By Claude Eilers
Patronage has long been an important topic of interest to ancient historians. It remains unclear what patronage entailed, however, and how it worked. Is it a universal phenomenon embracing all, or most, relationships between unequals? Or is it an especially Roman practice? In previousdiscussions of patronage, one crucial body of evidence has been under-exploited: inscriptions from the Greek East that borrow the Latin term 'patron' and use it to honour their Roman officials. The fact that the Greeks borrow the term patron suggests that there was something uniquely Roman about thepatron-client relationship. Moreover, this epigraphic evidence implies that patronage was not only a part of Rome's history, but had a history of its own. The rise and fall of city patrons in the Greek East is linked to the fundamental changes that took place during the fall of the Republic and thetransition to the Principate. Senatorial patrons appear in the Greek inscriptions of the Roman province of Asia towards the end of the second century BC and are widely attested in the region and elsewhere for the following century. In the early principate, however, they become less common and soonmore or less disappear. Eilers's discursive treatment of the origins, nature, and decline of this type of patronage, and its place in Roman practice as a whole, is supplemented by a reference catalogue of Roman patrons of Greek communities.