Abstract: At the first “Many Faces of War” conference Larry Tritle offered a thought- provoking essay, entitled “Inside the Hoplite Agony” (published in AHB 2009), on the real-life experience and agony of hoplite fighting, challenging many accepted views and urging us to discuss this topic not from a detached outside perspective but from that of the men and societies involved. My paper intends to show that the Iliad offers us many opportunities to meet Larry’s demands, although in a few cases it might force him to modify some of his views. In the first part I explain why and to what extent it is possible to find in Homer’s battle descriptions evidence of an early form of mass fighting in somewhat dense formations. The importance of this possibility is obvious: the Iliad contains by far the longest, most detailed, and most intense depiction of battle in all of Greek literature; if this depiction is at least in part (and in identifiable parts) realistic and historical, the gain for our understanding of the real-life experience of Greek battle is potentially enormous, even if this concerns a form of fighting that stands at the very beginning of the development of the hoplite phalanx. In the second part I will use epic evidence to support, illustrate, and in some instances challenge Tritle’s criticism of established views of hoplite fighting. In the third part I will present evidence that allows us to gain an insider perspective on the agony of those fighting in an intense infantry battle and thus to illustrate those aspects of battle that are rarely visible in other ancient sources and usually neglected in modern scholarship.
Abstract: Some thirty years ago George Adeleye suggested that Theramenes’ failure to successfully pass his dokimasia and enter the office of strategos, to which he had been elected, should come as no surprise: his former political association with the oligarchs of 411 BC would have automatically disqualified him from holding any office, based on the law proposed by Demophantes and ratified by the Assembly in 410/9 (Andoc. 1.96-98). Steven Todd, however, strongly rejected this explanation, in part because he did not accept Adeleye’s argument about the purpose of the dokimasia.As I hope to demonstrate in the following discussion, although there may have been very good grounds on which to suspect Theramenes’ commitment to the democracy after the battle of Arginousai and its aftermath, the strongest motivation for Theramenes’ rejection may be far less politically grounded than has been previously thought.
Abstract: Shortly after the death of the Spartan king Agesilaus c. 360, Xenophon wrote an encomium of his old friend and patron. As one of the two kings in the unique Spartan dual kingship, Agesilaus had played a crucial role from 400 to 360 BC, a period which saw Sparta both rise to the pinnacle of power and then collapse. The Agesilaus is one of the earliest surviving examples of a prose work written in praise of an historical figure. In such an encomium the object was not to present a strictly accurate portrait of the subject; rather it was to praise his character, glorify his achievements and, on the other hand, to anticipate or defend against any potential detractors. Omission, exaggeration and bending of the truth were not only allowed but, indeed, expected. Its purpose, therefore, was far different from that of a modern biography; nor, despite the idealization of the subject’s character, did it attempt primarily to uplift and instruct, as did Plutarch’s later moralizing biographies, by presenting positive and negative models to emulate or avoid. It was designed to praise, to put the best possible face on the subject’s life, career, background and character. It is not, then, strictly speaking, a work of history, and thus scholars must exercise caution when using it as an historical source.
Abstract: In one of his last publications, the late Ernst Badian detailed the history of the patrician Iulii from its beginnings to the time of Caesar the Dictator. There he discussed what others have also long noticed: that the Dictator was not the first Iulius or the only Iulius in his own time to claim a Trojan ancestry. This paper proposes to add to Badian’s insightful remarks and examine in more detail the Julian claims that Caesar and Augustus inherited— rather than invented—that are visible in the surviving literary, epigraphic and numismatic sources.
Abstract: The trial of M. Plautius Silvanus, as recorded by Tacitus at Ann. 4.22, has long been a point of confusion within our understanding of Roman legal procedure. While there can be no absolute certainty in a case where there are so few relevant ancient sources extant, the hypothesis that M. Plautius Silvanus committed a double crime of both murder and incest makes for a compelling explanation of Tacitus’ account. It conforms to what we know of senatorial procedure and criminal jurisprudence under Tiberius, as well as the functioning of the quaestiones during the early Principate, including the not infrequent use of the quaestio de adulteriis during Tiberius’ reign. Likewise, Tacitus—perhaps out of sympathy for a fellow member of the senatorial class—attempted to brush over the event in his account of the year 24. Although this argument can be made too strongly—certainly Tacitus was willing to acknowledge every charge against the senator Piso except the death of Germanicus, such a tendency might nevertheless have been at work in the case of PlautiusSilvanus. A downplaying of the situation would therefore have produced the confusion over process at Ann. 4.22. It also provides some backing for Maggiulli’s philological work on the identification of the Saevius Plautus mentioned in the Chronicon. This explanation requires us to posit no novel use of senatorial commissions under Tiberius and provides a coherent narrative for the trial of M. Plautius Silvanus that fits the best available evidence.
Abstract: According to the Digest, a part of the Roman civil law issued under Justinianus I, there were three types of military discharges. The honorable discharge (honesta missio) was granted after the completion of one’s military service or as a special imperial gift (ante ab imperatore indulgetur), which is a sign of gratitude for a soldier’s commitment. Soldiers who became unfit for service due to a mental or physical defect were entitled to a missio causaria or a medical discharge. Finally, the dishonorable discharge (ignominiosa missio) was issued to soldiers who did not comply to the military discipline and law. These persons would lose their reputation (inter infames efficit) and they did not receive any of the veteran privileges (a piece of land or a donation of money, citizenship and the right to marry). The introduction of both the honorable and dishonorable discharge can be dated to the end of the republic or the beginning of the imperial era. The period when the medical discharge took effect, however, is uncertain and modern scholars have not reached a consensus up until now. The key issue in the debate is the seemingly contradictory combination of causarius or ex cause (terms that are associated with an early medical discharge) and missio honesta (terms that are associated with the completion of one’s service) in the documents of causarii of the first and second centuries AD. The Roman legislators, however, made a clear distinction between the status of a causarius and the status of a honorably discharged soldier. The question then arises as to why the same distinction was not consistently made for the use of terminology in documents of causarii. First, we will glance through the different opinions and explanations for the peculiar choice of words in the current modern research. Then we will, with the help of new and neglected source material, point to some inaccuracies in previous argumentations and propose another suggestion. The main argument of this article is based upon a possible identity shift among the disabled veterans (causarii), who no longer associated themselves with the honorable discharged soldiers (emeriti) from the early third century AD onwards.
Abstract: This paper will show that the term ̓Οπικόϛ and its Latin equivalent Opicus have a double meaning in the ancient tradition: on the one hand it refers to a specific ethnic group, on the other hand it becomes a way of indicating a person or, more generally, a people incapable of speaking Greek correctly, with a meaning similar to that of βάρβαροϛ.
Abstract: This paper suggests that ethnic identity was not a primary, or at least a highly infrequent, category of self-identification among those whom we identify as ancient Greeks and Karians. Even if, and precisely because, these were not at play in most of the exchanges between those whom we would identify as Greek and Karian, we can better understand and articulate the processes of assimilation that occurred, for it is the lack of expression of an ethnic self-consciousness in most contexts that have traditionally been described as Hellenizing moments which enabled the negotiation of difference in terms other than a Greek/non-Greek dichotomy.
Abstract: In the Bellum Iugurthinum Sallust portrays Marius’ treatment of Capsa as unlawful by calling it contra ius belli. Other comments in the narrative suggest that Capsa’s destruction was perhaps strategically unwise, and that it may have been accomplished for the sake of fame and to reward the soldiery with plunder. This paper suggests that the assertion that Marius acted unlawfully should be viewed as part of a larger effort to depict Marius as a general with imperfect virtus: bold and competent but also driven by ambitio, a lax disciplinarian whose desire for personal glory and overreliance on fortune could lead to ill-advised decisions in war.
Abstract: In this paper I intend to analyze Alexander’s relations with the Babylonian elite and his immersion in Babylonian traditions of kingship, by examining (1) the native form of kingship in Babylon, (2) Alexander’s actions at Babylon in 331 BC, and (3) Alexander’s return to Babylon in 323 BC.
Abstract: The figure of Phrynichus, the son of Stratonides from the deme Deiradiotai, became one of the most controversial ones in late fifth century Athens. Through his wholehearted involvement in the oligarchic revolution of 411 B.C. the oligarch might have emerged as one of the most prominent figures in the Athenian political scene during the oligarchic revolution, but this engagement precipitated his violent death as well. The next generations of Athenians remembered him as an arch-traitor, a hated symbol of a tyrannical regime, which in its short life did everything it could to weaken the strength of the Empire, and reduce Athens to a mere compliant follower of its enemy, Sparta. Yet, despite the almost unanimous agreement in other sources Phrynichus is presented in Thucydides (the present case under examination included) in an objective, neutral, if not outright positive light. The historian draws a picture of a man with outstanding intellectual capabilities, sound judgement, great logical faculty, rhetoric dexterity, and leadership talent. Accordingly, in this paper I shall undertake to examine Phrynichus’ capabilities as a military commander in the Ionia campaign. I hope to demonstrate that, despite criticism levelled at the Athenian commander by modern scholars, Thucydides’ judgement of his performance during that campaign, and in particular Phrynichus’ decision to decline battle at sea, against a Peloponnesian fleet that unexpectedly arrived in the vicinity of Miletus, and withdraw instead to Samos in safety, was sound and correct.
Abstract: In the Athēnaiōn Politeia Perikles, unable to match Kimon’s private generosity to the citizenry and the political benefit it bought, instead uses public funds to the same end, “giv[ing] to the many what was already theirs” (διδόναι τοῖς πολλοῖς τὰ αὑτῶν, AthPol 27.4) by sponsoring the legislation which provided pay for jurymen. In time misthos – state pay for civic service – became the practical and (at least in the eyes of its enemies) the ideological cornerstone of Athenian democracy. This paper examines the sources of Athenian jury pay throughout the latter 5th century.
Abstract: A review essay of Paul J. du Plessis. Letting and Hiring in Roman Legal Thought: 27 BCE – 284 CE (Leiden: Brill, 2012)
Abstract: Strabo’s best known work is his Geography in 17 books, and 19th century critics, who despaired of his amateurism in the areas of maths and astronomy, pointed out that even in the Geography, his most obvious strengths seem to lie rather in the field of history. But Strabo did start with an earlier historical work, which owed conspicuous debts to Polybius, including conceptualising the work as a continuation of his famous predecessor. This paper aims to examine the fragments of the earlier work, and try to isolate some prominent characteristics, in so far as this is possible. Limitations include the small number of surviving citations from the work, and the motives of the restricted number of authors employing it. Strabo’s historical work appears most frequently in Josephus, generally in the Antiquities, but these references do not always clarify the shape of the original. Some investigation of how and why Josephus cites Strabo may help to comprehend this.
Abstract: The purpose of this article is to show that W.W. Tarn’s principal hope as a historian across the first half of the twentieth century was to identify a philosopher king and to expound his history for the edification of his readers. In a narrative long enough to encompass some decades, I will propose that this agenda crystallized in the context of Tarn’s response to his own education. Therefore the philosophers considered will be, first, the philosopher and university reformer whose abiding influence on Tarn is demonstrated by their extant correspondence, and afterwards the ancient philosophers who were listened to by Tarn’s two successive candidates for the philosopher-king accolade.
Abstract: When reading the long fragment of Polybios 8.15.1-21.11, about Antiochos III’s siege of Sardis, it is impossible not to be amazed by the favourable attitude of the historian towards Laodike, the wife of the Seleukid usurper Achaios. Contrary to what might be expected from an historian who tends to be markedly indifferent towards women, Polybios gives us more information about Laodike than about any other Seleukid woman. Achaios’ Laodike is an exemplar of the loyal and brave wife and her portrait has clear epic echoes. As Polybios was no newcomer to associating Homeric topoi with unexpected situations and portrayals, it is indeed possible to detect in the words of Polybios on Achaios and Laodike a clear reference to the well-known Homeric couple, Hektor and Andromache.
Abstract: In Xenophon’s account of the battle of Cunaxa, fought between Artaxerxes II and Cyrus the Younger in 401BC, a succinct description of the soldiers facing the Greeks is provided: there were Egyptians present, carrying wooden shields reaching to the feet. No other source mentions the presence of Egyptians. Nonetheless, they warrant attention. The following establishes the trustworthiness of Xenophon, his shield vocabulary, and the relation of his description to other evidence. The second note challenges Ehrhardt’s thesis of the intentional retreat of Artaxerxes’ left wing at the battle, published in this journal in 1994.
Abstract: The purpose of this article is to explore the ways in which narratives of warfare in the Hellenistic period employed “the divine realm.” Focusing on Demetrius’ siege of Rhodes, I will explore the ways in which the Rhodians insinuated that their survival in their tussle with one of the Hellenistic world’s new mortal divinities, Poliorcetes, owed much to the lineage of the island and to the favour of its old and traditional Olympian gods.
Abstract: There is certainly a sense in which war’s formless, violent chaos, the lust for domination so often at its core or its sheer unexplainable evil, breaks through all cultural attempts to moderate or contain it. Yet culturally constructed moral norms and expectations about how war should be waged can and do have an effect on decisions about going to war and how to fight once a conflict has begun. This article is an attempt to listen to ethical discourses about war that emerged from the particular and rapidly changing political and social events of the early Hellenistic period, focusing on the Siege of Rhodes (305/4 BCE).
Abstract: In the present article I point out that Jeffrey Rop’s arguments for the Assyrian origin of the scythed chariot are not based on the historical evidence. The only note of Ctesias on Assyrian scythed chariots is questionable. The Assyrian hypothesis is not supported either by Mesopotamian cuneiform or the abundant Assyrian iconography. The Persian origin hypothesis remains more probable and widespread among modern scholars. It is based on more reliable ancient sources (Xenophon, Arrian) and should be supported.
Abstract: In ancient Greece, founding and presiding over athletic festivals augmented an individual’s prestige and position. This paper explores roles founding and sponsoring of athletic festivals maintained Alexander the Great’s important role as a military and political leader throughout his campaign against Persia. In addition to the benefits that games offered to the soldiers in his army, Alexander sponsored athletics in order to associate himself with victory without risking defeat.
Abstract: In this paper, I draw attention to the ancient world’s experience with insurgency warfare specifically through an analysis of the Lamian War, which swept the Greek mainland after the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC, when the Macedonian general Antipater faced a revolt of the Greek city states. Antipater’s decision to fall back on Lamia was a calculated tactic to hold a fortified position and accumulate resources, and this was consistent with modern counterinsurgency strategy. The skillful use of the Exiles’ Decree allowed Antipater to divide and isolate his opponents. Antipater also showed mastery of asymmetric strategy, and was capable of managing crises and holding positions with minimal cost. His overall victory was achieved by methods familiar to modern counterinsurgency strategists.
Abstract: Widely accepted modern reconstructions of the post Four Hundred era take as point of departure Michael H. Jameson’s ingenious proposal, that the collapse of the oligarchic regime did not come about suddenly, as Thucydides suggests, but gradually through a series of political trials, the outcome of which determined the political orientation of the regime of the Five Thousand, which superseded that of the oligarchy of the Four Hundred. This reconstruction, however, despite offering a neat and plausible picture of the political situation in Athens at the time, cannot stand close scrutiny. It does not tally with what we know about constitutional and juridical procedures in classical Athens, nor does it do justice to our main and most important source Thucydides. An attempt therefore to critically re-examine the relevant sources and to assess anew the military and political situation in Athens in the autumn of 411 is badly needed.
Abstract: In this paper it will be shown that Memnon deals with the history of the Heraclea but places it in a broader context, which allows us to understand many aspects of general history. In addition, it will be demonstrated, through an analysis of Memnon’s Perì Herakleias, that local histories dealt primarily with historical events, and that if surviving, they would have given an inconceivable contribution to our understanding of the ancient history. While we might greatly regret the loss of the local histories, at the same time it is important to highlight the importance of Memnon, not only for the history of Heraclea, but also for the study of local histories.
Abstract: A review essay of Sofie Remijsen, The End of Greek Athletics in Late Antiquity (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2015).
Abstract: The text of Diodorus renders the Greek name of the location as Κάραις in both 17.110 and 19.91 and Καρῶν κώμαις (Karôn Kômai) in 19.12: “the villages of the Carians” and not Karrha. In this paper I suggest that these references to Κάραις (Carae) should be linked to long-established settlements already utilized by Alexander in his army’s route from Susa to Opis during his campaign in Persia and Babylonia in 324 (Diod. 17.110), and by Eumenes as a winter quarters in 317 during the Second War of the Successors (Diod. 19.12.1). Since the existence of these settlements bears on the historical question of the placement of Carians in Babylonia before and after Alexander, I will bring several chronological and geographical arguments to support this theory. In particular, I will examine the sequence of events in 312/311 in the context of the Third Diadoch War and in so doing explore the nature of Diodorus’s account of Seleucus’ march to Babylon and how the general raised an army on the way. In the end, I hope to offer deeper context for the term “Mesopotamia” and its relation to the villages of the Carians in Diodorus.
Abstract: This paper examines the application of a specific phrase, namely μαχόμενον ἀποθανεῖν (to die fighting), throughout the works of Xenophon. As the majority of applications occur in the Hellenica, and specifically in a Spartan context, I assess the import of its usage, arguing that Xenophon applies the phrase when he wishes judgments, primarily negative, of both Spartan valor and leadership to be made. This finding has implications for Xenophon’s view of Spartan hegemony more broadly.
Abstract: This article aims to give a new reading to the concluding events in Plutarch’s Crassus by employing a broader comparison between the Nicias and the Crassus in order to distinguish the historical facts from the literary artifices adopted by Plutarch, which, according to the author, help illuminate the nature of their his characters. Through a combination of Plutarch studies, neo-parthiká and ars militaris, I will attempt to expand the discourse identified by Braund (i.e., the link between Plutarch and Dionysus, Crassus and Bacchus) and develop the method put forth by Zadirojniy (on the “symmetry of polarities” use of Euripides in the Crassus and Nicias).
Abstract: This paper suggests that the idea of imposing essentially new and untraditional limits on the legislative competence of the assemblies with an avowed aim of restricting the power of the Roman People to “will and command” as it pleases would have been beyond the realm of political feasibility. The people were prepared to hear that their fundamental rights as Roman citizens and free men could not be taken away from any them even by a decree of the People as a whole; but political realities did not allow the Roman elite to use this potentially promising notion in order to further limit the people’s power of legislation. As long as the Republic lasted, the Roman people—with all the necessary qualifications that the use of this term requires, and without forgetting that we are not speaking about anything remotely resembling a modern democratic electorate—were, for the Roman ruling class, a force to reckon with.
Abstract: Many scholars contend that Tacitus’ praise for Nerva and Trajan in the Agricola was heartfelt: only as his literary career developed did Tacitus prove condemning of the Roman Empire as a system. This article, in keeping with Bartsch’s notion of imperial doublespeak, argues against this claim, stressing that in the Agricola Tacitus can also be read as subtly undercutting the praise he included for the current emperors. It maintains that a key to Tacitus’ implicit criticism of imperial authoritarianism in the Agricola rests on the matter of effectiveness. Unlike all other categories of Roman leaders in the work, “good” emperors lack the ability to be effective agents of change. The Agricola thus carries important hints that Tacitus, far from disdaining Domitian alone, can also be interpreted as deeming the monarchical control of Rome problematic under any circumstances.
Abstract: In this article, a later dating (c. late 161– 160/159 BC) is discussed for the rebellion of Timarchus in Media and Babylonia against the Seleucid king Demetrius I. This later dating is supported by Diodorus Siculus and Appian, while cuneiform evidence shows that Demetrius I was recognised as king in Babylonia as early as 161 BC, and Demetrius’ first Babylonian coins celebrate the defeat of Timarchus. The previous Seleucid king, Antiochus V, however, was acknowledged in cuneiform documents but issued very few coins in the Seleucid east. With this parallel, the author suggests that Demetrius may have been recognised as king in Babylonia before Timarchus’ brief invasion but only issued coins there after Timarchus’ defeat.
Abstract: The achievement of a comprehensive and satisfying environmental picture of ancient Sicily has so far eluded modern historians. The absence of convincing conclusions on the role effectively played by wetlands in the Greek period is particularly striking. In the early first millennium BCE, Sicily was an ecologically multi-faceted island. However, some relevant ecological modifications rapidly took place in the island. The evidence shows that in most of the Central-Eastern Mediterranean Basin indiscriminate deforestation and agriculture rapidly caused soil erosion, alluvial deposition, and formation of extensive marshes in the late Classical – early Hellenistic period. There is no reason to assume that Sicily made exception to this general process. However, although serious environmental imbalances likely assumed significant proportions here, an overall understanding of local phenomena is far from being achieved. The aim of the present contribution is therefore to provide new information and suggest possible interpretative models for local ecological processes in the proposed historical framework.
Abstract: It is quite widely accepted that the main source for at least most of the Sicilian parts of Diodorus Siculus’ Bibliotheke Historike was the lost work of Timaeus of Tauromenion.1 Although this attribution has become a basis of some bold historical interpretations,2 it also raises an important question—is Diodorus’ dependence on Timaeus established firmly enough for historical hypotheses to be build on this basis? In this article I will try to answer this question by careful examination of the positive evidence for Diodorus’ use of Timaeus’ work. I shall, however, limit myself to the evidence firmly based in the Timaean fragments as collected by Felix Jacoby in his Fragmente der griechischen Historiker. The aim of this article is neither a wide and complete study of Diodorus’ use of Timaeus, nor a disproving of Diodorus’ use of the earlier historian’s work altogether—it is merely to examine the positive and reliable evidence of Diodorus’ use of Timaeus’ work in order to create a sound basis for any further inquiry.
Abstract: In this article it will be argued that Ptolemy III’s Asian campaign was subsequently reinterpreted in Egypt to minimize the extent of the king’s ultimate failure. In contrast to the Alexandria decree of 243 BC with its triumphal account of Ptolemy’s march to Susa, where he recovered divine statues looted by the Persians, the Canopus Decree of 238 BC treats the repatriation of the statues as the highlight of the campaign while limiting reference to its military aspects to a vague allusion to Ptolemy “fighting on behalf of Egypt against many peoples and their rulers.” Nevertheless, the fact remains that when Ptolemy III saw an opportunity to reunite much of Alexander’s empire, he took advantage of it; and that suggests that the seemingly more prudent foreign policies followed by Ptolemy III’s successors did not result from their adherence to an abstract doctrine of defensive imperialism as Polybius and his modern followers maintain, but from the practical reality that such policies were the wisest, and often, the only course available to them in the difficult political circumstances they faced.
Abstract: The goal of this paper is to explore the ways in which power relations and issues of cultural and group identity interacted to form the epigraphic record in Hellenistic Cyprus. In eliminating the institution of Cypriot kingship, the Ptolemies also changed the relational aspects of power as epigraphically commemorated on the island. Deprived of the driving force behind the public epigraphy of the fourth century (i.e., the city- kings), and under control of the multi-ethnic Ptolemaic military-administration, Cypriots appear in many ways to have adopted the manner of commemorating power relationships employed by the imperial agents, and abandoned local writing systems in favor of a more communicable script and language to do so. Long used to autocratic rule, Cypriot cities and elites sought not to replicate the forms of expression used in their past, but instead adapted themselves to the new imperial situation brought on by the court culture and relational power dynamics of Hellenistic Kingship.
Abstract: This paper will examine the Marian Reforms, with particular focus on the alleged transformation of recruiting, equipment, and training. It will argue that the Marian Reforms are a myth created by modern historiography. What Marius did was neither new nor permanent—there is little convincing evidence for such “Marian” reforms, nor is there good evidence for the presence of large numbers of proletarii in the army after Marius. Thus, speaking of a “post-Marian army” is misleading as this entails that the Roman military was quickly and profoundly transformed by a single individual.
Abstract: A review essay on E. Occhipinti’s The Hellenica Oxyrhyncia and Historiography (Leiden: Brill. 2016)
Abstract: Polybius’ Histories include numerous digressions devoted to condemning writers who penned sensationalized, or tragic, history. According to Polybius, tragic history tended toward invention rather than strict truth, because its purpose was to entertain rather than educate. Polybius’ harsh words for popular historians did not stop him from occasionally indulging a sensational edge. His account of the regency and overthrow of Agathocles at Alexandria merits special attention in a consideration of Polybian historiography, for not only did Polybius compose a dramatic, sensational narrative, he also ended the account with a sharp rebuke to any historian who would use the fall of Agathocles to spin a grand yarn. The story is rife with corruption, unrest, and violence, but in the final tally Polybius drew no moral lesson from it. These factors invite consideration of the historian’s undivulged purposes in crafting an account that showed, rather than told, a historical lesson.
Abstract: The influence of the royal ideology of the Achaemenid Persians on Philip and (especially) Alexander of Macedon has increasingly been recognized, but the role of Dionysius I of Syracuse in their creation of a new-style Macedonian monarchy has received less attention. I examine some aspects of the royal ideology of both Philip and Alexander that appear to be modelled upon precedents inaugurated by Dionysius: self-fashioning as the god Dionysus, the wearing of purple (which conveyed both elite status and magnificent display), the adoption of the diadem, the donning of ornate festal clothing previously reserved for athletic victors and performers on the stage, and the desire to engage in theatrical performances themselves. The biased portrayal of the Macedonian court by the Greek sources and the apologetic tradition on Alexander have given rise to the popular misconception that he gave little thought to his ruling ideology until his ‘orientalism’ following his conquest of Persia, denying any influence in its development either to Philip or to Dionysius, who as the ruler of a large multi-ethnic empire was his only real predecessor in the Greek world.
Abstract: Alexander the Great’s campaign significantly expanded Greek knowledge of Central Asia. While several experts assisted in this geographical collection process, none were as important as the bematistai, Alexander’s distance-measurers. The data collected by these specialists served as the foundation of Hellenistic mapping for the newly conquered regions. This paper is a reevaluation of the bematistai, notably their origin and the manner in which they collected their measurements. While the limited scholarly discussion concerning them has generally assumed that the specialty developed prior to the start of Alexander’s Asian campaign, this study suggests instead that Alexander borrowed from Achaemenid Persian collection practices and initiated this specialty unit mid-campaign. This late origination date demands a reconsideration of the methods the bematistai used to acquire measurements. While it has been suggested that they utilized measuring lines or even a primitive odometer to arrive at their measurements, a mid-campaign development suggests instead that these calculations were the product of pace counting.
Abstract: Nylander contends that the Persian infantry adopted the Makedonian sarissa before the battle of Gaugamela, having experienced the effectiveness of Makedonian weaponry at Issos. In support of this view he cites a passage from Diodorus, who says that the Persians were armed with longer spears. Hence, he argues that the sarissas depicted on the Alexander Mosaic, which point in the direction of Alexander, are those of the Persian infantry. Unfortunately, the term used by Diodorus for the lengthened spears is xysta. The xyston was a thrusting spear employed by cavalrymen, not infantry. In fact, the parallel passage in Curtius shows that the military reforms pertained to the cavalry and not the infantry. Badian cites Nylander’s work with approval, adding that the sarissa-bearers on the right side of the Alexander Mosaic are in fact Persians. A close look at the Mosaic shows that this is not the case. Neither the literary nor the artistic evidence supports the use of the sarissa by the Persian infantry. Nor can it be argued on these grounds that the Alexander Mosaic depicts the battle of Gaugamela.
Abstract: Sparta’s tyrant Nabis (r. 207 – 192 BC) has been pilloried by ancient commentators for his activities. Modern scholars have largely accepted these ancient views. Yet Nabis’ efforts are best seen as attempts to counteract Sparta’s population crisis that had started in the fifth century BC, just as Agis IV and Kleomenes III had done. His difference from their program was that he radically broke both from traditional Greek notions of the importance of descent- groups, and from the Spartans’ previous cultural policy of preserving the putatively pure eugenic bloodlines of the families comprising its body of full citizens, the Spartiates. This divergence is a significant, if under-examined, reason why Nabis’ contemporaries portrayed his reform efforts negatively, contributing to his downfall. It also caused later writers to view Nabis’ efforts harshly, resulting in a contemptuous neglect of this fascinating if chequered individual and his efforts.
Abstract: Intimations of living royal divinity in Persian sources are indirect and fall short of a plain king-god equation. At best the king’s divine election enabled hints that there was a more- than-human flavour about him. But these are visual or verbal rhetorical tropes, and major uncertainties (e.g. about the winged disk figure) have a troubling impact. Classical Greek assertions of Persian royal divinity are rare: there is little sign Greeks thought Persians saw the living king as god, let alone worshipped him. Since Persian sources offer no unequivocal indications and since one expects Greeks to be wary about the idea of a divine Persian king (divinization of humans was supposed to reflect unusual excellence), the presence of any Greek assertions of Persian royal divinity is striking. But such assertions are not necessarily valid: for there remains a strong connection with misinterpretation of proskunēsis. These considerations accentuate three Greek ideas that deviate from simple king-god identification: the king as “image” of god, the king’s daimon, and Ahuramazda making the king’s light shine. These are not products of a Greek environment intemperately addicted to the idea of Persian royal divinity, so should perhaps be taken seriously. Individually all could be Greek tropes, but some have thought that daimōn and light evoke the royal khvarenah (a quasi-personal daimōn, evocative of sun-light). This evidence for a rhetoric of divine aura shadows that in Persian sources. The Persian situation was no disincentive to Alexander’s propensity to assign himself divine qualities; and promoting court proskunēsis among Greco-Macedonians invited a divine interpretation—and trouble.
Abstract: By concluding a treaty with Hannibal in 215 BC, Philip V of Macedon started the First Macedonian War (215-205 BC). After he had lost his fleet to the Romans in 214 BC, Philip conquered Lissus in 212 BC and thereby controlled an Adriatic port which could serve as basis for a new naval offensive against Rome. Although there is no direct evidence for such an approach, N.G.L. Hammond concluded that Philip had constructed a fleet of Illyrian lemboi in Lissus. This conclusion is based on bronze coins from Lissus and Scodra that seem to conform to the Macedonian coin series and on a report from Zonaras (9.6) regarding Macedonian operations near Corcyra in 211 BC. While the account of Zonaras has to be considered with caution, the bronze coins from Lissus and Scodra have, as primary sources, a high evidential value. Therefore, the article’s main focus will be put on these coins which belong to the Selci hoard and were published by Arthur Evans in 1880. Unfortunately, pictures of the Selci hoard’s coins have never been published since so that a mistake in Evans’s article has been copied in almost all later publications. The article will explain Evans’s mistake and offer a new discussion on the coins as evidence for Hammond’s conclusion regarding the supposed fleet of Illyrian lemboi that might have been built in Lissus. In the course of this discussion a new dating of the Selci hoard will be proposed.
Abstract: This paper collects the principal ancient evidence documenting later Argeads (Philip II, Alexander III, and Philip III-Alexander IV) performing cult in Thrace; three divinities are prominent: Dionysos, the Megaloi Theoi of Samothrace, and Herakles. Three overarching observations are offered: 1) Argead cult activity in Thrace can be seen to resemble what is known of their cult activity in the Aegean and southern Greek world on one hand, and in the territories of the Persian Empire on the other; 2) While what may have inspired Philip II and Alexander III’s initial cult actions toward these divinities remains oblique, the preserved sources offer intriguing evidence for later cult actions conducted to these same divinities in Thrace by other elites from outside of the region, including some Argeads; and 3) Thracian sanctuaries and cult sites were a specific, physical environment where Argeads and local elites could have engaged one another and assisted in the development of the kind of Thraco-Macedonian cultural koine described by W. S. Greenwalt among others. The paper includes preliminary discussion of the historiography of: Argead kingship and religion; and cultural relationships between Macedonia and Thrace.