Degree Date

10-2017

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology

Abstract

Identifying the factors that affected dedicatory practices has long been an area of consideration in the study of ancient Greek religion. However, this discussion is largely dominated by two concepts, those of divine specialization and appropriateness. Whereas the former assumes that divine beings had responsibilities specific to them and that this specialization limited the range of offerings a deity could receive, the latter assumes that worshippers not only selected gifts in accordance with those divine specializations but also based on preconceived notions of gender roles of worshippers and deities alike. In addition, there is a tendency to deprive worshippers of their agency and, thus, their ability to shape their own dedicatory experience.

This study reconsiders the role that worshippers play in the dedicatory process by reconceptualizing it as a series of choices. Thus, it considers the flexibility and limitation of ancient Greek dedicatory practices by identifying the factors that affected a worshipper's experiences when offering gifts to divine beings. It also examines a wider range of sources, considering a fresh and broader selection of literary sources coupled with archaeological and epigraphical evidence. By bringing together material from the Geometric to the Hellenistic period from all across the Greek world, this dissertation creates a more nuanced reconstruction of the dedicatory process and thus demonstrates that each worshipper had a unique dedicatory experience when offering a gift to a divine being.

Factors that did restrict worshippers in their choices included regulations limiting access to sanctuaries and areas within them, personal aspects of worshippers, such as social status, membership in certain groups, and gender, as well as the inheritance of a vow. A careful review of the evidence suggests that notions of specialization and appropriateness were less limiting than previously thought. Worshippers could dedicate an offering of their choice to a deity or hero because they were flexible beings and capable of aiding worshippers in a variety of activities. Similarly, the gender of the worshipper and the deity did not necessarily dictate the choice of gift.

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