BMCR 2009.08.51

Le prossenie ateniesi del IV secolo a.C.: gli onorati asiatici. Fonti e studi di storia antica; 10

, Le prossenie ateniesi del IV secolo a.C.: gli onorati asiatici. Fonti e studi di storia antica; 10. Alessandria: Edizioni dell'Orso, 2004. 358. ISBN 9788876946769 €25.00 (pb).

[Table of Contents at end of review]

Le prossenie ateniesi is a collection of all known fourth century BC Athenian inscriptions awarding proxeny to individuals from Asia. Avoiding literary examples, Enrica Culasso Gastaldi is concerned exclusively with the sixteen secure epigraphic cases of proxeny. In the introduction, Culasso Gastaldi places her own views within modern thinking on proxeny. The core of the book, however, is an in-depth epigraphic and historical study of each inscription. In addition, there are two appendices. The first treats of four fragmentary inscriptions previously associated (wrongly in Culasso Gastaldi’s opinion) with one or another of the sixteen texts. The second deals with nineteen lacunose and uncertain texts, one of which is analysed in detail. Arguments and views raised in the introduction are expanded and elucidated throughout the individual commentaries.

Of the relatively little focus that the study of ancient honours has received, proxeny has received the lion’s share. An early work by Paul Monceaux set the bar and analysed the form, function, and distribution of proxeny. This was later updated by Christian Marek in a work of very similar focus. Proxeny also lends itself to greater focus in both its purpose—see André Gerolymatos on the gathering of political and military intelligence—and its geographical and chronological distribution. Thus, Denis Knoepfler produced a detailed and brilliant monograph on Eretrian proxeny and citizenship decrees, while Michael Walbank produced an equally thorough and focused analysis of fifth century BC Athenian proxeny decrees.1 Culasso Gastaldi follows this trend and continues Walbank’s work by focusing on proxeny in fourth century BC Athens.2 Indeed, Culasso Gastaldi is particularly well suited to a study of this kind, having already worked extensively on both proxeny and fourth century Athens.3

Exclusively epigraphic, Le prossenie ateniesi reinforces Monceaux’s statement that “l’importance des proxénies Grecques est une des revelations de l’épigraphie” (Monceaux 1885: vii). Each of the twenty-one texts analysed by Culasso Gastaldi is accompanied by a full epigraphic commentary of admirable detail: measurements, descriptions, bibliography (individual to each fragment as well), and previous editions. There are full lemmata and useful notes on alternate readings. Culasso Gastaldi has autopsied each stone, in some cases more than once (nos. 1, 3, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 16, 20), and some of her results have already been published elsewhere (nos. 3, 6, 13).4 There are two commentaries for each text, one epigraphic and one historical; the former relates to the stone itself and the latter to its historical context. It is perhaps to the historical commentary that Culasso Gastaldi devotes most attention.

The book concludes with a detailed bibliography and very useful indices of literary and epigraphic sources, names (both transliterated and in Greek), Athenian tribes, ethnic and social groups, gods and festivals, and toponyms, all of which make this in-depth epigraphic study more accessible and manageable.

In her introduction, and throughout her textual analyses, Culasso Gastaldi argues that the view of proxeny as a purely political or military tool used for information gathering clouds the much wider basis of the institution. She emphasises how proxeny could potentially be hereditary, or at least constructed around family ties (nos. 2, 3, 12). She also argues against the view that proxenoi had to be resident in their mother city. Instead, merchants were by their nature mobile and served Athens’ interest wherever grain was readily accessible (nos. 10-12). With the rise of the Hellenistic court, Athens’ interests were best served by proximity to the King, not the proxenos’ fatherland. The diversity of proxenoi is also emphasised: merchants and, perhaps, metics give gifts of grain (nos. 9-12), kings and citizens aid embassies (nos. 1, 5), and individuals pay for the ransom of Athenian citizens (no. 14).

Culasso Gastaldi analyses only texts from Asia, Cyprus, and Clazomenae. This decision may seem strange, but she is following the terms of the King’s Peace of 387/6 BC, which defined these areas as the limits of the Great King’s control of the Greek world (Xen. Hell. 5.1.31). This is a welcome approach, in that it applies a 4th century boundary to 4th century evidence. However, it seems to have been a choice of convenience (space?) rather than scholarly interest and it leaves the book somewhat disjointed: not quite a holistic study of 4th century Athenian proxeny and not quite a study of Athenian political relations with Asia in light of (and following) the King’s Peace. This is a shame since Culasso Gastaldi has much to say about both.

The lack of focus arises because Culasso Gastaldi selects her texts based on the geographical boundaries determined by the King’s Peace but then does not bring the texts together and analyse them in light of it (a closing chapter similar to her introduction could have filled this gap). This left me with many unanswered questions. Are there differences between Athens’ 4th century Asian proxeny decrees and those from elsewhere in light of the King’s Peace? Did the Peace alter Athens’ use of proxeny in Asia from the 5th to the 4th centuries? Indeed, one can question Culasso Gastaldi’s choice of the Peace’s geography as a viable criterion for the entire century. The Peace lasted from 387-335 (Arr. Anab. 2.1-2). For Culasso Gastaldi’s texts, this means that nos. 1-3 predate the Peace and nos. 7-9 are not concerned with it, while nos. 10-16 (almost half her core texts) date from after the destruction of the Persian Empire.

Nonetheless, the Peace, and its boundaries, could offer a political and geographical structure for Culasso Gastaldi’s analyses. The Peace provided the prototype for a whole series of 4th century Common Peaces and Leagues: the Second Athenian Confederacy (378/7), Philip and Alexander’s League of Corinth (337), and even the Leagues of Antigonos and Demetrios between 315-301 (Nesiotic, Hellenic etc.). Indeed, the Peace never really died. Rather, it, and its precedent, was modified and adapted by Athens, Philip, and others to serve their own needs at their own times. Perhaps then the Peace’s Nachleben presents a feasible structure for analysing these texts. How did the Peace and its geography apply after its demise, and how can we view these texts within a constantly adapting political climate framed by the continual presence of Greek Leagues based on the King’s Peace and expanding from it?

Structural problems aside, Culasso Gastaldi discerns numerous developments in Athens’ use of proxeny. In the early fourth century Athens re-extended its reach after the Peloponnesian War, developing an anti-Spartan basis to her international relations (nos. 1-4). By the mid-fourth century relations with Sparta were normalised and Athens was concerned more with the Satraps’ Revolt and the Social War stoked by Mausolus of Caria (nos. 5-6). The grain shortage of the 320s and Macedonia’s control of the Hellespont forced Athens to focus more on conserving her grain supply at this time (nos. 10-12).5 Finally, however, Athens’ concern for Samos and her leadership in the Hellenic War lead to a renewed interest in political and military concerns (nos. 13-14). Culasso Gastaldi has espoused some of these views elsewhere, and for a fuller and more rounded exposition one should also read her chapter in Angeli Bertinelli and Donati, where she argues again for different phases in the function of proxeny in fourth century Athens.6

Culasso Gastaldi goes some way towards highlighting the geographical distribution of proxeny, emphasising how in the fourth century Athens had proxenoi in many of the same cities as in the fifth century: Abydos, Herakleia, Halikarnassos, Parion (p. 32 n.62). More generally, two clear spheres of interest appear: the Hellespont, where Athens held old economic and military connections, and the Levant, where grain was forthcoming and Piraeus’ Phoenician population provided fruitful economic connections. In light of this, the book would have benefitted greatly from a map, particularly one that located not only Athens’ Asian proxenoi but also those from the rest of the Greek world, thus emphasising also the wider geography.

Le prossenie ateniesi provides full, up to date, and easily accessible new editions of all of the inscriptions analysed. It should now become the first point of call for one researching any of these texts. However, since publication, some of these texts have again been published, if only provisionally, by Stephen Lambert in advance of IG II 3.7 The majority of these cases consist of bibliography and basic information, supplemented by a few notes, thus adding little to Culasso Gastaldi’s full discussions.8 Two, however, are analysed in more detail and must now be read in conjunction with Culasso Gastaldi’s editions.9

This book has an excellent selection of photographs. Each inscription is professionally photographed showing that high quality images are both practical and feasible in an affordable paperback. Speaking from Edinburgh, where personal access to stones is far from simple (or affordable), the availability of clear and professionally taken photographs is an immense aid to one’s research. It aids understanding the text as part of a physical, archaeological monument, and allows for the independent checking of an editor’s readings. As a case in point, I refer to no. 12. The opening line of Culasso Gastaldi’s text reads: […6… Ἰτα]λίαι […16…]. In his own preliminary publication of the decree for IG II 3, Steven Lambert read the preserved traces as “a certain alpha…[then a] central vertical (top not preserved, *932;32; possible); Λ…or perhaps Κ; uncertain traces of the bottom of a central vertical”.10 In Culasso Gastaldi’s photo an initial alpha is indeed clear (right diagonal and central crossbar), and the central vertical of letter two cannot be restored as an un-dotted iota, as Culasso Gastaldi has done since a tau is equally possible. Thus, the printing of a high-quality photograph allows the reader to analyse critically, even correct, the editor’s reading and avoid misinterpretation of the evidence.11

A methodological point on the use of squeezes arises here. Squeezes can be of great help in reading obscure or damaged letters and should always be used in conjunction with autopsy. In her lemmata, when referring to her study of the monument, Culasso Gastaldi does not make mention of squeezes. One is unsure, therefore, whether any squeezes exist, let alone which of them have been consulted. To be sure, autopsy remains the primary criterion for study, but as stones inevitably deteriorate, earlier squeezes should be used whenever possible. It is perhaps of note here that high quality images of squeezes of some of Culasso Gastaldi’s texts are available online via the websites of Ohio State University and the Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents in Oxford.12 At the very least, the existence of squeezes and their location should be mentioned. If images of some are available online then reference should be made to them. This presents the reader with greater resources, allowing them to not only check the editor’s readings, but also further their own research.

The nature, function, and meaning of honours is an increasingly popular but still vastly understudied aspect of the ancient world. Generally speaking, there are two approaches. One can separate honours like proxeny, asylia, and enktesis and analyse them individually. This is by far the most popular method and is indeed the style that Culasso Gastaldi follows. However, honourands were frequently awarded many honours at the same time, and Culasso Gastaldi’s examples are no exception.13 We should then also treat honours holistically, analysing their inter-relation and obvious importance as part of a collection. Although we await further work of this nature, individual studies of individual honours continue to provide insights into not only the history of the Greek world, but also into its social, cultural, and epigraphic life. Culasso Gastaldi’s work falls firmly into this bracket. Culasso Gastaldi’s control of material is enviable. Her ability to approach and scrutinize epigraphic sources, one grounded in long experience, is excellent and the level of detail in her discussions is impressive. Her thorough knowledge of both literary and epigraphic sources, as well as 4th century history and institutions, ensures a measured analysis that keeps her commentaries on a sound footing. Meticulously researched, well presented, and an excellent example of epigraphic analysis, this volume will be of great interest and use to epigraphists, historians, and students of honours and institutions. It is consistently insightful into fourth century Athenian (and Greek) history as well as the development and meaning of proxeny.14

For ease of reference, I have numbered each text consecutively (Culasso Gastaldi numbers texts anew with each appendix). Also, if a text has been mentioned in SEG since the publication of Culasso Gastaldi’s book then I have added that reference. Introduction (pp. 11-34),
1. Herakleides of Klazomenai (early 4th century): IG I 3 227 + II 2 65 [=SEG LI 32] (pp. 35-56),
2. Two families of Abydos (c.394): IG II 2 49 (pp. 57-66),
3. Anaxagoras, Artemon, and Kydias of Iasos (c.390): IG II 2 3 + 165 [=SEG LI 67] (pp. 67-88),
4. Phanokritos of Parion (387/6?): IG II 2 29 (pp. 89-102),
5. Straton, King of Sidon (360s): IG II 2 141 (pp. 103-124),
6. Apollonides of Halikarnassos (354/3): IG II 2 136 (pp. 125-136),
7. Demokrates, Son of Euboios, of Lampsakos (351/0): IG II 2 205 [=SEG LIV 117] (pp. 137-146),
8. Protomachos (mid-4th century): IG II 2 117b (pp. 147-56),
9. Individual of Phaselis (3rd quarter of 4th century): IG II 2 285 [=SEG LIV 179] (pp. 157-164),
10. Herakleides, son of Charikleides, of Salamis (325/4): IG II 2 360 (pp.165-182),
11. Apollonides, son of Demetrios, of Sidon (320s): IG II 2 343 [SEG LIV 175] (pp. 183-192),
12. Apses and Hieron of Tyre (320s): IG II 2 342 + Hesperia 40 (1971), 181 num.29 [=SEG LIV 157] (pp. 193-204),
13. Son of Admetos of Priene (320s): Agora XVI 111 [=SEG LIV 173] (pp. 205-222),
14. Hermo[—-] of Herakleia (318/7): Agora XVI 104 [=SEG LIV 184] (pp. 223-244),
15. Individual from Abydos (last quarter of fourth century): IG II 2 540a (pp. 245-254),
16. Sostratos (of Herakleia) (last quarter of 4th century): IG II 2 419 [SEG LIV 189] (pp. 255-262),
Appendix I: Un-associated Fragments
17. Kephisodoros, son of Demetrios, of Abydos: IG II 2 540b (pp. 265-68),
18. Unknown Individual: IG II 2 117a (pp. 269-74),
19. Unknown Individual: IG II 2 535 (pp. 275-78),
20. Unknown Individual: IG II 2 414d [SEG LIV 179] (pp. 279-82),
Appendix II: Lacunose and Uncertain
21. Theophantos: IG II 2 368 [SEG LIV 183] (pp. 285-94),
22. Uncertain cases (pp. 295-98).


1. Monceaux, P., Les Proxénies Grecques (Paris, 1885); Marek, C., Die Proxenie, Europäische Hochschulschriften: Reihe 3, Geschichte und ihre Hilfswissenschaften 213 (Frankfurt am Main, 1984); Gerolymatos, A., Espionage and Treason: A Study of the Proxeny in Political and Military Intelligence Gathering in Classical Greece (Amsterdam, 1986); Knoepfler, D., Décrets Érétrians de Proxénie et de Citoyenneté. Eretria Fouilles et Researches 11. (Lausanne, 2001); Walbank, M., Athenian Proxenies of the Fifth Century B.C. (Toronto, 1978).

2. Walbank planned his work in three volumes, with a second on the fourth century and a third analysing the institution of proxeny (1978: vii); neither volumes two nor three have appeared.

3. Her publications are too numerous to list here, but the eleven items included in the bibliography (p. 305) offer a representative sample.

4. “Un decreto ateniese di prossenia per tre individui di Iasos (IG II 2 3 + 165), ZPE 142 (2003), 109-18; “Atene e l’oriente nel IV secolo a.C.: alcuni spunti di prassi politica”, in Studi sull’Europa antica II, edited by M. Sordi, (Alessandria, 2001), 125-44; “Una bulé ateniese a Samos? Per una rilettura di Agora XVI 111”, ZPE 143 (2003), 111-22.

5. An important arena also lay to the west (IG II 2 1629.128-302, 350, 499).

6. “Per un bilancio comparativo sulle prossenie ateniesi del IV secolo a.C.”, in M.G. Angeli Bertinelli & A. Donati, Il cittadino, lo straniero, il barbaro, fra integrazione ed emarginazione nell’antichità. Atti del I Incontro Internazionale di Storia antica, Genova, 22-24 maggio 2003. Serta Antiqua et Mediaevalia, VII (Roma, 2005), 45-75. Reviewed: BMCR 2006-11-10.

7. “Athenian state laws and decrees, 352/1-322/1: III decrees honouring foreigners. A. Citizenship, proxeny and euergesy”, ZPE 158 (2006), 115-58.

8. C(ulasso) G(alstaldi) 7 = L(ambert) 14; CG 9+20 = L 26; C G 11 = L.50; CG12 = L 44; CG13 = L 46; CG16 = L 49.

9. CG10 = L 43; CG 21 = L 41.

10. Op. cit. note 7, p. 133 n.76.

11. In his editio princeps of this fragment ( Hesperia 40 (1971) 181 no. 29), Ronald Stroud also printed an alpha. The image in Hesperia (plate 32) is not, however, as clear as that published by Culasso Gastaldi.

12. Nos. 13 and 14 Nos. 1, 3, and 21

13. Nos. 1 (enktesis, ateleia), 10 (enktesis, military service, payment of eisphora), 11-12 (enktesis).

14. Incidentally, the document relief used on the cover is now on display in the new Acropolis Museum (No. 3 = IG II 2 165 = EM 2787).