PROVINCIAL IMPERIAL CULTS OF ASIA
When we move from the provincial to the municipal imperial cults, new difficulties appear. It is not always easy or desirable to disentangle provincial and municipal worship, so this chapter begins by explaining how these categories overlap. Another difficulty arises in extant documentation: even though there were many more municipal cults of the emperors, less information is available. This suggests that we are dealing with an aspect of imperial worship that operated within a different level of society with a distinguishable function. To handle the episodic nature of the evidence, I survey the contexts in which municipal worship is known to have occurred. In the next chapter I focus on two particularly well-documented cases of municipal worship from Aphrodisias and Ephesos to add depth to the survey.
Municipal imperial cults were distinguishable from provincial cults in form and procedure, but the demarcation between municipal and provincial responsibilities was not nearly so clear. The categories aid comparisons but should not obscure the complexities of the topic. Moreover, I do not wish to specify every detail of municipal cults. I am more interested in the social groups that participated in these cults and how these cults structured social intercourse. So let us begin by blurring the categories.