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The gerousia of Ephesus Bailey, Colin

Abstract

In various cities throughout Asia Minor, associations called gerousiai existed under the Roman Empire. These groups are most easily studied from the inscriptions which have been excavated and published for each city; in fact, epigraphic evidence is often the only source which sheds light on the nature of any particular gerousia. It has been customary to divide the gerousia as an institution into two groups: the Asiatic gerousia, namely the gerousiai of the Roman provinces of Asia Minor, and the Doric gerousia, which is most well known from the board of twenty-eight elders who advised the kings of Sparta. The initial purpose of this study was to examine the Asiatic gerousiai in order to determine the position of these bodies in their cities, particularly with respect to the boule and demos of those cities. It quickly became apparent from the quantity of available inscriptions, however, that such a topic was somewhat too large for a mere dissertation. I have chosen, therefore, to limit myself to the Ionian city of Ephesus (modern Selçuk). The intensive focus on the Ephesian gerousia allows a greater degree of detail than would have been permitted in a more general study of similar size. The abundance of evidence for this city has made it possible to draw conclusions about several aspects of a single gerousia without introducing the assumption, implicit or explicit, that all Asiatic gerousiai were the same. This is a study of the gerousia of the Ephesus and does not purport to make any conclusions about a general Asiatic gerousia. The large number of inscriptions from Ephesus available for this study also offers a further advantage, as I hope will emerge in the following pages: we cannot speak of a "Hellenistic gerousia" and a "Roman gerousia " as two distinct entities. Certainly there was a gerousia in Hellenistic period and one in the Roman period, and the terms Hellenistic gerousia and Roman gerousia may well be used in the course of this work, but not as archetypes.

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