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Cult Foundations: Beneficence or shackle?

Ancient cities generally did not have a large budget available to them from the taxes and duties of citizens and non-citizen residents. Accordingly, the financial capacity and economic potency of individual citizens were central to the functioning of communities. They were also the ones who were mostly responsible for cult foundations by permanently financing priesthoods, setting up festivals, providing sacrificial animals, and ensuring the maintenance of temples. Foundations only lasted longer if they were financed by regular income - leasing land or granting loans against interest were a good basis for this. Whatever the details of the endowment, it tied up city resources in the long run, in that all the individual specifications of funding and endowment details of purpose had to be implemented by city magistrates. Numerous sanctions in Hellenistic and Roman texts indicate various kinds of negligence, if not unwillingness, in the implementation of the endowment by those in charge in the cities.

Referent

Marietta Horster is Professor of Ancient History at the University of Mainz. Her research focuses on the administration and organization of the Roman Empire, transformation processes and social interaction in the Roman provinces, cult organization and cult economy of Greek sanctuaries, as well as Greek and Latin literary education and the dissemination and transmission of knowledge.

Horster studied ancient history, Latin and political science at the universities of Lausanne, Bonn and Cologne. She received her doctorate from the University of Cologne in 1995 and her habilitation from the University of Rostock in 2003. In the winter of 1998/99, she was the Sterling Dow Fellow at the Center for Epigraphic and Paleographical Studies at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. After further positions at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, the Humboldt University of Berlin, and the University of Hamburg, she followed Leonhard Schumacher as Professor of Ancient History at the University of Mainz in 2010.

Horster has written monographs on building inscriptions and building activities of Roman emperors, as well as on the land ownership of Greek sanctuaries in the Archaic and Classical periods. She is editor of numerous books and author of essays on, for example, Augustus, Roman literature, ancient roles. Since 2016, she has also been a Senior Fellow at the Maimonides Centre for Advanced Studies in Hamburg.

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