(B2-21) Politics in Cult Performance – Religious Services in Politics: The Sacred Laws (leges sacrae) of the Greek City-States as a Source of Awareness of Religious-Political Interdependence in Antiquity

The unreflected blending of religion and politics is among those axioms which, among other things, are often, without consideration, imputed to the societies of the Greek cultural environment from archaic to Roman times. As can be read again and again, from standard works like U. v. Wilamovitz-Moellendorff’s “Glaube der Hellenen” or M. P. Nilsson’s “Geschichte der griechischen Revolution” to more recent studies like L. Bruit Zaidman/P. Schmitt Panel’s “ Religion grecque dans la cité grecque …”, the one is inextricably linked with the other and vice versa, so that, arguably, a “political religion” or “religious politics” may be referred to, but not a coexistence of the two phenomena.

The suspicion that this is ultimately about a counter concept to the so-called profane societies of the modern age which is projected back is apparent – and a group of sources which provide first-hand information about the cooperation or coexistence of divine service and statehood offers the chance to put the rule to the test: the so-called sacred laws or leges sacrae, which regulated, partly in exhaustive detail, particulars about the group of participants, organisation, course of action etc. of mostly urban cults in different regions of the Greek world.

No less than 153 such texts or text fragments were compiled more than 100 years ago by J. v. Prott/L. Ziehen (Leges Graecorum Sacrae, 1896-1906). This compilation was extended in three stages by F. Sokolowksi in the 1950s and 1960s (Lois sacrées de l´Asie Mineure, 1955; Lois sacrées des cités grecques. Supplément, 1962; Lois sacrées des cités grecques, 1969). It has been growing ever since due to recent finds such as those from Carian Bargylia (K. Zimmermann, Späthellenistische Kultpraxis in einer karischen Kleinstadt. Eine neue lex sacra aus Bargylia, Chiron 30, 2000, 451-485) or, lately, from Lycian Patara (H. Engelmann, in: Lykien, hg. v. Ch. Schuler, 2007, 134f). The project head is currently in charge of the epigraphic processing of the latter.

Single aspects from ceremonial to financing dealt with in these have already been investigated in detail, but a fundamental rapprochement to the relationship between religion and politics is still due in these texts and is to be accomplished in the context of “Interdependence and Dissociation”. For that purpose, terminological studies on the cultic or political contents of key terms are necessary as philological epigraphic preliminary work; key historical issues will be, for example, the conflicting interests of the sacral and the political function of the attested actors, or the sacral charging of political of political differentiations (e.g., citizens/metics/women/slaves/freedmen/Romans). An examination of the effect of the media in the archaeological context (public space/cult site), however, will also contribute to developing a sophisticated answer to the question whether we have to see in the leges sacrae a medium of a diffuse “political religion” or of a conscious and targeted interdependence between the two fields.

The Project is part of interconnecting platform E Differentiation and De-Differentiation and of coordinated project groups Secularisation and sacralisation of media, The implementation and enforcement of norms and Religious influences on economic systems and activities.