Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2004.02.40

Sophia Aneziri, Die Vereine der Dionysischen Techniten im Kontext der hellenistischen Gesellschaft. Historia Einzelschriften 163.   Munich:  Steiner, 2003.  Pp. 542.  ISBN 3-515-08126-7.  EUR 96.00.  



Reviewed by William Slater, McMaster University (slater@mcmaster.ca)
Word count: 2556 words

This is a Heidelberg dissertation from 1997, revised to 2000 by Prof. Aneziri (now in Athens), and therefore does not take account of B. LeGuen's Les Associations de Technites Dionysiaques (Paris 2001), which covers much of the same ground. A painful comparison of the large inscriptional catalogues in both books reveals a 95% overlap, but both scholars are essentially employing the same body of material for much the same purpose; e.g. Aneziri cites repeatedly the Chalkis decree but does not print it like LeGuen; she prints the decree for the Athenian guild of epic poets which LeGuen did not. The conclusions also for the most part overlap, though different interests dictate different nuances. Both also contain extensive lists and tables, which will be consulted by historians of drama with profit. Scholars will be glad to have this material available, while perhaps regretting the coincidence of two such valuable books, products of admirable industry and dedication.

The four main geographical groups of the Artists (Asian [with a useful chronological table 119-24], Isthmian, Athenian, Egyptian) are treated separately, as by LeGuen; there was indeed no global guild, but (usually) loose cooperation, as LeGuen also had concluded; and there were considerable differences possible in their make-up and policies. Then we move to the officers of the associations (pp.12ff), to property and finance (165ff), the membership and its problems (203ff), and the complex relation of the guilds to festivals (267-287). The rest of the book is occupied with appendices on particular points, detailed tables, the epigraphic material and comprehensive indices (though not totally comprehensive; several times I could not find via the index items of interest I had noted). A book like this is never going to be read from beginning to end (save perhaps by a reviewer), and this reviewer was forced to insert tabs to flip between text and inscriptions, bibliography and tables. Aneziri however very helpfully writes out the relevant part of the inscription at the bottom of the text, and for this consideration every reader will be grateful. There are very few errors of text, and only one untranslatable sentence; the German was clear and laudably free of pretentious grammar. The contents of the book are set out in the format beloved of those required to organize the disorganized, e.g. A.IV.3.3, C.II.3.2 etc, and a dazed reviewer sometimes confused this with the format used for the epigraphical appendix, e.g. B3C,30. But it is all there, somewhere.

Or nearly all. Aneziri (or LeGuen) does not seek to deal with technitae, but with the Dionysiac Artists. There are, for example, many references to technitae in the inscriptions of Delos; some are workmen but some are performers. This restriction and the further restriction to hellenistic times (not rigorously applied) must be recognized. There are many instances where imperial inscriptions or festival regulations can help elucidate a term, but such an investigation would exceed now the capacity of any single scholar. But I give an example below, lest anyone think that there is nothing more to be done.

Rather than summarize the book, whose coverage will be familiar to anyone from LeGuen, this reviewer restricts himself to pointing out some items where Aneziri's discussion is more detailed, and to noting some points of disagreement. She is particularly good on historical issues affecting the Guilds. In an admirably clear discussion of the unresolved question whether the Amphictyonic Soteria were trieteric or annual, she prefers (336-41) to suppose that they were annual. Likewise her discussion of the disagreements between the Athenian and Isthmian koinon, of those within the Isthmian koinon, and finally of their arbitration by a frustrated senate, is as clear as the biassed evidence allows. The treatment of the Teos dispute with the resident Artists is a detailed and basic reading of a very difficult issue. While the Athenian guild was headquartered firmly in Athens and Attica, the Isthmian/ Nemean guild was distinguished by its many branches (Argos, Thebes, Corinth, Chalkis, Opus, Dion, even Elis) and its specific claim to Isthmia and Nemea. The Asian guild by contrast never claims in its title to have a headquarters or a claim to a festival. But she concludes from a prosopographical study that even where a particular guild helped to organize a festival, as at Thespiae or Thebes, members of other guilds could perform; disputes about work rights did arise between the two Greek guilds about Delphi but were abnormal.

In the puzzling relation of the guild of the synagonists to the Asian koinon, she acutely notes that the influential Kraton was a synagonist but still a leading official of the main guild; she rightly concludes that the synagonists were a part of the main guild, but had their own sub-group. She suggests that he therefore upgraded from being a synagonist into a technites proper by changing his classification as an aulete. This is perhaps not necessary. When he was honoured later by the Isthmian Guild at the height of his career, it was specifically as a choral aulete. These could win competitions by 169 [C. Pretre, BCH 124 2000 262; cf. the denial p.207] and the auletae who were given 'niketeria' in Delos from the 3rd century were also choral. People like him were not inferior (to judge by their extraordinary salaries in contemporary Delos!) but just different, at least in the Asian koinon. Likewise, while it seems certain from archaeology and art, as she says, that thymelic contests took place in Nemea and the Isthmus from the 5th century, she should not be surprised (54) that Nikostratos can claim to be the first to win at the Isthmus as late as the 3rd century; he was a chorokitharist, a hellenistic category.

In Asia the main guild were until ca. 150 at home in Teos while a subguild of Kathegemon Dionysus appeared with the Attalids in Pergamon but did not, as was thought, die out with them. She discusses sensibly and critically the various and often speculative attempts to integrate what we know of these guilds with the history of the area, and concludes (p.86) that the artists opted for a pragmatic cooperation with Rome and managed to see out the Attalid era with their usual diplomacy. [The new association inscription published by Mueller and Woerrle, Chiron 32 2002 191 ff esp. 197 need not be relevant; nor is there any need to postulate a local association in Elaia.] In the matter of the quarrel between Teos and the Artists under Eumenes II, Aneziri, who reorganizes the fragments, is of the opinion that the Artists had their own panegyris and the citizens had their Dionysia. She rightly separates the priest and agonothete of the koinon from the priest and agonothete (one person) of the Attalids at Teos, though this position was also held by Artists, the only priesthood that we know for certain of this type. But it was, she maintains, this panegyris of the Artists that caused the trouble, since they claimed the rights to their own panegyriarchs (pp.154ff) and so, she argues plausibly, to the customs taxes. The arguments and the material are spread out over several passages in the book, at 97ff, then again at 154-5, 187ff, with the inscription at p.388. Since her D12 II c, 10 = LeGuen no.47 IIC 10 = IvPergamon 163 = Welles RC 52 has panegyriarchs of the Dion[ysia?, she concludes that the Artists had their own Dionysia (p.89). From the Delian decree for Kraton, her D10, 27 which appears to separate panegyris and city Dionysia she concludes that their panegyris was their Dionysia. Their one-day festival for Eumenes II was separate. The argument is fragile but well made. One may add that the claim of the Artists to 'ateleia' may have played some part. She argues further that Teos was concerned to combat piracy and the Artists proved useful to them in gaining asylia. (But surely Teos was not worried about Myonnesos being fortified against it by lyre-wielding Artists! Strabo's verb 'epiteichizein' is a metaphor. )

Their relation with the local communities brings up the question of 'Ehrenmitglieder' (p.218 and esp. 77), proxenoi, philotechnitae, etc. known from the Egyptian synod and elsewhere. This deserved more attention. An imperial decree (SEG VI 59) -- which she does not cite, though she cites VI 58, which omits the last group -- speaks of three groups: the technitae, the synagonists 'and those who take part in the sacred thymelic synod'. In short, there were non-performing hangers-on not recognized in any hellenistic title, but who existed in fact, vaguely included in those 'nemontes ten synodon' or 'metechontes tou synodou'. One reason why they may have wanted to be part of the koinon, of course, was the enjoyment of the privileges of that group, much as non-athletic members of the aristocracy belong to the Royal and Ancient Golf Club. Honorary technitae may seldom appear -- and of course distinguished performers of non-competition categories might also qualify -- but one can see why cities decreeing rights might make more careful stipulations about 'registered' technitae ['eggegrammenoi']; indeed cities early registered their hieronikai, not just Artists grosso modo, for the same purpose, a move associated with athletic guilds. In addition, not to be forgotten, supplementing the expensive Artists, but no part of a Guild, were the local amateurs to pad out a competition, the relatives of the agonothete as at Tanagra or the youths from the gymnasium or the local club of Dionysistae in their satyr outfits. We should perhaps take the exclusive rhetoric of the Guild's decrees with a good deal of salt.

Aneziri makes an important distinction (267ff and often) between three types of models of festivals: those where the Artists organized their own festivals as at Teos; those where they were officially part-organizers as at Thespiae and Thebes; and those where they had no part in the organization. She recognizes that especially the second and third may not be clearly distinct. That in turn takes us to the question how festivals were organized at all. Here I return to a point I made with LeGuen's book. The Chalkis decree of the early 3rd century does not speak of any formal association of artists and is therefore omitted by Aneziri, but, because of its early date and its interest, not by LeGuen. Aneziri (pp.53-5; 284) misreads I suggest this difficult inscription in two places. First she thinks that there was a group of technitae in Chalkis to whom the state turned. But line 59 -- which she does not cite -- is clear; the magistrates are to assemble in Chalkis in order to get out the job contracts for the technitae, and the Chalcidian magistrates are then to 'send a person to the technitae' to proclaim formally the job contracts. This 'apostellein' occurs in exactly the same connection in a lost decree of Corcyra about setting up a Dionysia (IG IX 1,694 = Laum, Stiftungen II p.3), not mentioned by Aneziri but which is not much later. The magistrates of the Corcyrans send to the Artists who are not in Corcyra in order to hire them (the phrase 'misthosis of the technitae' recurs). To most people that suggests that the Artists were to be found in a certain place, not named; and it is an easy deduction that this is where the Artists had their headquarters. Already shortly after 300 BC, any city with a small or new festival organizes to 'send' to the technitae to 'hire' performers. A much-discussed decree of Delos [IG XI,4 1036, 10, not noted] of the early 3rd century deals with setting up a festival for an unspecified Demetrius; people are again to be 'sent' to prepare the festival and to 'hire technitae'. I take it as certain that by 300 this was the way a festival was organized by even a larger city. The money could come from anywhere, even, as Aneziri shows, partly from the technitae themselves.

We come now to the other aspect. What happened when the person sent by the magistrates arrived in Thebes or Athens or Argos or wherever the technitae were? Those sent from Corcyra clutching their 50 Corinthian mnas had been told what they had to hire (3 each of tragedians, comedians and auletes -- the support staff are not worth mentioning) but were allowed to haggle about siteresion, their bed and board expense account; they were however constrained by an agonothetic law, like the one in Chalkis, which itself shows evidence of patches and updates to cover loopholes opened by Artistic hackers. That would be typical. Aneziri (284 n.77) like LeGuen reads line 14 of the Chalkis decree as 'ne]montwn' -- a conjecture from the photograph by Stephanis, to be written therefore as 'nem]ontwn' -- and interprets: 'the magistrates chose the best technitae, and were expressly charged with the 'nemesis' of the Artists.' This is not credible. The magistrates were to try to get the best, of course, but the only people who were able to 'allocate' the Artists were the Artists themselves. Wilamowitz suggested 'pemp]ontwn', but Stefanis was right to reject it. We need some verb like 'let the city representatives (arrange to) hire ...' The stone has deteriorated since it was first published, but the first editors thought they saw ']nontwn'. Non liquet, but 'ekkri]nontwn' would do as a euphemism for hard bargaining, for in truth the cities hire, the Artists from 300 BC allocate. In between 'misthosis' and 'nemesis' and behind the crumbling facade of competition was the haggling. This was the reality for all those festivals that could not attract competitors freely by their prestige (or prizes) alone, the vast majority. It follows unavoidably that the Artists always had some say in the organization of festivals, sometimes officially with priests and theoroi, but always behind the scenes. When they start issuing decrees thanking the agonothetes (184; 267) directly for their munificence, they are expressing this reality. Aneziri is right to set up her models but equally right (285) to point to their hypothetical nature.

I pick out two errors: p.183: It is out of the question that the Iasians went to the Artists to ask for "]ak[roamata... and theo]remata". More probable is ch]remata. p.196: there is no 'Verteilung von Geld an den Festtagen'; the Greek means that the money has been 'reserved' -- a 'merismos' -- for the celebration; 'dianome' of money is Roman. Perhaps for those not used to the language of associations, a comment on such terms as 'plethos' might have been useful; not everyone has the still indispensable Vereinswesen of Franz Poland at hand. We also wait to know why the Argos Guild met in an Asklepeion.

Any scholar who wishes to deal with the role of the Guilds of the Dionysiac Artists in the events of hellenistic times will have to take account of the many detailed interpretations and statistics in this book. New material continues to appear, often unsettling previously comfortable theses. We have only brief and distorted glimpses into the fascinating world of the professional performers, who demonstrated the enduring value of the arts by outlasting the very cities and kingdoms that supported them, perhaps because as Aneziri points out they seem to have cared less than most Greeks about their city of origin, despite their polished facade of hellenic ideals.

[[For a response to this review by Sophia Aneziri, please see BMCR 2004.04.06.]]

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