Vox Populi, Vox Deorum? Athenian document reliefs and the theologies of public inscription

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This article argues that, by concentrating on a reading of the depictions of deities on the Athenian document reliefs as symbolic representations of states rather than as divinities, previous scholarly approaches to them have failed to explore the role they ascribe to the gods in collective decision-making and the exercise of public authority. This article resituates the interpretation of these monuments in the context of other monuments depicting the gods and recent approaches to them, and the other ways in which public inscriptions, both at Athens and elsewhere, make reference to divine actors, through their erection in sacred spaces and the use of the theoi heading. It then examines the range of possible readings of the relationship between divine agency and political decision-making which these monuments privilege and argues that they reflect a conventional understanding that, in general, Athenian decision-making was underpinned by the gods.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-398
Number of pages34
JournalAnnual of the British School at Athens
Publication statusPublished - 6 Dec 2018