ABSTRACT

This chapter focuses on Hadrian’s involvement with the Greek festivals, particularly those of Athens, and considers what impact this involvement may have had on the dramatic festivals of Achaea more widely. Hadrian’s interventions in the Greek festival network were extensive: he founded new contests, corresponded with the Technitai of Dionysus, and reorganized the Greek festival calendar, synchronizing Greek and Roman time and relating local events to a pan-Mediterranean schedule. Most significantly, he manipulated the circuit of panhellenic festivals in order to center the network on Athens, in line with his larger program of public munificence there. He concentrated the number of periodos festivals in Athens by upgrading one contest (the Greater Panathenaia) and founding three new ones (the Panhellenia, Olympia, and Hadrianeia). No other city in the Empire, not even Rome, had multiple games on the periodos. This brought competitors through Athens on a yearly basis. This Athenocentrism was both classicizing and anachronistic, referencing the perceived importance of Athens in the history of drama, while at the same time creating a place of prominence for the Athenian festivals in the wider Greek world that they had never before held. Additionally, a survey of the dramatic festivals of Boeotia in the 2nd century suggests that on a more local level, the festivals of cities with strong Roman connections, such as Thespiae, fared relatively well due to investment by elite benefactors who sought to represent themselves as the upholders of past custom while forging political relationships within the contemporary frame of Roman Greece.