Tokens of piety. Inexpensive dedications as functional and symbolic objects
By Gina Salapata (Massey University).
This article engages with some methods and theories of disciplines outside the traditional sphere of Classics to open up new perspectives on the interrelationship between material culture, religion and society. It focuses on dedicatory practices and, in particular, on modest offerings and the multiple ways these were valued in Greek society. It concludes that, even though small inexpensive offerings were affordable by poorer people, their dedicators likely came from various socio-economic backgrounds. Dedications of low economic value and modest appearance may have had high symbolic value because they embodied social and religious ideas or the desires and identities of the dedicator; or they could derive their value from the function they performed in ritual. If the messages carried by such offerings were of primary concern and their value symbolic and emotional rather than material, the choice of a small or inexpensive offering would not necessarily reflect lower socio-economic status. Moreover, if the main concern of gift giving were communication and reciprocity, the act of giving would have been more important than the offering’s monetary value.
Gina Salapata, ’Tokens of piety. Inexpensive dedications as functional and symbolic objects’, Opuscula. Annual of the Swedish Institutes at Athens and Rome (OpAthRom) 11, Stockholm 2018, 97–109. ISSN: 2000-0898. ISBN: 978-91-977799-0-6. https://doi.org/10.30549/opathrom-11-05