Bryn Mawr Classical Review 97.10.06


Sheila L. Ager, Interstate Arbitration in the Greek World, 337-90 B.C. Hellenistic Culture and Society, 18. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1996. Pp. 579. ISBN 0-520-08162-5.


Reviewed by Angelos Chaniotis, Classics, New York University.

Word Count: 2,105.

Interstate arbitration, although not unknown in archaic and classical Greece, is a characteristic institution of the period that follows the reign of Philip II. It is closely related to several other forms of interstate relations: the agreements which provide for the settling of disputes between individual members of different poleis,1 the invitation of foreign judges to settle conflicts within a polis,2 the treaties of isopolity, which often contained clauses concerning judicial matters,3 and the recognition of territorial inviolability.4 These phenomena are important not only from the perspective of political, diplomatic, and legal history. The preoccupation of Hellenistic poleis with the peaceful settlement of private and public disputes reflects the intensity and the volume of legal conflicts, whose causes were very often (directly or indirectly) economic in nature, since they concerned boundaries, debts, transactions, economic privileges, etc. Thus, the study of Hellenistic justice -- in the most general sense of the word -- opens new paths for a better understanding of the socio-economic conditions of this historical period.

Interstate arbitration is a subject which had attracted considerable attention in the last decade of the nineteenth and the first decades of this century, basically under the influence of contemporary European diplomacy.5 However, the relevant material has never been collected. L. Piccirilli (Gli arbitrati interstatali greci, Florence 1973) collected the evidence for the time before 338, but the projected volumes on Hellenistic arbitrations never appeared. Equally incomplete is the collection of the treaties of the ancient world (Die Staatsverträge des Altertums); the two volumes which have been published (vol. II, Munich 1975 [2nd edition]; vol. III, Munich 1969) cover the period from 700-200 B.C., but it is doubtful whether the projected volume with the numerous treaties of the second century (vol. IV) will ever appear. Sh. A[ger] had the courage not to follow the usual and -- academically rather rewarding -- path of writing yet another book on the Athenian Democracy, but instead to compose a comprehensive corpus of the evidence on a central phenomenon of Hellenistic diplomacy. For that, she certainly deserves the gratitude of every scholar studying any aspect of Hellenistic political, legal, social, economic, military, and diplomatic history.

Her book covers the period from the battle of Cheroneia, where Piccirilli's corpus stops, to ca. 90 B.C. For the selection of the evidence A. has wisely chosen an inclusive approach: Since it is not always possible to distinguish between arbitration, mediation, and voluntary compromise, she has also included in her corpus cases which are not clearly arbitrations. The book does not consider either symbola for the settlement of disputes between members of communities or arbitrations between non-Greek disputants. A brief, but comprehensive introduction (pp. 3-33) presents the basic features of interstate arbitration in the period under discussion: the causes of the disputes (usually conflicts over boundaries), the two main types of arbitration (obligatory and compromisory arbitration), the arbitral procedure (selection of judges, appointment of the place where the trial took place, oaths, presentation of witnesses and evidence, autopsy, safeguards for the validity of the verdict, boundary deliminations),6 the role of Hellenistic monarchs, Leagues, and Rome in arbitration.

The body of the book (pp. 37-509) consists of the discussion of 171 cases (as opposed to some sixty cases of the classical period, discussed by Piccirilli). The lemmata are arranged in a chronological order. Each lemma includes the original text of the source(s) and a commentary. In the case of inscriptions, A. gives a full list of the editions -- signaling the edition she is using with an asterisk --, the basic bibliography, and a critical apparatus. Since this is not an epigraphic corpus, it is understandable that the stones are (usually) not described, that the critical apparatus sometimes does not contain all lectiones variae, and that A. has not proceeded to her own edition of the texts based on autopsy.

A.'s task -- to identify the relevant evidence in a mass of literary texts and inscriptions and to study the vast bibliography -- is monumental as it is, and has been completed in an exemplary way. The texts she presents are reliable and the commentaries contain all the necessary information on the chronology, the historical background, the causes of the conflict, and the procedure followed. The cases discussed are manifold and include as different disputes as the Third Macedonian War (no. 121), the boundary dispute between the small poleis Azoros and Mondaia (no. 118), conflicts over religious matters (nos. 4, 133, 139), or the notorious issue of the 'Lokrian maiden tribute' (no. 11).7 Numerous territorial disputes can be followed over a long period of time, as e.g., the disputes between Amphissa and Delphi (nos. 1, 22, 88, 117, 163), Sparta and Megalopolis (nos. 45, 135, 137), Samos and Priene (nos. 26, 74, 160), and Melitaia and Narthakion (nos. 32, 79, 154, 156). Other cases permit us to study the role monarchs (e.g., Lysimachos: nos. 24-26), leagues (e.g., the Achaean League: nos. 36, 38, 43, 61, 75, 116, 133, 136), major powers (e.g., Rhodes: nos. 53, 57, 63, 74, 94, 109, 117, 119, 121, 122, 124, 165), or even small poleis (e.g., Knidos: nos. 21, 71; Magnesia: nos. 127, 154, 158; Mylasa: nos. 120, 164 IV)8 repeatedly played as arbitrators in big and small conflicts. Some cases were already well known and repeatedly studied (Priene and Samos, Magnesia and Miletos, the three Macedonian Wars, the Fourth Syrian War, etc.), but several disputes have become known only recently, thanks to epigraphic finds, e.g., the arbitration of Alexander the Great between Philippoi and neighbouring Thracian tribes (no. 5),9 the arbitration of Elis between Phanoteus and Stiris (no. 20), the conflict between Arsinoe and Nagidos in Kilikia (no. 42),10 and the disputes between Kolophon and its neighbours (no. 162).

Some difficulties were inherent in A.'s subject. Since most cases of international arbitration concern conflicts between neighbouring communities, the commentaries require intimate knowledge of local history -- with all its parameters (topography, local institutions, cults, etc.). This task becomes even more difficult, since for numerous regions of the Hellenistic world we still lack comprehensive works of reference, on which A. could rely. In addition to these problems, the chronology of many conflicts can only be established with a combination of many different criteria, and oftentimes it cannot be established with certainty. A.'s superb knowledge of the bibliography helped her deal competently with all these problems. Of course, the advance in regional studies in the last two years alone (e.g., in the Argolid, Arkadia, Crete, Phokis, and Thessaly) has already brought additions or corrections on some issues.11

In numerous controversial cases A. gives her own well founded judgement. Thus, her book is far more than a presentation of evidence and a summary of the relevant scholarship; it is a very original contribution to an equally important and difficult subject. This compendium permits us not only to appreciate anew the role of arbitration, but also to see clearly the ubiquitous presence of war in the Hellenistic period. Undoubtedly, this volume will remain an invaluable work of reference for many years to come. The series Hellenistic Culture and Society should be commended for having offered in one year two extremely important works of reference: Kent J. Rigsby's Asylia and the book under review here.


NOTES

1. Ph. Gauthier (Symbola. Les étrangers et la justice dans les cités grecques, Nancy 1972.

2. Unfortunately, L. Robert did not fulfill his promise to treat this subject exhaustively. A recent study (with bibliography): Ch. Crowther, "Iasos in the Second Century B.C. III: Foreign Judges from Priene", BICS 40, 1995, 91-137.  

3. W. Gawantka, Isopolitie. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der zwischenstaatlichen Beziehungen in der griechischen Antike, Munich 1975.  

4. K. J. Rigsby, Asylia. Territorial Inviolability in the Hellenistic World, Berkeley and Los Angeles 1996.  

5. V. Berard, De arbitrio inter liberas Graecorum civitates, Paris 1894; A. Raeder, L'arbitrage international chez les Hellènes, Kristiania 1912; M. N. Tod, International Arbitration amongst the Greeks, Oxford 1913; cf. C. Phillipson, The International Law and Custom of Ancient Greece and Rome, London 1911.  

6. For a very useful treatment of boundary deliminations see now D. Rousset, "Les frontières des cités grecques. Premières réflexions à partir du recueil des documents épigraphiques", Cahiers du Centre G. Glotze 5, 1994, 97-126; further studies on boundaries can be found in the proceedings of a colloquium on the subject: E. Olshausen and H. Sonnabend (eds), Stuttgarter Kolloquium zur Historischen Geographie des Altertums, 4, 1990, Amsterdam 1994.  

7. See also F. Graf, "Die lokrischen Mädchen", Studi storio-religiosi 2, 1978, 61-79.  

8. Another possible arbitration of Mylasa in a Cretan War (?) has escaped A.'s notice and is attested in the dossier of Cretan decrees found at Mylasa (early 2nd cent.): see SEG XLII 1004 l. 10: [SYL]LY/SEWN or [DIA]LY/SEWN. Several texts of this dossier mention a war (I. Mylasa 642 l. 11; 650 ll. 7 f.; 654 l. 3; 658 l. 6; cf. I. Mylasa 650 l. 6). Another text, found in Athens, but written in the Cretan dialect, possibly mentions the Mylaseis in the context of an arbitration (Ager, no. 164 IV l. 3). A. associates it with a conflict between Olous and Lato in the late 2nd cent.; an earlier date is more probable (A. Chaniotis, Die Vertraege zwischen kretischen Poleis in der hellenistischen Zeit, Stuttgart 1996, p. 51 note 264).  

9. On this text see most recently M. Hatzopoulos, "Alexandre en Perse: La revanche et l'empire", ZPE 116, 1997, 41-52.  

10. See most recently A. Chaniotis, "Ein diplomatischer Statthalter nimmt Rücksicht auf den verletzten Stolz zweier hellenistischer Kleinpoleis (Nagidos und Arsinoe)", EpigrAnat 21, 1993, 33-42.  

11. On the boundary between Hermione and Epidauros in the Argolid (no. 63) see now M. H. Jameson, C. N. Runnels, and T. H. van Andel, A Greek Countryside: The Southern Argolid from Prehistory to the Present Day, Stanford 1994, 596-606. On Arkadia see G. Thuer and H. Taeuber, (Prozessrechtliche Inschriften der griechischen Poleis: Arkadien, Vienna 1994) [IPArk]: no. 18 (Boura and an unknown city) = IPArk 22; no. 82 (Alipheira and Lepreon) = IPArk 26; no.116 (Megalopolis and Messene-Thouria) = IPArk 31; no. 168 (Megalopolis and a neighbour) = IPArk 32; appendix no. 16 (boundary delimination for Megalopolis) = IPArk 29; appendix no. 33 (Heraia and unknown polis) = IPArk 23. The boundary deliminations in Phokis will be discussed by D. Rousset in a forthcoming book. On Thessaly see G. Lucas, "À propos d'Ereikinion, cite perrhèbe" ZPE 105, 1995, 105-130 (on the dispute between Chyretiai and Erikinion: no. 62). On Crete see A. Chaniotis, Die Verträge zwischen kretischen Poleis in der hellenistischen Zeit, Stuttgart 1996 [VerKr]: no. 29 (Polyrhenia and Kydonia) = VerKr 1 (another copy of this inscription, preserving the entire text, was found recently and will be published by St. Markoulaki); no. 67 (Hierapytna and Piansos) = VerKr 28; no. 110 (Gortyn and Knossos, ca. 184) = VerKr 40 (I believe that no. 127 also concerns this conflict); no. 128 (Gortyn and Knossos, ca. 167) = VerKr 43-45; no. 158 (Hierapytna and Itanos) = VerKr 4, 48, 49, 57; no. 164 (Lato and Olous) = VerKr 54-56; no. 165 (Lyttos and Olous) = VerKr 60; appendix no. 1 ("judicial treaty between Cretan Biannos and an unknown state?") = VerKr 63 (we do not know the identity of the parties which concluded the treaty; it has been suggested that Bionnos -- not Biannos -- is one of them, but there is no evidence for that). A. reluctantly links two testimonia on mediation on Crete in the late 3rd century (nos 58 I-II, late 3rd cent.). This possibility should be excluded. The second text (I.Cret. II,xii 21) concerns a war which was still being fought ca. 204 B.C., while the first text (I.Magnesia 46, a decree of Epidamnos, ca. 208 B.C.) refers to earlier events and is most probably related to the Lyttian War (221-219, see Chaniotis, l.c., p. 37 with bibliography). I should also add that K. Buraselis (Arch. Ephemeris 1981, 15-25) has convincingly argued that the treaties Eleutherna and Hierapytna signed with Antigonos Doson (nos 47-48) made them members of his Hellenic League.