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«Again, history records five e m p ir e s ... In the lime o f the oldest

o f these, the Assyrian, occurred the first deeds of the city's history,
and the anecdotes about the gods fall in this period. In the time
of the second occurred the rise o f the city. The third she comple­
tely defeated. In the fourth, she alone held out and came off best
o f all. In the time o f the empire now established, which is in all
respects the best and the greatest, she holds the place of honor
in the whole Hellenic world, and has so fared that one could not
wish for her the old circumstances instead o f the present.»
(Aelius Aristides, Panathenaic 234. trans. Oliver)

The words o f Aelius Aristides offer a wealth o f insight into the contemporary perception
o f Athens. Selections from the Panathenaic O ration prove appropriate to illustrate this
paper. These words will lack the style and majesty not only of the orator, but also o f
his translator, the late James Henry Oliver, but 1 would still like to dedicate them to his
Athens was probably the Hellenic city most visited by Roman emperors. If we were
to count only those visits made by a ruling Augustus, we could offer the following list:

Augustus — twice
Trajan — one known visit
H a d r ia n — three visits
Marcus Aurelius — one visit
L u c iu s— one visit

* This paper originated in the preparation o f The Athenian Agora XVI11, Inscriptions: Dedicatory
Monuments am! Monuments of Roman Date. Grants from the Canada Council and the Social Sciences
and Humanities Research Council of Canada have facilitated its preparation. Many people have offered
helpful comments: I would particularly cite Simon Price. Olga Palagia and Marcel Le Glay. Mrs. Del-
mousou of the Epigraphical Museum at Athens and Professors Homer A. Thompson and T. Leslie Shear,
70 DANIEL .1. G E A GA N

T o Lhese we cun add that, although Nero never stopped in the city, his avoidance required
explanation. Vespasian is not recorded as a visitor, but there is a possibility that he did
slop. Several emperors-design a te also were familiar with A thens; they included Augustus’
grandson C. Caesar, the successor designate Germanicus. Hadrian, Antoninus, C om m odus
and Septimius. On many occasions the exigencies o f travel called lor the visit ; but equally
often the prestige of the city was the reason. Athens remained the cultural and spiritual
centre for the Hellenes. Her customs could be seen as a paradigm of Hellenism, and her
approval guaranteed the propriety of Hellenic tradition in religious, cultural and polit­
ical practices.
For the modern scholar Athens offers the further advantage o f docum entation,
especially the overwhelming number o f inscriptions. This docum entation makes of Athens
a great laboratory in which to test our knowledge o f the civic life o f the cities of the Eastern
Roman Empire. 1gora XV/11 will include many bases for statues o f Roman emperors
and many o f the so-called «imperial altars». Although recent scholars like Albino Gar-
zeiii discount their usefulness as evidence of imperial visits to a city, Wilhelm W eber
made them a basis for plotting the route of H adrian’s travels in the east *.
In the pages which follow I would like to examine first the evidence o f statue bases:
and then that o f imperial altars. Finally some ideas about the conduct o f an imperial
advent us. The evidence in many cases is circumstantial: the conclusions are open to objec­
tions, but the picture which emerges seems probable.
Statues of emperors need not indicate a visit to the city. Statues were set up o f several
emperors who did not visit and a n um ber of other statues can be shown to have been
set up for other reasons. Bases for eight statues o f Claudius are preserved -. although
he did not visit the city. Likewise there are bases for two statues o f T ib e riu s3 after his
accession and one for a statue of Septimius (IG II-, 3417). Conversely only one base is
preserved from the city for a statue o f Augustus {/G II2, 3253), who visited three times
following the Battle o f Actiurh. Several other emperors are not known to have visited
the city, but in a num ber o f cases damnaiio would have destroyed much or all o f the evid­
ence for statues '. At this point it may be appropriate lo point out that stalues were set
up o f several men before they became emperor — Tiberius (six statues), Domitian. H ad­
rian and Marcus 5.

Jr.. successive directors of the Agora Excavations, have been generous in allowing access to the primary
1. Albino Garzetli. From Tiberius to the Antonines (London 1974) 396-400. 684-686: Wilhelm Weber,
Untersuchungen zur Geschichte (tes Kaiser'! Hadrianus (Leipzig 1907) e.g. 205-231 Γο γ Athens and Asia.
2. IC IIJ. 3268, 3269, 3270 (all dated to A.D. 41). 3271 and 3272 (dateable lo A.D. 42). 3273. 3274,
3276 (not dateable to precise years). I-'or the chronology of some of these see D..I. Geagan, «Tiberius Clau­
dius Novius, the Hoplite Generalship and the Epimeleteia of the Free City of Athens». AJP 100 (1979)
3. IG ΙΓ-, 3262, 3264. Statues from Eleusis or from outside the city proper are not included here.
4. Nero, Domitian. Commodus, Geta. An unpublished text from the Agora Excavations (see below,
note 29) indicates that damnatio was carried out for Caius also.
5. Tiberius: IG II-; 3254. 3243, 3244, 3245. 3246. 3247. Domitian: IG IP . 3283b. Hadrian: IG IP
32S6. Marcus: JG II- 34)0.

The statues of one emperor almost certainly can be associated with visits to the city.
Statues o f Hadrian were set up not individually, but in displays. O f the projected thirteen
s ta tu e s 0 in the Theatre o f Dionysos, one for each wedge of seats, the central base com ­
memorates his archonship o f the city; the others probably recall the agonothesia o f the
Dionysia, a liturgy into which he seems to have thrown himself enthusiastically (Cassius
Dio LXIX. 16). Although these are associated with visits, they also recall benefits to the
city. A mass o f statues set up in the precinct of Olympian Zeus also recalls a visit to the
city, but it may be belter to return to these later.
Statues o f imperial figures also recalled benefits. Tw o statues o f Julius Caesar set
up shortly after the Battle o f Pharsalos call him So ter and Euer get es \ Although he may
have visited Athens after the battle, he was also very generous to the city which had sup­
ported Ponipey. l ive o f the statues of Claudius were set up during his first two years
as emperor: three o f these call him Soter and Euer get es. There is reason to believe that
the emperor assisted the civic grain supply e. Three statues o f Trajan “ were set up between
his accession in A.D. 97 and Iris Dacian triumph in 102. A visiL during this period was
not possible. All three statues were found in the area o f a large building programme con­
necting the Agora proper with the Agora o f Caesar and Augustus: the excavators date
the construction to around A.D. 100. One o f the live preserved bases for a statue o f A n to n ­
inus (IG II-. 3390) indicates that he augmented the gifts o f his deified father — presu­
mably to the Theatre, where the stone was found.
Another category o f statue bases celebrates events important to the history o f ihe
ruling dynasty a t Rome. A.Fi. Raubitschek restored the inscriptions on a base for a statue
of Julius Caesar to suit the date of Caesar’s visit to Athens in 47 B.C. A restoration to
suit the litulature of the first dictatorship produces a much more symmetrical text than
restoration to suit the second ,u. But the first dictatorship lasted only eleven days at a
time when Caesar would certainly not be contemplating a visit to Athens. Could the
statue commem orate the dictatorship itself?
A group of four statues (IG II2, 3253-3256) — representing Augustus. Tiberius, Ger-
manicus, and Drusus, the son o f Tiberius — was set up on the Acropolis. This can only

6. JC II2. 3287 and ÎQ Ila 3286. the central statue commemorating his archonship.
7. A.E. Raubitschek, «Epigraphical Notes on Julius Caesar». J R S 44 (1954) 65-71. No. F. and an
unedited text from the Agora Excavations, Inv. No. I 3042:
[ό δήμος]
Γάϊον Ιο ύ λ ιο ν ΓαΐοΙυ υιόν Καίσαρα άρχιερύα καί|
uùroKpÙTopu ϋπατό [ν τε τό δεύτερον σωτήρα)
καί εύ [εργέτην]
$. See ftöVe 2. above. The ^vominence οΐ vhe YioçYtte çjsïwraA \n tfcies* v.c\v.s vV\c &ssocvaV\ovv
with the grain supply. The general Novius set up statues of other Romans whose imperial postings may
have given them influence in distribuUon of grain.
9. BCII 71-72 (1947/8) 42-46. No. II; Hesperia 3 (1934) 74. No. 72: Hesperia 42 (.1973) 175-176.
10. (Note 7) No. P. The new text would read:
vacat ό Δήμος m eat
[Γ] άϊον Ιούλιον Καίσα[ρα τον]
[ά] ρχιερέα καί δικτατορία τόν]
[έ]α υτού σωτήρα καί ευ [εργέτην]

publicize the line o f succession which Augustus established in A.D. 4. A nother statue
o f Germ anicus 11 has been traditionally dated to the time of his visit in A.D. 18: buL the
dedicatory formula of the text (ο δήμος) was an anachronism in Tiberius' reign. Can it
be that the statue was set up while Augustus was still alive.
An interesting example o f the association of statues with dynastic events involves
the imperial women: in this case H adrian’s wife Sabina and her sister Matidia. It is usually
thought that Sabina received the title Augusta at the same time as Hadrian became pater
patriae. T h a t would be in A.D. 128. the same year as Hadrian visited Athens. Werner
Eck 12 thinks that the title Augusta would have been given to Sabina as early as 119. A
statue o f Sabina Augusta at Athens is usually dated to the time o f H adrian's visit. H ad­
rian’s name and titles as given on this base are anom alous 13. The anomalies recall T ra ja n ’s
formula, and the most reasonable explanation for them would be a stale of uncertainty
possible at a dale earlier in Hadrian’s reign. Certainly the Athenians would have known
better than to use such titulature in 128. My friend and colleague Togo Salmon reminded
me that Hadrian was the lirst nonpatrician to become emperor, and it would be very
im portant for him to establish his credentials early in the reign. Hildegard Temporini 11
has pointed out the dynastic importance o f the Augusta when the Augustus himself had
no offspring. There is also a statue o f Matidia (IG II- 3388) which makes explicit reference
to her grand m other Marciana Augusta, to her mother Matidia Augusta, and lo her sister
Sabina Augusta. Kirchner would have this statue also set up in 128. Would it not be
more likely that the Augustae received their lilies in 119 on ihe death of Matidia the
elder and that the statues were set up at Athens in the light of that event?
Therefore much caution is needed before a statue is associated with an imperial
visit. The evidence for the dynastic importance of statues is not complete, and study of
their place in provincial cities may be worthy o f further attention.

In the Panathenaic Oratio Aristides praises the city’s sacrifices and processions. He
notes, «some have risen am ong you first, while others are still today carried out among
you in an unsurpassable manner» (238).
Are imperial altars any more trustworthy than statues as evidence o f an imperial
visit? W hat is meant by an «imperial altar» 15? Numerous small monuments bear the
name o f a ruling emperor, usually in a simplified form of the titulature. in either the genitive
or dative case. These monum ents come in various sizes and shapes. The smallest would

11. IG II“, 3260. For the dating of the formula see D.J. Geagan, The Athenian Constitution after
Sulla (Hesperia Supplement 12. 1967) 155-159.
12. R.E. Suppl. 15 (1978) 910-911, s.v. Vibiits 72b.
13. IG II-, 3387: Imperator Nerva Trajamfs Hadrianus Caesar Augustus, l or the standard titulature
see M. Hammond, «Imperial Elements in the Formula of the Roman Emperor during the First Two and
a Half Centuries o f the Empire» M A A R 25 (1957) 28.
14. Die Frauen am HoJ'e Trojans (Berlin 1978) 40-42.
15. For Athenian imperial altars see A. Benjamin and A.E. Raubitschek, «Arae Augustin, Hesperia
28 (1959) 65-85; A. Benjamin. «The Altars of Hadrian and Hadrian's Panhellenic Program», Hesperia
32 (1963) 57-86.

normally be described as bom iskoi or thym iaieria; the largest resemble moderately sized
statue bases. Shape is sometimes determined by the nature o f available materials, for
many are re-used blocks which had served various other functions previously, for examples
a well head, a herm shaft or previous inscriptions.
The practice o f using such altars is not original to Athens. L. Robert 1,1 has collected
extensive testimonia to their use for the epiphany or kom asia o f divinities or divinised
rulers during Hellenistic times. Physical remains from the island city o f Mitylene 1T recall
the ho no ur paid to Cnaeus Pompeius presumably at the time of his visit in 62 B.C. Although
there is a single preserved altar at Athens naming Antonius and Octavia { ΤΑΡΑ 77 (1946)
146-150). and a cylindrical piece o f stone bears the name o f King Rhoemetalces in the
dative (IG II2, 3156), evidence for grand displays of altars is restricted to the times o f
Augustus and his successors. From the lime when Athens adopted the custom o f organ­
izing displays o f altars the physical remains bear out Aristides’ claims for Athenian
preeminence, for the numbers o f such allars found at Athens for each Augustus and
Hadrian exceed those found anywhere else. In fact for Hadrian alone there are now 103
preserved examples.
Paul Veyne 18 has suggested that these altars lent splendour to an imperial advcntus.
Anna Benjamin and A nton E. Raubitschek associate the altars of Augustus with monthly
sacrifices on his birthday and Benjamin associates the altars o f Hadrian with his Pan­
hellenic programme. Were the altars prepared especially for the personal presence of
the emperor, or did they merely heighten the honour accorded his image? For there is
testimony that theiai eikones were maintained at the time o f Septimus, and an eikon of
Hadrian resided in the Parthenon IU. Tw o observations emerge from the study of the
Athenian altars. First: significant numbers are preserved precisely for those emperors
who visited Athens or Who might have been expected to visit llie city. Second: when
imperial titulature permits, ihcse altars can be dated to coincide with an actual or intended
visit. Frequently the dates fall in years late in the reign.
Beginning with Augustus, the names o f eight em perors occur on altars at Athens.
The numbers o f preserved examples vary from one to another o f the emperors; these
numbers could reflect the relative popularity of the various emperors, or they could reflect
the likelihood o f a visit. Vet Claudius, whose preserved statues would give him high
ranking in popularity, is named on no altars: he never visited the city.
The following emperors are named on altars:
Hadrian is named on 103 altars. He visited Athens three times.
A u g u s t u s is n a m e d o n 19 a l t a r s . H e visited twice.
Nero is named on 5 and his damna do may have affected the num ber; he might have been
expected to visit during his tour o f Greece.

16. Essays in Honor o f C. Bradford I1'dies (American Studies in Papyrology I, 1966) 175-210.
17. IG XII. 2, 140-150. 163, 164. 165; Supplement 39, 40.
18. «Les honneurs posthumes de Flavia Dömitilla et les dédicaces grecques et latines». Latomus
21 (1962) 71-75.
19. 77/ *Αθηναϊκά 14 (1959) 11, No. 25; Pausanias 1.24.7. On such images sec A.D. Nock, H SCP
41 (1930) Iff.

A ntoninus is named on 3, but no visits are attested after his elevation.

Vespasian is named on 2. There is no evidence o f an actual visit, but he might have been
Titus and Tiberius arc named on one each. Neither is known to have visited.

(The altar bearing Tiberius' name had formerly belonged to

Augustus. One o f the two altars naming Vespasian began its
life as an Altar of Augustus: it was re-christened for Nero: Nero's
name was erased and Vespasian's ad ded ; finally T itus’ name
was written on the back side).
(Eight altars bearing the names of Marcus and L u ciu s20
should be cited separately, for the dedicatory formulae show
ideological change. The names o f the emperors are no longer
cited in the genitive or dative case: rather the altars are dedicated
«for» (επί) or «for the sake οΓ» (ύπέρ) their victory, health,
deliverance, continuance or saving divinities. It is customary to
link these with Lucius’ visit in A.D. 162, while he was travelling
out to the Parthian Wars).

A second line o f investigation is based upon the chronology of the altars. This crit­
erion cannot be applied to the first emperor, Augustus' nomenclature is very simple,
as we might expect 21. We know only that they were inscribed after he took the title Aug­
ustus in 27 B.C.. and he used the same titles until his death in A.D. 14. He visited Athens
in 22 B.C., was displeased by the Athenians, and retreated to the island o f Aegina. He
returned in I1), and it appears that in the meantime the Athenians exerted great effort
to appease him.
Nero's a l t a r s 22 can be dated by the praenomen Imperator, which he took only very
late in his reign in the year A.D. 66. In September o f that year he left Rome for his trium ­
phant theatrical lour of Greece and did not return lo Rome until early in 68. By June
o f that year he was dead. It is very likely therefore that the altars were inscribed while
he was touring Greece. I propose that the Athenians certainly expected him to visit, but
he avoided the city «because o f that story ab out Erinyes» (Cass. Dio 63.14) just as he
also avoided Sparta.
The first o f the altars o f Vespasian 23 merely adds his cognomen to the formula o f
Augustus. A nother uses the simple formula Imperator Caesar Augustus Vespasiunus,
identical with the first except for the loss οf divi filius. This is an uncom m on formula for

20. A.E, Raubitschek, «Altars of Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus», Hesperia 35 (1936) 250-251.
21. To the altars of Augustus catalogued by Benjamin and Raubitschek (note 17 1 four may be added:
Hesperia 34 (1965) 164-166; ArchDeh 23 (1968): C’hron. 70: and an unedited fragment from the Athenian
22. Hesperia 28 (1959) 82, No. 12; AAA 3 (1970) 426-427; IG II* 3278; A M 67 (1942) 45, No. 60;
and an unedited fragment from the Agora Excavations (see note 29 below).
23. Benjamin and Raubitschek (note 17) No. 12 and Hesperia 10 (1941) 242, No. 41.

Vespasian, but il does emphasize the continuity from Augustus. Might the altars have
been inscribed early in his reign? Vespasian tarried in Egypl for a year while his claim
to the purple was being established in Rome. Only then did he leave, and his leisurely
voyage included stops in Rhodes, the cities o f Asia and Greece before he crossed from
Kerkyra to Brundisium. Athens’ prestige and A ugustus’ precedent would have recom ­
mended a visit to Athens, but there is no firm evidence that it actually occurred.
Hadrian ruled from 117 to 138. His popularity at Athens began before he became
emperor. Because he was not a patrician, as J.H. Oliver has pointed out, he was able
to become an Athenian c itiz e n — the first emperor to have this standing. He also had
served as civic archon. which only Domitian had done before him. This popularity must
have been reinforced when he visited the city as em peror in A.D. 124. A thens had set
up no altars yet. But Sparta did. The Spartan altars all 2J certainly were inscribed before
A.D. 128 and one o f them can be dated by the eponym ous magistrate to A.D. 125. the
very year of H adrian’s visit to Sparta.
The Athenian altars 25 cannot be dated before A.D. 128 — the year in which Hadrian
took the title Olympias. They cannot be dated after A.D. 132, when PanheUenios was
added to his titles. In the former of these two years H adrian visited Athens and must
have inaugurated the first Athenian Olympiad. In the laticr he returned for the celebration
of the festival which culminated its first quinquennium 2fi. Within the same chronological
period numbers o f cities, including Milyiene. Pergamon, and Miletos, dedicated displays
of altars. Between the two visits to A thens Hadrian made a grand tour of the East w'hich
included the cities o f A s i a 27.


« . . .various dances and mystic riles and festivals

came to prevail through visits from various deities.
For the gifts from the gods kept pace with the
honours for the gods, who gave, and received from those
to whom they gave, the proper share for each side».
(Aristides, Pwjalhenaic 4L Irans. Oliver)

If displays of smoking altars were indeed part o f an imperial visit to the city, how w'ere
they lilted into the ceremonial. L. Robert has shown their use in Hellenistic ruler cult,
and I believe that there is very little in what follows that would not find a precedent
in the evidence which he presents, first a few more observations based upon statue bases
may be helpful.

24. For a catalogue of the Spartan altars sec Benjamin (note 17) 74-76; No. 123 is dated.
25. To the 95 altars catalogued by Benjamin (note 17) can be added five unedited examples from
the Athenian Agora as well as E.W. Bodnar, S.J., Cyviacus o f Ancona and Athens (Collection Latomus
43, 1960) 170, No. 24; M. Th. Mitsos. Arch Del· 17 (1961/2) Chron. 28.
26. S. Follet, Athènes au / / e et an IIIe siècle (Paris 1976) 57 for the dates.
27. M. Le Glay, «Hadrien et l’Asklépieion de Pergame,» BC f l 100 (1976) 357-364 offers a catalogue
of evidence for the cult of Hadrian in the cities of Asia.

Athenian epigraphical sources reflect a noteable tendency o f the Julio-Claudian

dynasty to identify themselves with traditional divinities. Thus Drusus, the son of Tibe­
rius. (IG II'2. 3257) and Caius, the son of Julia and A g r i p p a 28, were each portrayed as
the «New Ares». Drusilla, Caligula's sister, was the «New goddess A phrodite» 2!\ Livia
was «Artemis Boulaia» ( SEG 22, 152) and «Augusta Hygeia» (IG 11-, 3240). The em perors
chose especially Apollo. A privately dedicated statue base entitles Augustus the «new
A p o llo » 30. An Athenian decree which establishes rites to celebrate the imperial birthday
has strong suggestions of an association with that god 31. Even at Rome il seems Augustus
was portrayed as Apollo in the temple he erected on the Palatine 32. The Athenian demos
set up two statues o f Augustus outside of Athens which are noteable because Augustus
is called rheos. One o f these stood in the precinct o f the god at D e lp h i83, the other on
his sacred island o f Delos (/. Dé/os 1591). Did these statues picture Augustus in the guise
of the god? A small number o f other inscriptions found at Athens identify Roman emperors
as th e o s 34. T hat number is small enough to make such monuments unusual, but there
are too many for the word to be used accidenLly.
On his altars Nero was called «New Apollo», and on one o f them the priest o f Apollo
Patroos 35 was cited for eponymity. Claudius was portrayed as Apollo Patroos (!G ll 2
3274). Apollo Patroos was the divine ancestor of the Athenians and many o f the gene
made him the object o f special cult. His descendants included also all o f the lonians.
and thus many cities could look to Athens as their metropolis.
Apollo seems to have suited Augustus and his successors. Augustus’ other favourite
am ong the Hellenic divinities, Ares, seems to have been appropriate to potential successors
with military credentials; I am led to wonder whether this divinity would have served
also for either Tiberius or Germanicus, but in the absence of evidence such speculation

28. Bodnar (note 25) 164-165; lor the date of this statue and of Caius’ visit see F.F. Römer, «<A
Numismatic Date for the Departure of C. Caesar?» TAPA 108 (1978) 201-202, note 35.
29. An unedited text from the Athenian Agora, Inv. no. I 4313;
[Δρουσίλλύν νέαν θε]ύν Ά φροδείτην
|1[Γαίου Kuicrapoç Σε](3αστο0 Γερμανέ
[[ikoC>| αδελφήν vaeat
30. D. Peppas-Delmousou, «A Statue Base for Augustus», A JP 100 (1979) 125-132, joins IC IIs
3262 with JG II- 4725 and suggests that Augustus was portrayed with the features o f the god.
31. Hesperia 26 (1957) 260-265. No. 98.
32. On Augustus and Apollo see L.R. Taylor. The Divinity o f the Roman Emperor (Middleton Conn.
1931) 118-120. J53-155 and J. Gagé, Apollon Romain (Bibliothèque des Écoles françaises d'Athènes et de
Rome 182, 1955) 479-637. Olga Palagïa has called to my attention a statue of Apollo bearing Julio-Claud-
ian features.
33. BCH 85 (1961) 88-90; 87 (1963) 196-197.
34. Augustus bears the divinising epithet certainly on one altar and probably on two others; Tibe­
rius on a private votive (IG II3, 3264) and on the large base standing iri front o f the Stoa o f Attalos (Hespe­
ria 28 (1959) 86-90); Trajan (IG II*, 3284, see below).
35. An unedited text Γγοιπ the Athenian Agora, Inv. No. I 4093;
[Αυτο]κράτορος [[Νύρωνος| Kuioupoç]
(έττί ίερέ]ως Πατρώου [‘Απόλλωνος ro&J
γένους το[υ----- ]

is idle. The preference for Apollo am o ng the dynasts possibly explains the identification
of Livia with Artemis. Would Drusilla's portrayal as A phrodite suggest that Caligula
included Ares am ong his many divine guises?
Other dynasties preferred other divinities. Trajan visited Athens in A.D. 113 as he
travelled eastward to light the Parthians. The epithet invictus suggests that a statue base
(fG II2. 3284) found on the Acropolis may be associated with that visit. The imperial titles
restrict the dating to the period between A.D. 102 and 114. This base also calls Trajan
thetw. Did Trajan have a specific identity as rheas'l No answer to that question can be
certain, but there is also the base for a statue o f Hadrian which was found on the A cro­
polis :t0. H adrian's father Trajan is called Zeus Eleutherios. Is there any more appropriate
divinity for the warrior against the Parthians than the patron o f the Greeks when they
defended themselves against the Persians?
It was Hadrian who was most consistently associated with a divinity at Athens.
Pausanias tells us that the precinct o f Olympian Zeus was full of statues o f Hadrian set
up by cities from a round the empire. Over twenty of the bases for these survive, and
almost all entitle the em peror Olympian 37. H adrian ’s coins tell us that he began to be
called Olympian in A.D. 128/9, the same year as his second visit to Athens. This year
coincides with the cycle of pentelcric Athenian Olympiads and it was suggested above
that it opened the first Olympiad. That first Olympiad would have ended with the cele­
bration o f the games for the first time in A.D. 132/3 when Hadrian again visited the city.
From this latter date H adrian’s titles can be expected also to include the new title Panhel-
lenios. I l is tempting to believe that the chryselephantine statue of Zeus within the temple
bore the features o f the em peror who had been assimilated with him in so many documents.
The Athenian imperial altars also call H adrian the Olympian and are subject to
the same chronological limits as the statues. There is one difference between the statues
and the altars. The statues were found to the south o f the Acropolis near the precinct
in which they originally were set up. The altars on the other hand were found almost all
on the north side o f the Acropolis. The largest num ber was found in the Athenian Agora,
and there was a small concentration at the western end o f Lhe Acropolis. A few were
found to the north-west of the Agora extending toward the Kerameikos. Aside from
the small number from the Agora o f Caesar and Augustus and from the Library o f Hadrian,
there remain only a few from scattered other locations. The altars o f Augustus are more
widely dispersed, but again the Agora is the single most significant source. It is possible
that this distribution is an accident of excavation, but I am inclined to believe that the
Panathenaic Way. Athens' most sacred processional road, was the focus, especially as
it traversed the Open square o f the Agora.
Just as w'hen a trium phant R om an general assumed the guise o f Jupiter when he
proceeded from the city gate to the Capitoline temple; so, it may be, the em peror entered

36. A JA 49 (1945) 128-13). On the portrayal of Trajan as Zeus see J. Beaujeu, I.a religion romaine
à l'apogée de l'empire, I. La politique religieuse des Antonins (Paris 1955) 69-71 : M. Hammond, The Anto­
nitie Monarchy (Papers and Monographs of the American Academy in Rome 19. 1959) 211 and the notes
on p. 236. Beaujeu notes that the identification had precedent with Augustus, Nero and Domitian.
37. IG II*, 3289-3310.

Athens. Along the route lo Lhe Acropolis in front o f the densely packed crowd, various
individuals or groups sweetened the air with the smell o f incense or o f suitable small
burnt offerings. The Acropolis itself was the preferred location for statues o f Roman
emperors, if the high ratio of bases found there is a guide.
When the Olympieion was dedicated, when delegations from all the cities of the
East gathered for the occasion amid the array of statues o f the emperor, we know that
Polemon delivered Lhe address from the steps o f the Temple o f Olympian Zeus. That
speech is lost. H adrian’s visits to the city and the foundation o f the Olympic festival
signalled a preeminence for Athens. Aelius Aristides describes the glory of the city in
t h e address he composed for a celebration o f Lhe Panathenaia :
«I believe it causes the Athenians themselves
no shame either, if anyone worships their
Acropolis. Therefore you too must think the
ciiy a kind o f acropolis or crown of Hellas
and o f your race, honoring her by act and by
word and sharing in her glory».
(Aristides, Panathenaic 275. trans. Oliver)

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