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date: 16 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the introduction of new gods to the poleis. Greek polytheism readily accommodated the addition of new gods to a community’s pantheon. Decisions about new gods were made by the polis’ political authorities on largely pragmatic grounds. Political considerations loomed large, particularly the brokering of alliances between states, but did not exclude religious considerations, such as the benefits a deity might bring. The potential of network theory to illuminate the transmission of deities between cities is considered, but its neglect of cultural factors influencing transmission makes it insufficient if used in isolation. Post-colonial theory is considered as a useful supplement, since it captures the process of transformation and hybridization that deities often underwent in transmission between communities. These concerns are explored through discussions of the arrival of Pan and Asklepios in Athens and Meter in Greece, and the development of the cult of Sarapis in Ptolemaic Egypt.

Keywords: Asklepios, hybridization, Meter, network theory, Pan, polytheism, post-colonial theory, Ptolemaic Egypt, Sarapis, transmission

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