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Personification of institutions in Asia Minor

Author(s) : Kadirea Maria (9/24/2002)
Translation : Velentzas Georgios

For citation: Kadirea Maria, "Personification of institutions in Asia Minor",
Encyclopaedia of the Hellenic World, Asia Minor
URL: <http://www.ehw.gr/l.aspx?id=9546>

Προσωποποιήσεις Θεσμών στη Μ. Ασία (7/28/2008 v.1) Personification of institutions in Asia Minor (10/23/2008 v.1) 

1. Boule

Boule is not a traditional mythological figure but the personification of an institution. It rarely appears in art over space and time. Two types of monuments have preserved the particular iconography. The first one includes decree stelae of the 4th c. BC Athenian demos, depicting the Boule in the upper part relief as a female figure dressed in a chiton and an himation. However, it also appears on coins of Roman cities in Asia Minor. Both stelae and coins with the specific depictions are of public character.

Because Boule is not depicted on Hellenistic monuments and coins, there was not a previously established iconographical type. Therefore, coin engravings in Laodicea of Phrygia (second half of 1st c. AD), Tiberiopolis of Phrygia (late 1st – early 2nd c. AD) and Tarsus of Cilicia in Hadrian’s years (117-138) are usually imitations of Attic prototypes, depicting Boule with a veil, a diadem or a laurel wreath. In these coins Boule is frequently accompanied by personifications of the Demos –as it happened in Sagalassos of Pisidia in Claudius II’s years (268-270)– and the Senate.1

2. Demos

Demos, either as a beardless young man imitating the Roman prototype or as a bearded old man, according to the Attic prototypes, personifies the respective political organ. In this capacity it appears in coins portraying Omonoia (Concord/Amity), frequently shaking hands with the other Demos and followed by the inscription "AΔEΛΦΩN ΔHMΩN". There is a typical collection of 2nd c. BC coins minted in Tetrapolis of Syria referring to the concord/amity among the four most important cities: Antioch, Seleucia Pieria, Apamea and Laodicea.2

3. Autonomous or Pseudo-autonomous Coins

Boule and Demos are frequently depicted in the autonomous or pseudo-autonomous coins of the cities of the Imperial period. Their particularity lies in the absence of the imperial portrait from the front side and its replacement by a picture referring to the city.3 There were usually depictions of patrons, Tyche (fortune) of the city and, more rarely, personifications of the local Boule and the Demos.4

4. Parliament

The Parliament, depicted as a female figure in coins of the Koinon of Cilicia, is the personification of the provincial council, which was responsible for holding festivals and the maintainance of the koinon's temples.5

1. LIMC 3.1 (1986), pp. 145‑147; see entry “Boule” (V. Komninos).

2. BMC Syria, p. viii.

3. They are described as “autonomous” or “pseudo-autonomous” because in the Imperial period there were no autonomous cities, at least with the content the word had in the 5th c. BC.

4. Butscher, K., Roman Provincial Coins: an Introduction to the Greek Imperials (London 1988).

5. BMC Cilicia, pp. xci-xcii.


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