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Abstract | The New Order of Time and Cult in Synoecized Poleis

In 408/7 BC, the old Rhodian cities of Ialysus, Camirus, and Lindus united to form one polis and create a joint capital called Rhodes at the northern tip of the island. Cos, Cnidus, and other democratic or oligarchic cities followed their example more or less successfully in the course of the 4th century. They gave up their independence in favor of a superior and more distant sovereignty, sent out citizens to build up a new urban center, and therefore endangered the existence and identity of their old settlements for a prospective greater common goal. To constitute a sustainable union out of autonomous and rivaling poleis, their citizens – they are the protagonists – needed to establish sufficient public space where they could gather, dispute, and make terms: market places, theaters, courts and other buildings for political, administrative, legislative, economical and juridical interaction. Likewise they needed sacred space to share religious experiences: places, streets as well as sanctuaries of  various kinds for celebrating and venerating the same gods and heroes. Both fields are the object of intense research, whereas much less attention has been paid to time as an important factor in this process. Reaching a consensus regarding the order and sequence of time is a prerequisite to collective identity, as I will argue, not only for synoecized poleis. The paper examines the introduction of the combined Rhodian calendar and its related new order of cults and festivals, in particular the installation of Helios as the principal god of the pan-Rhodian state, and the placement of the Helieia, his agonistic festival. 

About Sven Schipporeit

Sven Schipporeit (PhD Heidelberg University) teaches at the University of Vienna. A Classical Archaeologist, his main focus lies on the interaction between religion, imagery, architecture, urban development and society from archaic Greece to early imperial Rome. This research encompasses a doctoral thesis on “Kulte und Heiligtümer der Demeter und Kore in Ionien” released in 2013 as vol. 16 in the Byzas series including a close look on the Eleusinian mysteries, surveys on cult meals and chariots for the Thesaurus Cultus et Rituum Antiquorum, on votive practice and images, on religion and politics in Ionia and Sicily, and on several topics centered around the Roman Triumph, carried out as Research Fellow in Heidelberg and as Assistant Professor in Vienna at the Departments of Classical Archaeology. As a CHS and DAI fellow he will work on the urban fabric and cultic constitution of synoicized Poleis in late classical and early hellenistic times: Rhodes will serve as a first case study, where the citizens promoted the minor god Helios to patron of the unified city-state, in place of Athena, the widely recognized poliadic goddess of their old three cities.

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