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Gewoner dan gedacht. De hellenistische heerserscultus van Antiochos I van Commagene

09 June 2011

PhD ceremony: Ms. M.P. Schipperheijn, 16.15 uur, Academiegebouw, Broerstraat 5, Groningen

Title: Gewoner dan gedacht. De hellenistische heerserscultus van Antiochos I van Commagene

Promotor(s): prof. J.N. Bremmer, prof. O.M. van Nijf

Faculty: Theology and Religious Studies


King Antiochos I of Commagene, a small Hellenistic kingdom on the western banks of the Euphrates, has initiated a Hellenistic ruler cult during his thirty year reign in the first century BC. This ruler cult, which used both Iranian and Greek cultural and religious traditions for its sanctuaries and theology, has been considered the odd one out by scholars of Hellenism and ancient religions; a lack of sources and a focus on the iconography of the cult initiated this response. In her thesis Marlies Schipperheijn shows that the ruler cult of Antiochos does not represent the exception, but the mainstream.

Ruler cult, the worship of a ruler as a god, was a development within Hellenism that flourished after the conquests of Alexander, but had its roots well before that time. Later on, Roman emperors adopted these traditions for their own imperial cults. By comparing the cult of Antiochos on three main issues, rituals, participants and theology, Schipperheijn has investigated the traditional status of the cult. On all three points, the cult of Antiochos has proved to be in keeping with existing religious and political traditions. The cult and kingship of Antiochos resembled most the monarchies and ruler cults of other minor Hellenistic kingdoms such as Pergamon. By viewing the Commagenian cult as typical in stead of abnormal, a great amount of material is available for the study of Hellenistic religious developments in the first century BC.


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