Divine commands, authority, and cult: Imperative dedications to the Egyptian gods
By Eleni Fassa
This article presents the dedications made to the Egyptian deities “in accordance with divine command” in the eastern Mediterranean during the Hellenistic and Roman periods. The gods of Egypt exhorted and, if disobeyed, demanded from their adherents the performance of specific actions. As it is demonstrated by “imperative dedications” this communication between gods and worshippers was disclosed in public. First, the article examines the imperative expressions in use, the syntax and style of dedicatory language, and proposes a typology of “imperative dedications” in the framework of Isiac cults. Moreover, it is argued that imperatives constituted a means for the promotion of Isiac cults; most often, the Egyptian gods requested the execution of ritual acts, which either improved and embellished already-founded Isiac cults, or advanced the introduction of Isiac divinities in the cities of the Graeco-Roman world. Finally, it is asserted that “imperative dedications” constitute an important testimony for Graeco-Roman attitudes regarding the Egyptian gods. They are indicative of a complex relationship between these gods and their adherents, since the distance presupposed by the issuing of a command did not preclude the creation of close ties between the Isiac divinities and their worshippers.
Eleni Fassa, ‘Divine commands, authority, and cult: Imperative dedications to the Egyptian gods’, Opuscula. Annual of the Swedish Institutes at Athens and Rome (OpAthRom) 9, Stockholm 2016, 59–70. ISSN: 2000-0898. ISBN: 978-91-977798-8-3. https://doi.org/10.30549/opathrom-09-04