Life and Loyalty: A Study in the Socio-Religious Culture of by Klaas Dijkstra

By Klaas Dijkstra

The formulation 'for the lifetime of' is frequently present in votive inscriptions, forged in Aramaic and different languages, which originate from the Syrian-Mesopotamian desolate tract and adjoining components and which approximately date from the 1st 3 centuries A.D. They belong to things like statues and altars that typically have been erected in temples and different constructions with a ritual or sacred functionality. The inscriptions determine a courting among the dedicator and a number of beneficiaries, these folks for whose lifestyles the commitment used to be made. because the social context obviously bears on either the which means of the inscriptions in addition to the prestige of the dedications, this quantity offers with the character of the relationships and the socio-religious functionality the dedications practice.

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Next to a personal relationship, a client may simultaneously be attached to a patron on account of his membership of a collegium or another association. There even may be a further link when the same patron generously bestowed the community the client belongs to with all kinds of favours. It will be clear that the dynamics of each of these relations are quite different, and, accordingly, it may be expected that the behaviour of the actors is closely bound up with the situation. Nevertheless, the faces remain the same in each situation and the chance of one relationship influencing another is real.

Surely, it moves from deity to beneficiaries, but it does not necessarily move back again, for no motive whatsoever for the beneficiaries to favour the deity can be derived from the text. In view of the close link between divinities and tribal associations in the ancient Near East, however, it may be advanced that, at least in those instances in which the beneficiaries are presented as the dedicator's kin, relations between deity and beneficiaries are reCiprocal as well, despite the fact that it is not manifest from the text of the inscription (Teixidor 1980a: 277ff; Henninger 1981: 40ff).

Although some of Burkert's observations apply to the dedications made for the life of, a certain amount of reserve should be exercised as well. First of all, because it is precisely this rather vague formula that is presented as motivating the act of dedication, whereas the reasons in the examples Burkert refers to, seafaring and healing from illness, are far more explicit. Secondly, formulae as ex voto or votum 19 Burkert's position should not be mistaken for the regular interpretation of votiveofferings among historians of Greek and Roman religion.

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