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Peer Polity Interaction in the Hellenistic Age

Peer Polity Interaction in the Hellenistic Age
Author(s): John Ma
Source: Past & Present , Aug., 2003, No. 180 (Aug., 2003), pp. 9-39
Published by: Oxford University Press on behalf of The Past and Present Society
Stable URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/3600739
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In 205 BC, the citizens of Kytenion, a small city Greece, faced with the expensive and time-consum rebuilding their walls thrown down a generation earthquake and by war, remembered that they were Dorians. Inhabitants of Doris, a prestigious regio myth, they would exploit this identity to rebuild th community. The Kytenians thus embarked on a s ambitious fund-raising scheme, by sending envoys ( least one mythology specialist) to every state that w Dorian-related. In the one surviving document of raising venture, the Kytenian mission appears in Lykia, at the other side of the Aegean: presumably on on a vast, carefully compiled list of potential don envoys performed their duty, demonstrating syngene showing in great detail through a mythological lectu Xanthians were not only related to the Kytenians, b debt, because of an act of kindness performed in ve times by a certain hero. The Xanthians acknowledge tigious kinship relation, but refused any major e Approached in the realm of symbolic capital, they r kind, with a token, if respectable, grant,1 a free mea * I presented some of this material to a graduate seminar in Prince 1998, gaining much in the process thanks to the comments of Al Burk, Sean Corner, Kasia Hagemajer, Emily Mackil, Jackie Maxwel and Jamie Woolard. Beate Dignas invited me to give a version of Michigan in spring 2001; since then, the content benefited greatly f by Fergus Millar, Robin Osborne and Jas Elsner. Many and heartfelt 1The sum they offered was 500 drachmai, which is the equivale wages – as attested for teachers in the gymnasion in that period: see tionum graecarum, 3rd edn, ed. W. Dittenberger, 4 vols. (Leipzig, 19 nos. 577-8 – but not enough to make a large dent in the massive cost building, which was counted in talents (each talent being worth 6,00 texts gathered in Griechische Mauerbauinschriften, ed. F. G. Maier, 2 v 1959-61).
? The Past and Present Society, Oxford, 2003
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words: the very words which we density, the text is worth quoting at l this drama of interaction in a sing detailed texture is also characterist civic interaction and diplomacy in and the appeals made, the values of and the assumptions about the ac striking vividness.2
In the 17th year of the rule of Ptolem the Theoi Euergetai (the benefactor go Ptolemaios son of Andronikos son of P Euergetai and of King Ptolemy, and wh was priest before the city (pro poleos), a the 2nd of (the month of) Audnaios, this and the officials:
Whereas the following ambassadors – Lamprias, Ainetos and Phegeus,
Dorians of the Metropolis coming from Kytenion – have arrived from
the Aitolian Confederation, bearing a decree from the Aitolians and a
letter from the Dorians, by virtue of which – having explained the
events that have befallen their homeland and speaking in a manner con-
sonant with the contents of the letter – the ambassadors most zealously
and eagerly exhort us to remember our kinship-relations (syngeneia)
with them, that originate from the gods and heroes, and hence to refuse
to tolerate that the walls of their homeland lie destroyed – since, they
said, Leto, our city’s founding deity, gave birth to Artemis and Apollo
in our land and Asklepios was born in Doris to Apollo and Koronis
daughter of Phlegyos son of Doros, and therefore, having established
through this genealogy that they possess such divinely originated kinship-
relations with us, they enjoy an interwoven kinship and relationship
with us that derived from the heroes, as they showed by establishing the
genealogy from Aiolos and Doros; and since, they also demonstrated,
when colonists led by Chrysaor son of Glaukos son of Hippolochos left
our land, Aletes, one of the Herakleidai, took care of them, because,
they said, Aletes set out from Doris to help the settlers when they were
being reduced by war, drove away the danger, and married the daughter
of Aor son of Chrysaor – and so, having demonstrated through a great
many other details the close goodwill that they had developed towards
us from olden times, the ambassadors asked us not to tolerate that the
greatest city in the Metropolis be thrown to the ground, but to give help
for the rebuilding of its walls in so far as we find it possible, and to make
conspicuous to the Greeks the goodwill which we have towards the
Aitolian Confederation and the Kytenians’ city by helping them in a way
that is worthy of our ancestors and ourselves: and they said that, by
listening to them in this matter, we would please not only them, but also
the Aitolians and all the other Dorians, and especially King Ptolemy,
since he is a kinsman of the Dorians by the Argead kings descended from
2 Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum, xxxviii (Amsterdam, 1988), text no. 1476.
In this article, square brackets in quoted inscriptions indicate restored text; my own
comments, therefore, appear in parentheses.
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Be it resolved to give them an answer to t sympathize concerning the misfortunes believe it fitting to listen zealously to urge because of the kinship-relations th heroes, and because King Ptolemy, be traces his kinship back to the kings born not the case that the public finances of Xanthians would have made clear their g by their generosity; but that – since the since a great mass of debts has arisen, on the citizens because of the voting of the richest of the citizens have recent these current circumstances, about whic sadors, the city, for all these reasons, h thinks it terrible to tolerate that kinsmen should have fallen into such
misfortune; and that (therefore) it was resolved: that the officials shall
borrow money and give the ambassadors 500 drachmai for the walls of
their city, and send them a hospitality gift as legally specified; that the
officials shall inscribe the Aitolians’ decree and the letter written by the
strategoi (generals) and synedroi (counsellors) on a stone stele (inscribed
slab) to be set up in the shrine of Leto, together with the letter sent by the
Dorians to the city and this decree; that this (the decree) shall be given
to the ambassadors; and that they shall be invited to a hospitality meal.
The document might provoke a wry smile in its reader,
because of the palpable hopes and disappointment of the
Kytenians (I hope they had better luck with the kings related to
the Dorians via Herakles: Antiochos III, Ptolemy IV or V), and
because of the Xanthians’ determination, in spite of their
excuses, to keep the affair in the realm of the symbolic, without
many second thoughts. As the public inscription of the dossier
shows, the Xanthians were rather pleased with their handling of
this business, and the temptation to regard their behaviour as
cynical should be resisted.
The transaction between the Kytenian ambassadors and the
city of Xanthos should be viewed in a context of similar, equally
astonishing, gestures, performed on the international Hellenistic
scene. In 208, the citizens of Magnesia on Maeander decided to
honour their goddess, Artemis of the White Brow. A contest in
her honour was to be recognized as ‘sacred’, the equivalent of
the ancient and prestigious festival of the Pythia at Delphi, and
the city and its territory were to become holy and asylos (literally
‘inviolate’), free from any sort of ravaging or seizure by pirates or
in the context of legal redress, individual or communal. This
was achieved by speaking directly to the constituent parts of what
the Magnesians perceived as the international community: at
least twenty teams of theoroi (sacred envoys) went out in the
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spring of 208 to ask states individually for their ackn ledgement of the contests as ‘sacred’ and of the city as ‘inv late’. Perhaps over two hundred states responded, for the m part Hellenistic cities, from Sicily to Iran. The responses w then publicly inscribed, on a single, massive ‘archive wall’ i agora, the central public space of the city, in a great displa the Magnesians’ civic esteem mapped out on the world. documents merely summarized, some quoted extensively instance, the decree of the city of Ithaka, detailing local ci life including a festival named after Odysseus). These respo are remarkably varied, yet also show that the cities were s turally homologous, shared basic concepts, and were de aware of this shared culture. The case of Magnesia is not un Around the same time, analogous campaigns were mounted cities in the same part of the world (especially Teos or thus the phenomenon itself attests a shared culture of emul and imitation.3
An examination of these city-states forms the heart of t article: the Hellenistic age, broadly speaking the two centu after the death of Alexander (323-c.100 BC), was an age of states, poleis. It was many other things as well: an age of k and an age of elephants, gigantic warships, imperial proces and stupendous feasting and drinking. These aspects com in a model of radical change after the watershed of Alexan reign. But this is only one way of looking at the Hellen world: also, as A. H. M. Jones pointed out in 1964, the existed a strong network of self-governing, articulate, ide cally confident poleis, which covered much of the Helle world and was crucial in determining the texture of this wo It is not just a case of paying lip-service to the Greek citie ‘cultural phenomenon’: we must recognize the existence 3 Kent J. Rigsby, Asylia: Territorial Inviolability in the Hellenistic World (Berk 1996), republishes and interprets the evidence. See Die Inschriften von Magne Maeander, ed. Otto Kern (Berlin, 1900), plate II, for the rear wall of the W (covered porch) in the agora.
4 A. H. M. Jones, ‘The Hellenistic Age’, Past and Present, no. 27 (Apr. 196 also Philippe Gauthier, ‘Les Cites hell6nistiques: 6pigraphie et histoire des i tions et des regimes politiques’, in Chr. Pelikidis, D. Peppa-Delmouzou a Petrakos (eds.), Praktika tou H’ Diethnous Synedriou Hellenikis kai Latinik graphikis [Acts of the Eighth International Congress of Greek and Latin Epig (Athens, 1983); Philippe Gauthier, ‘Grandes et petites cites: h6g6monie et cie’, Opus, vi-viii (1987-9); Philippe Gauthier, Les Citis grecques et leurs bienf (Paris, 1985).
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operation, of a system of autonomous connected by a civic culture which connections.
The forms such connections took have been studied in
increasing detail: syngeneia, the language of kinship use relate cities (as deployed so grandly, and so unsuccessfully, the envoys of Kytenion); inter-state arbitration; the recognit of a place’s asylia (inviolability), freedom from spoliation reprisals, obtained by piecemeal negotiation between a co munity and the rest of the world; the dispatch of theoroi f cities with famous shrines and festivals in order to announce
these festivals to other cities, where these envoys were received by specially designated local notables (theorodokoi); and t practice of Hellenistic cities asking for arbitrators (‘foreig judges’) from other cities. To list, or even survey, all this materi (roughly, and perhaps unilluminatingly, called ‘Hellenistic
diplomacy’) would be a huge task. Yet the material is excitin in its directness and detail, and it has been studied with pains- taking, exacting scholarship;5 it could be matched by examples drawn from the archaeological record, which shows shared idiom of civic monuments, public religious building, and privat (although publicly exposed and civically minded) tombston in the world of the Hellenistic cities.6 The textual and material
evidence is a mark of the broader system of civic interaction
within and between communities; the assumptions and opera-
tions of this political culture still need to be articulated.
The present article focuses on networks of interaction sustained
by this culture. I wish to explore the grid of communication
and meanings about a particular world by borrowing a concept
5On syngeneia, see Olivier Curty, Les Parentis lIgendaires entre cites grecques
(Geneva, 1995); Christopher P. Jones, Kinship Diplomacy in the Ancient World
(Cambridge, Mass., 1999). On arbitration, see Sheila L. Ager, Interstate Arbitrations
in the Greek World, 337-90 BC (Berkeley, 1996). On asylia, see Rigsby, Asylia. On
theorodokia, see Paul Boesch, Theoros: Untersuchung zur Epangelie griechischer Feste
(Berlin, 1908); Paula Perlman, City and Sanctuary in Ancient Greece: The Theorodokia
in the Peloponnese (G6ttingen, 2000). On foreign judges, see Louis Robert, ‘Les
Juges &trangers dans la cite grecque’, in Xenion: Festschrift fiir Pan. J. Zepos, ed.
Ernst von Caemmerer et al., 3 vols. (Athens, 1973), i, repr. in his Opera Minora
Selecta: 6pigraphie et antiquitis grecques, 7 vols. (Amsterdam, 1969-90), v; Charles V.
Crowther, ‘Foreign Judges in Seleucid Cities (GIBM 421)’, Jl Ancient Civilizations,
viii (1993); Charles V. Crowther, ‘Iasos in the Second Century BC III: Foreign
Judges from Priene’, Bull. Inst. Classical Studies, xl (1995).
6 Michael W6rrle and Paul Zanker (eds.), Stadtbild und Biirgerbild im Hellenismus
(Munich, 1995).
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developed by the archaeologists Colin Renfrew and Joh Cherry: ‘peer polity interaction’. The concept promotes the s of equipollent, interconnected communities, which mus considered qua network rather than by trying to different between core and periphery.7 I believe that this model m help organize the evidence about the Hellenistic poleis in single interpretative picture, which will illustrate the contin vitality not simply of the polis, but also of a whole networ peer polities. However, in order to adopt the terminolog ‘peer polity interaction’ various shifts in approach are requ from looking at patterns in the material record to reading t and their values; and from explaining change to understand stability. Tailoring the concept of ‘peer polity interaction’ a justifying the various shifts I apply to the model will lead m examine the problem of change and stability (section III) as torical concepts, within the precise context of Greek histor Finally, I illustrate the broad usefulness of the concept of p polity interaction (frequently but sporadically used by C cists) for writing the history of the Hellenistic and the anc Greek world generally (section IV). In sum, I wish to ap concept drawn from archaeology to the writing of Hellenis history, to think about the results, and to explore some of theoretical and historiographical issues.
Rather than attempt to survey all the inter-civic inst alluded to above, it may be most fruitful to describe one p instance. The example illustrates not only the form also the sense of parity involved in these documents a further illustration of the concept of peer polity in The institution in question is the recourse by a city, w with internal problems which the local courts could n to panels of ‘foreign judges’ summoned from another other cities.8 In 196 BC or thereabouts, the city-state appealed to another city, Priene, for a team of arb help judge a backlog of controversial judicial cases. 7 Colin Renfrew and John F. Cherry (eds.), Peer Polity Interaction and S Change (Cambridge, 1986).
8 See Robert, ‘Les Juges 6trangers dans la cite grecque’.
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Prienian judges had carried out t each a long honorific decree, wh Prienians responded with decrees o one of the Iasian honorific decrees, and painstakingly the detailed prov answered and mirrored. All these P ordering the paired publication of the document from there and the permanent form of inscribed marb shrine of Priene, the temple of A inscriptions still survive, and the t detail.9
The transaction between Iasos and Priene, and generally the
institution of requesting and sending out foreign judges, hon-
ouring foreign judges and acknowledging honours, illustrate the
way in which institutions created pre-scripted interaction. Apart
from offering formalized, reproducible templates for behaviour,
institutions also provided the language in which behaviour
should be appraised: both an actual language of words (especially
charis, the gratitude or grace that undergirded benefactions and
honours), and a symbolic language of gestures and spaces. All
the other institutional forms in the world of inter-polis interaction
can be analysed in these terms (as well as being studied in their
formal variations and specific detail).
Interaction gave the occasion for a dynamic host of small
concrete gestures such as cash presents (xenion, ‘hospitality
present’, ekecheiron, literally the ‘thing in hand’),10 hospitality
dinners, overnight stays, and the offer of the city’s ephebes or
military to walk an embassy part of the way home.” Sometime
in the mid second century BC, a Mylasan theoros representing
his city at a festival on the island of Kos, took the occasion to
make a distribution, probably of meat from sacrificial victims,
to selected groups in the Koan polis (magistrates, epheboi – that
is, adolescents of citizen status and training in the gymnasion
before becoming full citizens – and their teachers), but also to
9 Die Inschriften von Jasos, ed. Wolfgang Bliimel (Inschriften griechischer Stidte
aus Kleinasien, xxviii, Bonn, 1985), pt 1, no. 73, with Crowther, ‘Iasos in the Second
Century BC III’.
1oFor an example of an ekecheiron, see Louis Robert, Etudes ipigraphiques et
philologiques (Paris, 1938), ch. 11.
11 For an instance of such hospitality practices, see Die Inschriften von Magnesia
am Maeander, ed. Kern, no. 97.
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the theoroi from other Karian cities (Tralleis, Halikamasso Alabanda, Stratonikeia and Bargylia are the names that surviv on the inscription). Parity was also a matter of such gestures cordiality, which established fellowship between individua representing their cities, and hence horizontal relations b tween the cities.12 Similarly, but rather more alarmingly, th city of Chaleion in Lokris honoured a poetess from Smyrna, i c.218 BC: the lady received the usual honours, a gift of cas and ‘a share of honour from Apollo, a share of the [meat] fro the sacrifice, to be sent to her from [our city to her] in
Smyrna’.13 Various bits of the text are restored, but the men tion of Smyrna seems secure. So it seems that, along with the other honours, the poetess was to receive a chunk of meat pickled or salted, fragrantly crossing the Aegean, as a travellin geras (token of honour).
In the course of such contacts, the various institutions could mesh and follow each other, leading to a strengthening of relations between cities: the Magnesian theoroi on their mission quot decrees honouring their city, thus using past transactions facilitate and motivate present negotiation. The Magnesia dossier also illustrates how visiting theoroi would usually named proxenoi (official guest-friends) by the city that receive them; the existence of institutional forms allowed for instant strengthening of relations, and interaction was followed b honours, which entailed more interaction, in a spiral of com munication between cities. One particular instance of this is t way dealings between a polis and an individual foreigner, espe cially if honorific and cordial, usually involved the individual home polis. In the later second century BC, Polemaios of
Kolophon, sent by his community to Smyrna as a theoros,
stayed on to study: he was then honoured by the Smymians,
who informed the Kolophonians of their decision by sending an
embassy which escorted Polemaios home (duly prompting an
honorific decree from the Kolophonians themselves).14 Also in
the second century BC, the community of Elis, in the Peloponnese,
honoured a citizen of Tenedos residing in Elis; the decree was
12 Die Inschriften von Mylasa, ed. Wolfgang Bliimel (Inschriften griechischer
Stiidte aus Kleinasien, xxxiv-xxxv, Bonn, 1987-8), text no. 118, with Robert,
Opera Minora Selecta, iv, 108.
13 Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum, ii (Leiden, 1924), text no. 263.
14 Jeanne and Louis Robert, Claros I: Dicrets hellknistiques (Paris, 1989), 26-7.
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sent to the Tenedians, by the interm embassy) on its way to Miletos to sacr Didymeia. The document illustrates the occasion of individual honorific t the conveying of the document is its ture of movement and interaction, because the Elis-Tenedos
official communication piggybacks on another pre-existing
inter-polis connection.15
Contact between communities, carried out by an individual,
gave the occasion for further exchange, initiative and responses.
Other examples are the decrees passed by cities for foreigners
who came to help (for instance in rescuing citizens kidnapped by
pirates or bandits),16 and for foreign performers. The Xanthians,
a decade after the Kytenian visit, honoured a rhetor from Ilion,
one Themistokles son of Aischylos, for his performance and his
behaviour which proved ‘worthy of the kinship between us and
the Ilians’: the Xanthians rewarded Themistokles with a token
present of 400 drachmai (about the same sum that they ha given to the Kytenian fund-raisers), inscribed their honorific
decree, and sent a copy of the decree to Ilion, written not o papyrus but on stone (so that a small boat must have carrie several hundred kilograms of honorific discourse up the entire coast of western Asia Minor).17
This meshing of institutions was possible because set forms
of interaction and the shared language of honours helped t constitute a repertoire of gestures along acceptable lines of col laboration and recognition between peer entities, within a unifie community of discourse. It did not always work: for instance, first attempt by Magnesia on Maeander to achieve recognition
for its shrine did not receive widespread acceptance; and th Kytenians’ approach to the Xanthians received a response
expressed in the shared civic idiom, but not the desired reaction (a large-scale grant of money). Nonetheless, the existence of th 15Die Inschriften von Olympia, ed. Wilhelm Dittenberger and Karl Pugold (Berlin, 1896), text no. 39. The exact geography involved is a little puzzling, sin Tenedos, at the entrance of the Hellespont, is not exactly on the route between Eli and Miletos. Is the Eleian symbolic map of contacts unconcerned with actual ge graphical details, or did the Eleian delegation travel extensively along the coast Asia Minor on sacred business (for example, sacrifice or festival announcement)?
16 Anne Bielman, Retour ac la libertei, liberation et sauvetage des prisonniers en Gra ancienne (Lausanne, 1994).
17 Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum, xxxiii (Amsterdam, 1983), text no. 1184This content downloaded from on Sat, 19 Jun 2021 04:36:30 UTC
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repertoire did mean that a city knew how to approach anoth and where to find a point of entry when approaching anoth Conversely, a city when approached knew at least how it ou to respond to the other city, whose words and motivatio professed to understand. If something more surprising shou occur, such as the Kytenian fund-raising drive or the appeara in the old Ionian city, Teos, of an embassy from Tyre claim closeness and perhaps even syngeneia,18 the language and the tures could still be drawn from a shared culture.
The existence of a shared culture is exemplified by the
medium which most often documents it, and which itself
should be called an institution, capping the other formalized
avenues of interaction – the exchange of ambassadors,
speeches performed by envoys from city A in the assembly of
city B, and the exchange of decrees. I suggest we call this trans-
action by the name of the piece of evidence that actually docu-
ments it, namely the ‘travelling decree’: quite often, an
honorific decree is found not in the city that produced it, but in
another city which received an embassy, listened to speeches,
and later finally inscribed the decree in its own civic space. This
is the case for the Kytenian decree found at Xanthos, and the
Iasian decrees inscribed in Priene. Strikingly, the first known
document for a polis is often one of these travelling decrees.
The travelling decree, in mediating between city and city,
embodies the nature of peer polity interaction not only as a
concrete set of relations, but also as a symbolic and cognitive
map. Decrees, speeches and institutions are predicated upon,
and help to constitute, mental maps about the community and
the ‘other’, both being conceived in close relation and mutual
definition through similarity (rather than the polar opposites
familiar from structuralist studies of classical Greek thought).19
Many of the formalized gestures between cities are based on
such maps. When city A asks city B to inscribe a document in a
18 On Tyre, see Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum, iv (Leiden, 1929), text no.
601, with Curty, Les Parentis l~gendaires, 211-12.
19 For structuralist studies of Greeks and ‘others’, see, for example, Franqois
Hartog, Le Miroir d’Hirodote: essai sur la reprisentation de l’autre (Paris, 1980) [= The
Mirror of Herodotus: The Representation of the Other in the Writing of History, trans.
Janet Lloyd (Berkeley, 1988)]; Pierre Vidal-Naquet, Le Chasseur noir: formes de
pensee etformes de societi dans le monde grec (Paris, 1981) [= The Black Hunter: Forms
of Thought and Forms of Society in the Greek World, trans. Andrew Szegedy-Maszak
(Baltimore and London, 1986)]. See also John Ma, ‘Black Hunter Variations’,
Proc. Cambridge Philological Soc., xxxix (1994), for a take on this approach.
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particular shrine in city B, and to Dionysia, in the theatre, there is a the two places, about what the sites and how these work. More abstract individual and informs the individ city praises an individual for his statements are being made, and k and perpetuated about the shared concerns of the cities
involved, and indeed of every city.
The discourse of syngeneia, kinship, is another symbolic map:
it is concerned with mapping self-knowledge and identity
across place and time. When the envoys of Kytenion arrived in
Xanthos, they wove a complicated story in order to link these
two distant places together in a special relationship, via three
levels of mythological narrative (original kinship, subsequent
‘interweaving of kinship’, which the Xanthians neglected to
summarize in its no doubt dizzying detail, and aid granted by
the Dorians in the heroic period). This example also points to
the crucial role of literary or sub-literary activities in creating
the mental maps: the speech given by the Kytenian envoys was
a literary creation, drawing on the resources of myth and local
culture to work out a network of relatedness. The local literature
of the cities, with its emphasis on epichoric tradition and myth,
its sense of place, and its registers of praise for specific localities
(or its flip side of jokes and taunts), was not a result of anti-
quarian love for the obscure or the quaint, but a reflection of
local identity and a possibility for interface with others; the
speeches given by ambassadors, foreign judges and theoroi must
be considered as part of local civic literature. Equally crucial
was the role played by the litterateurs, the travelling rhetors,
poets and artists who performed in the cities. All these issues
are exemplified in a pair of decrees passed by Cretan cities,
where envoys from Teos perform kitharodic pieces drawn from
local repertoire, before transacting their diplomatic business; as
Angelos Chaniotis has put it, this was a world where diplomats
sang and danced.20 The asylia dossiers, inscribed at length
in sites of high visibility in Magnesia on Maeander or Teos,
20 Angelos Chaniotis, ‘Als die Diplomaten noch tanzten und sangen: Zu zwei
Dekreten kretischer Stdidte in Mylasa’, Zeitschrift fiir Papyrologie und Epigraphik, lxxi
(1988), 154-6; generally, see Alan Cameron, Callimachus and his Critics (Princeton,
1995), 47-53 and ch. 2.
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are maps of relations between one place and a pletho other, similar places: civic self-esteem is mapped out ac an imagined homogeneous world of appreciative peers ( Map 1). The great list recording all the theorodokoi (off hosts of sacred envoys sent to each city) of Delphi is simila about the city’s place in the world, and the inscription of t vast document, apart from any practical, archival purpo made visible a map of relations in a world of peers.21
A decree from Amphissa, in central Greece, illustrates the peer polity interaction operates as cognitive map. This d honours a doctor from a polis called ‘Hyrkanioi Makedones’, Lydia.22 The doctor, after performing various services for Amphissians, asked them to communicate copies of their
decree honouring him to other communities (the Skarpheis and
the Opountian Lokrians), as testimonials. The document
shows a network of local communities, in which evaluation by
one community bears weight in its neighbours’ eyes. Within
this eminently local context, a foreigner from the other side of
the Aegean could find a place and move around. His community
was a slightly odd one, with its two successive waves of military
colonists: settlers from Central Asia installed by the Persian
empire, and Macedonians installed by Antigonos Monophthalmos
or by the Seleukids. Yet this community claimed the identity of a
polis, and the doctor’s identity was mediated through member-
ship of this polis, which granted him a sense of place that was
acknowledged abroad. This identity allowed him to fit into a
local network of communities, because it proclaimed that he
belonged to a world reassuringly familiar, to the point that this
foreigner could be assigned the usual roles and attitudes of the
deserving individual in his relation to a community.
All these symbolic maps do more than just reflect or partici-
pate in peer polity interaction: to a great extent, they are peer
polity interaction. This is clear in the exchange of ‘travelling
decrees’. The transaction itself is about linking two cities in a
special relationship; furthermore, the detail establishes here-and-
thereness, the existence of two homologous communities
whose relation and similarity can be played out. It is not just a
21 A. Plassart, ‘Inscriptions de Delphes: la liste des theorodoques’, Bulletin de
correspondance hellinique, xlv (1921).
22 Inscriptiones Graecae, ix, 2nd edn, ed. G. Klaffenbach (Berlin, 1968), pt 1, fasc.
3, text no. 750, first century BC.
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matter of similarity of the political tions. Communication and response e document from one city is answer strictly identical in nature, as the ju lishes. The second decree picks up th detailed observance of its terms, mo force: the first decree’s decisions to p tered as duly accomplished and valid of mutual honorific decrees, quota but of recognition – in a linguistics of e The two decrees also establish a wider context of mirrored civic
ritual, thus creating a sense of relation and identity between the
two poleis. The honours passed and (usually) proclaimed in city
A for city B and its citizen b are, upon the request of city A,
also proclaimed in city B, in the same context of civic festival.
The travelling decree creates a travelling proclamation: the
same public words are uttered in twin contexts; listeners in
either place are reminded of the other place, in a ritual of
mutual recognition and performed civic knowledge about here
and there. Finally, the documents involved in the ‘travelling
decree’ transaction are published on twin stelai, one for each
city, so that a citizen reader in one place will be made aware of
another stele, bearing the same words he is reading, and creat-
ing the sense of parity and identity which I have tried to recre-
ate in this paragraph. Civic speech, ritual, space, monument
and memory are mobilized in order to create echoing, mirror-
ing discourses of honour and of recognition, each city praising
the other in terms of self-worth, imagining elsewhere in terms
of here. Thus cities collaborated in writing about each other
and themselves.
The civic culture shared by the Hellenistic poleis articulated
parity; it also made ideological assumptions about the bodies
involved in the ritualized interactions. The cities are assumed
to be not only homologous in both organization and political
culture, but also endowed with very specific local identities,
which had to be referred to and deployed precisely and seri-
ously. Playing on sameness and specificity lay at the heart of the
discourse of peer polity interaction, which involved making
claims to special relations between entities otherwise conceived
of as similar. The poleis are further able to decide and to act:
agency is proved by the existence of political institutions,
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authority, and actions determined by local decision-ma bodies and implemented by answerable officials. The nature the polis as state is acknowledged by other states: the great rodokoi list of Delphi does not record every place where en stopped, but only those poleis recognized in a world of pole Action, and the motivation to action, are described in mora ing terms: identity and memory, both recalled and created to a politics of obligation, exchange and reciprocity. Even Xanthians’ rather discouraging reply to the Kytenians’ requ for cash is couched in this idiom – an illustration of its status
as the acceptable medium for interaction between poleis.
Actions and words are performed before an audience of peers;
the documents constantly refer to the displaying of gratitude,
via ritual and monumental inscription. Finally, the stability and
uniformity of the whole system are mutually perpetuating, and
taken for granted throughout.
The phrase ‘peer polity interaction’ has started to under the pen or off the tongue of specialists of ancie I have applied it to organizing a particular body of ma various ways of polis self-expression in the Hellenistic However, ‘peer polity interaction’ is also a specifi with precise questions of its own, as posed by the con ators. Renfrew and Cherry developed this model t and, importantly, to account for interaction and change conscious alternative to a ‘core-periphery’ explanat explanations posit a strong centre dominating a set of nate communities; change occurs at the centre, radiat periphery.24 ‘Peer polities’, by contrast, are structura logous, autonomous states of the same size, linked by of concrete and symbolic interaction, where change oc the board rather than in top-down diffusionist wa 23Louis Robert, ‘Villes de Carie et d’Ionie dans la liste des theo Delphes’, Bulletin de correspondance hellinique, lxx (1946), repr. in his Selecta, i; Paula Perlman, ‘Theorodokountes en tais polesin: Panhelle and Political Status’, in Mogens Herman Hansen (ed.), Sources for th State (Copenhagen, 1995).
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hardest version, ‘PPI’ (to give it its off tensions to scientific status, claiming explanation and even prediction.
The model is immediately evocative and dent of the Hellenistic poleis, which live in and can be shown precisely to have been autonomous or at least self-administered size: the Hellenistic period exhibits clea the existence of those specific elements which archaeologists must strive to esta well-documented periods of pre- or prot Renfrew’s insight that peer polity intera be studied as cognitive, mental maps illu of Hellenistic civic institutions and discourse. The Hellenistic
material is textual in nature: what we are studying is the perform- ing of the symbolic aspects of peer polity interaction in words.26
However, the concept of ‘PPI’ was defined by archaeologis working on periods where textual evidence is absent or problematic most of the examples in the collection introducing the concep are about ‘early states’. The borrowing from the archaeologica to the documentary realm shifts the emphasis from change t stability. Renfrew insists that the study of peer polity intera tion does not merely show widespread contact, but traces a explains change: the 1986 book is entitled ‘Peer Polity Interac- tion and Socio-Political Change’ (my emphasis). While it is tru that the network of peer contacts between Hellenistic pol does explain certain institutional or material changes, the changes are less interesting to study than the structure and t functioning of the network. The study of ‘mental maps’, whi Renfrew ends up by singling out as particularly important, a which the Hellenistic material allows us to see, is more about
stability than change. So a small paradox emerges: peer pol interaction as a concept shows archaeologists looking for
change and event-ness, and historians looking for stability and
25 Adalberto Giovannini, ‘Greek Cities and Greek Commonwealth’, in Anthony
Bulloch et al. (eds.), Images and Ideologies: Self-Definition in the Hellenistic World
(Berkeley, 1993).
26 See Anthony Snodgrass’s comments on peer polity interaction as a conscious
phenomenon in Archaic Greece, in his ‘Interaction by Design: The Greek City-
State’, in Renfrew and Cherry (eds.), Peer Polity Interaction and Socio-Political
Change, 56-8.
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This shift can be extended back into the non-textual evi-
dence. Andreas Linfert’s recent study of the monumental altars
built in the central shrines of several Hellenistic cities in Asia
Minor and the islands argues that these monuments are not
small-scale imitations of the spectacular altar built by the
Attalid kings in their royal capital, Pergamon (c.160 BC?), but
an independent phenomenon which occurred c.200 BC. This
particular type of altar was developed in a network of cities, and
spread, almost simultaneously (in archaeological terms, with
due allowance for periods of building – within a few decades),
because of close connectedness, interaction and emulation
between the cities.27 Instead of a centre-periphery model (big
monument in royal capital and feeble local imitation), Linfert
proposes a collaboration and development in a centreless net-
work. Without explicit reference to the Renfrew/Cherry model,
the case of the monumental altar illustrates the concept; how-
ever, the interesting point is not the explanation of the spread
of these monuments, but the existence of the network, the
interaction of the actors, the density of contact and the processes
of solidarity. All these features added up to create a general
equilibrium which gave meaning to changes, such as the intro-
duction of a particular type of physical structure.
The paradox (archaeologists focusing on event, historians
studying duration) is pleasing, but only points to a major problem:
how peer polity interaction, if focused on stability, is to deal
with change, or, generally speaking, with history. At the broadest
level, it is a function of history (though also of geography), that
the relations which I have mapped out as homogeneous are in
fact differentiated, according to proximity and length of rela-
tion. The uniformity of language covers a vast and diverse
world: the same language is used for relations between Magnesia
on Maeander and Antiocheia in Persis, and between Xanthos
and Kytenion. In what sense is there parity between Alabanda,
a city in Karia, renamed Antiocheia by a Seleukid king, and the
prestigious old Greek cities of Athens or Delphi, both of which
received (quite favourably) an embassy from the Alabandeis?28
27 Andreas Linfert, ‘Prunkaltiire’, in Wbrrle and Zanker (eds.), Stadtbild und
Biirgerbild im Hellenismus.
28 On Athens, see Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum, xxviii (Amsterdam,
1978), text no. 75; for Alabanda, see Orientis Graecae Inscriptiones Selectae, ed.
W. Dittenberger, 2 vols. (Leipzig, 1903-5), i, text no. 234.
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The Delphic Amphiktiony also reco praised the ambassador, and even al one of the Delphic festivals, the Soter all the same, it called the city of A Greeks’, rather than Greek – giving an difference in the Hellenistic world, na origins of many communities which the Greek world of cities (see the cases Macedonians’). In periodically sendin the festival of the Pythia, the Delphia World’, though including many Hel as Alabanda), keeping to the coasts. In from Magnesia on Maeander went n cities, but also to the new, royally fo and Persis.29 The horizons of Delph gious and ancient Greek shrines, staye the familiar Greek past; Magnesia on ing great antiquity, had been refou period, and was subject to the Sele stretched eastwards (indeed, Magne for the foundation of Antiocheia in P Teos all requested recognition of asy network, but, in spite of considerable exactly the same places.30 Xanthos a the realm of purely symbolic disco expression of kinship ties, but warml Ilion, a city which helpfully intercede appeal to Rome (see below): the unifor covered qualitatively different types o action’ was not a single mental map: t reflected the mental maps of different a ferent priorities and histories; the nex specific shapes taken by the construc for each actor in this world.
29 On Delphi, see n. 23 above. For Magnesia, see Rigsby, Asylia, 179-279. See
also Perlman, City and Sanctuary in Ancient Greece.
30 See Rigsby, Asylia. A later parallel is offered by the different constituencies of
the oracular shrines of Klaros and at Didyma under the Roman empire. Though
both were shrines of oracular Apollo, their catchment areas differed enormously;
Klaros drew more particularly on communities from further afield and more
recently Hellenized than did the ancient and prestigious shrine at Didyma. See
Robert and Robert, Claros 1, 4-6.
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More specifically, the picture I have given for peer po interaction in the Hellenistic world has deliberately omitted supra-polis powers, Hellenistic kings and regional leagues, finally the intervention of Rome. These powers impinge weakly in the account of institutions and symbolic discou yet their preponderance was obvious. The Kytenians, wh they asked the Xanthians for help, hinted that this would g them favour from two great powers: the Aitolian League, an King Ptolemy, the political master of Xanthos: the existence superpowers is reflected in the language of horizontal relati In political narratives of Hellenistic history, the kingdoms do inate the landscape, curtailing the local agency which the so narrative of the civic decrees was so determined to perfo This political dominance was both reflected and expresse the cultural level: most notably, in the emergence of a partic cultural style at the Ptolemaic centre of Alexandria, and powerful influence on the rest of the Hellenistic world. The n contests known as the Ptolemaia (founded by Ptolemy II celebrated in Alexandria) were the first for which the G communities were formally requested to grant acceptance as ‘p Hellenic’, that is, of equal importance to the ancient, prestig contests in Delphi, Nemea, Olympia and the Isthmos. This st was later requested by several cities for their own main fest and contest: the example of Magnesia on Maeander and Leukophryeneia (contest in honour of Artemis of the White B has been discussed above. This specific transaction, thou involving poleis in peer polity interaction, only emerged aft royal initiative, from the politically powerful and cultur resplendent centre of Ptolemaic Alexandria.31
Furthermore, the Hellenistic world I have just described h no place for long-term, structural change, such as the chang landscape survey archaeology has revealed. As Susan Alco has shown, the evidence seems to point to contraction and e depression in the later Hellenistic period, at least in main Greece; Asia Minor, on the other hand, seems to undergo ferent patterns, of stability or even expansion, at least 31 On the Ptolemaia, see Jeanne and Louis Robert, in ‘Bulletin 6pigraphiq Revue des etudes grecques, xc (1977), 436-7, rubric no. 566. A good sense of Alex dria can be gained from the catalogue of a recent exhibition: La Gloire d’Alexan 7 mai – 26juillet 1998 (Paris, 1998).
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dynamic areas such as south-west An long-term rhythms, which drasti city, are a major part of Hellenistic polity interaction as a set of symbo The later Hellenistic period saw the elite individuals, whose power grew Finally, to construct the Hellenistic action exclusively mediated by the p honorific decree is to neglect a diffe driven by ecology and economics world of diversification and connect Horden and Nicholas Purcell, with i settlement and interaction.33
All these remarks insist on the seemingly ahistorical nature of
the survey of ‘peer polity interaction’ sketched out above. Yet
to call these phenomena ahistorical may be an exaggeration; as
always when studying the Hellenistic world, everything turns
on perspective and scale. The interaction takes place within
stable frameworks, but is not necessarily static or ahistorical.
The discourse of interaction constructs events out of communi-
cation and honours; these are all events which are caused by,
and part of, local identity. The existence of a roster of social
roles both referred to past stories and channelled action into
reproducing these roles, in order to produce further stories of
interaction. Events need not be purely sociable or cordial: peer
polity interaction could also find its expression in local disputes,
neighbourly hostility (inherited, as was cordiality), negotiation
by violence, or even outright war between poleis.34 Local warfare
also expressed local memory and identity: one of its main
causes was the resolution of border disputes, and hence the
negotiation of the physical boundary between two structurally
32 Susan E. Alcock, ‘Breaking Up the Hellenistic World: Survey and Society’, in Ian
Morris (ed.), Classical Greece: Ancient Histories and Modern Archaeologies (Cambridge,
1994); F. Kolb, ‘Stadt und Land im antiken Kleinasien: Der Testfall Kyaneai’, in
J. H. M. Strubbe, R. A. Tybout and H. S. Versnel, Energeia: Studies on Ancient History
and Epigraphy Presented to H. W Pleket (Amsterdam, 1996).
33 Peregrine Horden and Nicholas Purcell, The Corrupting Sea: A Study of Medi-
terranean History (Oxford, 2000). Emily Mackil applies the ecological and geo-
graphical approach to the study of regional interaction in her recent dissertation,
‘Koinonika’ (Princeton Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 2003); she examines in illuminating
detail specific cases of the emergence and the workings of regional entities.
34John Ma, ‘Fighting Poleis of the Hellenistic World’, in Hans van Wees (ed.),
War and Violence in Ancient Greece (London, 2000).
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similar poleis, each endowed with its own way of remembering its physical shape and relation to its neighbour. These conflicts
were often settled by arbitration or mediation, which mobilize whole segments of the network (just as the summoning of foreig judges or the announcement of a festival did). The neighbourin cities of Miletos and Magnesia fought a war in the 180s BC, which was followed by a complex peace treaty, brokered by host of cities, which sent a total of thirty-two envoys to ‘reconcile
them (the Magnesians and Milesians) and restore the origina friendship’. These envoys came from Rhodes (the neighbouring
power), Athens (with ancestral ties to the Ionian cities, including Miletos and Magnesia), Knidos, Myndos, Samos, Halikamassos Kaunos, lasos, Teos (all neighbours), Kyzikos (a Milesian founda-
tion located on the Propontis, the modem Sea of Marmara),
the Achaian League (in the Peloponnese), and three cities in this League (Megalepolis, Antigoneia and Patrai). Settling a
regional conflict between two poleis, in the lower Maeander valley involved thirteen poleis, brought together from near and far by the various connections that made up peer polity interaction (see Map 2).35
When envoys came to the kingdoms and leagues asking for
recognition of asylia, they went to every constituent city of the
supra-polis formation: the latter was made up of cells which
were plugged into a broader network, even if (or because?) they
were politically subordinate to a higher power. The geography
of the supraregional imperial state, and that of the supra-polis
regional entity, were superimposed on a geography of networked
poleis which transcended the borders of kingdom or regional
league, entities which they often helped constitute. Diplomatic
transactions at the polis level took place even in the Antigonid
kingdom of Macedonia, where the local cities were integrated
closely, through municipal institutions, into the royal state.36
Poleis could be, and very often were, subsumed within various
35 Albert Rehm, in Georg Kawerau and Albert Rehm, Das Delphinion in Milet
(Milet: Ergebnisse der Ausgrabungen und Untersuchungen seit dem Jahre
1899, i, fasc. 3, Berlin, 1914), inscription no. 148. On date, see R. M. Errington,
‘The Peace Treaty between Miletus and Magnesia (I. Milet 148)’, Chiron, xix
36 Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum, xliii (Amsterdam, 1993), text no. 369,
with Miltiade B. Hatzopoulos, in Laurent Dubois (ed.), ‘Bulletin 6pigraphique’,
Revue des itudes grecques, cxiii (2000), 520-2, rubric no. 453.
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political formations; they still existed and agency, were acknowledged by participated within the institution maps of peer polity interaction.37
A major part of the interest of pee Hellenistic period is precisely its nature in symbolic languages of honour and nature of the network’s operation is a d discourse: the mental maps, ritualize language forged ‘symbols of statehoo ognition’, to quote Karim Arafat archaic Greek poleis.38 Peer polity in work, a world willed as homogene many competing ways of constructi mesh of strong horizontal connection and recognition was an eminently de powerful vertical pressures tendin subordination. The existence of a net cities meant that the relation betwee a ruler was never exclusive, becaus participated in a world of polis relat its politics. In order to achieve local often needed to speak in a language actions between cities, and which the ruler. 39To a considerable extent, interaction shaped the parameters This would prove true even when ancient ‘hyper-power’, was involved 37 Mogens Herman Hansen has written against to study the polis – ‘Poleis and City-States, Research Programme’, in David Whitehead (ed Stephanus Byzantius: Sources for the Ancient because some cities were not independent, and organizations (regional leagues or empires). Hansen’s broader assertion is wrong, because t ways that made them the basic building blocks bolic level where supra-polis political authority matters less than agency and autarky, perform See F. W. Walbank, ‘Were There Greek Federa iii (1976-7).
38 Karim Arafat and Catherine Morgan, ‘Athen Morris (ed.), Classical Greece, 132.
39 John Ma, Antiochos III and the Cities of WesThis content downloaded from on Sat, 19 Jun 2021 04:36:30 UTC
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Kyzik 0
AthensSamos MAGNE Antigonela 9 *
0* p MLES asos egaepolis 1&5y0s $ H Poleis of the Achaian League are italicized.
There was also I envoy from the Achaian
League as a whole.
0 100 200 km
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interventions were often reluctant, a take forms accepted and suggested by ‘Hellenistic diplomacy’ which I have interaction’.40
Thus the discourse of kinship, a source of cultural capital
and a means to locate oneself in a world of peers, also acted as a
resource in high politics. In 196 BC, the citizens of Lampsakos
made an appeal to Rome where the language of kinship is
apparent (the Lampsakenes were kinsmen of the Ilians – sup-
posedly the ancestors of Rome). In the same year, the Xanthians,
in honouring an Ilian rhetor, mentioned their relationship of
syngeneia to Ilion; eight years later, during the Roman settlement
of Asia Minor, the Lykians appealed to the Ilians to intercede
for them with the Romans.41 When the citizens of Elateia were
expelled by the Aitolians, in the 190s, they took refuge in the
city of Stymphalos, which took them in because of a relationship
of mythical syngeneia. The relation, and the historical obligation,
were again called upon in 146, when Arkadians from the army
of the Achaian League, at war with Rome, retreated past
Elateia. However, in this particular case, the Elateians finally
decided not to shelter their Arkadian ‘kinsmen’: at times, the
network of horizontal relations could buckle under the terrible
pressure of events.42
Peer polity interaction further ensured that local elites would
remain embedded in their cities, by universalizing the assump-
tion that the main site for individual honour was the community.
As seen earlier, honours for a foreigner were communicated to
his own city: the individual could cash in honours from foreign
cities in his own, but also was directed back to his own commu-
nity by other communities. This function of peer polity interac-
tion is strikingly illustrated by a particular type of epigraphical
document, the so-called Ehrentafel: a single stele which lists, and
often illustrates, all the honours obtained by an individual
40 This is the thesis of Erich S. Gruen, The Hellenistic World and the Coming of
Rome (Berkeley, 1984).
41 Die Inschriften von Lampsakos, ed. Peter Frisch (Inschriften griechischer Stfidte
aus Kleinasien, vi, Bonn, 1978), text no. 4, trans. M. M. Austin, The Hellenistic
World from Alexander to the Roman Conquest (Cambridge, 1981), no. 155.
42Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum, xxv (Leiden, 1975), text no. 445;
Pausanias, vu. 15. 5-6; Christian Habicht, Pausanias’ Guide to Ancient Greece (Berkeley,
1998), 67-9.
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across a network of poleis, local and faraway.43 Cities collab rated in creating a context of civic culture and locally meanin honours, within which they could locate the identities of in vidual big men, and hopefully constrain them. Both inside a outside any individual city, local elites encountered the s discourse of local patriotism, community recognition and re procity. The ‘rise of the powerful individuals’ has been chart as a significant development in ancient Greek culture, from fourth century onwards; especially in the later Hellenist period, the civic elites grew preponderant in their home pole Yet peer polity interaction shaped their identities within civ parameters: it allowed poleis to resist any process of disenga ment of their elites, particularly any definition of the elites outs the social roles and symbolic maps deployed by the poleis. Bo the case of the local elites and the role of syngeneia in high politi show how peer polity interaction acted as a projection of Hellenistic polis, with its issues, its problems, its civic cultu and its determination – in other words with its politics, the history of the Hellenistic world.
If peer polity interaction in the Hellenistic world is phenomenon (peer polity in history), it also has a his own, notably the history of the constitution of th which flourished in the Hellenistic period, its rela polis of the Classical period, and its subsequent fat this history will require assembling a chapter in the still history of the Greek polis, from its origins to Late A its complex nature, and away from the super-cities, 43 Karl Buresch, ‘Die griechischen Trostbeschliisse’, Rheinisches Muse logie, xlix (1894), 424-5; Die Inschriften von Sestos, ed. Johannes Krau griechischer StHdte aus Kleinasien, xix, Bonn, 1980), texts nos. 2-4; Di von Alexandreia Troas, ed. Marijana Ricl (Inschriften griechischer Stid asien, liii, Bonn, 1997), text no. 613. A similar genre is that of the which lists, among other attributes of a person’s identity, honours communities: Lindos, ii, Inscriptions, ed. Christian Blinkenberg (Berli nos. 189, 195, 338; Nuova silloge epigrafica di Rodi e Cos, ed. Amedeo Maiuri
(Florence, 1925), text no. 18.
44 Paul Veyne, Le Pain et le cirque: sociologie historique d’un pluralisme politique (Paris,
1976); for nuanced appreciation, see Gauthier, Les Citis grecques et leurs bienfaiteurs.
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Sparta (the most richly documen attractive as idealized communities Networks of contact, near and far, ant a role as internal developme emergence of the archaic polis;46 ancient Greek world, ‘peer polity i to the archaic period and its issues documentary record (sparse in the e and the main historiographical s Classical periods, Herodotos and T their master narratives of war a multiple, densely detailed, local nar of poleis and networks: local warf ments recorded in permanent form shrines, festivals, sacred delegation individuals on paths structuring maps between communities – a h reciprocity between these commun related to that of Hellenistic peer migration fostered links between founded communities; these links were referred to in later
periods. The small island polis of Thera sent envoys in the late
fourth century BC to remind the wealthy city of Kyrene of the
latter’s origin as a Theran foundation three centuries earlier
(the Theran embassy seems to have produced what it claimed
was the original oath of the settlers, which the Kyreneans in
turn inscribed); in the second century BC, the city of Apollonia on
Rhyndakos sent an embassy to renew its ancestral ties with
45 Philippe Gauthier, Symbola: les etrangers et la justice dans les citis grecques
(Nancy, 1972), can be read as a history of the Greek cities through their peer relations.
46 Catherine Morgan, Athletes and Oracles: The Transformation of Olympia and
Delphi in the Eighth Century BC (Cambridge, 1990); Nicholas Purcell, ‘Mobility and
the Polis’, in Oswyn Murray and Simon Price (eds.), The Greek City from Homer to
Alexander (Oxford, 1990); Robin Osborne, Greece in the Making, 1200-479 BC
(London, 1996). For a parallel, note Tim Cornell, The Beginnings of Rome: Italy and
Rome from the Bronze Age to the Punic Wars (c. 1000-264 Be) (London, 1995), on peer
polity interaction in Italy.
47 Snodgrass, ‘Interaction by Design’.
48 For further detail on agreements made, see A Selection of Greek Historical
Inscriptions to the End of the Fifth Century Be, revised edn, ed. Russell Meiggs and
David Lewis (Oxford, 1988), text no. 10. On reciprocity in general, see Gabriel
Herman, Ritualised Friendship and the Greek City (Cambridge, 1987); Lynette
Mitchell, Greeks Bearing Gifts: The Public Use of Private Relationships in the Greek
World, 435-323 BC (Cambridge, 1997).
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Miletos, which had founded it.49 These continuities suggest what is exceptional about the Hellenistic period is the amo of evidence (albeit in the self-consciously monumental form public inscription), rather than the nature of the phenomen However, the Classical age also underwent violent, disrupti episodes of imperialism. It is true that the Classical hegemon systems emerged out of the networks of interaction. The Pe ponnesian League probably arose from negotiations betw the powerful city-state of Sparta and each of its neighb (Herodotos, Histories, I. 65-8); the beginnings of the Athenia empire took the form of contacts motivated by syngeneia, mythi kinship between cities (Thucydides, Peloponnesian War, I. But in practice, the Peloponnesian League and the Athen empire tended towards the conversion of peer polity interact into a centre-periphery system; their mode of interaction, b with each other and with subordinate communities, was not ea constrained by peer polity norms. Military alliance turned fr exchange of promises between peer powers to prestatio offered to the hegemon, Spartan or Athenian; festivals in At changed from occasions for intra- and inter-communal displ to manifestations of central, imperial power. Two famous epis which led to the Peloponnesian War can be seen as the interf ence between imperial system and peer polity interaction. In Athens intervened in the fraught relations between Corin Corinth’s colony Corcyra, and Corcyra’s colony Epidamnos: th three actors were linked by syngeneia, partly acknowledged leading to escalation, and the appeal, by Corcyra, to the Athe superpower (Thucydides, Peloponnesian War, I. 25-55). Simila Corinth had always sent officials to one of its colonies, Potida in the Chalkidike: the link of colonization, one of the element syngeneia between cities, is expressed in formal institut terms. But, confusingly, Potidaia also paid tribute to Athens part of the Athenian empire. After Athenian involvement in dispute between Corcyra and Corinth had led to an accrochag the Athenians attempted to remove the contradiction betwe imperial domination and peer relations by severing all lin between Corinth and its colony, Potidaia; the latter revo from the Athenians, prompting a military response from At and further conflict with Corinth, and contributing to 49 Meiggs and Lewis, Selection of Greek Historical Inscriptions, text no. 5; Cu Les Parentis l gendaires, text no. 58.
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discontent which Thucydides saw a superpower conflict between Spart Peloponnesian War, I. 56-66). Durin itself, two small poleis referred to su or kinship, only to see their appeals Plataia, whose appeal to past benef to its place in a prestigious shared did not protect it from destruction and Melos, whose kinship with Spart power to save Melos from being wip Hegemony offered an alternative mo Thebes liberated itself from Spart embarked on a programme of local i regional peers which had constituted a good example of a local network attempt at supraregional hegemony. Yet, by the end of the fourth centu ony by any of the Greek poleis prove with its rising, murderous stakes an resources, ended up beyond the re the preserve of superpowers such as or the regional leagues (the Achaia interaction of the cities in the lat Hellenistic period built on continui course, in order to make a history international, strongly horizontal memory. In this process of defining vals and shrines such as Delphi pla they had in the Late Geometric a network of relationships is a striking f so On Plataia, see Thucydides, The Peloponne Melos, see ibid., v. 85-116.
51 On the history of the early fourth century Paul Cartledge, Agesilaos and the Crisis of Sp between the various communities in Boiotia ha tion for territory and aggression, so that the context of peer polity interaction, which Thebe see the findings set out in John Bintliff, ‘Pat scapes of Boiotia from Geometric to Late Rom Territoires des cites grecques (Athens, 1999).
52 On Delphi’s role in creating an internat L’Amphictionie des Pyles et de Delphes: recherches He si cle de notre ere (Stuttgart, 2001).
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which was also the age when the Hellenistic kings were at their
most powerful and determined the high politics of the period.
Yet the kings passed, and the poleis abided. In the second cen-
tury, as the kingdoms declined and Rome’s influence grew, the
network would survive and flourish: the second and early first
centuries BC are an age of vigorous peer polity interaction.53
Peer polity interaction would continue into the Roman empire,
which in the East prolonged, in so many ways, the Hellenistic
world.54 The Classical period, at least as concerns its notice-
ably harsh political history dominated by Athens and Sparta,
appears as an anomalous interlude in a continuum of peer polity
For all their durability, the networks of peer polity interac-
tion did not exist as a perfectly homogeneous matrix (the latter
is itself a symbolic map). Geography and history determined
particular areas of density, regional webs of relation and shared
experience. Furthermore, various nodal places exercised a powerful
pull over determined regions: Delphi, the great international
shrine, which may have served as a nodal point for exchange
and contact; and Athens, once an imperial power, whose cul-
tural prestige and economic weight remained considerable after
the loss of superpower status, especially within the Aegean
islands and Asia Minor. Athenian institutions and political
forms seem to have spread in the Hellenistic Aegean and Western
Asia Minor.55 To say this is not to reintroduce centre and
periphery, but simply to observe the possibility for a differen-
tiated history to exist, and to be written, within the framework
of peer polity interaction, which itself can be mapped over
time and space, with its multiple ways of articulating experi-
ence, and its specific shapes: as I attempted to show above,
the apparently stable processes of peer polity interaction can
be embedded in the event-rich history of the Hellenistic
53 For examples of the second-century network, see Robert and Robert, Claros I;
Wolfgang Giinther, ‘Milet und Athen im zweiten Jahrhundert v. Chr.’, Chiron,
xxviii (1998). Generally, see W6rrle and Zanker (eds.), Stadtbild und Biirgerbild im
Hellenismus; Alain Bresson and Raymond Descat (eds.), Les Cites d’Asie Mineure
occidentale au IHe sidcle a. C. (Bordeaux, 2001).
54 A. J. Spawforth and Susan Walker, ‘The World of the Panhellenion: I. Athens
and Eleusis’, Ji Roman Studies, lxxv (1985).
55 See P. J. Rhodes with David M. Lewis, The Decrees of the Greek States (Oxford,
1997), for a survey of Classical and Hellenistic political institutions.
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Another example of the historical action, and also of the contributio makes to writing about history, is non-Greek communities in the ne phenomenon is sometimes described ‘Hellenization’, though the word in nothing. One such instance is Tyre, approached Teos as a kindred city; X and had once issued documents in century: how did it become a kin Dorians? In Hellenistic Anatolia, a communities suddenly emerge in Greek poleis, with standard instit language. The mechanism for thi termed ‘quasi-PPI’: Greek cities inte but also through formal diplomat communities, such as Sardeis in Lyd Imitation, and the attraction of the the adoption of political institution usually be traced because of the par tutions: Ionian in Karia, but southern Anatolian Hellenized
institutions in Kappadokia. The process can be seen at work
explicitly for the case of Sardeis, which, in the fourth century
BC, had diplomatic dealings with Miletos: the existence of
institutions in the non-Greek community is recognized by the
Greek city, and repeated contact might lead to the Sardian
elites adopting forms for interaction with Greek quasi-peers.56
In the preceding pages, the concept of peer polity interaction
has been applied to a particular historical context – rather
loosely, especially as regards the original concern with explanation
and change. But part of the concept’s richness is precisely that
it escapes the original research agenda. The shift from archae-
ology to text entailed a shift towards process and institutions,
and hence stability (whereas the archaeologists claimed events
56 On Sardeis, see Philippe Gauthier, Nouvelles inscriptions de Sardes II (Geneva,
1989), 160-5, for interpretations of Sylloge inscriptionum graecarum, ed. Dittenberger,
i, no. 273, and Die Inschriften von Ephesos, i(a), ed. Herrmann Wankel (Inschriften
griechischer Stidte aus Kleinasien, xi, pt 1, Bonn, 1979), text no. 2; but Gauthier
minimizes the degree of organization of the non-Greek city interacting with its
Ionian neighbours. On Hanisa, see Louis Robert, Noms indigines dans l’Asie-Mineure
greco-romaine: premiere partie (Paris, 1963), notably 476-9 on the demiourgos, a
magistracy found in southern Asia Minor, appearing in Hanisa.
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and change as their main focus); the texts particularly allow the study of the cognitive maps of peer polity interaction. these maps, and more generally the processes of interact can be studied historically, as reactions to change, or par broad historical phenomena.
The concept provides a fertile way of gathering evidence the Hellenistic cities, and also for writing Greek history, e cially in helping us articulate an awareness of the impor not simply of the polis, but of the whole network of poleis good example of the impact this awareness can have is the c already discussed above, of the large ornamental altars. If Lin is correct in seeing the emergence of this form not as a reac to a single, prestigious monument created in a royal capital as a type created collectively in a system of cities and later c in the royal capital with the lavish resources of a royal state consequences are important for the study of Hellenistic which is too often driven by purely stylistic or aesthetic con erations, and still too unaware of the world of the Hellenis poleis.57 Peer polity interaction was a cultural phenomenon; from the visual arts, it found its expression in the product of literature and learning. As with Hellenistic sculpture, operation of peer contacts as a site for literary works, produ for local uses and predicated on local knowledge, problemati any statements about Hellenistic ‘cosmopolitanism’ and a quarianism. Alexandrian poetry and learning, and the conco tant cultural politics, must be contextualized within lo traditions of learning, as has been pointed out by Alan C eron.58 In the meantime, what remains is the crucial role pla by peer relations at the level of the poleis in constituting t Hellenistic world – the performance of rituals and the utte of certain words which took place every spring, when the c prepared to send out or receive a plethora of ambassad carrying decrees, practising speeches, bringing sacrificial vict taking away little gifts: the spring of the Hellenistic poleis.
Corpus Christi College, Oxford John Ma
57 For a very different view of Hellenistic art, fully taking into a plexity and polycentric nature of the Hellenistic world, see R. R. R. S Sculpture: A Handbook (London, 1991).
58 Cameron, Callimachus and his Critics.
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