated the property of the gods but actively supported the functioning of the sanctuaries and their revenues. The powerful role of the sanctuaries was to a large extent based on economic features, which the sanctuaries possessed precisely because of their religious character. Nevertheless, a study of the finances of the cults reveals frequent problems concerning the upkeep of cults and a particular need to guard the privileges and property of the gods. Their situation oscillated between glut and dearth. When the harmonious identity between city and cult was disturbed, those closely attached to the cult acted on behalf of their domain.

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