Table of Contents (Volume 30-31)

Volume 30: 2016

ERIC ADLER, Effectiveness and Empire in Tacitus’ Agricola, (1-14).

Abstract: Many scholars contend that Tacitus’ praise for Nerva and Trajan in the Agricola was heartfelt: only as his literary career developed did Tacitus prove condemning of the Roman Empire as a system. This article, in keeping with Bartsch’s notion of imperial doublespeak, argues against this claim, stressing that in the Agricola Tacitus can also be read as subtly undercutting the praise he included for the current emperors. It maintains that a key to Tacitus’ implicit criticism of imperial authoritarianism in the Agricola rests on the matter of effectiveness. Unlike all other categories of Roman leaders in the work, “good” emperors lack the ability to be effective agents of change. The Agricola thus carries important hints that Tacitus, far from disdaining Domitian alone, can also be interpreted as deeming the monarchical control of Rome problematic under any circumstances.


JENS JAKOBSSON, Dating of Timarchus, the Median Usurper. A Critical Review, (15-26).

Abstract: In this article, a later dating (c. late 161– 160/159 BC) is discussed for the rebellion of Timarchus in Media and Babylonia against the Seleucid king Demetrius I. This later dating is supported by Diodorus Siculus and Appian, while cuneiform evidence shows that Demetrius I was recognised as king in Babylonia as early as 161 BC, and Demetrius’ first Babylonian coins celebrate the defeat of Timarchus. The previous Seleucid king, Antiochus V, however, was acknowledged in cuneiform documents but issued very few coins in the Seleucid east. With this parallel, the author suggests that Demetrius may have been recognised as king in Babylonia before Timarchus’ brief invasion but only issued coins there after Timarchus’ defeat.


SALVATORE VACANTE, Wetlands and Environment in Hellenistic Sicily: Historical and Ecological Remarks, (27-42).

Abstract: The achievement of a comprehensive and satisfying environmental picture of ancient Sicily has so far eluded modern historians. The absence of convincing conclusions on the role effectively played by wetlands in the Greek period is particularly striking. In the early first millennium BCE, Sicily was an ecologically multi-faceted island. However, some relevant ecological modifications rapidly took place in the island. The evidence shows that in most of the Central-Eastern Mediterranean Basin indiscriminate deforestation and agriculture rapidly caused soil erosion, alluvial deposition, and formation of extensive marshes in the late Classical – early Hellenistic period. There is no reason to assume that Sicily made exception to this general process. However, although serious environmental imbalances likely assumed significant proportions here, an overall understanding of local phenomena is far from being achieved. The aim of the present contribution is therefore to provide new information and suggest possible interpretative models for local ecological processes in the proposed historical framework.


ANDRZEJ DUDZIŃSKI, Diodorus’ use of Timaeus, (43-76).

Abstract: It is quite widely accepted that the main source for at least most of the Sicilian parts of Diodorus Siculus’ Bibliotheke Historike was the lost work of Timaeus of Tauromenion.1 Although this attribution has become a basis of some bold historical interpretations,2 it also raises an important question—is Diodorus’ dependence on Timaeus established firmly enough for historical hypotheses to be build on this basis? In this article I will try to answer this question by careful examination of the positive evidence for Diodorus’ use of Timaeus’ work. I shall, however, limit myself to the evidence firmly based in the Timaean fragments as collected by Felix Jacoby in his Fragmente der griechischen Historiker. The aim of this article is neither a wide and complete study of Diodorus’ use of Timaeus, nor a disproving of Diodorus’ use of the earlier historian’s work altogether—it is merely to examine the positive and reliable evidence of Diodorus’ use of Timaeus’ work in order to create a sound basis for any further inquiry.


STANLEY BURSTEIN, Ptolemy III and the Dream of Reuniting Alexander’s Empire, (77-86).

Abstract: In this article it will be argued that Ptolemy III’s Asian campaign was subsequently reinterpreted in Egypt to minimize the extent of the king’s ultimate failure. In contrast to the Alexandria decree of 243 BC with its triumphal account of Ptolemy’s march to Susa, where he recovered divine statues looted by the Persians, the Canopus Decree of 238 BC treats the repatriation of the statues as the highlight of the campaign while limiting reference to its military aspects to a vague allusion to Ptolemy “fighting on behalf of Egypt against many peoples and their rulers.” Nevertheless, the fact remains that when Ptolemy III saw an opportunity to reunite much of Alexander’s empire, he took advantage of it; and that suggests that the seemingly more prudent foreign policies followed by Ptolemy III’s successors did not result from their adherence to an abstract doctrine of defensive imperialism as Polybius and his modern followers maintain, but from the practical reality that such policies were the wisest, and often, the only course available to them in the difficult political circumstances they faced.


PAUL KEEN, Political Power and the Decline of Epichoric Languages and Writing Systems in Hellenistic Cyprus, (87-102).

Abstract: The goal of this paper is to explore the ways in which power relations and issues of cultural and group identity interacted to form the epigraphic record in Hellenistic Cyprus. In eliminating the institution of Cypriot kingship, the Ptolemies also changed the relational aspects of power as epigraphically commemorated on the island. Deprived of the driving force behind the public epigraphy of the fourth century (i.e., the city- kings), and under control of the multi-ethnic Ptolemaic military-administration, Cypriots appear in many ways to have adopted the manner of commemorating power relationships employed by the imperial agents, and abandoned local writing systems in favor of a more communicable script and language to do so. Long used to autocratic rule, Cypriot cities and elites sought not to replicate the forms of expression used in their past, but instead adapted themselves to the new imperial situation brought on by the court culture and relational power dynamics of Hellenistic Kingship.

FRANÇOIS GAUTHIER, The Changing Composition of the Roman Army in the Late Republic and the So-Called “Marian-Reforms”, (103-120).

Abstract: This paper will examine the Marian Reforms, with particular focus on the alleged transformation of recruiting, equipment, and training. It will argue that the Marian Reforms are a myth created by modern historiography. What Marius did was neither new nor permanent—there is little convincing evidence for such “Marian” reforms, nor is there good evidence for the presence of large numbers of proletarii in the army after Marius. Thus, speaking of a “post-Marian army” is misleading as this entails that the Roman military was quickly and profoundly transformed by a single individual.


CHRISTOPHER TUPLIN, Fragmented Historiography: Sniffing out Literature in a Sharp-nosed Historian, (121-130).

Review Essay: E. Occhipinti’s The Hellenica Oxyrhyncia and Historiography (Leiden: Brill. 2016).

Volume 31: 2017

Paul Johnstono, Rumor, Rage, and Reversal: Tragic Patterns in Polybius’ Account of Agathocles at Alexandria (1-20)

Abstract: Polybius’ Histories include numerous digressions devoted to condemning writers who penned sensationalized, or tragic, history. According to Polybius, tragic history tended toward invention rather than strict truth, because its purpose was to entertain rather than educate. Polybius’ harsh words for popular historians did not stop him from occasionally indulging a sensational edge. His account of the regency and overthrow of Agathocles at Alexandria merits special attention in a consideration of Polybian historiography, for not only did Polybius compose a dramatic, sensational narrative, he also ended the account with a sharp rebuke to any historian who would use the fall of Agathocles to spin a grand yarn. The story is rife with corruption, unrest, and violence, but in the final tally Polybius drew no moral lesson from it. These factors invite consideration of the historian’s undivulged purposes in crafting an account that showed, rather than told, a historical lesson.


Frances Pownall, Dionysius I and the Creation of a New-Style Macedonian Monarchy (21-38)

Abstract: The influence of the royal ideology of the Achaemenid Persians on Philip and (especially) Alexander of Macedon has increasingly been recognized, but the role of Dionysius I of Syracuse in their creation of a new-style Macedonian monarchy has received less attention. I examine some aspects of the royal ideology of both Philip and Alexander that appear to be modelled upon precedents inaugurated by Dionysius: self-fashioning as the god Dionysus, the wearing of purple (which conveyed both elite status and magnificent display), the adoption of the diadem, the donning of ornate festal clothing previously reserved for athletic victors and performers on the stage, and the desire to engage in theatrical performances themselves. The biased portrayal of the Macedonian court by the Greek sources and the apologetic tradition on Alexander have given rise to the popular misconception that he gave little thought to his ruling ideology until his ‘orientalism’ following his conquest of Persia, denying any influence in its development either to Philip or to Dionysius, who as the ruler of a large multi-ethnic empire was his only real predecessor in the Greek world.


Christopher Kegerreis, Setting a Royal Pace: Achaemenid Kingship and the Origin of Alexander the Great’s Bematistai (39-65)

Abstract: Alexander the Great’s campaign significantly expanded Greek knowledge of Central Asia. While several experts assisted in this geographical collection process, none were as important as the bematistai, Alexander’s distance-measurers. The data collected by these specialists served as the foundation of Hellenistic mapping for the newly conquered regions. This paper is a reevaluation of the bematistai, notably their origin and the manner in which they collected their measurements. While the limited scholarly discussion concerning them has generally assumed that the specialty developed prior to the start of Alexander’s Asian campaign, this study suggests instead that Alexander borrowed from Achaemenid Persian collection practices and initiated this specialty unit mid-campaign. This late origination date demands a reconsideration of the methods the bematistai used to acquire measurements. While it has been suggested that they utilized measuring lines or even a primitive odometer to arrive at their measurements, a mid-campaign development suggests instead that these calculations were the product of pace counting.


Waldemar Heckel, Dareios III’s Military Reforms Before Gaugamela and the Alexander Mosaic: A Note (65-9)

Abstract: Nylander contends that the Persian infantry adopted the Makedonian sarissa before the battle of Gaugamela, having experienced the effectiveness of Makedonian weaponry at Issos. In support of this view he cites a passage from Diodorus, who says that the Persians were armed with longer spears. Hence, he argues that the sarissas depicted on the Alexander Mosaic, which point in the direction of Alexander, are those of the Persian infantry. Unfortunately, the term used by Diodorus for the lengthened spears is xysta. The xyston was a thrusting spear employed by cavalrymen, not infantry. In fact, the parallel passage in Curtius shows that the military reforms pertained to the cavalry and not the infantry. Badian cites Nylander’s work with approval, adding that the sarissa-bearers on the right side of the Alexander Mosaic are in fact Persians. A close look at the Mosaic shows that this is not the case. Neither the literary nor the artistic evidence supports the use of the sarissa by the Persian infantry. Nor can it be argued on these grounds that the Alexander Mosaic depicts the battle of Gaugamela.


TIMOTHY DORAN, Nabis of Sparta: Heir to Agis IV and Kleomenes III? (70-91)

Abstract: Sparta’s tyrant Nabis (r. 207 – 192 BC) has been pilloried by ancient commentators for his activities. Modern scholars have largely accepted these ancient views. Yet Nabis’ efforts are best seen as attempts to counteract Sparta’s population crisis that had started in the fifth century BC, just as Agis IV and Kleomenes III had done. His difference from their program was that he radically broke both from traditional Greek notions of the importance of descent- groups, and from the Spartans’ previous cultural policy of preserving the putatively pure eugenic bloodlines of the families comprising its body of full citizens, the Spartiates. This divergence is a significant, if under-examined, reason why Nabis’ contemporaries portrayed his reform efforts negatively, contributing to his downfall. It also caused later writers to view Nabis’ efforts harshly, resulting in a contemptuous neglect of this fascinating if chequered individual and his efforts.


CHRISTOPHER TUPLIN, The Great King, his god(s) and intimations of divinity. The Achaemenid hinterland of ruler cult? (92-111)

Abstract: Intimations of living royal divinity in Persian sources are indirect and fall short of a plain king-god equation. At best the king’s divine election enabled hints that there was a more- than-human flavour about him. But these are visual or verbal rhetorical tropes, and major uncertainties (e.g. about the winged disk figure) have a troubling impact. Classical Greek assertions of Persian royal divinity are rare: there is little sign Greeks thought Persians saw the living king as god, let alone worshipped him. Since Persian sources offer no unequivocal indications and since one expects Greeks to be wary about the idea of a divine Persian king (divinization of humans was supposed to reflect unusual excellence), the presence of any Greek assertions of Persian royal divinity is striking. But such assertions are not necessarily valid: for there remains a strong connection with misinterpretation of proskunēsis. These considerations accentuate three Greek ideas that deviate from simple king-god identification: the king as “image” of god, the king’s daimon, and Ahuramazda making the king’s light shine. These are not products of a Greek environment intemperately addicted to the idea of Persian royal divinity, so should perhaps be taken seriously. Individually all could be Greek tropes, but some have thought that daimōn and light evoke the royal khvarenah (a quasi-personal daimōn, evocative of sun-light). This evidence for a rhetoric of divine aura shadows that in Persian sources. The Persian situation was no disincentive to Alexander’s propensity to assign himself divine qualities; and promoting court proskunēsis among Greco-Macedonians invited a divine interpretation—and trouble.


MICHAEL KLEU, Philip V, the Selci-Hoard and the supposed building of a Macedonian fleet in Lissus (112-119)

Abstract: By concluding a treaty with Hannibal in 215 BC, Philip V of Macedon started the First Macedonian War (215-205 BC). After he had lost his fleet to the Romans in 214 BC, Philip conquered Lissus in 212 BC and thereby controlled an Adriatic port which could serve as basis for a new naval offensive against Rome. Although there is no direct evidence for such an approach, N.G.L. Hammond concluded that Philip had constructed a fleet of Illyrian lemboi in Lissus. This conclusion is based on bronze coins from Lissus and Scodra that seem to conform to the Macedonian coin series and on a report from Zonaras (9.6) regarding Macedonian operations near Corcyra in 211 BC. While the account of Zonaras has to be considered with caution, the bronze coins from Lissus and Scodra have, as primary sources, a high evidential value. Therefore, the article’s main focus will be put on these coins which belong to the Selci hoard and were published by Arthur Evans in 1880. Unfortunately, pictures of the Selci hoard’s coins have never been published since so that a mistake in Evans’s article has been copied in almost all later publications. The article will explain Evans’s mistake and offer a new discussion on the coins as evidence for Hammond’s conclusion regarding the supposed fleet of Illyrian lemboi that might have been built in Lissus. In the course of this discussion a new dating of the Selci hoard will be proposed.


DENVER GRANINGER, Late Argeads in Thrace: Religious Perspectives (120-144)

Abstract: This paper collects the principal ancient evidence documenting later Argeads (Philip II, Alexander III, and Philip III-Alexander IV) performing cult in Thrace; three divinities are prominent: Dionysos, the Megaloi Theoi of Samothrace, and Herakles. Three overarching observations are offered: 1) Argead cult activity in Thrace can be seen to resemble what is known of their cult activity in the Aegean and southern Greek world on one hand, and in the territories of the Persian Empire on the other; 2) While what may have inspired Philip II and Alexander III’s initial cult actions toward these divinities remains oblique, the preserved sources offer intriguing evidence for later cult actions conducted to these same divinities in Thrace by other elites from outside of the region, including some Argeads; and 3) Thracian sanctuaries and cult sites were a specific, physical environment where Argeads and local elites could have engaged one another and assisted in the development of the kind of Thraco-Macedonian cultural koine described by W. S. Greenwalt among others. The paper includes preliminary discussion of the historiography of: Argead kingship and religion; and cultural relationships between Macedonia and Thrace.


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