Private participation in ruler cults:dedications to Philip Soter and other Hellenistic Kings

Jim, Suk Fong (2017) Private participation in ruler cults:dedications to Philip Soter and other Hellenistic Kings. Classical Quarterly, 67 (2). pp. 429-443. ISSN 0009-8388

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Hellenistic ruler cult has generated much scholarly interest and an enormous bibliography; yet, existing studies have tended to focus on the communal character of the phenomenon, whereas the role of private individuals (if any) in ruler worship has attracted little attention. This article seeks to redress this neglect. The starting point of the present study is an inscription Διὶ | καὶ βασιλεῖ | Φιλίππωι Σωτῆρι on a rectangular marble plaque from Maroneia in Thrace. Since the text was published in 1991, it has been disputed whether the king in question is Philip II or Philip V of Macedon. The question is further complicated by a newly published text from Thasos, plausibly restored to read [Β]ασιλέως Φιλί[ππου] | σωτῆρος. The identity of the king in these texts is a matter of great historical significance: if Philip II is meant, not only would this impinge on the question of his divinity, he would also be the first king called Sōtēr, thus providing the earliest attestation of a cult epithet spreading from the traditional gods to monarchs. The first part of this article will re-examine the king's identity by studying these two texts in connection with other dedications similarly addressed to a ‘King Philip’ and apparently set up by private individuals. The second will move beyond Macedonia: it will draw on potential parallels from the Attalid, Seleucid and Ptolemaic kingdoms and explore the possible contexts in which individuals set up similar objects. It will be demonstrated that, while there is evidence from other Hellenistic kingdoms of seemingly ‘private’ dedications set up according to civic or royal commands, in Macedonia the piecemeal and isolated nature of the evidence does not permit a conclusive answer. But whether set up spontaneously or by civic command, these objects provide important evidence for the interaction between the public and the private aspects of ruler worship.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Classical Quarterly
Additional Information: The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, Classical Quarterly, 67 (2), pp 429-443 2017, © 2017 Cambridge University Press.
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23 Jan 2017 09:40
Last Modified:
15 Sep 2023 00:33