- Ecumenical synods
- The associations of athletes and artists in Roman empire
- Award date
- 26 January 2018
- Number of pages
- Document type
- PhD thesis
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam School of Historical Studies (ASH)
In the first three centuries of the Roman imperial period, Greek festival culture flourished as never before. Hundreds of cities organised their own agones, competitions for athletes and artists, which were linked to each other in an official festival calendar. Successful athletes and artists spent their entire careers travelling from one agon to the next and from one province to the other. These wandering professionals were represented by two extraordinary associations or ‘synods’: the xystic synod of athletes and the thymelic synod of artists. They styled themselves ‘ecumenical’, as they were active in every city where agones were organised, in a region spanning from southern Gaul to Syria and Egypt. With headquarters in Rome and representatives travelling across the Mediterranean, they gave the ancient competitors a powerful lobby, and a bureaucracy typically associated with modern rather than ancient sports.
This thesis is the first comprehensive monograph on the two ecumenical synods of the Roman Empire. Bringing together information from epigraphical, papyrological and literary sources, it tries to reconstruct their long-forgotten history from their emergence in the late first century BC until their final demise in the late fourth century AD. Not only their organisation and professional activities are dealt with, but also their particularly close connections with the imperial court and their ambiguous relationship with the Greek poleis. As such, this thesis vindicates the ecumenical synods as essential components of Graeco-Roman high culture in the Principate.
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