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Regionalism in Hellenistic and Roman Asia Minor

 | 
Hugh Elton
, 
Gary Reger

Unity, Diversity and Conflict in Hellenistic Lykia

Alain Bresson

Texte intégral

1Lykia is a rare case of a region of Asia Minor which preserved its unity and identity from the Classical down to the Roman period. This is why it deserves particular attention.

The Lykian country and culture

  • 1 Kolb & Kupke 1992, 2-8.

2Lykia presents three faces, i. e., depending on whether it is considered as an ancient administrative unit (the Roman province of Lykia), as a purely geographical, more or less arbitrarily defined space (but which can correspond to the Roman province), or as the place where the Lykians lived1. In the first and second senses, it is the whole region extending from the Indos river to the gulf of Attaleia. In the third, best defined as the zone where Lykian inscriptions have been found or Lykian cultural features have been observed, it was a more limited area, which extended from the environs of the gulf of Telmessos (Fethiye) to the gulf of Myra (Finike). In the Classical period and the greater part of the Hellenistic period, the inland plateaus of Kibyratis to the north-west and Milyas to the north-east, and the country of the Solymoi to the east, were not strictly speaking Lykian.

  • 2 Hall 1986 on the question of the complex relationship between Milyas and Lykia, esp. 151 (Lykian i (...)

3But even if we consider Lykia in the narrow sense of “territory where people of Lykian culture lived”, one fact is beyond contest: there is no geographical unity in Lykian territory. Mountain ridges separate at least three sub-regions. To the west, the long north-south axis of the Xanthos valley is isolated by two mountain ridges, though communication is easy with the gulf of Telmessos. To the center, the valley of Myros forms an inland plain isolated on all sides. To the east are the parallel valleys of Arykandos and Limyros, both with a more or less north-south direction. The central and eastern regions are close to each other, but distant from Xanthos valley. It is not chance that the port of Patara was the town which became caput gentis of the League in the later Hellenistic period (Livy 37.15.6). This proves that land communications were not easy between the different parts of Lykia. However, the existence of inland routes is also beyond doubt. Thus, the Milyas provided a wide axis of circulation2. We also know of Pisidian colonization in the upper Xanthos valley at Termessos Minor near Oinoanda. In the 130s, the children of the tyrant Moagetes of Boubon took refuge in Termessos (Major or Minor?) (Diod. 33.5a).

  • 3 Jameson 1973 esp. 267-271 (frontiers of Lykia); Bresson 1998.
  • 4 Robert 1983 (= Robert 1969-1990, 7.531-48), to be situated in the 260s or 250s.
  • 5 Bean 1948, 46-56, lines 8-29, 29-36, 46-49.

4This raises another question, which is the nature of the relations that Lykia could maintain with other Asia Minor regions, especially with its northern neighbors3. Basically Lykia looked to the south, to the sea, and this is the reason for early Hellenization (Lykia and neighboring Karia were the most hellenized regions in Classical and early Hellenistic times). On the contrary, the north could be considered as a hostile region, from which came looters and invaders. A Hellenistic epigram from Tlos praised a Ptolemaic official, Neoptolemos, who, probably as strategos, had protected Lykia against a raid of barbarians4. Some Thrakians, but also probably Pisidians had joined a party of Galatians. Later, in the second century, it may be suspected that the tyrant Moagetes of Kibyra, with his formidable army, who had dared to resist Manlius Vulso in his 189 campaign, must have been a difficult neighbor (Livy 38.14). At least, two generations later, the Orthagoras decree shows that in war or official peace the tyrant Moagetes of Boubon launched raids against Araxa, a Lykian city situated in the upper Xanthos valley, a frontier town with the northern highlanders; later, the affair turned into a war with Kibyra. The same text tells us of a war of the Lykians against Termessos5. The northern neighbors were in no way friendly people: the rich Lykian cities needed protection and if no foreign patronage was available, the only option was probably to build some kind of unity which could afford protection against possible intruders.

  • 6 For Le Roy 1996, 351-355, Greek became the official language in Lykia only when Mausolos took cont (...)
  • 7 Schmitt 1983.
  • 8 Bousquet & Gauthier 1994, esp. 356.

5Of course, for the Classical period, the common Lykian language was the basic link which unified the Lykian people. But this link weakens in the Hellenistic period. Our sources give no Lykian inscription after the end of the fourth century. As in neighboring Karia6, it is clear that in Lykia Alexander’s conquest is the turning point for a deeper Hellenization. However, does it mean that the Lykian language quickly fell out of usage? No ancient writer gives any clue on the matter. However, a comparison with other Asia Minor regions shows how long the process of Hellenization was. Even at the end of the Roman Empire, Asia Minor was still a patchwork of languages7. True, in Lykia Hellenization began very early. But the disappearance of inscriptions in Lykian does not prove the disappearance of the Lykian language. The persistence of a not insignificant proportion of epichoric names in the second century BC suggests that at least in this period the Lykian language was still in use. A subscription list of 140 names from the Letoon of Xanthos during the second half of the second century BC8 includes 20 non-Greek names (about 15 percent of the total), with some typical Lykian names like the theophoric Ermenenis or Ermadapeinis (“given by the Moon god”, i. e. Menodotos). These names are sufficient to suggest that the Lykian language had not yet wholly vanished. Admittedly, names can be transmitted even when their original signification has disappeared, but Greek culture was so dominant that even those names would have died out had there been no linguistic substratum to justify this persistence. So it seems a reasonable inference to suppose that Lykian was still spoken as a vernacular language in Lykia down to late Hellenistic times.

  • 9 Bousquet, 1992, 7.155-99.
  • 10 Bryce 1986, 111-114 and bibliography in Briant 1996, 1021-1023.
  • 11 Bryce 1983.
  • 12 Bousquet & Gauthier 1994.

6It has been stressed that the geographical features of their country led the Lykians more to political fragmentation than to unity. That from Hellenistic times down to the later Roman empire a comparatively rather strong federal organization could exist proves that geography cannot be a unique key of explanation. Lykian history of the Classical period attests to the existence of two centers of attraction, one situated in the Xanthos valley, another in the east. The Harpagid dynasty, whose power base seems to have been in the Xanthos valley, controlled the whole of western Lykia and the (Karian) Kaunos region, and extended its power to central Lykia9. In the second quarter of the fourth century, Perikles of Limyra managed to extend his rule for a brief time up to Telmessos10. Both the Harpagids and Perikles claimed to rule over all the Lykians11. The pendulum oscillated, a situation which corresponded to the duality of the Lykian territory. It is not chance that in the second century the demoi of Xanthos and Myra, each one of the most powerful cities in its own zone, felt obliged to strike on accord of isopoliteia12. They are proof of a definite will to keep unity despite geographic obstacles. In the Hellenistic period unity prevailed, either imposed by a foreign ruler (the Ptolemies, then the Rhodians) or the product of the will of the Lykians themselves in the period of independence after 167. But another fact should be stressed: the existence of a series of micro-regions which, for different reasons, lived a life of their own in the wider trend of Lykian history.

  • 13 Pol. 30.31,6, 31.4-5; Str. 14.2.2. Bresson 1999.
  • 14 See in detail Wörrle 1980, 63-72. Dorea for Lysimachos in 240: TAM, 2, 1 (OGI, 55).
  • 15 Troxell 1982, 212-213. Wörrle 1980 implicitly accepts Strabo’s statement that “when the kingdom wa (...)

7Some micro-regions were long separated from the core of Lykia by the will of a foreign power. Such was the case for the zone situated to the north and west of the gulf of Telmessos. After 197 it was occupied by Rhodes, and remained under Rhodian control for centuries with a brief interruption after 16613. Under Ptolemaic rule Telmessos was given as a dorea to Ptolemaios, son of Lysimachos14. The consequence of this particularism was that after the peace of Apameia, in 188, Telmessos was given to Attalos II and down to 133 constituted a Pergamenian enclave in Rhodian then independent Lykian territory. It is only very late, either after 133 or perhaps rather after Actium, that Telmessos became Lykian territory15.

  • 16 Wörrle 1978, esp. 236-246, and Bousquet and Gauthier 1994, 340-343. See also the case of the komai(...)
  • 17 Pace Bousquet & Gauthier 1994, 342.

8Moreover, several forms or regional or micro-regional links can be detected. The structure of many Lykian cities of the Classical or early Hellenistic period exhibited the distinctions between, for instance, the Xanthians (or Telmessians or Limyrans) and their perioikoi16 or, later, between the Xanthians (or Myrans or Kyaneans) and the inhabitants of their peripolia. The latter were clearly citizens of their cities, but the small entities included in the civic territory still had a personality of their own. This is not evidence for the evolution of the defensive structure of the territory17, but rather highly valuable information on the special structure that the Lykian cities maintained down to the later Hellenistic period.

  • 18 Wörrle 1978, 242-246; Zimmermann 1992, 123-141, and Bousquet & Gauthier 1994, 341.
  • 19 Coinage also points to close connections; neighboring cities sometimes shared dies. See Troxell, C (...)
  • 20 Bousquet & Gauthier 1994.

9Second, there are the sympoliteiai between some more powerful cities and their smaller neighbors18. Many cases are attested in the Roman period, but a new document of the Hellenistic period gives an insight into the concrete meaning of such arrangements. Dated to the beginning of the second century BC, it links Arykanda and Tragalassos, the site of which is still unknown but which can be situated in the mountainous district west of Arykanda (IK, 48-Arykanda, 1). The Arykandeis and Tragalasseis seem to have had the same “friends and enemies” (l. 9) and their soldiers shared the same missions in Syria (l. 10-11), probably in the service of Antiochos III19. Finally, the already mentioned convention between Xanthos and Myra of the second half of the second century BC sheds new light on the bonds which could be established between Lykian cities20. As the convention was established in the period of the Lykian league, it proves that such bonds were not superfluous and had a value of their own. It is clear that, notwithstanding the existence (or absence) of the league a network of micro-regional and regional links was maintained in Lykia that contributed to the region’s identity.

The Lykian League and Politeia in the Lykian cities

  • 21 Skepticism in Troxell 1982, 9-13, and Bryce 1986, 102-103; opposite viewpoint in Jameson 1973, 279 (...)
  • 22 Bresson 1999; source: Milet III, 46, l. 7; new chronology of Milesian stephanephoroi: Wörrle 1988, (...)
  • 23 Ptolemaic control: Bagnall 1976, 105-110, now to be completed by Wörrle 1977 and 1978.

10The existence of a form of federal structure in Classical Lykia is still an object of debate21. In Karia a kind of religious federal link existed as early as the first half of the fourth century (SEG, 40.991-2). Later, however, the disappearance of the Karian ethnos as such and different historical evolution in Karia prevented the creation of a federal organization. The first indication of the existence of the Lykian Hellenistic federal organization must be dated to 212/11: it can be inferred from the usage of an ethnic of federal type outside Lykia in the form Lykios apo Xanthou at Miletos22. It may be a safe conjecture that a Lykian federal organization of some kind was created with the approval and perhaps the active support of the Ptolemaic authorities23. There is no reason to doubt that the League continued to exist during the Rhodian period, 188-167.

  • 24 Larsen 1968, 240-263; Jameson 1973, 279-285; Bagnall 1976, 105-110.

11However, it was probably after the liberation of 167 that the League reached its full growth, and perhaps only then was a more formal organization established, as described by Artemidoros of Ephesus c. 100 BC. Strabo is the source on this point (Strabo 14.3.3). The League possessed its own institutions, army, and coinage24. But the isopoliteia between Xanthos and Myra of the second half of the second century BC provides one more proof that, notwithstanding the existence of the League, local citizenships were maintained. So Larsen was undoubtedly right when he proposed this interpretation, although at the time he could not prove it. He added that citizens of the different Lykian cities possessed only the right of epigamia and enktesis in the other cities of the Lykian koinon. Although definite proof is still lacking for the Hellenistic period, he might also be right in this. The isopoliteia between Xanthos and Myra shows that a special convention was necessary between two cities to guarantee each other, under certain conditions, the right of their citizens to become, if they wished to, citizens of the other city; but this was a bilateral relationship, not a general, multilateral one.

  • 25 Balland 1981, 177-190, esp. 177-180.

12The privilege described as politeuomenos de kai en tais kata Lykian polesin pasais, first mentioned in the dedication for Artapates of the Hellenistic period (TAM, II 261), must clearly be understood as “benefitting from citizenship in the whole of Lykian cities”25. It was granted by the Lykian koinon as such, not by the individual cities. Beyond the honorary aspect, undoubtedly the most important one, it can be suggested that the grant of this privilege by the Lykian koinon meant that, if he wished to, the honorand could become a real citizen of all the Lykian cities. This privilege concerned only a small elite, but its existence is the best testimony of the Lykian unity.

13Up to this point I have stressed the bonds between the different Lykian cities, culminating in the creation of a formal koinon. But Hellenistic Lykia cannot be considered an island of peace. We know of the local consequences of conflict between the great powers of the Hellenistic world, but also of threat from neighbors or Rhodian oppression during the islands twenty years of control of Lykia. These disturbances are linked with relations to the foreign world. What of Lykia itself?

  • 26 Bean 1948, 46-56, lines 36-42.
  • 27 Bresson 1999, with bibliography.
  • 28 Poem of Symmachos of Pellana: Bousquet 1992, 156, line A7.
  • 29 Stressed by Bousquet 1992, 178.
  • 30 Bean 1948, 46-56, lines 40-43.

14According to Agatharkides, the people of Arykanda, because of their taste for luxury, were severely in debt, probably towards their neighbors the people of Limyra, and they chose the Seleukid side (FGrH 86 F 16). They probably hoped that their debts would be canceled. Later, as mentioned in the Orthagoras decree, there was an uprising by Lysanias and Eudemos together in Xanthos and Eudemos alone in Tlos26. The text should be dated to the 140s or beginnings of the 130s, the uprising somewhat earlier. So it cannot be maintained that independence after 167 was a period of everlasting peace. It should be stressed that the affair was purely Lykian and that no foreign power was involved27. Although we know nothing of the origin of the conflict, we may speculate whether, as often, its background was not a problem of debts. Perhaps some adventurers were tempted to exploit the situation for their own profit. At least, the violence and the importance of the revolt, which involved Xanthos and Tlos, two of the most important cities of Lykia at the time, cannot be doubted. It is worth mentioning that at the beginning of the fourth century BC the famous Xanthian dynast Arbinas could boast having brought terror to the Lykians, who found in him a master (etyrannei)28. This was no Greek habit or wording29. More than two centuries later, the same words are mentioned in the Orthagoras decree (tyrannis, lines 42-43 and 45- 46), but this time in a bad sense: Eudemos and Lysanias undertook slaughter (cf. sphagai, lines 38 and 42) and uprisings to establish their tyranny. A third point must be underlined. It was the army of the League which quelled the rebellion30. This proves that the koinon was not indifferent to what happened in the poleis. The uprising could be a menace to the very existence of the League and this was the reason why the League was forced to react strongly to the movement.

15After 167 Lykia enjoyed independence, a situation unknown for centuries, and developed a federal state. But in this period we find again internal strife, just as in the period of half-freedom of the mid-Classical age. Only the existence of the League now prevented the development of revolutionary uprisings into new tyrannies over Lykia. Lykian cities maintained a whole network of bonds of all kinds. These bonds culminated in the creation of a League which left a wide margin of initiative for individual cities. It achieved an excellent compromise between oppressive centralization and complete anarchy. Compared to other Leagues of the Greek mainland, such as the koina of Aetolia or of the cities of the Spartan perioikis, the Lykian koinon was not original. But in Hellenistic Asia Minor, insofar as the ethnic koina such as the Ionian one can in no way be regarded as “federal states”, the Lykian ethnos was the only one to achieve such an institution.

Notes

1 Kolb & Kupke 1992, 2-8.

2 Hall 1986 on the question of the complex relationship between Milyas and Lykia, esp. 151 (Lykian immigration and control of lower Milyas in the Persian period). Ancient sources on Milyas: Bryce 1983, 236.

3 Jameson 1973 esp. 267-271 (frontiers of Lykia); Bresson 1998.

4 Robert 1983 (= Robert 1969-1990, 7.531-48), to be situated in the 260s or 250s.

5 Bean 1948, 46-56, lines 8-29, 29-36, 46-49.

6 For Le Roy 1996, 351-355, Greek became the official language in Lykia only when Mausolos took control of the region and the Lykian language was reduced to a minor position; the phenomenon would have happened earlier in Karia. But see also now Frei and Marek 1997, and Reger, this volume.

7 Schmitt 1983.

8 Bousquet & Gauthier 1994, esp. 356.

9 Bousquet, 1992, 7.155-99.

10 Bryce 1986, 111-114 and bibliography in Briant 1996, 1021-1023.

11 Bryce 1983.

12 Bousquet & Gauthier 1994.

13 Pol. 30.31,6, 31.4-5; Str. 14.2.2. Bresson 1999.

14 See in detail Wörrle 1980, 63-72. Dorea for Lysimachos in 240: TAM, 2, 1 (OGI, 55).

15 Troxell 1982, 212-213. Wörrle 1980 implicitly accepts Strabo’s statement that “when the kingdom was dissolved, the Lykians took [Telmessos] back again” (Strab. 3.4). But in the Mithridatic war, Appian still separates Telmessians and Lykians (App., Mith., 24) and the Telmessians’ first silver and bronze issues postdate Actium.

16 Wörrle 1978, esp. 236-246, and Bousquet and Gauthier 1994, 340-343. See also the case of the komai controlled by the Arykandeis, IK, 48-Arykanda, 1.13-14.

17 Pace Bousquet & Gauthier 1994, 342.

18 Wörrle 1978, 242-246; Zimmermann 1992, 123-141, and Bousquet & Gauthier 1994, 341.

19 Coinage also points to close connections; neighboring cities sometimes shared dies. See Troxell, Coinage, 111-84.

20 Bousquet & Gauthier 1994.

21 Skepticism in Troxell 1982, 9-13, and Bryce 1986, 102-103; opposite viewpoint in Jameson 1973, 279-280, and 1980, 832-833.

22 Bresson 1999; source: Milet III, 46, l. 7; new chronology of Milesian stephanephoroi: Wörrle 1988, esp. 431-437.

23 Ptolemaic control: Bagnall 1976, 105-110, now to be completed by Wörrle 1977 and 1978.

24 Larsen 1968, 240-263; Jameson 1973, 279-285; Bagnall 1976, 105-110.

25 Balland 1981, 177-190, esp. 177-180.

26 Bean 1948, 46-56, lines 36-42.

27 Bresson 1999, with bibliography.

28 Poem of Symmachos of Pellana: Bousquet 1992, 156, line A7.

29 Stressed by Bousquet 1992, 178.

30 Bean 1948, 46-56, lines 40-43.

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