Abstract–Local Pantheons in Motion: Synoecism and Patron Deities in Hellenistic Rhodes

This paper addresses some of the limitations of the concept of patron deity through the case-study of the island of Rhodes after the synoecism of 408/7 BC, as well as, in a wider perspective, the impact of historical events on the religious landscape. Focusing on the main cults of Helios, Athena, and Zeus, it will assess how these cults were related, on different levels, to the concerns of political unity during the Hellenistic period. While Helios had a representative function of the unified polis of Rhodes in relation to the mythical past of the island, the cult configurations of Athena and Zeus and its local variations reflect the dialectic at play between unification and strong regional identities.