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NEO´CORI (νεωκόροι) signified originally a temple-attendant; perhaps a temple-sweeper (Hesych. sub voce), which may well be Ion's description of his office (Eur. Ion 121): others, however, prefer to connect the termination with the root of βούκολος, αἰγικορεῖς, colo in the sense of tending (cf. Suid. s.v. Curtius, Gr. Etym. 463). However that may be, the word was applied, even in early times, to priestly officers of high rank, who had the superintendence of temples and their treasures (Plat. Legg. vi. p. 759 A; Xen. Anab; 5.3, § 6). Under the Empire the word was especially about applied to those cities in Asia which erected temples to the Roman emperors, since the whole city in such a case was regarded as the guardian of the worship. These sanctuaries for the cult of the emperor began in the lifetime of Augustus, at Cyzicus (Tac. Ann. 4.36) and elsewhere. Not only the cities which possessed a temple of this kind (distinct from the worship of Rome and Augustus by the entire province), but also those which contributed (Dio Chrysost. ii. p. 70) to its support, were called νεωκόροι of the emperor: the name belonged to the city, not to any religious official. Accordingly we frequently find on the coins of Ephesus, Smyrna, and other cities the epithet ΝΕΩΚΟΡΟΣ, which also occurs in the inscriptions of those cities (see Conybeare and Howson, St. Paul, ch. xvi. fin.). No city was allowed to assume this office without the permission of the Roman senate, as is clear both from inscriptions and from Tac. Ann. 4.55, 56, from whom we learn also that Cyzicus was punished for neglecting the duties. The name belonged to the city, not to any religious official. These local cults were directed by a sacerdos or ἀρχιερεύς, who must be distinguished from the ἀρχιερεὺς Ἀσίας (=Ἀσιάρχης), or priest of the Koinon, i.e. the union of the whole province of Asia for the worship of Rome and Augustus [ASIARCHAE]. The neocorate (as was said above) was distinct from this, and belonged to separate cities, a single neocorate implying a single temple maintained to an emperor or imperial family: a city might be δὶς or τρὶς νεωκόρος, if it had two or three temples to two or three different emperors or imperial families. (See Ramsay in Class. Review, 3.175 [1889]; Marquardt, Staatsv. 1.504, 3.464.) [AEDITUI]

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