Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: May 06, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412958660 | Print ISBN: 9781412958653 | Online ISBN: 9781412958660| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Matthew Charles Nicholls
Euergetism —the word derives from the ancient Greek word for a benefactor (e?e???t??)—is a term used by ancient historians to refer to the phenomenon of elite benefaction to towns and communities through voluntary gifts, such as public buildings or endowments for various forms of festival or distribution. The process has been seen as critical to understanding how city-states functioned in the Hellenistic Greek east and throughout the wider Mediterranean world in the Roman republican and imperial eras. Gift-giving was a well-established aristocratic prerogative from very ancient times in the Greek world (the Greek mainland, as well as Greek-speaking communities across the eastern Mediterranean). It was ill-suited to Athenian democracy but became well established from the late fourth century BCE under the Hellenistic kingdoms of the successors to Alexander the Great and continued to form an important element of civic life as the influence and then the imperial presence of Rome ...