Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2008.02.27

Nikolaos Katsikoudis, Dôdônê. Oi Timêtikoi Andriantes. (Dodona: The Honorary Statues). Etaireia Êpeirôtikôn Meletôn Idruma Meletôn Ioniou kai Adriatikou Xôrou, 14.   2006.  Pp. 184; ills. 79.  ISBN 969-860068-5-3.  

Reviewed by John Ma, Corpus Christi College, Oxford (
Word count: 2622 words

62 statue bases in a precise archaeological context; 4 (only, alas) inscriptions; over 100 bronze fragments from the statues themselves-- the shrine at Dodone provides a unique combination of evidence for the study of an important phenomenon, the honorific statue habit in the Hellenistic world: the presence of (fragments from) actual statues is particularly precious, in view of the rarity of evidence for this sculptural genre. The material, revealed by the excavations of Karapanos in the nineteenth century, and by later work, notably by S. Dakaris, is presented by N. Katsikoudis (K.) in a revised version of his Ioannina doctoral thesis, reworked to produce a useful, important book, which could have packed more punch in the analytical sections.

Chapter 1 presents the history of the site. K. emphasizes the monumentalization of the late fourth and early third centuries; the destruction by the Aitolians in 219; and the brilliant phase of reconstruction and embellishment between 219 and the final catastrophe of Epeiros in 167. I miss a discussion of the bases in the archaeological context: is there clear stratigraphical evidence to help understand how the bases fit in the history of the site? Can the bronze fragments from the statues be assigned to precise destruction contexts? What of the post-167 history of the shrine? Chapter 2, organized typologically (according to the categories developed by M. Jacob-Felsch, Die Entwicklung griechischer Statuenbasen und die Aufstellung der Statuen [Waldsassen 1969] and I. Schmidt, Hellenistische Statuenbasen [Frankfurt am Main 1995]), examines the statue bases; there also are good notes on the principles governing the location of honorific statues. The chapter overspills its typological program to offer observations on individual bases. Chapter 3, devoted to the four inscriptions found on statue bases, is prolix (for instance on letter-forms or institutions); and normal editorial conventions are not followed (no genetical lemmata, no underlined letters, no sublinear dots). Chapter 4 presents the bronze fragments, organized by type: armour and accoutrements, weapons, clothing, human parts, equine parts (and horse equipment): much of this wonderful material is published in detail for the first time. This chapter ends with observations on technical matters. A concluding chapter summarizes the findings and attempts a general view of the statue-scape of the shrine. There follows a catalogue of the bases or foundations (including those not studied in detail in the text, uncovered earlier by Karapanos); then a catalogue of the bronze fragments (with indications on findspots when available).

The presentation is sometimes unhelpful. Much space is taken up by minute description, written in archaeological / art-historical "langue de bois". As most visible in chapter 4, the method is old-fashioned: description, aesthetic judgement, parallels, leading to hopeful statements on chronology based on assumptions of consistent stylistic development. The structure of the work suffers from the curse of typology, so that thematic observations or crucial information on context are scattered throughout the text. The motif of the thunderbolt is discussed in Chapter 2, when noting that it occurs on a sword grip; in Chapter 4, when noting that it occurs on baldric plaques; then again when noting that it occurs on shoulder-plates. This problem could have been avoided through a general chapter on iconography.

K. describes a landscape of statues, with groups of bases, for instance, before the main array of temples at the north end of the shrine, or, in a long series, in front of the angled stoa that runs along the west side of the shrine. As frequently, most of the inscriptions that gave identity and meaning to the bases and statues have not survived. But there is one spot where we have archaeological, epigraphical, and art-historical evidence: the group of six bases located in front of the stoa to the east of the Bouleuterion, B 12-17 in K.'s catalogue. Three of these are inscribed (in one case, the honouring body is the koinon of the Bylliones, north of Epeiros; in the others, the Epeirote Koinon); five were for statues on foot, one for an equestrian (the honorand, named in the inscription, is one Milon, no doubt an officer of the Epeirote Koinon).

The spot was truly an "epiphanestatos topos", a site of high visibility: it was the point of contact between the sacred space of the esplanade and road in front of the temples, and the civic buildings (bouleuterion, prytaneion, and further on the theatre); it also lay at the intersection between the (roughly) east-west road between the sacred and the civic areas and the access way from the south-west entrance into the enclosure of the shrine. One of the bases, B 17, is a "show-off", not aligned with the neighbours to its north but turned at a jaunty 45-degree angle, so as to distinguish itself from the early series of statues and dramatically address both axes of approach. All of the bronze fragments with a secure archaeological context come from this spot: 26 fragments, namely armour, equipment (including two magnificent sword-grips, one ending in an eagle head, one ending with a panther head, and an ornate spear-butt), military cloaks, and various body parts human or equine.

What emerges is a particular genre of honorific statue, the armed and armoured male, equestrian or, more frequently, on foot. The genre is not well attested epigraphically (K.'s remarks are incorrect),1 but the evidence gathered by K. should alert us to its importance. In fact, all of the fragments from Dodone seem to belong to this genre-- at least, there is no clear evidence for the genre which is so familiar from elsewhere, the "Normaltypus" himation-man, which recent scholarship has emphasized as the canonical image of the good citizen.2 The genre may have been widespread in Central and Western Greece. In the Peloponnese, statues of Philopoimen (Plut. Philopoimen 21.5-6) probably used this register, and the relief of Polybios from Kleitor (Richter Portraits 248) may draw on it, as might a remarkable description of Aratos' stance before the Corinthians, transmitted in the Plutarchan life (23.3). At Delphi, Peisis of Thespiai (honoured for leading the Boiotian troops in the liberation of Opous: ISE 71) or Patron of Lilaia (liberator of his city: SEG 16.28), were likely represented in arms; the same holds true, at Oropos, Diomedes of Troizen, also a civic fighter (Oropos 389).3

The evidence from Dodone allows us to start to visualize these non-royal military statues. Whereas statues of himation-men showed simple clothing and (often unimpressively flabby) flesh, the military statues, representing men wearing composite (more rarely muscled) cuirass and chlamys, and carrying swords and spears, accumulated a riot of textures and shapes, carefully described by K.: rows of twisted mingled fringes below waves of flexed pteruges, the thick weave of a baldric falling stiffly across shoulder and chest, the stippled surfaces of coarse wool cloth, the tasselled and stitch-edged corners of cloaks. The bronze buttspike preserves part of a solid iron shaft (X 31). There is no evidence for the faces of these military statues (apart from locks of hair and sets of eye-lashes, in one case with traces of silver inlay). For an idea of what these Epeirote military honorific statues might have looked like, the bronze statuette, possibly from Dodona (Athens, Nat. Mus. 16727, third century?) is useful (K. discusses it at various points, and might have put more emphasis): it shows an armoured man, thoughtful, bearded, wearing an ornate composite cuirass, a long-sleeved thick chiton, a Corinthian helmet, and standing in the Doryphoros pose, complete with spear (and an indeterminate object-- a liver from an animal sacrificial victim?-- in his right hand).

The level of ornamentation is striking. The two preserved sword-grips are minor works of art in their own right, and K.'s careful descriptions and excellent photographs do them justice. How to interpret this material? K. sees the eagle head and the panther head as symbols of authority, warlikeness, power, "thumos" (109, based rather dubiously on a reference to Homer). Similarly, K. sees in the frequent motif of the thunderbolt a reference to Epeirote identity, linked to Zeus.4 But this is too selective: how is one to interpret the eight-ray starburst, present on a baldric (X 13, with silver inlay), a sash end (X 18), a shoulder-plate (X 26)? Ivy-tendrils snake down the baldric X 10, which also bears a plaque with a thunderbolt; a vine and a myrtle sprig, both of silver inlay, encircle the bronze buttspike, whose elegant fluting might be inspired by toreutic or furniture shapes. We should ponder the functions of the decorative: to allude to expense, to show status, to construct the visible military identity of a particular social group. The two sword-grips probably belonged to the statues of Krison (set up by the Bylliones) and of his son, Menelaos (set up by the Epeirote Koinon): the similarity of statues allowed for unity in spite of the differences in honouring body; the difference in details allowed for the appearance of individuality within stereotypical forms. In other words, the richness and ornateness of the military statues can be analysed as a fashion system, enforcing group identity but allowing individual variations.

The paradox is that these statues, at least in the case of the "bouleuterion group", date to a period (219-167) when the Epeirote Koinon, though hardly defenceless, was militarily rather weak;5 to use these statues as evidence for otherwise unattested Epeirote military activities and successes is risky and in fact misses the point of these statues. Is the military style apparent in Epeirote honorific statues a hangover from the royal period (and, indeed, a takeover of royal style)? Do its origins rather lie in archaic aristocratic display? Does it belong to a "federal military culture", to be sought in mainland Greece (Boiotia, Aitolia, Akarnania, Achaia)? Was the military style really dominant in Dodone, and generally in Epeiros? Or should we posit a more varied picture in the shrine -- royal statues, himation-men, women, private honorifics, the full register of honorific statues known from the rest of the Hellenistic world? Some of the bases might have belonged to different 'species' of statues altogether: votives, or 'auto-dedications'. The emergence, evolution, and meanings of the genre of the man-in-the-breastplate are now analysed in I. Laube, Thorakophoroi. Gestalt und Semantik des Brustpanzers in der Darstellung des 4. bis 1. Jhs v. Chr. (Rahden 2006), which K. usefully complements for the Dodone material. But even Laube's study of the Classical material (fourth-century funerary contexts, perhaps Athenian generals) does not allow us to perceive the origins of the West Greek and Peloponnesian military style.

The subject-matter is multi-disciplinary, and K. shows learning across disciplines. In return for all the things I learned, and to reward the reader for her patience, I venture some quibbles. The reconstruction of Milon's equestrian monument (31 and fig. 14) is unconvincing. The ornate butt-spike found near the base looks like it belongs to an infantry spear, and it could come from one of the statues on foot nearby (the relief of Polybios from Kleitor shows a spear with a large buttspike)--the parallels K. adduces mostly show horsemen with a slanted, not a shouldered spear; in any case, the butt-spike should not be carried upwards. K. states (32) that the equestrian statue of Milon is the only third-century non-royal such monument. This is incorrect: ISE 69 and 84, third-century epigrams for Boiotian officers, accompanied equestrian monuments.6 Hence there is no reason to assume that the equestrian base B2 belonged to a monument honouring a ruler rather than an Epeirote officer (35). Furthermore, the claim that the dedicatory inscription was carved on the lower moulding (cymatium) seems unlikely (33-4, repeating Evangelidis and Franke; rather a graffito).

Throughout, the inscriptions on the statue bases are incorrectly called "decrees": they are honorific inscriptions, embodying the end result of an honorific decree passed earlier, but not quoting its text. The monument honoring Krison Sabyrtiou, set up by the Koinon of the Bylliones, is dated by K. to 221-219, following Dakaris and Cabanes (46-58). But why should the monument date before 219 at all? The main argument offered by the excavator, Dakaris, is that the use of the base as a support for the inscription of a proxeny decree for a Boiotian shows that the statue had at some point beforehand been pulled down, presumably in 219 during the Aitolian incursion; the decree would have been carved on an empty base, the remnant of a destroyed monument. This argument has little force: statue bases at Delphi or the Oropian Amphiaraion were inscribed with decrees during the "lifetime" of their statues, and hence show that the inscription of proxeny decrees on statue bases has no implication for the absence of the original statue or the disuse of the monument. Krison's statue was the work of one Athenogenes (probably known as an Argive from signatures at Epidauros); the same man made a statue for Krison's son, Menelaos, and hence Dakaris supposed that both statues had been thrown down by the Aitolians. K. acutely observes (68) that the statue of Menelaos occupied an extremely prominent spot and dispels the idea that the statue base was left standing but vacant. The same argument applies for the statue of Krison set up in the area, and this statue must date after 219.

On Epeirote institutions, K. repeats Cabanes' theory of three strategoi (52-3), but he should give more attention to Ph. Gauthier's refutation (alluded to fnn. 316-17). The long discussion of the Bylliones (58-64) culminates in a declaration that they must have belonged to the Epeirote koinon. This is incorrect: even though the Bylliones were undoubtedly closely linked to the Epeirote state, the evidence suggests their institutional and political independence (for instance, they minted their own coins; they sent reinforcements on their own to Appius Claudius during the Third Macedonian War). The Oropian document concerning a Byllion (mentioned p. 58) should be quoted as Oropos no. 527; the theorodokoi list from Delphi (mentioned on the same page) is to be dated, for the main part, ca. 230-220 (rather than 229-189).7 The equestrian statue for Milon is dated, following Dakaris, soon after 219 (71); but the unique use of koine rather than dialect suggests a late date, close to 167.8 A fragmentary base apparently records a statue set up on the basis of an oracle (77), [μα]ντείας ἕνε[κεν καὶ εὐ]νοίας τᾶς εἰς αὑτοὺς (the first two letters should be dotted); the restoration is unparalleled in expression (contrast ISE 79 for a statue set up at Delphi after an oracle, [κατ]ὰ χρησμὸν): so e.g. [αν]δρείας ἕνε[κεν]?

In Chapter 4, various fragments are consistently said to belong to "leather cuirasses" (82), according to typology developed a while ago by art-historians; currently, archaeologists of arms and armour speak of composite ("linen") cuirasses, notably in view of the ineffectiveness of non-boiled leather against puncture.9

In the catalogue of bases B 5, which rests on the first course of the neighbouring bases, is said by K. for this reason to date after the destruction of 167; I see no reason for this statement since this type of phenomenon can be observed elsewhere (in Thasos in front of the great south-west stoa of the agora; in Priene in front of the stoa on the south side of the shrine of Athena; in the Amphiareion at Oropos). B 13 seems to rest on an earlier (pre-219) foundation, judging from fig. 10. B 26, from the photograph, seems to rest on a much larger foundation: either we are dealing with a monument (for instance for members of the same family) made up of several statues (standing on several bases) sharing the same foundation, or the base was set up, post 219, on an older foundation. In the catalogue of bronzes, X 29 and 30 are not sword-grips, but spear-butts; X 31 is not a spear-butt, but a spear-point.10


1.   εἰκὼν ἔνοπλος almost never means "statue in arms", as K. writes (28), but designates a portrait on a shield-like support: J. and L. Robert, Bulletin Épigraphique 1962, 203; G. Klaffenbach, "Noch einmal εἰκὼν ἔνοπλος", Philologus 107 (1963), 156-7. Clear examples of the expression (or similar ones) designating statues of armed men are IG 11.4.566 (Antigonos Monophthlamos; mentioned by K.), IGBulg I (ed. 2) 315, 388 (2), IOSPE I (ed. 2) 315.
2.   E.g. R. R. R. Smith, "Kings and Philosophers" and Paul Zanker, "The Hellenistic Grave Stelai from Smyrna: Identity and Self-Image in the Polis" in A. Bulloch et al. (eds), Images and Ideologies: Self-Definition in the Hellenistic World (Berkeley 1993), 202-11 and 212-30; Paul Zanker, "Brüche im Bürgerbild? Zur bürgerlichen Selbstdarstellung in den hellenistischen Städten", in Paul Zanker and Michael Wörrle (eds), Stadtbild und Bürgerbild im Hellenismus (Munich 1995), 251-73.
3.   An armed man is reconstructed by L. Robert for the statue of the Ptolemaic officer Neoptolemos, honoured in the first half of the third century by the citizens of Tlos for wiping out an invading force of Galatians and others (OMS 7, 546). Likewise, an armed man is proposed by S. Mitchell for the statue of a Galatian officer killed in a southern Anatolian war in the first century BC: "Termessos, King Amyntas and the War with the Sandaliotai", in D. French (ed.), Studies in the History and Topography of Lycia and Pisidia. Memorial Volume for A.S. Hall (London 1994) 95-105. On military images in the Hellenistic period, J. Ma, "Une Culture militaire en Asie Mineure?", in J. C. Couvenhes, H. Fernoux (eds.) , Les Cités grecques et la guerre en Asie Mineure à l'époque hellénistique (Paris 2004), 199-220.
4.   Plut. Pyrrhos 10.1 (discussed by K., p. 97). Less convincing is K.'s discussion at p. 70. After sacking Thermos in 218, the troops of Philip V inscribed a taunting verse by Samos, son of Chrysogonos, "You see how far the god's missile had flown" (Pol. 5.9.4): this reflects Macedonian concerns (Philip's greatness, cf. perhaps Anth. Pal. 9.518; the sack of Dion by the Aitolians); it is not "the hymn which the Epeirote soldiers sang when they took part in the events of Thermon" (K.), in spite of SEG 47.834 (an Epeirote dedication[?] to Zeus, which looks like Samos' verse), and does not help explain the Epeirote liking for the thunderbolt motif.
5.   P. Cabanes, L'Épire de la mort de Pyrrhus à la conquête romaine (Besançon 1976) 307-8. For a new document on Epeirote military activity, E. Lhôte, "Nouveau Déchiffrement d'une petite plaque de plomb trouvée à Dodone et portant une liste de 137 noms", in P. Cabanes, J.-L. Lamboley (eds.), L'Illyrie Méridionale et l'Épire dans l'Antiquité IV (2004), 113-31.
6.   J. Ma, "The Many Lives of Eugnotos of Akraiphia", Studi Ellenistici 16 (2005), 141-91.
7.   M. Hatzopoulos, "Un Prêtre d'Amphipolis dans la grande liste des théarodoques de Delphes", BCH 115 (1991), 345-7.
8.   Already P. Cabanes, L'Épire, 318 n. 165.
9.   E.g. A. Jackson, JHS 117 (1997) 246. K. does speak of composite cuirasses at p. 91.
10.   My thanks to Bert Smith and Jas Elsner for looking over this review and making helpful suggestions.

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