Distant Deities, Central Places

Conference Paper

Session 3: Comparative Angles
Friday 2023-04-07
13:30 | 18:00

In relation to…

Keynote: Marietta Horster (University of Mainz), 2023-04-07, Time: 17:00 - 18:00


Large sanctuaries such as Eleusis, linked to a city, administered and co-financed by it, are, like the Panhellenic sanctuaries, just as much at odds with the all-dominant narrative of the city and its territory as the small rural sanctuaries, which were possibly left to themselves. Just as crosswise are sanctuaries whose ‘political’ origins were initially different or are league-related, lying close to if not in one of the cities of an alliance, but with a nevertheless different reference. With changing political constellations, the perception and function of the embedding of a shrine in a given landscape changes the relationship to the previously responsible twists, original points of reference are lost, the clientele of worshipers probably changes as well. The "in relation to" becomes a different one.

Apart from consequences of political changes, narratives especially shaped perceptions of sacred landscapes in antiquity, much like they do today. Pausanias is a particular case in point, presenting the whole of Greece as a remembered sacred landscape in which everything else seems to become secondary. If anything, what would be the "relation to" in the case of the imperial-period author Pausanias? Time, probably more than place and space, or the many Greek political units, or Rome as the centre of the empire, or Corinth as the seat of the governor of Achaia, but the ‘classical period’.

The lecture undertakes to ask what changes can arise from such longer-lasting and temporary shifts in ‘relationships’ and what material and textual evidence shapes our image of them.


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