Simulacra Civitatum: the Achaian League and the Lechaion Road basilica at Ancient Corinth
In the early 120's C.E., the emperor Hadrian employed the Peloponnesian Achaian League to unify mainland Greek cities and develop the potential of the province Achaia. Roman Corinth's role as urban leader of the Achaian League, with its imperial cult, may have been formalized by the renovation of the Lechaion Road basilica, embellished with an unusual sculpture program that included heroes, gods, and personifications representing the Peloponnesian members of the League. The figures may even visualize the itinerary of the emperor's first visit to Greece. An early Hadrianic date for the relief panels and the civic building they may have adorned supports the interpretation of the Lechaion Road basilica as administrative hub of the Achaian League. One of many public building projects at Corinth in the first half of the second century C.E., it is likely that the Lechaion Road basilica and its sculptures offer a profile of the city and the Achaian koinon before the initiation of the Panhellenion in Athens with its broader appeal to Greek cities in Asia Minor.
The Wrong Erastus: Status, Wealth, and Paul's Churches
In 1929 a damaged inscription was discovered near the theater in Corinth which mentioned an aedile by the name of Erastus. Since then, many New Testament scholars have identified this aedile Erastus with an oikonomos named Erastus who sent greetings from Corinth in Paul's letter to the Romans (16:23). This identification allowed scholars to claim that the Corinthian churches had members of higher status than previous reconstructions allowed. And since most of our information about Pauline believers comes from the letters to Corinth, the higher status model from Corinth influenced our understanding of the churches in other cities as well. Thus the Erastus inscription soon became a linchpin in 20th century reconstructions of the social status of Pauline Christianity. Unfortunately, the inscription was incorrectly published and the identification of the two Erastus references is wrong. This paper corrects the archaeological record about the aedile named Erastus, reassesses what we can know about the oikonomos named Erastus, and lays out the implications for our understanding of the social history of the Pauline churches.
Isthmia and the Eastern Corinthia in Late Antiquity
This paper will investigate the history of the Corinthia in Late Antiquity from the vantage point of Isthmia and the eastern "suburbs" of Corinth. This period was, of course, one of transition and monumental change, and the paper seeks to examine the changing ways in which the eastern part of the Corinthia interacted with Corinth itself and with the wider world. This investigation is based on the long-running archaeological excavations at the Sanctuary of Poseidon, which was transformed at this time from a Panhellenic place of worship to a strong point in the military defense of the Peloponnesos against barbarian attack. In addition, the paper will make use of the data generated by the Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey, active from 1999 to 2003, as well as many extensive topographic studies in the region. This investigation will define the period of Late Antiquity fairly broadly, reaching back to the 3rd and forward to the 7th or 8th century.
The Emperor in a Roman Town: the Base of the Augustales in the Forum at Corinth
Of the 2500 inscriptions mentioning Augustales, a municipal collegium focused on emperor worship and municipal evergetism, fewer than 100 can be associated with monuments found in archaeological contexts. One of the best preserved and documented, a monumental statue base dedicated to divus Augustus by Corinth's Augustales, was discovered in situ in excavations of the Forum, where it stands today, surrounded by the Peirene Fountain, the Julian Basilica, and the Central Shops. The commission also provides important evidence for the activities of the Augustales in the eastern part of the Empire, where the group was relatively rare. Despite these unusual details, the monument has received little attention. This paper first examines the Corinthian monument alongside similar commissions by Augustales from other towns before turning to focus on its significance within the social networks, dedicatory currents and cityscape of Roman Corinth. It reveals the ways in which emperor worship provided a malleable system that could be shaped to respond to specific local needs and tastes, explores how inscribed monuments engaged in active dialogue with their physical surroundings, and highlights the interweaving of religious devotion, honorific recognition, and self-fashioning in Roman towns.
Refilling the Cup of Demons: Paul and Private Religious Culture in Roman Corinth
John R. Lanci
In this paper I propose that we take seriously-as "religion"-private, domestic practices often overlooked by historians and religionists studying the population of first-century Corinth, practices which focused on fertility and birth, death and the needs and assistance of ancestors, domestic cult, and all varieties of worldly success encouraged by binding spells and rituals. After some theoretical reflections and a stab or two at defining relevant terms (e.g., religion, religious culture), I will explore how archaeological remains of Roman Corinth may assist New Testament scholars in reading Paul with new eyes.
The Social and Ethnic Origins of the Colonists in Early Roman Corinth
Investigation of the social and ethnic make-up of Early Roman Corinth elicited a range of conflicting claims and assertions over the course of the 20th century. Earlier opinions favoring a predominantly Greek population eventually yielded to a view of the colonists as thoroughly Romanized, even if many of them were ultimately Greek in origin; similarly, ancient testimonia for a population composed of freedmen, veterans or Rome's urban poor have been adduced in a variety of contexts. While some progress, primarily through onomastics, has been made toward a convincing evaluation of Early Roman Corinth's population, few scholars have examined either the evidence as a whole or the underlying assumptions. This paper seeks to place our understanding of Early Roman Corinth and its population on a more solid footing by appraising a wider range of evidence, literary and archaeological, public and private; by examining biases inherent in this evidence; and by adducing comparanda from comparable colonies. Finally, some attempt is made to suggest what effect the background of those who chose, or were chosen, to become colonists may have had on the development and realization of the city which became Roman Corinth.
The Metamorphosis of a Corinthian Goddess: From Demeter to Ceres
The paper will have as its focal point the metamorphosis of the Greek goddess of grain into her more complex (?) counterpart, the Roman goddess Ceres in Corinth. In which ways could we speak of this as a metamorphosis, what did it consist in, why did it happen, and how did it relate to broader social, cultural and economic changes in Corinth between the Greek and Roman periods? The paper will study how, if at all, the change also relates to broader differences in the 'make-up' of a woman, her role and her place in cosmos between Corinth's Greek and Roman phase. This will be useful in itself to explain some of the changes, but it will also allow us to explain who Ceres could be syncretised with, and why. The basic assumptions will be 1) as the society changes, so do the gods, and 2) changes at one end of the female pantheon has effects also at the other end, and 3) the goddesses were worshipped more for their functions than their names.
Religion and Society at Corinthian Kenchreai
This paper discusses the development of religious and social life at Kenchreai, the eastern port of Corinth, as reconstructed from textual and material sources both old and new. Kenchreai was a prosperous and populous community that developed rapidly during the 1st century C.E. and flourished throughout the Roman Empire until the Early Byzantine era. It was a major commercial center that remained a political subjugate of Corinth's but developed its own distinct and multifaceted identity. A synthetic discussion of architecture, inscriptions, artifacts, and burials will shed light on Kenchreai's eastern face, its social structure, its diverse cults, and its Christian congregation.
Chthonic Cult in the Corinthian Agora
Two conflicting hypotheses, neither of which has been fully articulated in print, place the Agora in different places. On reviewing the evidence, a stronger case can be made for locating the Agora under the Roman Forum than to for placing it to the north of Temple Hill. It is worth reexamining the Sacred Spring complex at the entrance to the putative Agora to establish how it may have worked and what deity or deities were worshipped there. The sanctuary was a form of theatre with wooden bleacher seats and three stage zones representing chthonic, living and Olympian space. The gods represented may include Apollo, Dionysus, Artemis, Demeter, Despoena and Hades.
Housing Shortage: The Pursuit of Lodgings in Roman Corinth
The question of domestic space in Corinth has long been a topic of interest, especially for authors with connections to New Testament studies. Numerous scholars have attempted to analyze evidence at Corinth with a mind to elucidating some aspect of Paul's Corinthian correspondence, or the Acts of the Apostles. These attempts differ in their approach to the material remains and the biblical text, but each one tries to deduce how Paul's community might have functioned in relation to various types of housing found at Corinth and elsewhere. After a brief review of these efforts, this paper compares the results of such analysis, and evaluates the efficacy of attempts to connect archaeological remains with biblical material.
Deploying Greek Heritage in Roman Corinth:
Uncovering Hybrid Identities in the Archaeology of Traditional Cult
Roman engagement with the eastern Mediterranean resulted in a radical transformation of Greek identity that manifested itself on many different fronts. In the civic religion of many Greek cities, inscriptions, iconography, and cult architecture demonstrate revived interest not only in traditional "Greek" religion, but even in particular local cults. Generally the local elite, rather than Roman settlers, were instrumental in transforming these cities' religious heritage to express a new, hybrid identity within the Roman empire, while at the same time stressing their Greek identity in a strategy of boundary formation that maintained a distinct cultural identity against potential assimilation. Corinth provides an important contrast as a Greek city of considerable antiquity refounded as a Roman colony after a long hiatus of reduced cultural activity. An archaeological survey of activity in traditional civic cults at Corinth during the Roman imperial period (first to second centuries CE) suggests conscious attempts to connect with the Greek past in the context of a dominant Roman cultural identity. These accommodations expressed Roman values in forms that implied continuity with Greek culture, forging a common hybrid discourse that developed the terms of interaction between the city's Roman and Greek inhabitants, notably by construing Roman innovations as continuations of Corinth's Greek heritage.
Image and Cult: the Civic Coinage of Roman Corinth
Corinth minted regularly from 44/43 BC until the early 3rd century AC, and the images on these bronze coins reflect the changing role of the city from freedman colony to one of the most important commercial and cultural centers of mainland Greece. An introductory comment on the uses - and misuses - of numismatic evidence is followed by discussion of specific topics: how does the coinage clarify the appearance and function of religious monuments and cult images - some new identifications are proposed; the influence of agonistic festivals; the Corinthian coinage considered in the wider context of other coinages of the Peloponnese; finally, the use of coins as religious symbols or talismans.
Whatever Happened to the Names? Corinthian Funerary Inscriptions
Private inscriptions, for the most part funerary epitaphs, have not received the same attention as public inscriptions, but they are the main source of information for ordinary Corinthians. A survey of the findspots of Corinthian graves and accompanying inscriptions is preliminary to a detailed examination of two discrete groups of epitaphs. These normally provide little detail beyond a name, and sometimes family associations or occupation; very few refer to external, datable events. Yet, when combined with the character and style of the script, and the material employed for the gravestone, a framework for dating can be established. The conclusions point to the existence, in the late Roman era, of separate communities within the city and a prosperous Corinthian middle-class.
Paul and the Politics of Meals in Roman Corinth
This paper reads Paul's regulation of meal practices in the Corinthian ekklesia in light of the Lex Coloniae Genetivae CXXXII. This law reflects Roman concerns that meals provided powerful opportunities for candidates and their friends to exert improper electioneering influence. The paper argues that Paul's rebuke of the Corinthians for their meal practices in the setting of the Lord's Supper (1 Cor. 11:17-34) is best understood as an attempt to limit the influence that Paul's opponents exerted through meals. This thesis is supported through discussion of three interrelated matters: (1) The crisis of influence Paul faced at Corinth; (2) The potential for meals to be a powerful means to exert influence; (3) Paul's attempt to create a more ritualized space for the Lord's Supper as a strategy to limit the utility of the meal for influence peddling.
The Forum and Urban Form in Roman Coloniae: Recent Evidence from Ostia Antica
L. Michael White
The plan of the Roman forum of Corinth has long been a difficult problem based on its unusual orientation and the vexed identification of individual buildings in relation to Pausanias' description. In the final analysis it does not seem to conform to the expectations of typical forum planning. But what constitutes a "typical" forum in Roman coloniae? Recent archaeological work on sites such as Cosa and Ostia, long thought to be prime examples of urban form among coloniae, have shown that many of these assumptions need to be reevaluated. This paper will review recent revisionist studies of this question and examine the archaeological evidence for the development of the urban plan and the forum at Ostia Antica, traditionally Rome's first colony. It will be shown that (a) the establishment of the colony (or castrum) at Ostia is later than previously supposed, (b) that it originally had no forum, (c) that the layout of its forum was the product of a conscious plan of urban development occurring later still, under the emperors Augustus and Tiberius, and (d) that its final form resulted from a massive rebuilding under Hadrian. These conclusions will offer potentially important comparanda for understanding the contemporaneous development of the Corinth forum.
Asklepios in Greek and Roman Corinth
The Greek healing god Asklepios was one of the most popular deities of the ancient Mediterranean, as attested by the fact that his sanctuaries extended the length and breadth of the Greco-Roman world. It comes as no surprise that his sanctuary at Corinth, the crossroads of Greco-Roman civilization, was one of his longest-lived cult centers. Its beginnings lie as early as the fifth century BCE; the sanctuary was reestablished in the first century BCE with the founding of the Roman colony, and continued in use until at least the late fourth century CE. Yet the remains of this important sanctuary are frustratingly scant both for the Greek and Roman periods of the city. In order to attain a better understanding of the worship of Asklepios in Corinth and its relevance to the city's cultural landscape, particularly in the Roman period, this paper will review evidence for Asklepios in Corinth against the broader development of his cult elsewhere in the Mediterranean, as well as against the expansion of other healing cults, including Christianity, and of Greek and Roman medicine.