This is an interpretation of one of the largest and most important bequests from the classical world: that made to the town council and assembly of Ephesos in 104 AD by a wealthy Roman equestrian, Vibius Salutaris. Set against the background of the city life of Ephesos and the Roman province of Asia, this interpretation shows how the Roman civic rituals created and symbolized a contemporary social hierarchy, grounded in the stories of the Ionian foundation of Ephesos and the birth of the goddess Artemis in a grove above the city. During the Roman Empire, the assembly of Ephesos used these foundation myths as a tangible source of power, to be wielded over new citizens, new founders and new gods. This conclusion about the use of the past at Ephesos, one of the largest and most important cities in the Roman empire, challenges some of the basic assumptions historians have made about the Greeks during the Greek cultural Renaissance of the second century AD, and especially suggests that pagan piety was far from being in decline at that time.
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