Greek Cults in a Conquered Land: Corinth and the Making of a Colonial Pantheon (146- 44 BCE)

The city of Corinth was conquered and raised to the ground by Mummius’ troops in 146 BCE. Although the literary sources recorded a dramatic scenario, the recent reassessment of the evidence from a century of American excavations in Corinth demonstrated that the Greek city was somehow continuously inhabited from the late second century BCE until the foundation of the Roman colony in 44 BCE. Only a few of the old Greek sanctuaries were frequented during the interim period following the destruction, and/or survived the dramatic political change leading to the foundation of the colony. This paper explores the reasons why the interim settlers, and later the Roman colonists, promoted the survival of sanctuaries such as those of Asklepios and of the Eleusinian goddesses over others, and suggests that the survival of certain Greek cults provided a factor of cultural, religious and political cohesion for the new resident population in the years of the colonial foundation. The pre-existing sanctuaries might therefore have contributed to the definition of the status of Corinth and its pantheon as a colonial creation, precisely in the manner seen fit by the Roman authorities.