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DIVINE TYRANNY AND PUBLIC HUMILIATION: A SUGGESTION FOR THE INTERPRETATION OF THE LYDIAN AND PHRYGIAN CONFESSION INSCRIPTIONS

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The Lydian and Phrygian confession inscriptions dating mostly to the 2nd and 3rd centuries C.E. have provoked less discussion than one would expect. This paper focuses on what was probably the main reason for the pressure to confess sins publicly. A major cause for public confession seems to have been the perceived necessity to reinforce the control of the local god over his or her devotees. The impetus may have been the spreading of the Christian faith in Lydia and Phrygia. It is suggested that the local religious functionaries may have responded by heightening the people's awe concerning the power of the gods, requiring public confessions of specific sins that highlight the frightful power of the gods over all aspects of life, and by requiring the erection of steles in the hope of establishing the permanent loyalty of the people for the god who ruled over the village.

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