n Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe - Die Panhellenion onder keiser Hadrianus en die Antonini : die akkommodasie van 'n betekenisvolle kulturele minderheid tydens die Romeinse Prinsipaat

Volume 43, Issue 1_2
  • ISSN : 0041-4751


This reviews reviews the (mostly inscriptional) evidence on the second century Greek Panhellenion and the insights on it presented in various important contributions by Oliver, Spawforth and Walker, Jones and others. The aim is to gain an understanding of the phenomenon of cultural minorities in imperial society and their protection, as presented here in a unique case study occurring in antiquity. While the evidential basis for the Panhellenion indeed remains analytical and fragmentary, and slender on crucial counts, enabling only a partial reconstruction of its functioning, it nevertheless remains possible to gain an outline idea of its essence and history. However, while mostly agreeing with the reconstructions made by others, it appears as if the symbolic functioning of the Panhellenion has not previously been fully appreciated. Indeed, the Panhellenion tied its functioning fully to the operationalisation of geographical, religious and historical symbols which assisted in the mobilisation of coherence among Greek communities. The geographical situation of these communities, the perceived historical past which they shared, the influential presence among these Greek communities of the religious cults of Zeus and of Demeter and Kore in Eleusis, the deeply religious and social significance of joint athletic games, their Roman subjugation, and the omnipresence of the Roman emperor through the imperial cult, were all elements which became charged with the deep-seated desire to share and enjoy their ethnic identity. It also becomes clear that the Roman Empire, as the globalising power of that time, did not succeed in penetrating into the heart of the senses of calendarity and cardinality (Stiegler) which so strongly characterise the localisation of communities, and which are integrated by joint language usage.

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