chapter  3
12 Pages

Benefactors, markets, and trust in the Roman East

Civic munificence as extramercantile exchange *
WithArjan Zuiderhoek

In this chapter, I discuss civic munificence in the Roman imperial East as a form of extramercantile exchange. Following the lead of recent social scientific research into gift exchange, I explore the various interactions between euergetism and the urban economy, as well as its contribution to the generation of macrosocial trust. Competitive gift giving, however, does not only create social bonds, but also can also lead to fierce and potentially destructive conflicts between donors. Hence, in the final part of the chapter, I investigate the societal ramifications of intra-elite euergetic competitiveness, the conditions that stimulated it, and the factors that arguably prevented it from getting out of hand.