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Roman Religion$
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Clifford Ando

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780748615650

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748615650.001.0001

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Polis-Religion and its Alternatives in the Roman Provinces

Polis-Religion and its Alternatives in the Roman Provinces

(p.39) 2 Polis-Religion and its Alternatives in the Roman Provinces
Roman Religion

Gregory Woolf


This chapter examines one ordering principle that has recently become especially prominent in the study of the cults of the provinces in Rome, referred as the ‘polis-religion model’. However, that model of ancient religion itself has an ideological component. The chapter considers what difference it makes to our understanding of the cults of the Roman provinces if the polis-religion model is regarded not as the key to understanding their organisation, but simply as one among several ordering principles, and an interested one at that. It begins by outlining the main features of the polis-religion model. Those who make use of it begin from seeing ancient religion as essentially homologous with the social and political structures of ancient societies. The spread of the city-state in Greece, through the Mediterranean basin and in Hellenistic and Roman empires, led to the extension of polis-religion.

Keywords:   cults, Rome, polis-religion, city-state, religion, Greece, Mediterranean, provinces

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