Endowed Eponymous Festivals on Delos

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Second-century BC Delos saw the creation of more than two dozen endowments, by men and women, Delians and aliens, and, most famously, Hellenistic royalty or their agents. Scholars agree that these underwrote festivals (mostly eponymous: The Antigoneia, Eutycheia, Philonideia, Ptolemaieia, Stesileia, etc.), and have focused on the political motivation, purpose, and effects of the dozen or so royal specimens. This paper suggests that we have misconstrued the Greek of the Delian accounts; that the endowments did not fund eponymous festivals per se, but modest recurring ritual that was established on the occasion of significant family events, especially marriage and death; that this peculiar Delian phenomenon has more to say about authentic piety than grand politics, and more in common with Hellenistic family cult than festival culture.








Joshua D. Sosin

Associate Professor of Classical Studies

Pronouns: he/him.

One of the things that I like best about Classics is the wide range of intellectual opportunities it offers. As an undergraduate I was interested in early Christianity and Latin love elegy, which are about as far from my current work as you can get! But our discipline is built for roaming and many of its earliest practitioners would not fit neatly into the boxes that we use today.

The 'traditional' part of my work lies at what I like to call the intersection of law, economics, and religion. Under that broad rubric I have written on currency standards and exchange, ancient charitable foundations, funding of eponymous festivals, grain supply, land leasing, taxation and tax shelter, diplomacy, and other subjects. I have long tended to pursue these subjects with a special focus on their representation in documentary sources (inscriptions, papyri, and coins). But lately, I've grown increasingly interested in Athenian law and so not only in the orators but also in the lexicographic, encyclopedic, and scholiastic traditions that preserve such a wealth of information on the subject (see Harpokration On Line). I have been especially drawn to what the law has to say about personal status (citizens, enslaved people, freedpersons, metics, non-citizens).

I am also part of the Duke Collaboratory for Classics Computing (DC3), which is embedded in the Libraries. We developed and maintain papyri.info. We are working on a variety of projects to do with crowd-curation of papyrological and epigraphic texts (text, translation, metadata, commentary, bibliography, and images), geo-spatial data, prosopographical information, medieval manuscript witnesses and apparatus criticus data, image recognition and text-image alignment, and more. 

When I am not on the clock I am often on my bike (er, bikes), on pavement, on dirt, around town, in the middle of nowhere, for a few minutes, for a few days (punk still in the earbuds [first 6 sec.]; for ramblings on how punk, cycling, and classics are somehow the same experience for me listen to Mirror of Antiquity ep.5). Maybe it's that same freedom to roam that draws me.

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