BMCR 1995.05.12

1995.05.12, Ventures into Greek History

, , Ventures into Greek history. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994. xxvi, 401 pages ; 22 cm. ISBN 9780198149286. $67.00.

This collection of essays by scholars from Australia, England, Greece and the U.S.A., dedicated to N. G. L. Hammond, derives unity from its limitation to the aspects of scholarship for which Hammond is best known, i. e., Greek and Macedonian history and archaeology of the fourth century B. C. and source criticism. The introduction contains a personal impression of Hammond by E. N. Borza, a short Vita and a list of Hammond’s publications. The seventeen papers are divided into three sections devoted to source criticism (99 pages, 7 articles), archaeology (118 pages, 4 articles) and history (165 pages, 7 articles). There are 23 plates, 4 figures and a bibliography of the main works mentioned in the text.

The opening section on source studies stands in striking contrast to Hammond’s approach, which was based upon a much more literal and unified view of historical writing.

J. R. Ellis, ‘Thucydides 1. 105-108: The Long Walls’, concludes from analysis of the complicated rhetorical setting of his account of the building of the Long Walls at Athens that Thucydides brought the date forward from the late 460s to 458/7 partly to support the symmetry of the ring system he uses to emphasize the importance of the start of construction and partly to support his own contentions about the rational bases of Athenian strategy.

A. B. Bosworth, ‘Heracleides of Pontus and the Past: Fact or Fiction?’, examines fragments of Heracleides’ dialogue On Pleasure and suggests that the historical background in which invented anecdotes are embedded may contain traces of an otherwise unattested historical event, i. e., an unsuccessful Persian attack on Eretria in 499, perhaps as an offshoot of the ill-fated Naxian expedition of Megabazus.

F. W. Walbank, ‘Supernatural Paraphernalia in Polybius’ Histories’, finds evidence of many forces distorting Polybius’ historical analysis, such as the historian’s own career, his view of his obligations as a universal historian and an obsession for demonstrating patterns and similarities in the rise and fall of great empires. Polybius attributes these patterns inter alia to the activities of Tyche in the Hellenistic style, elevating the virtuous and felling the wicked on principles, Walbank argues, of Polybius’ personal preferences. Thus Tyche’s favour towards Philip II was due to the latter’s Peloponnesian policy (pleasing to an Achaean statesman), while her condemnation of Philip V, for the “monstrous crime” of allying in 203/2 with Antiochus III against Ptolemy V, was inspired by Polybius’ family connections with the Ptolemaic royal house.

M. Markle, ‘Diodorus’ sources for the Sacred War in Book 16′, admits that little of this book can be assigned to specific authors and limits his inquiry to Diodorus’ working methods and probable sources. Markle rejects Hammond’s view that Diodorus always lazily followed a single source and Hammond’s assignment to Diyllus of material not reflected in the latter’s meagre fragments. Starting from the differences in attitude to the Phocians on the one hand and to the Thebans and Philip II on the other, Markle breaks down Diodorus’ narrative of the Sacred War into four sections, assigning the first and third (neutral towards the Phocians, realistic towards Philip) to Demophilus, and the second and fourth (critical of Thebes, idealistic about Philip) to Theopompus directly, or indirectly through Duris.

R. D. Milns, ‘Didymaea’, proposes emendations and new interpretations for two passages in the new Teubner text of Didymus of Alexandria’s Commentary on Demosthenes. In the first (Column 5.51-63) Milns sorts out the probable sequence of events in the career of Hermias of Atarneus, suggesting that the correct order can be made to correspond with his emendations and that Didymus’ authority at this point was probably Theophrastus or some other early author, perhaps quoted by Hermippus, rather than the usual candidate, Hermippus himself. The second passage, (Column 11. 11-14) he uses to try partially to rehabilitate Didymus’ reputation by offering another plausible emendation that does away with the worst of the allegations about his scholarly carelessness but stops short of claiming that Didymus dealt with fundamental questions about the Demosthenic corpus or critically assessed divergent opinions.

A. M. Devine, ‘Alexander’s Propaganda Machine: Callisthenes as the Ultimate Source for Arrian, Anabasis 1- 3’, examines Arrian’s battle descriptions for language, atmosphere and accuracy, and discovers significant differences between the consistent and apparently edited versions of the first three great battles (Granicus, Issus and Gaugamela) and the later actions at the Hydaspes and Sangala. He suggests that the accounts of the early battles represent official releases drawn up by Callisthenes after consultation with Alexander, the later, less polished accounts being the work of Ptolemy, who may have used Callisthenes as a source for his own earlier material.

In the first article of the archaeology section W. S. Greenwalt, ‘The Production of coinage from Archelaus to Perdiccas III and the Evolution of Argead Macedonia’, analyses the numismatic record to supplement the poorly documented history of Macedonia in the first half of the fourth century. Thucydides’ attribution to Archelaus of sweeping military reforms is confirmed by the latter’s innovations in coinage production methods, revision of standards, and introduction of new weights and denominations, including heavy staters (pentadrachms?) based on the old, light tetrobol standard and perhaps designed to profit from a favourable exchange rate with Athens and to counter competition from the cities of Chalcidice. Macedonia’s collapse in the early fourth century is reflected by the staters of Amyntas III, which show a pattern of recovery, failure and a second, slow recovery to a modest level.

E. Fredricksmeyer, ‘The Kausia: Macedonian or Indian?’, opposes B. Kingsley’s contention that the chlamys, crepides and, especially, the kausia were of late Indian rather than traditional Macedonian origin. The similarity between the kausia and the chitrali, a cap still worn in Afghanistan and N- W. Pakistan is superficial, the iconographic evidence elusive and the literary evidence scarce, but Fredricksmeyer contends that all of Kingsley’s arguments are speculative and subjective, that Diodorus 17.7.2, 8 (from Cleitarchus?) is a reliable pre-expedition notice of the Macedonian kausia, and that all the references to it make best sense if interpreted as indicating that the kausia was a well known component of standard Macedonian dress.

M. B. Hatzopoulos, ‘Apollonia Hellenis’, reopens the dispute whether there was one Apollonia or more than one in the fourth century B. C. and renews the search for the site. After reviewing the ancient evidence, travellers’ and explorers’ accounts and modern studies Hatzopoulos concludes that there was only one, which he identifies with a site south of Lake Bolbe that he discovered in 1991.

J. Vokotopoulu, ‘The kalyx krater of Sevaste in Pieria’, describes the krater and stand found in 1986 by M. Bessios in the final burial in the tumulus at Sevaste dated to the second half of the fourth century and tries to fit it into the widespread series of such kraters from Macedonia and S. Italy. Despite close stylistic similarities in artefacts from these two regions Vokotopoulu resists the automatic assigning of this krater to Italianate workshops, because chemical analysis has proved silverware of the same style to be of Macedonian origin, and suggests that Züchner’s view of an artistic centre “outside the northern boundaries of Ionia” extending its influence as far as S. Italy may hold the key to the artistic relationships between the latter and Macedonia.

In the first of the seven papers devoted to history, ‘Text and context in the matter of Xenophon’s exile’, P. M. Green finds the literary evidence about the date and cause of Xenophon’s exile inconclusive and argues that Xenophon in his own writing suppressed the true cause. Assigning the decree for his exile to the earliest possible date, 399, Green believes that the alleged causes, Laconism and association with Cyrus, were only convenient pretexts, designed to cover a democratic backlash against oligarchic sympathizers, so that Xenophon’s exile along with the trials of Andocides and Socrates should be regarded as traces of democratic political correctness at work in early fourth century Athens.

T. T. B. Ryder, ‘The diplomatic skills of Philip II’, reviews the bases of Philip’s diplomacy in his relations with various Greek states, describing his use of bribery, exploitation of internal political tensions (Euboea) and intercity rivalries (Thessaly), and in the making of promises, sometimes fulfilled (to the Aetolians and Olynthians in the cases of Naupactus and Potidaea respectively) and sometimes broken (to the Athenians in the cases of Amphipolis and the peace of 346). In the Peloponnese, Philip just managed to hold his own against Athens despite the Athenian disadvantage of a pro-Spartan policy, while his conspicuous failure in central Greece was due to his inability to appreciate the interests and priorities of either Thebes or Athens.

E. Badian, ‘Agis III: revisions and reflections’, updates his previous views on Agis’ war against the Macedonians. Tracing Alexander’s movements from Arbela to Ecbatana, he suggests that Alexander’s probable ignorance about the outcome of this dangerous war in May of 330 gives a plausible motive for the burning of the palace area at Persepolis as a reminder to Greece that the Asiatic expedition was officially still a war of Hellenic revenge. In building his case Badian touches upon many topics of general interest such as Macedonian manpower resources, travel in the Persian Empire, communications between Greece and the expeditionary force, the army’s rates of march and the degree to which different parts of the conquered territory could be pacified.

G. L. Cawkwell, ‘The deification of Alexander the Great: a note’, argues that, although Alexander did claim to be the son of Ammon, there is no evidence that he regarded himself as a god or ordered Greek cities to recognize him as one. The proskynesis fiasco was only a poorly orchestrated attempt to establish a common court etiquette with no bearing on the divinity question. Alexander’s assertion before the Arabian expedition that he wanted to become a third god worshipped by the Arabians was a cynical witticism, the Attic orators’ complaints about the blurring of boundaries between the human and divine was probably due to the introduction of the worship of Hephaestion as a hero, the embassies to Babylon in 324 had nothing to do with divinity and Alexander thought of himself and Hephaestion latter-day heroes in the mould of Achilles and Patroclus.

Ian Worthington, ‘The Harpalus affair and the Greek response to the Macedonian hegemony’, restates the communis opinio about the Greek background of Harpalus’ later career; namely, that the Greeks, conscious of Macedon’s overwhelming military superiority, were seeking diplomatic solutions to the pressing problems caused by Alexander’s Exiles Decree. He argues that Ashton’s evidence for the contrary view—that Harpalus’ arrival interrupted an already existing conspiracy among the Greeks to rise in revolt—can be more naturally interpreted to support the orthodox picture.

E. J. Baynham, ‘Antipater, manager of kings’, surveys Antipater’s career, outlines the sources relevant to his long life, traces his family background and service under Perdiccas III and Philip II and emphasizes his interest in Greek affairs and in philosophy, and his close contacts with Athens. He administered Macedonia loyally in Alexander’s absence and handled Agis III’s war efficiently but suffered from the influence of Olympias and Cleopatra. His administration of Greek affairs after 323 was a triumph of patience, resilience, frugality and opportunism, and his treatment of Athens, moderate. His emergence at Triparadeisus was due to a blend of luck and skilful diplomacy, and his choice of a narrow power base in Macedon reflected his shrewd assessment of political reality. The only blot was his puzzling choice of Polyperchon as his successor.

E. D. Carney, ‘Olympias, Adea Eurydice, and the end of the Argead dynasty’, argues that the Argeads were doomed because of Alexander’s early death, the vulnerability of the heirs and the lack of mature male representatives to secure military power, the vital factor in protecting or obtaining legitimacy. The rivalry of Olympias and Adea Eurydice did not help, but their failure was not due to excessive interference in state affairs, obsession with revenge or above-average brutality. They waged separate losing battles against time until their popularity waned to the point where public sentiment could no longer protect them.

This is an interesting collection of new research that provides a valuable update on many different aspects of fourth century studies and serves as a fitting tribute to N. G. L. Hammond’s scholarly energy and versatility.