The Spatial Turn and Associational Space
Associations were variably anchored in space and place.Footnote 1 Being active in different spheres of life, associations carved their own space into the urban fabric or in the countryside to accommodate their multifaceted activities. Associations were emplaced in civic, sacred and funerary space, enriching and expanding it through their dedicatory, honorific, religious and commemorative practices.Footnote 2 In these respects, their activities informed the built environment, which in turn framed social interaction.
This chapter sets out to explain the ways in which meeting-places of associations came into being, how the identity of associations was embedded in space and how these places were regulated. In particular, it draws on spatial theory, following a resurgence of interest by ancient historians in the ‘spatial turn’. By this, one designates the study of space not as a mere physical form but as a social construct, which is being informed by and informs human behaviour.Footnote 3 The present objective is manifold: first, to address the importance of space in construing the group’s identity; second, to assess the regulations that pertained to the management and/or use of associational space as a mechanism that informed the nature of the association in question (that is to say, its exclusivity or inclusivity).
Social theorists and urban geographers have long pointed out that space is not static but the product of social interaction in that ‘space can be shaped from the social meanings of people’s lives’.Footnote 4 According to sociologists, place, as a concept, is characterised by three distinct features: a fixed geographical location, a material form and meaning – with all three features being closely interconnected to one another.Footnote 5 These features can readily apply to the meeting-places of associations. As physical entities, they provided a concrete locale where collective action unfolded. Through decision-making processes, the organisation of celebrations and other festivities that helped cement bonds of membership and togetherness, place took on specific meaning and became a point of reference for the collectivity.
Attachment to a specific place mattered a great deal, especially in societies witnessing an influx or outflow of people. Often a toponym or a geographical indication features as part of the official name of an association. In light of its name, an association appears tied to a specific city, area or even structure, on a physical just as much as on a perceptual level. Naming practices, thus, strongly suggest that attachment to a specific place was embedded in the identity of the group.Footnote 6 In the case of the Poseidoniasts on Delos, the adjectival ethnic ‘Berytians’ (Βηρύτιοι) features as one of the constituent elements of their official name.Footnote 7 The link with Beirut, the motherland, works on a mnemonic level, as the physical setting of their activities was far away from home, on the island of Delos in the Aegean. The association was well grounded on Delos as a trading society involved in maritime trade and seafaring, with its clubhouse being fully integrated into the urban fabric of the city, located in the heart of one of the residential quarters.Footnote 8 Yet, the notion of origin and the link with the mother city played an important role in the self-representation of the association, which was in turn embedded in the articulation of sacred space within the clubhouse.Footnote 9
For other associations, affiliation to a place was directly related to the physical setting. In a few instances, the meeting-place became a metonym for the association itself: the most characteristic example is that of the Athenian Bakcheion, denoting both an association as well as its meeting-place.Footnote 10 Moreover, spatial elements that were constituent parts of the name of an association certainly helped to distinguish between homonymous associations active in the same city. For instance, in Rhodes, where an abundance of associations co-existed in Hellenistic times, the reference to place seems to function on a multiple level: it demonstrates origin and/or place of action, while it can also reveal the interests of associations in a certain place, which often transcended the physical borders of a fixed locale.Footnote 11
The objective of this chapter, however, is not to discuss the role of toponyms and other spatial features in the composition of the names of associations, despite the important insights into their self-representation which they can yield. Instead, this investigation focusses on the role of space as an element that grounded associations to a specific place, to a greater or lesser degree. By jointly discussing the membership profile of associations, their attachment to a specific meeting-place and the varied evidence about regulations that directly or indirectly pertained to the management and/or use of space, it will be demonstrated that the exclusivity or the inclusivity of the spaces corresponded with the exclusivity or the inclusivity of the association in question.
In most cases, the materiality of associational space largely escapes us. The multifarious activities of associations could be housed in a wide array of architectural forms. As a result, associational space as a physical entity does not necessarily present distinct architectural features (layout, articulation of space).Footnote 12 It is commonly accepted that, in the absence of inscriptions found in situ, architectural remains can hardly be identified as meeting-places of associations.Footnote 13 In cases of safely identified clubhouses, a combination of factors, from architectural features and the articulation of space to artefacts and other material remains, helps to considerably illuminate the organisation and the use of space.Footnote 14
Inscriptions, however, can shed significant light onto issues directly related to the concept of space, understood less as a physical entity and more as a social and cultural one.Footnote 15 Indeed, the activities that took place within a space – such as rituals, assemblies and the like – can often be traced in the epigraphic record. Collective action took place at a specific locale: this constituted the setting for social interaction (physical space) and the product of social interaction (social space).
Here, my focus will be on the articulation of sacred space and the ways in which the latter was regulated. Drawing on associations whose raisons d’être differed substantially from one another, this chapter aims to elucidate differing attitudes towards the regulation of space. The analysis will focus first on three familial associations in the Aegean (Cos and Thera) and coastal Asia Minor (Halicarnassus) with a view to evaluate the degree of exclusivity in terms of membership profile and access to a place. The discussion will then move to NW Asia Minor in the Augustan period: an inscription from Cyme offers unique glimpses into a case of dislocation. The last part of the chapter will draw on material from Attica and the hinterland of Pergamum. It will be argued that regardless of the special interests an association had in a place, shrines managed by associations could be open to a wider community of worshippers, as this allowed the revival or the continuity of cult. In other words, bringing the ‘spatial turn’ into the study of associations, space is examined as a dynamic entity, often the object of close regulation. In light of the nature and content of rules that regulated space, it will be argued that the relationship of an association to place can inform us about the degree of exclusivity or inclusivity of the association in question.
Exclusive Spaces: Attachment to a Place
Three epigraphic dossiers, those of Diomedon on Cos (late fourth to first decades of the third century BC), Poseidonios in Halicarnassus (ca. 280–240 BC) and Epikteta on Thera (210–195 BC), respectively, are particularly illuminating with regard to the setting and built environment of meeting-places of associations, despite the absence of archaeological remains.Footnote 16 Diomedon’s dossier consists of three different texts inscribed at different times, within the time span of a few decades between the late fourth and early third century BC.Footnote 17 Likewise, Poseidonios’ dossier includes three different parts: an oracle given to Poseidonios (χρησμός, Laum Reference Laum1914: II no 117, ll. 1–11), a pledge of properties from Poseidonios to his familial group (ὑποθήκη, ll. 12–22) and the decree of Poseidonios and the group (δόγμα, ll. 22–52). Epikteta’s dossier, inscribed on the pedestal that once supported her statue and the statues of her two sons, contains her testament (IG XII.3 330, ll. 1–108) and the decree of the association (ll. 109–288), including its statutes (νόμος, l. 276).
The importance of these three groups for a study of associational space lies in the fact that they share features that are closely intertwined: a closed group (association), a locale fixed in space (meeting-place of the association) and performance of ritual activity (cult). As will be shown, the founders of the respective associations took concrete steps to regulate space, as this was vital not only or not always for the funding of the cult, but for the perpetuation of the association itself.
A consecrated area, temenos (τέμενος), dedicated to a god or a group of gods features in all three cases, while a designated funerary space is included in two instances (Thera and Halicarnassus). In Cos, the temenos was adjacent to other facilities such as guest houses with a garden and other buildings (ξενῶνας τοὺς ἐν τῶι κάπωι; οἰκημάτια, IG XII.4 1 348, ll. 44–5), while in Halicarnassus the temenos probably encompassed a courtyard (αὐλή, Laum Reference Laum1914: II no 117, l.17), a garden (κῆπον, l.17) and other unspecified facilities around the funerary monument (καὶ τὰ περὶ τὸ μνημεῖον, l.17), as the inscription informs us. Their exact location escapes us in all three cases. The pedestal inscribed with Epikteta’s testament and the decree of the association was transported to Italy already by 1568.Footnote 18 Its original location is hence unknown. In the absence of funerary monuments from within the ancient city of Thera, the temenos of the Muses with the funerary monuments should have been located outside the city.Footnote 19 Likewise, the temenos of Heracles Diomedonteios in Cos should have been located in the outskirts of the city, as indicated by the findspot of the inscription.Footnote 20 More complicated is the picture with regard to the temenos consecrated by Poseidonios in Halicarnassus. Sara Campanelli envisages a rural setting for the temenos.Footnote 21 However, the inscription broken into pieces was built into a Turkish house not far away from the Mausolleion.Footnote 22 As the stele was found in Halicarnassus, we can assume with some caution that the temenos was laid out in Halicarnassus, and for this reason it was not felt necessary to further indicate its exact location, unlike the field that Poseidonios bequeathed to the association, the location of which was specified with precision.Footnote 23
Similarities and differences between these three epigraphic dossiers in terms of cult practice, financial management and use of space have been recently analysed at length by Campanelli.Footnote 24 Underlining the family-based character of the groups and their relation to landed properties and assets, she draws a distinction between real estate and sacred property. In doing so, she explains the different mechanisms employed in these three cases with regard to the management of revenue-bearing property and consequently the different financial means available for the financing of the cult. In the cases of Diomedon and Poseidonios, the meeting-place itself brought revenue to the association through leasing, unlike, for example, the meeting-place of the association of male relatives in Thera, which was protected against any sort of financial exploitation.Footnote 25
The associations came into being at the initiative of individuals, in order to foster the cult of specific deities and/or deceased family members.Footnote 26 In all three cases, lineage, real or fictive, constitutes the underlying principle on which membership is based.Footnote 27 The association founded by Epikteta in Thera bears a full-fledged name – τὸ κοινὸν τοῦ ἀνδρείου τῶν συγγενῶν (‘the association of the male relatives’) – where all members are described as relatives, even though membership was drawn from three different families.Footnote 28 In the case of Diomedon, membership is based on descent from the male line of the family as well as on the sharing of the cult.Footnote 29 Unlike Diomedon, Poseidonios is more inclusive when it comes to descendants, as both relatives from the male and female line are welcomed as well as those related by marriage to them.Footnote 30 Membership found its primary embodiment, when relatives and descendants – real or fictive – came together during the festivities that were held in honour of gods, founders and/or deceased family members.
In all three inscriptions under question (and especially in the case of Epikteta and Diomedon), the place of the group and its constituent components are among the first to be defined.Footnote 31 Celebrations were fixed in time, their duration was defined and the performance of rites and sacrifices was prescribed and regulated. Likewise, the meeting-place, where the association came together to partake in these festivities, was anchored in a specific locale, the use and management of which was strictly regulated. The cult was tied to a specific place and, conversely, the place demarcated the site for the performance of cultic and ritual activity. In all three cases, the meeting-place is not just any place, but in particular a shrine consecrated to a god or group of gods, a concrete locale for celebrations and ritual activity. A sacred precinct features in all three cases: a sanctuary of the Muses (Mouseion) in Thera, a temenos of Heracles Diomedonteios in Cos, a temenos consecrated to several gods in Halicarnassus (Zeus Patroos, Apollo who rules over Telemessos, the Moirai, the Mother of the Gods, the Agathos Daimon of Poseidonios and Gorgis and the Agathe Tyche of Poseidonios’ parents).
Furthermore, a precinct with funerary monuments and a funerary monument is a key element of the cult site in Thera and in Halicarnassus, respectively. In Thera, within the Mouseion stood the temenos of the heroes (τὸ τέμενος τῶν ἡρώων) – a sacred precinct set aside for the funerary monuments (τὰ ἡρῶια) of Epikteta’s husband and her two sons.Footnote 32 In Halicarnassus, the funerary monument of Poseidonios’ parents is called mnemeion, a monument of memory; this term appropriately blends together function (tomb/monument) and symbolism (receptacle of memory).Footnote 33 It was surrounded by other unspecified structures, perhaps the altars of the other gods (τὰ περὶ τὸ μνημεῖον).Footnote 34 Though its location is not specified, by analogy to the case of Thera, it can be safely assumed that it was built within the precinct (temenos) that Poseidonios consecrated to the gods.Footnote 35 The funerary monuments in Thera and Halicarnassus did not stand in isolation but in an organic relationship to their surroundings, within an area consecrated to the god(s).
These funerary monuments underscore the role of memory as a mechanism for sustaining the identity of the association, being called a μνημεῖον or located in a Mouseion.Footnote 36 Memory of the deceased ancestors was enacted through ritual practice – a ceremony open only to members – and therefore acted as a unifying mechanism for the unity and social cohesion of the association. If this process of communication – the way one passes down the memory of the deceased – breaks off, then ‘the consequence is forgetting’, something that would jeopardise the identity of the association.Footnote 37 In Thera, in particular, the Mouseion provided the space for the association’s annual gathering, a three-day celebration for the MusesFootnote 38 and in commemoration of the deceased members of Epikteta’s family.Footnote 39 Epikteta had taken care to articulate the visual imagery of the sanctuary with statues of the Muses and of the heroised dead, that is to say, the deceased members of Epikteta’s family. The interplay between the statues of the Muses – daughters of Mnemosyne – and statues of the deceased would have placed the latter on a level equal to the former. The visual space was thus loaded with semantics that helped evoke, accentuate and retain the memory of the heroised dead.
On Cos, conversely, as cult activity was not overtly directed at the commemoration of the founder, a funerary monument does not explicitly feature in the text. Instead, the unusual cultic epithet of Heracles – Diomedonteios – alludes to an intimate personal connection between the founder (Diomedon) and the deity (Heracles).Footnote 40 Although Diomedon does not seem to have enjoyed a posthumous cult like Epikteta, the infusion of a personal element in the cultic epithet of the god bears constant witness to this privately founded cult of Heracles.Footnote 41
A comparison of these three cases reveals a range of attitudes towards space, in terms of management and use as well as accessibility. Relatives of the deceased are normally responsible for the management of the property, yet there are some noticeable differences from one case to another.
In Cos, the property and its assets (a slave and his descendants) were overseen by ‘those partaking in the sacrifices’ (l. 7: τọὶ̣ τ̣ῶ̣ν ἱερῶν κοινωνεῦντες), a collective name denoting the members of this family-based group. The property originally consisted of a temenos, consecrated to Heracles Diomedonteios, guest houses within a garden (ξενῶνας τοὺς ἐν τῶι κάπωι) and other buildings referred to as oikemata (οἰκήματα). At a later stage, when the third text was inscribed, among the assets of the group lands were included (τεμένη, l. 82) as well as an oikia in the temenos (ll. 83–4), a lesche ‘hall’ (l. 84–5) and a peripatos ‘covered walk’ (l. 85). As inferred by the inscription, the property generated income, which funded the performance of cult activity and the upkeep of the facilities.Footnote 42
A similar situation is also apparent in Halicarnassus. Poseidonios bequeathed properties and resources in the form of a pledge (ὑποθήκη) to his descendants, both from the male as well as the female line of descent (ll. 13–14: τοῖς ἐκ τούτων γινομένοις, ἔκ τε τῶν ἀρσένων καὶ τῶν θηλειῶν, καὶ τοῖς λαμβάνουσιν ἐξ αὐτῶν), in order to finance a familial cult centred on members of his family and ancestral gods.Footnote 43 Only the eldest of Poseidonios’ descendants, who was also to serve as the priest, took over the administration of the properties. Every year he was obliged to hand over four gold coins of net value for the two-day performance of cult and sacrifice.Footnote 44 In the decree passed by Poseidonios and his descendants, a further provision, not envisaged in the original pledge, was taken. An additional stipulation of the administration of the pledge was included in the decree with the aim of ensuring the financing of its annual gathering. More specifically, in cases in which the eldest of the descendants did not hand over the prescribed amount for the cult or was no longer willing to administer the pledge, then the pledged properties were to be held in common by the association (l. 28: εἶναι τὰ ὑποκείμενα κ[οι]νά). In this case, the financial administration of the pledge would be transferred to three epimenioi, appointed among members of the association (ll. 23–7, 28–30). They were responsible for farming out the land and the right of tillage as well as renting out the temenos.Footnote 45 From the stipulations included in the decree, it becomes apparent that the concerns of Poseidonios and the group were primarily of a financial nature. It was vital that the properties bequeathed by Poseidonios would produce revenues that would allow the organisation of the feast. Inextricably linked to a revenue-bearing property is the effective management of this property, which was placed on the shoulders of the association itself. It was in the group’s interest to keep money flowing, which would fund the performance of ritual and would sustain its existence.
A different situation is observed in Thera. Although the Mouseion constituted the meeting-place of the association, ownership belonged to Epiteleia, the daughter of Epikteta. In other words, the association did not own the sanctuary; it was allowed to use the sanctuary for three days every year, when 210 drachmas would be handed over to the association on an annual basis for the celebration.Footnote 46 Nevertheless, the association was bound to the sanctuary in multiple ways. It was within this particular setting that members could come together for a common purpose – the three-day gathering – and thus reinstate their identity and strengthen their ties as relatives (συγγενεῖς) by sharing in common cultic and convivial activities. Moreover, as laid out in the testament of Epikteta, even if not enjoying ownership of the place, the association was instructed to act as its guardian under specific conditions (IG XII.3 330, ll. 52–4): the association had full power to act against anyone who would commit any sort of offence that would jeopardise the sanctuary and its monuments and by extension would put at risk the survival of the association. Thus, by appointing the association as an overseer to ensure the observance of these clauses, Epikteta took concrete steps to ensure its longevity.Footnote 47
It seems that testamentary dispositions in Thera, as in Halicarnassus, possibly experienced potential problems with the continuous subsidy of the cult. For this reason, further provisions were taken to counter possible mismanagement in the long term. Even if space was well protected, as we will see further below, it was thanks to the regular flow of financial resources that the gathering of the association could become materialised. Indeed, both Epikteta’s testament and the decree of the association went to great lengths to ensure the financial security of the dispositions. Alternate ways to annually hand over the amount of 210 drachmas to the koinon were envisaged by Epikteta. The koinon was entitled to the usufruct (καρπεία, l. 72) of designated lands up to the value of 210 drachmas (ll. 71–5). Otherwise, Epiteleia’s successors had the option to transfer the initial capital of 3,000 drachmas that was bound to properties owned by Epikteta to another property (ll. 75–9). Likewise, the koinon appointed officials in charge of financial matters (the ἐπίσσοφος and ἀρτυτήρ) along with personnel commissioned to enhance the available funds (through the credit business: ἐγδανεισταί).Footnote 48
So far, we have seen that Poseidonios’ dossier placed emphasis on issues related to management of the property in order to ensure the subsidy of the cult, while Epikteta was also preoccupied with the annual remittance to the association of a fixed amount for the three-day celebration. However, Epikteta’s dossier as well as that of Diomedon, unlike Poseidonios’ dossier, went a step further in laying out stipulations that prevent any alienation of the meeting-place or any other inappropriate management or use of the place in question.
Diomedon’s testamentary dispositions did not only regulate the protection of the property and the use of space but also laid out provisions for repair works. The inclusion of clauses that refer to repair works clearly demonstrate Diomedon’s vision of the longevity of the association and the continuous use of space. Repair works had already been anticipated in the first inscription, and their funding was clearly laid out. There, it was stipulated that expenditure for the maintenance of the oikemata and the temenos was to be covered by the revenues from leasing (IG XII.4 1 348 III, ll. 47–51). In particular, income derived from renting out the garden (κῆπος) to the freedman, Libys, and his children, who were set free by Diomedon’s consecration. They were obliged to pay the rent in the month prior to the annual feast in honour of Heracles (ll. 11–17). The financing of repair works was evidently still a matter of some worry in the early third century BC when the third text was inscribed on the pillar. In the third text, the efforts to define once again the potential source of funding for the refurbishment of the buildings and the maintenance of the temenos, this time in more detail, reveal concerns of what was considered the most appropriate use of space.Footnote 49 In particular, the rules sought to underscore the proper handling of finances for the benefit of the association and the importance of the upkeep of the place as essential prerequisites for the performance of cult activity.
Diomedon’s dossier is particularly instructive in that it shows that the implementation of rules could prove a thorny issue and that self-appropriation by members posed a real threat. Space was not only carefully regulated but clarifications and complementary regulations had to be added to ensure the proper management and use of space as initially envisaged by Diomedon. Unlike Epikteta’s dossier where these regulations were part of the testamentary dispositions and recorded as such in stone, in Diomedon’s dossier direct resonances to the testament are made in regulations inscribed on the stone in later decades.Footnote 50 Diomedon’s dossier is particularly instructive as to the ways in which the testament of the founder could be re-invoked to prevent future misuse. The third text in particular includes direct quotations of Diomedon’s testament, an indication that it was in the association’s interest to observe the stipulations laid out therein. At the same time, the testament as a legal document would offer a legal justification of the steps taken by the association in order to effectively protect its interests and, by extension, to ensure its longevity. It served to maintain its identity, which was intimately related to the uninterrupted performance of cult and ritual once a year in the best possible conditions.
Originally, the regulations were concerned with prohibiting any appropriation (ἐξιδιάζεσθαι) of the oikemata and the temenos, as well as forbidding their sale and mortgage (ll. 43–7). In the early third century BC, Diomedon’s descendants included three further prohibitions (ll. 80–6): to the members of the group (l. 81: τοῖς κοινωνοῦσι τῶν ἱερῶγ) it was prohibited (1) to cultivate the lands; (2) to dwell in the guest houses and the oikia in the temenos; and (3) to use the hall (λέσχη) in the sanctuary and the covered walk (περίπατος) as a storage facility, except during wartime. These further prohibitions help considerably to elucidate the content of the first prohibition in Diomedon’s consecration (the first text), in other words, the content of the infinitive ἐξιδιάζεσθαι (‘to appropriate for oneself’).Footnote 51 In this regard, they should not be viewed as totally new prohibitions, but instead as further clarifications to the already existing regulations, with the aim of further ensuring their implementation.
In fact, some sort of alienation of property does seem to have occurred over the course of time: in the third inscription, we hear of individuals who owned houses in the sacred precinct.Footnote 52 Private possession of these oikiai would have taken place at a stage posterior to Diomedon’s consecration, since they were originally and explicitly consecrated to Heracles Diomedonteios and thus constituted sacred property.Footnote 53 If this change in ownership is correct, then clarifying the question of what was meant by ‘appropriation’ would aim at preventing further misuse and mishandling of the property. The text, however, does not yield any direct evidence of possible disputes between the descendants of Diomedon over issues of property, albeit some hints of this alienation are perhaps perceptible. It is simply taken for granted that among the group, there were those who now possessed houses. In clarifying the content of ‘appropriation’, it seems that the concern now shifts from property management to the use of the properties. The text stipulates that both houses in question have to be made available for the celebration of weddings.Footnote 54 Furthermore, the men’s house would also be made available during the festival of the group – the Herakleia – providing the venue to host the sacrifice and banquet to Heracles.Footnote 55 In other words, it is in the early third century BC that regulations about the use of specific buildings in the precinct were introduced for the first time. These apparently new regulations compelled the owners of these buildings to make available the listed property for common use at fixed times. Most important, in the time span of a few decades since Diomedon’s consecration, his descendants took steps to lay out once again rules pertaining to the management of realty and, in addition, to dictate the way in which a number of buildings were to be used. Already in the second inscription it is regulated that the statues (ἀγάλματα) and votive offerings (ἀναθήματα) were to remain in the exact same place in the οἰκία where they stood (ll. 55–9). The following possible scenarios can readily be envisaged. Displacement and/or removal of statues and offerings was somehow anticipated or had occurred and it thus had to be prohibited. Alternatively, the space was becoming crowded with dedications, and for this reason the descendants of Diomedon wanted to ensure that the setting up of dedications in the future would not happen at the detriment of existing ones.Footnote 56
Similar prohibitions towards the handling and use of space are to be found in Epikteta’s testamentary dispositions, especially with regard to potential problems with the use of space. Epikteta laid out a number of regulations that aimed to preserve the integrity of the space and maintain its function. The prohibitions follow standard legal practice when it comes to the protection of property.Footnote 57 Specifically, the following is prohibited: (1) to sell the sanctuary and the temenos of the heroes along with the statues erected there; (2) to put it down as a mortgage; (3) to exchange it; (4) to alienate it; (5) to build up the temenos and (6) to use the sanctuary of the Muses in any other way.Footnote 58 The association was granted full power to act against anyone who would commit any of the above offences. Any trespass against these clauses would undermine the association itself. Failure to convene in the Mouseion would negate the original purpose that brought this association into being: a three-day celebration in honour of the Muses and the heroised dead.
The only exception allowed concerning further building in the temenos was the construction of a stoa (ll. 49–50). Its addition would have remarkably uplifted the sanctuary of the Muses, in that stoas were usually expected to be found in sanctuaries or public spaces frequented by many and on a regular basis.Footnote 59 Such an investment in the construction of a monumental structure was accordingly viewed as beneficial, facilitating the gathering of the association and its three-day festivities. It reveals the aspirations of the association and underlines its longevity. At its inception, the association already consisted of at least sixty members.Footnote 60
As already noted in the case of Diomedon, the way in which space was to be used was well defined. Possible uses other than the ones prescribed are explicitly mentioned. In the last section of Diomedon’s stele, we hear that weddings of impoverished male members of the family could be held right after the end of the feast.Footnote 61 A similar notable exception to the prescribed use of space is also noted in Epikteta᾽s dossier, namely, the permission to celebrate in the Mouseion the wedding of members from Epiteleia’s side of the family.Footnote 62 In Diomedon’s dossier, details are also provided with regard to the buildings (ἀνδρεία οἰκία, γυναικεία οἰκία) that were to be used for the needs of the ceremony. In this case, different aspects of life pertaining to the group were consciously entwined; though the setting remained the same – the Mouseion in Thera, the temenos consecrated by Diomedon on Cos – the function of the space was expanded to encompass other activities, such as weddings. These activities, not necessarily related to ritual activity, sacrifice and dining in honour of the heroised dead, effectively demonstrate the course of life in the microcosm of an association. It was fundamental for these groups to facilitate and participate in core events that marked the life of members and especially families, such as weddings. In this respect, the multitude of experiences in the same architectural setting further enhanced the attachment of the association to its specific locale and its sense of belonging. It formed a nexus for the group as a whole and especially for the expression of interrelated familial and cultic bonds.
To summarise, the founders – especially Epikteta and Diomedon – went into detail when defining the meeting-place of the association, prohibiting any mismanagement or use other than the one envisaged by them. In the detailed instructions of the three dossiers, space emerges as a dynamic concept whose physical articulation, use and management, was the object of careful regulation. The close regulation of space is intricately linked with the regulation of membership into the group. The founder envisaged that the identity of the association should be anchored to a specific place. This place sets the stage for the ritual activity that brings the association together. At the same time, place creates boundaries, explicitly materialised in terms of membership. Only members were allowed to take part in the annual celebration, and in this respect the ritual space was only open to members or to what Scott, discussing other instances, has called ‘communities of permitted users’.Footnote 63 Only members could experience associational space as a sacred space or as a privileged space for ‘family’ members on certain occasions. By becoming a ‘community of permitted users’, members developed an intimate attachment to a place that, in turn, informed their identity as members of a familial association.
It can be noted that in all three cases the founders were fully aware of the inextricable link between the finances of the cult and the longevity of the association. The place where the association came together was the place where the ritual was performed. In other words, cult and association are grounded in a specific locale, explicitly spelled out in all three dossiers. Ritual was directed at different gods and/or ancestors, an aspect that further accentuates the uniqueness of an association, differentiating it from other groups.Footnote 64 The re-enactment of ritual activity once a year at a prescribed time imbued the place with special meaning: a sacred space as well as a place of familial unity and ancestral commemoration.Footnote 65 The visual articulation of space with statues of the heroised dead, statues of deities and other votive offering further vested the space with special symbolism in this regard. Moreover, the founding act and/or the testamentary dispositions were monumentally displayed within the association’s space in the form of a pedestal for statues (Thera), a pillar (Cos) or a stele (Halicarnassus), another prominent visual reminder of the role of the association in fostering a set of traditions within a specific locale.Footnote 66 Any dislocation would dramatically break this mnemonic link to place and would threaten the very existence of the association.
Identity and Dislocation from Space
Any circumstance that would prevent an association from gathering in its meeting-place could also potentially disrupt its activities and undermine its raison d’être. The thiasitai of Dionysus in Cyme were faced with such a reality in the early years of Augustus’ reign.Footnote 67 A bilingual letter of the proconsul of Asia in Latin and partly in Greek (the stele is broken) sent to the local authorities in Cyme outlines the efforts of the thiasitai of Dionysus. They initiated a legal process to regain access to the sanctuary and resume control of its affairs.
The sanctuary had been mortgaged (ll. 13, 25–6) and ownership had passed to an individual (Lysias). The thiasitai approached Lysias to pay him back in their attempt to reclaim the sanctuary for themselves, but their claim was refuted. They therefore appealed to the proconsul through an intermediary, a citizen of Cyme (Apollonides, son of Lucius Norakeios). They claimed that they wanted to restore the cult (l. 15, sacra) to the god. Their claim found a legal footing in the edict of the consuls Augustus and Agrippa. Issued in 27 BC, the edict stipulated the restitution of public and sacred properties as well as dedications, which were subject to looting during the period of the civil wars (ll. 1–11). The proconsul therefore redirected the case to the local authorities to solve the issue. The thiasitai had the full support of the proconsul who, citing the legal precedent of the edict, was favourably disposed towards the restoration of the shrine to the god.Footnote 68 Although the outcome of the case is not recorded in the inscription, it can be safely guessed that it was resolved to the advantage of the thiasitai.Footnote 69
For Pleket, this is a case of a public thiasos of Dionysus,Footnote 70 unlike Engelmann who takes the thiasitai to be a private association.Footnote 71 In my view, the scale tips towards the latter, for the thiasitai, even after being prohibited to access the shrine and perform the due rites to the god, retained a strong sense of identity and took corporate action by appealing to the proconsul through a representative. Before the unfortunate loss of the shrine, it seems that they used the shrine as a revenue-bearing property, probably for the subsidy of the cult, a practice attested in groups of orgeones in Athens or in the case of Diomedon and Poseidonios discussed above.Footnote 72 In Cyme too, it can be envisaged that the mortgage of the shrine brought to the thiasitai a steady income for the performance of cult; yet unfortunate events or mismanagement resulted in the loss of both income and access to the shrine. It was therefore vital for the thiasitai as a group to pull all their efforts together in order to reclaim the shrine. This shrine embodied the locus of their identity and their shared ritual experiences.
Inclusive Spaces: Opening up a Sanctuary to Non-Associates
In the cases presented above, it has been argued that place works as a formative element in the creation of the association’s identity, creating a closed circle for ritual performance and cultic activity, which are both anchored in a specific locale. To maintain this exclusivity and to guarantee the longevity of the association, the administration and the use of space were closely regulated. However, these cases constitute only snapshots of a picture that is much more diverse and varied than they may otherwise suggest. The three cases of familial groups (Diomedon, Poseidonios and Epikteta) represent one end of the spectrum where both membership and attachment to a specific place have been shown to be exclusive. The richness of the evidence for associations, however, paints a picture with many different gradations between inclusivity and exclusivity.
No matter how anchored an association was to a place, this attachment does not always suffice to demonstrate the inclusivity or exclusivity of the group or even how inclusive or exclusive this place would have been. In a number of cases, what appears to be inclusive or exclusive is the cult. This raises the question about the motivation or benefit of opening up the cult to non-associates. Moreover, if a certain degree of openness is attested for the cult, would different attitudes to the use and management of space be expected?
A law passed by the orgeones of Bendis in the last third of the fourth century BC underlines their involvement in the administration and management of the shrine.Footnote 73 The text contains regulations stipulating the financing of the repair of the shrine and the property (oikia) rented out by the orgeones. It also distinguishes between members and non-members and accordingly sets out different regulations for each group with regard to sacrifices to the goddess.Footnote 74 Orgeones who performed sacrifices to the goddess were exempted from any fees (l. 3 ἀτελεῖς), unlike a private individual (l. 4 ἰδιώτης) who had to abide by what the law prescribed. More specifically, in sacrifices performed by individuals, the goddess as well as the priest or priestess were entitled to perquisites that are clearly laid out in the text.Footnote 75 Apparently, then, non-orgeones were allowed to enter the shrine in their capacity as worshippers and make a sacrifice as long as they observed the relevant regulations.Footnote 76 This inclusivity of cult comes hand in hand with a wish by the orgeones for a broad-based membership or as stated in the inscription ‘so that there may be as many orgeones of the hieron as possible’ (ll. 20–1). As Vincent Gabrielsen has put it: ‘shrine-participation (μετουσία) was the cardinal factor that drew the dividing line between members – “those who share in the hieron” (οἱ μέτεστιν τοῦ ἱεροῦ) – and non-members (ἰδιώται)’. By passing this law, the orgeones made explicit the benefits of membership. The two sets of rules for sacrifices (one for members and one for non-members) can thus be considered an effective device for making membership attractive to non-members. By extension, a broad-based membership could augment the prestige of the cult. In the inscription, a 2 drachma contribution is mentioned for sacrifices on the occasion of the festival of the goddess.Footnote 77 If the finances of the festival came from membership contributions, then a broad-based membership would serve to more adequately maintain the cult.
The phrase ‘orgeones of the hieron’ should not pass unnoticed. The identity of the orgeones is tied to their shrine and the activities performed therein.Footnote 78 In this regard, it was even more in their interest to keep the cult alive and to please the goddess in any way possible. It demonstrates that the significance of the place for creating and retaining identity did not diminish even if non-members had access to this place. The orgeones were not simply worshippers but managers of the affairs of the goddess.
The case of the orgeones of Bendis clearly shows that the openness of a cult, if properly regulated, could serve the interests of the association. Two more cases are particularly instructive in this respect, as they present features of inclusivity regarding the cult. In these two cases the cult is that of healing deities: Amphiaraus at Rhamnous in Attica and Asclepius at Yaylakale in Mysia.
The earliest of the two is that of the Amphieraistai in Rhamnous, an Attic deme and an important fort in north-eastern Attica.Footnote 79 The association came into being at the initiative of a soldier. As the prosopography of the membership demonstrates, members were predominantly fellow soldiers of the garrison.Footnote 80 As its name reveals, the association was centred around the cult of Amphiaraus, a healing hero, who also had a major shrine at neighbouring Oropos.Footnote 81 A sanctuary of Amphiaraus has been located a few hundred metres south of the fort at Rhamnous. By the time the association came into being, the sanctuary had gone into disuse and the cult had likely been discontinued.Footnote 82 By opening a subscription and thanks to generous contributions, the members of the association restored the sanctuary, while at the same time securing the subsidy of the cult in the form of an endowment.Footnote 83 In the inscription, it is stated explicitly that the Amphieraistai restored the sanctuary so that anyone who wished could participate in the cult.Footnote 84 Although membership in the association seems to have been restricted to soldiers and members, participation in the cult was open to non-associates. The primary preoccupation of the Amphieraistai was the revival and perpetuation of the cult. In this respect, a community of worshippers that would guarantee the performance of cult was of equal importance to the subsidy of the cult, which the Amphieraistai sought to guarantee. Without opening up the cult to non-associates, the efforts of the Amphieraistai, an association predominantly consisting of soldiers, would, following the removal of the garrison to another fort, be doomed to failure. In this case, then, what was of paramount importance was to regulate the financial backing of the cult and not necessarily issues of accessibility or management of space.
A similar attitude with regard to the openness of the cult can be detected in another instance of a healing cult, in the hinterland of the Pergamene kingdom. On a plateau ca. 30 km to the south-east of Pergamum, in Yaylakale, an association of Asklepiastai came into being under the initiative of Demetrios, a phrourachos (commander of a fortress) in the first half of the second century BC.Footnote 85 The association was composed of fifteen members, including the founder, with family ties noticeable among some of the members.Footnote 86 Given the military office of Demetrios, the onomastics of the members, as well as the strategic position of the location along the route to NW Lydia, the Asklepiastai were probably members of the garrison stationed there.Footnote 87 Unlike the Amphieraistai who restored a sanctuary fallen into disuse, Demetrios founded a new sanctuary (ἱερόν), which, as the name of the association reveals, was dedicated to Asclepius. It appears that the cult of healing deities, like Asclepius or Amphiaraus, appealed to some degree to soldiers.Footnote 88
The case of the Asklepiastai at Yaylakale becomes even more interesting due to another inscription,Footnote 89 which was found in the neighbouring area of Yala and which, as Müller has shown, should be read in conjunction with the inscription attesting to the foundation of the shrine and the formation of the Asklepiastai.Footnote 90 This inscription refers to rules for entry into a sanctuary, to be identified with the one founded by Demetrios. The inscription is partly preserved; lines 1–12 regulate entry into the shrine (εἰς τὸ ἱερόν). All clauses refer to requirements pertaining to purity. In order to attain a satisfactory degree of purity, worshippers had to abstain from sexual intercourse and wash themselves thoroughly, stay away from a corpse and funeral for two days, and so on. The text also provides insights into the architectural setting of the sanctuary. As expected for a healing sanctuary, an incubation hall (ἐνκοιμητήριον) features in the text,Footnote 91 which stood in the vicinity of the sanctuary (ll. 13–14, παρὰ τὸ ἱερόν).Footnote 92 The sanctuary in Yaylakale was not only open to all those observing the purity regulations but was also equipped with the facilities needed for the development of the therapeutic aspect of the cult.Footnote 93
The measures concerning purification resonate with regulations observed in other sanctuaries, most notably in the sanctuaries of Asclepius and Athena in Pergamum.Footnote 94 They therefore comply with practices attested in the capital of the Pergamene kingdom. It is, however, the authority laying out the rules that differs in this case: the founder of a private association. As a commander of the fort, Demetrios must have had close ties to the royal court. At any rate, he was acting as a representative of the royal power. By founding an association devoted to the cult of Asclepius, one of the major deities fostered by the Attalid rulers, he thus promoted a cult endorsed by the kings in the hinterland of the Pergamene territory, and at the same time he significantly enriched the religious life of members of the garrison as well as those living in the vicinity of the fort.Footnote 95
The purity rules do not touch upon membership or management of space. In other words, these rules, though set out by the association and set up in a sanctuary founded by private initiative, do not aim at regulating membership but instead at opening up the cult to anyone who would observe them. Though membership of the association may have been fixed and internally controlled with a certain degree of exclusivity – namely, by being open only to members of the local garrison – a degree of inclusivity is therefore attested in the cult practice. And although the regulations aim at ensuring that worshippers have attained a state of purity before entering the sanctuary, their ultimate objective is nevertheless the health of the worshipper (ll. 3–4: ὑγίας ἕνεκεν). Needless to say, worshippers would come to this sanctuary with a view to seeking healing from disease. The regulations would act as a reminder that cleanliness was required and certain sources of pollution had to be avoided. In light of the healing aspect of the cult (Asclepius) and the purity measures, it should not come as a surprise that in this case the regulations focus on health, a different virtue than the orderly behaviour or good order that might otherwise be expected of associations.Footnote 96 However, the phrase ὑγίας ἕνεκεν as such is quite exceptional, with no direct parallel in the corpus of purity regulations.Footnote 97 Inscriptions containing purity regulations were displayed in order to ensure ritual purity of the shrine in question.Footnote 98 In this respect, observance of regulations ensured that space would maintain its status that set it aside from other places: an unpolluted sacred space. In this case, however, observance of regulations had a dual objective, namely, to ensure the health of individual worshippers seeking help from the healing deity as well as the overall purity of sacred space.
The polis regulated the use of space in a range of places and institutions, from the agora and the gymnasium to the sanctuary, appointing civic or religious officials to attend to issues of propriety, upkeep of good order and avoidance of alienation, encroachment or misuse of space.Footnote 99 Regulations could take a wide array of material manifestations, from boundary stones demarcating the use of land to stelae bearing regulations pertaining to a number of issues such as purity measures, the exclusion of certain groups of people or opening and closing times.Footnote 100 As space preoccupied civic authorities, so its management and use raised concerns among associations too.
It has been shown that familial associations with their orderly and closed membership created well-ordered spaces, going to great lengths to regulate the management and use of space. It has been argued that a primary reason for this is that space and the attachment to a place constituted a core feature of their identity. Exclusivity in the associations from Cos, Thera and Halicarnassus is perceptible in several features of the groups, from their membership profile (relatives, real or fictive) and cultic activity to the construction of space. The meeting-place as a physical space underlined a distinction between insiders (members) and outsiders (non-members), and in this respect it created a ‘community of users’. Moreover, as a sacred space, it provided the locale for the cultivation of cognitive (memory) and social/emotional bonds between members through sharing in common traditions and cultic activity. Attachment to place fostered a sense of belonging, created physical and conceptual boundaries and embodied a special meaning ascribed to it by means of ritual and performance. In these respects, the meeting-places in Cos, Thera and Halicarnassus became mnemonic places, constructed to evoke memories and foster a specific identity, that of an associate who played tribute to real or fictive ancestors and worshipped certain gods.Footnote 101
How much place was charged with emotional as well as material meaning for the identity of the association becomes manifest in cases of detachment from this space. Management of space, especially as a revenue-bearing property, entailed some risks, especially in cases in which the property was mortgaged. This happened with the shrine of Dionysus in Cyme: the thiasitai were expelled from the shrine by a certain Lysias who assumed ownership of the place. Yet despite the dislocation, it was the place itself as a sacred space that remained a point of reference for the group. It sought to reinstate its rights and reaffirm its identity by taking collective action to restore the sanctuary to the god.
Associations centred on the cult of healing deities, among others, show that sanctuaries managed by associations could be open to non-members. These cases present us with different attitudes to space and its regulation. The orgeones of Bendis had two sets of rules, one for members and one for non-members, when it came to sacrifices. In doing so, they underlined the benefits of membership, the latter open to whoever wanted to share in the cult. The Amphieraistai in Rhamnous and the Asklepiastai in Yaylakale restored or built shrines, not only for themselves, but also for the benefit of non-members who wished to partake in the cult. When studied together, the epigraphic evidence from these two sites outlines a fuller picture. Whereas the Amphieraistai took measures to ensure the subsidy of the cult, the Asklepiastai were more particularly concerned with the sanctity of space and its function as a place of healing – regulations are addressed to the community of worshippers, not only to members. Of prime concern was the health of the worshippers and, by extension, of the sanctuary as a community of worshippers, a virtue that could be achieved through the observance of purity measures.
Overall, the analysis offered here illustrates some aspects that pertain to the exclusivity or inclusivity of space. In the diverse body of evidence for ancient associations, we alternately find a looser or closer attachment to a place. For instance, groups of orgeones could meet just once a year and rent out their private property for the remainder.Footnote 102 The Iobacchoi in Athens, on the other hand, met on a regular basis in their Backheion, namely, monthly and on other specific occasions.Footnote 103 Still other groups were associated with a public sanctuary or a sanctuary open to the public.Footnote 104 For instance, three different associations are attested in the sanctuary of Pankrates in Athens in the third century BC.Footnote 105 Although their organisational structure and longevity escape us, this sanctuary apparently provided a fertile ground for the co-existence and interaction among these associations.
It has been argued that the control and ownership of the place, or lack thereof, as well as the type of place and its use (tomb, house, clubhouse or larger sanctuary), matter crucially. By looking closely at regulations and the attachments of associations to place, it has been suggested that we can shift emphasis from a focus on propriety and order to consider other important aspects of associations as well-ordered societies, such as their varying degrees of exclusivity and inclusivity or even the promotion of virtues like good health. Though archaeological remains of meeting-places of associations may continue to be elusive, the concept of space in the study of associations proves to be anything but static. Instead, intermittently contested and reinstated, it was being shaped by and at the same time was shaping the activities and experiences of the collectivity. Even in cases where an association became unmoored from its physical setting, place/space continued to inform the identity of the group. While the overall picture drawn from the epigraphic record is not uniform regarding the precise mechanisms involved in the regulation and use of space, nevertheless, space abidingly provided the locale for reunion, unity and cohesion among the collectivity.