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Document Details :
Title: The Emperor and the Ecumenical Synods of Competitors
Author(s): FAUCONNIER, Bram
Volume: 79 Issue: 3 Date: 2020
This paper offers new insights in the relation between the Roman emperor and the two ecumenical associations of competitors, the xystic synod of athletes and the thymelic synods of artists. These associations defended the interests of first-class competitors in Greek agones, competitive festivals in the tradition of the Olympic Games that were widespread in the Roman empire. Since the earliest studies on the two synods, scholars have maintained that they were a tool in the hands of the emperor with which he could keep the Greek festival world under control. A thorough analysis of both epigraphical and papyrological sources reveals, however, that the synods had more agency than has been previously assumed. This paper argues that they were embedded in a network of reciprocal relationships, in which lobby work and symbolic communication in the context of the imperial cult gave them ample room to pursue their specific professional interests.