Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2004.07.23

Olga Palagia, Stephen V. Tracy, The Macedonians in Athens, 322-229 BC.   Oxford:  Oxbow, 2003.  Pp. xii, 266; ills. 143.  ISBN 1-84217-092-9.  $135.00.  



Reviewed by Ian Worthington, History, University of Missouri-Columbia (WorthingtonI@missouri.edu)
Word count: 1778 words

This volume contains 28 of 34 papers originally delivered at a conference on (I presume) the Macedonians in Athens from 322-229 BC, held at the University of Athens in May 2001. The program is given on pp. ix-xii of the book. Given that this was a specialist conference, I was surprised to see 34 papers in three days, divided into eleven sessions, with each speaker having only twenty minutes for his/her paper. Also, discussion time was only twenty minutes after each session, some of which had five papers!

The subject is an extremely important one: in the near-century following the end of the Lamian War, Macedonian garrisons occupied Athens on almost a permanent basis, and the city became a pawn in the wars of the successors who battled for the Macedonian throne until Gonatas emerged triumphant. This situation was a far cry from the Athens of the previous centuries. True, the Athenians still had their democratic organs operating, but it was a very limited democracy. And although they had tried to overthrow Macedonian control in the Chremonidean War, Gonatas had ended that almost as soon as it began. Even when the Macedonian presence in Athens ended in 229 with the liberation of the Piraeus, Athens continued to be a shadow of its former self, at least as a military power. The story associated with the death of the comedian Philemon is symbolic (Diod. 23.6). The night before he died he saw nine girls leaving his house; they were the Muses, who fled from anything or anyone associated with dying, and they can be seen as leaving not only his house but also Athens.

Palagia and Tracy tell us in the preface (p. vii) that they did not want to concentrate solely on the political and military history of the period. They also wanted to consider the impact of the Macedonian occupation on Athenian art and culture and how the Athenians and their patterns of behavior were affected. To this end, they assembled "an international cast of scholars working in a great range of fields in order to illuminate various aspects of Athenian art, archaeology and history." The following is the list of contents:

Peter Green, "Occupation and co-existence: the impact of Macedon on Athens, 323-307" (pp. 1-7),

Robert Lamberton, "Plutarch's Phocion: melodrama of mob and elite in occupied Athens" (pp. 8-13),

Brian Bosworth, "Why did Athens lose the Lamian War?" (pp. 14-22),

Elizabeth Baynham, "Antipater and Athens" (pp. 23-29),

Patrick Wheatley, "Lamia and the Besieger: an Athenian hetaera and a Macedonian king" (pp. 30-36),

Emmanuel Microyannakis, "Aristotle and Alexander: on the gradual deterioration of their relationship" (pp. 37-39),

Graham J. Oliver, "Oligarchy at Athens after the Lamian War: epigraphic evidence for the Boule and the Ekklesia" (pp. 40-51),

Christian Habicht, "Athens after the Chremonidean war: some second thoughts" (pp. 52-55),

Stephen V. Tracy, "Antigonos Gonatas, King of Athens" (pp. 56-60),

Ioanna Kralli, "The date and context of divine honours for Antigonos Gonatas -- a suggestion" (pp. 61-66),

Michael J. Osborne, "Shadowland: Athens under Antigonos Gonatas and his successor" (pp. 67-75),

Kevin Clinton, "Macedonians at Eleusis in the early third century" (pp. 76-81),

Manuela Mari, "Macedonians and anti-Macedonians in early Hellenistic Athens: reflections on asebeia" (pp. 82-92),

Rhys F. Townsend, "The Philippeion and fourth-century Athenian architecture" (pp. 93-101),

Bonna D. Wescoat, "Athens and Macedonian royalty on Samothrace: the Pentelic connection" (pp. 102-116),

Carol L. Lawton, "Athenian anti-Macedonian sentiment and democratic ideology in Attic document reliefs in the second half of the fourth century B.C." (pp. 117-127),

Iphigeneia Leventi "Paratêrêsei305; sta attika anath05; sta attika anathêmatika anaglupha tou usterou 4ou kai prôimou 3ou ai. p. C." (pp. 128-139),

Olga Palagia, "The impact of Ares Macedon on Athenian sculpture" (pp. 140-151),

Hans R. Goette, "Cape Sounion and the Macedonian occupation" (pp. 152-161),

Petros Themelis, "Macedonian dedications on the Akropolis" (pp. 162-172),

Ralf van den Hoff, "Tradition and innovation: portraits and dedications on the early Hellenistic Akropolis" (pp. 173-185),

Peter Schultz, "Kephisodotos the Younger" (pp. 186-193),

Thomas M. Brogan, "Liberation honors: Athenian monuments from Antigonid victories in their immediate and broader contexts" (pp. 194-205),

John H. Kroll, "The evidence of Athenian coins" (pp. 206-212),

Susan I. Rotroff, "Minima macedonica" (pp. 213-225),

Dyfri Williams, "Gilded pottery and golden jewellery" (pp. 226-235),

Stephi Korti-Konti, "Allusions to mythological sites in Macedonia in the vase-painting of the late fourth century B.C., the satirical drama and Aristotle" (pp. 236-242),

Judith M. Barringer, "Panathenaic Games and Panathenaic amphorae under Macedonian rule" (pp. 243-256)

All of the papers are short, often only a few pages long (perhaps in an effort to keep to the orally delivered length?). I will not attempt to review every one: I single out those to which I was especially attracted, and also give some general comments on the importance and quality of the book overall.

Palagia and Tracy have indeed assembled a stellar cast, but the quality of the papers is uneven, and some of them bear little or no resemblance to the scope of the book. Some papers that are off the theme can be found lurking in every conference, but they should not be retained in the published proceedings. Thus, I query the inclusion of Microyannakis, Wescoat, Lawton (she ends consideration properly at 323), and Korti-Konti. Goette on Cape Sounion and Clinton on Eleusis are perhaps pushing it, and Lamberton on Plutarch's Phocion seems better placed in a book on Plutarch. Do not get me wrong: I enjoyed these scholars' papers and learned much from them. However, from its title this volume is about the Macedonians in Athens, not the Macedonians and Athens, during the period of Macedonian occupation.

The archaeological papers are particularly rich in their discussions and use of illustrations. Especially intriguing, I thought, were Brogan and Rotroff. Brogan discusses the Athenian honors for Antigonus and Demetrius, specifically the portraits that were set up in the period 307-302 BC. He argues that the location, form, and function of these public portraits as liberation monuments were meant to evoke earlier Athenian victory monuments and, more importantly, meant to link the two "Antigonid superheroes" (p. 203) to the traditional Athenian Heroes. Rotroff searches for Macedonian influence in the Athenian minor arts or smaller objects used daily in hellenistic Athens. She targets ceramic drinking cups, the 21 figurines of little boys wearing Macedonian costume found in Menon's Cistern, and a large kantharos, dedicated to Artemis and Dionysus, with a hunting Artemis on one side and a hunt scene on the other. For the first, Rotroff traces similarities of shape and decorations between silver calyx-cups and Athenian clay drinking cups. For the second, the clothing, boots and general style are reminiscent of cloaked boys found at Troy, who are also wearing the Macedonian kausia. A problem here, as Rotroff admits, is that the Menon's cistern boys are not wearing the kausia: some wear different types of headgear, and others are bare-headed. For the third, Rotroff draws parallels between its hunt scene and the hunt depicted on the façade of Tomb II at Vergina.

Also of note was Townsend who suggests that Philip II's monument influenced choregic monuments in the way that a person promoted himself and that this served to undermine democratic ideology. Macedonian military involvement in Athens affected the style and iconography of Attic sculpture, argues Palagia, who discusses an elaborate grave relief of a riderless horse and persuasively connects the imagery on it to Alexander's Companion cavalry, suggesting that the memorial was set up to Phocion. Themelis reviews and discusses the very few votive dedications to Athena (as Parthenos, Pallas, Polias, and Hygieia) by Alexander the Great, Olympias, Roxane, Alexander son of Polyperchon, and Antiochus IV Epiphanes.

Away from monuments and the like, papers dealing with numismatic evidence were surprisingly scarce. In the published volume, there was only Kroll, "The evidence of Athenian coins," who gives a concise survey of the coinage for early and middle hellenistic Athens and who rightly urges caution when it comes to interpreting numismatic evidence. I was sorry that a paper given at the conference by Katerina Panagopoulou entitled "Money in Attica: the evidence of the Macedonian coinage" was not included in the volume.

The non-archaeological papers also have plenty of thought-provoking things to say. Of particular significance, I thought, were those by Bosworth, Oliver, and Osborne. Bosworth proposes more Athenian naval engagements than has been thought and in several theatres of war before the arrival of Cleitus. What severely hampered the Athenians and led to their defeat was not a lack of ships, for they had more than enough, but of the manpower to sail them, in contrast to the Macedonians. In an important analysis of the state decrees from 322/1 to 319/8 (39 in all), Oliver shows that political activity was not affected by the Macedonian oligarchy and that those active under the oligarchy still had patriotic feelings. Osborne re-evaluates epigraphical evidence, especially relating to four archons, and put forward an archon list to cover the period 268/7 to 228/7. In turn, this affects events that so dramatically involved the Athenians in the 240s.

Other papers of note include Green, who considers the numbers of Athenian ships and men and suggests that the defeat at naval defeat at Amorgos did not mark the end of the Athenian navy. Baynham looks at a curious aspect of Antipater's settlement with Athens, his sending those disfranchised citizens to a new settlement in Thrace. Baynham sees parallels with Philip II's relocation of population for strategic and practical reasons, especially in light of his 342-340 campaign in Thrace in which Antipater took part. The relationship between the older hetaera Lamia and the younger Poliorcetes is juicily investigated by Wheatley. He argues that it was because of Lamia and her lack of inhibitions that Poliorcetes' behavior changed for the worse and affected his credibility as a king. The true power of Gonatas is shown by Tracy, who argues that although Gonatas decreased his direct control over Athens after 255, his military control and his interference in the democracy warrant his description as "King of Athens." Moreover, in a decree from Rhamnous Gonatas is described as "the king and savior of the people".

A major criticism of the book is that there is only an index of literary, papyrological and epigraphical sources. No index of persons, places, or themes in a book of this range is a startling omission. Also, there is no bibliography.

This book is not cheap, but it is lavishly produced and the plates and illustrations are of excellent quality. Certainly anyone working on hellenistic history, or teaching it, will benefit greatly from all the papers, many of which make important contributions to our knowledge and understanding of this complex and confusing period.

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