Groups and Associations in Bithynia and Pontus: Interaction with prominent Statesmen and provincial Governors

Nikos GIANNAKOPOULOS   364–387

 

Abstract: Pliny’s correspondence demonstrates that private associations in Roman Bithynia and Pon­tus were considered forces of considerable significance in the local civic societies and conse­quently a matter of care and concern for the provincial authorities. But how could these non-official corporate bodies acquire such an importance? The present paper proposes to deal with this problem by focusing on the relations cultivated between Bithynian-Pontic associations and specific individuals possessing high status at a local or regional level. The epigraphic evidence indicates that local statesmen provided formal leadership and external championship to associations and received public honours from them. Bithyniarchai and provincial governors even collaborated with indi­vi­dual associations in the construction of monuments honouring, or dedicated to, the Roman em­peror. This sort of personalized interaction with specific members of the elite enabled asso­ciat­ions to advertise themselves as the favourites of important political figures and through their cont­ri­bution to the imperial monuments to participate in a common political discourse which placed their own micro-communities in an empire-wide context. On the other hand, in a struc­turally fac­tionalist political environment, the persistently democratic character of which en­couraged politic­ians to appeal directly to the people, the associations’ affiliation to prominent statesmen could also func­tion as vehicle of mobilization in time of conflict.

Keywords: Bithynia; Pontos; associations; city elites; euergetism; personalized interaction; patro­nage.

 

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