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Studies in Greek epigraphy and history in honor of Stefen V. Tracy

 | 
Gary Reger
, 
Francis X. Ryan
, 
Timothy Francis Winters

1. Athens and Attica

Chapter 13. Apollo and the Archons

Kent J. Rigsby

Texte intégral

  • 1 Nulton 2003. It is a shortcoming that the book has no indices, and appears not to have been proofr (...)

1In the north slope of the Athenian Acropolis, nature has shaped some shallow caves. Pausanias mentions two, attributing one to Pan and the other to Apollo (1.28.4). Kavvadias in 1896 established the identity of Apollo’s cave with certainty when he found in it several inscribed plaques dedicated to “Apollo under the Cliffs,” ύπο Μάκραις or ύπ’ ’Άκραις (the three texts of this type known before his excavation had not been found in situ). These small plaques, originally placed in niches in the cave wall, have continued to be unearthed, whether near the cave or carried elsewhere in Athens; they and the cult they represent have now been studied by Peter Nulton, whose corpus of the inscriptions contains 68 texts1.

  • 2 The “Makrai” are named again at 283, 937, and 1400.

2This has often been called the “Archons’ Cult”; the only dedicators are the basileus, polemarch, archon, thesmothetai, or their secretary. The Athenian toponym that gives the god his epithet is known otherwise only from Euripides’ Ion; but the dedications all date under the Roman Empire, from about AD 40 to the second half of the third century. Nulton concluded that the cult of Apollo under the Cliffs was new in Roman times, against previous scholars who, on the testimony of Euripides, attributed to it an Archaic or Classical origin. On the score of cult, Euripides admittedly is ambiguous, as Nulton saw (23): in a cave in the Cliffs on Pallas’ northern slope (ἕνθα προσβόρρους πατρας Παλλάδος ὑπ' ὄχθω τῆς Ἀθηναίων χθον òς Μακρὰς καλοῦσι γῆς ἄνακτες Ἀτθίδος, Ion 11-13) Apollo raped Creusa, and in that same cave (ές ταὐτòν ἄντρον οὗπερ ηὐνάσθη θεῷ, 17) she exposed the newborn Ion, whom Apollo then caused to be rescued and brought to Delphi2. Strictly speaking, no explicit aetiology is alleged in the play, no mention of cult resulting from the event. And in fact the cave has yielded no material evidence of sacrifice, only the plaques. As Steve Tracy has shown in his work, we should trust the stones first.

  • 3 Gawlinsky 2007, fr. A. 4-5 [Ἀπόλλωνα ὑπò] Μαòκραῖς [ἱερòν τέλε]ọν. on. I am most grateful to Dr. G (...)
  • 4 Obviously this question will be affected by the choice of animal–a lamb would be easier than a bul (...)

3But we now have a new piece of Nicomachus’ tabulation of the cult observations of the Athenian state, the general survey and revision that was undertaken at the end of the fifth century BC. The new fragment lists Apollo under the Cliffs as receiving, at some uncertain point in the year, an adult victim3. One may suspect that an animal was not wrestled up the steep slope to the cave itself, but rather slaughtered below the cave, beside the Peripatos, the walkway that passes along below the sacred spots on the north slope4. However that may be, a state sacrifice to Apollo under the Cliffs is now on unambiguous record in Euripides’ time.

4This might be thought to resolve the question of the age of the cult: it is at least as old as the Classical period. But we can still trust the stones–all of them. From a span of little more than 200 years we have, so far, nearly seventy dedications by archons or their secretaries to Apollo under the Cliffs, and none earlier, and not one by an idiotes. There are too many stones, and not enough archons, for this to be a chance or occasional gesture. That no such dedication survives from an earlier time shows that the “archons’ cult” did not exist before the early first century. Nulton, in short, was right: the plaques represent an innovation. But consisting of what, and under what logic? The Nicomachus list and the plaques each tell us something true; but they concern different phenomena, a Classical state-funded sacrifice versus a gesture of the archons in Imperial times.

  • 5 On the problems in defining public cult, see Aleshire 1994a.
  • 6 Nulton concluded from the latter silence that the priest of Apollo Patroos must have had charge of (...)
  • 7 Testimonia at Nulton 2003, 31-32; Parker 2005, 97.
  • 8 Tense is lacking when a noun is used rather than the participle: nos. 8, 11, 12, 16, 17, 19, 20, 2 (...)

5So the date and character of the archons’ cult are defined for us by the plaques. Perhaps “cult” is a misleading word5: there is no mention of sacrifice or a priesthood6 in these inscriptions. Pausanias, our other source of Roman date, offers only πλησίον Ἀπόλλωνος ἱερòν ἐν σπηλαίῳ, “nearby is a shrine of Apollo in a cave” (1.28.4). The plaques contrast strongly with the list of Nicomachus in the fifth century BC: that attests not to the archons’gesture as witnessed by the plaques, but to a state-sponsored animal sacrifice, its place in the year unknown. We can guess that this element of the state’s cult usages had long lapsed by the Julio-Claudian age. With the archons it is otherwise. Most of the texts are framed by an inscribed wreath–usually a crown of myrtle, which is what archons wore7. The verbs used are always in the aorist8, implying that one made the dedication upon retirement from office–laying down one’s crown. An example of the type is IG, II2, 2891 (Nulton, no. 1), Γ Ἰούλιος Μητρόδωρος Μαραθ θεσμοθετήσας Ἀπόλλωνι ὑπò Μακραῖς ἀνέθηκεν.

  • 9 An instance of a decree ordering the dedication of a magistrate’s crown in a temple: IK, 3-Ilion, (...)

6These inscriptions are so many as to imply a regular duty on the part of the archons to dedicate these little plaques. This points to a constitutional change, dating to the early first century, requiring this act of the archons as their last duty, to dedicate a plaque, and with it surely the crown of office itself9, to Apollo under the Cliffs. They will have been done this at their year’s end, in mid-summer.

  • 10 Cf. Hoff 1992, 223–232.
  • 11 E. g., Anth. Gr., 9.224, 297, Sel. Pap., III, 113 (Augustus), Anth. Gr., 287 (Tiberius), 307 (Gaiu (...)
  • 12 Cf. Robert 1938, 111-112 (both Nero and Athenian ephebes hailed as Heracles).

7How did this practice arise? Nulton (2003, 27-29) invokes associations of Apollo with Augustus10 and subsequent emperors, and a link of the archons to Apollo (for which he cites only Ath. Pol., 55.3, the archons’oath to having an Apollo Patroos–i. e., at home, as at Dinarch., fr. 11–and 55.5, which does not involve Apollo). Hailing emperors as gods was a conceit proper to the world of acclamations, statue bases, and encomia; that conceit is not adequate evidence to show ritual or cult. Greeks were equally comfortable calling Augustus and his successors Zeus rather than Apollo11. Such effusions are the rhetoric of praise, not confined to emperors, and they need not imply either cult or theology12. Identification of the emperor with Apollo, moreover, would not explain why it was Apollo under the Cliffs, or why this was the archons’ cult.

8I propose instead that when archons dedicated their crowns of office to Apollo, they were thinking of Apollo, not of the emperor, and of an Apollo peculiar to themselves; but there is also a Roman background, as the tabula ansata frequently seen on the dedications may hint.

  • 13 E. g., Dem. 18,141, τòν Ἀπόλλω τòν Πύθιον, ὅς πατρῷος ἐστι τῇ πόλει. For example, Nilsson 1961, 32 (...)
  • 14 Cf. Paus. 7,1,5, ἐπὶ ἡγεμονία τοῦ πολέμου and 9 πολεμαρχν Άθηναΐοις. Philochorus offers instead εβ (...)
  • 15 Cf. schol. Ar., Aves, 1527, Ἲων ὁ πολέμαρχος Ἀθηναίων. See Jacoby ad FGrHist, 323a, F 23, note 54 (...)

9The Athenians mostly spoke of Ion as the genealogical link through whom Apollo became their collective ancestor, Apollo Patroos13, honored by the kin-groups each autumn at the Apaturia. The archons for their part took no special interest in the purity of the citizen body–that was the duty of the kin-groups. But Ion had another aition as well: he was the first polemarch. The testimony to this begins early. Herodotus (8.44.2) admittedly uses a literary term, Ἴωνος ... στρατάρχεω γενομένου Ἀθηναίοισι, when Ion led the Athenians in battle against Eumolpus in the time of king Erechtheus14. But the Ath. Pol. is unambiguous (3.2): Ion was polemarch, the first to hold an office created alongside that of the king δευτέρα δ' ἐπικατέστη π[ολ]εμαρχία, διὰ τò γενέσθαι τινὰς τῶν βασιλέων τὰ πολέμια μαλακούς, ὅθε[ν κ]αί τòν Ἴωνα μετεπ[έ]μψαντο χρείας καταλαβούσης, “second was created the office of polemarch, because some of the kings were feeble in military affairs, which is why they sent for Ion when a need arose”15. That is, Ion’s appointment marked a change in institutions, the addition of an appointed magistracy to the ancestral office of king–in effect, his appointment began the college of archons, to which the eponymous archon later was added as third, and later still the thesmothetai to make up the nine.

10Apollo Patroos, with his temple among the public buildings on the west side of the Agora, was for all Athenians; the cave under the Cliffs was Ion’s peculiar place, where he was engendered and born. The cave was the scene of the only story about Ion’s presence in Athens before he took up his public role as polemarch as an adult. This, I suggest, explains why the nine archons came to see this cave as meant for them: here lay the beginning of their evolution as the senior magistrates of Athens, when the hereditary monarchy yielded to a college of officials.

  • 16 IG, II2, 1035 attests an ambitious program of restoring sacred places: Culley 1975 and 1977 (for a (...)
  • 17 Oliver 1941.

11The story of Ion the polemarch was old, but this political gesture was new in the Julio-Claudian period. Whether or not the state’s sacrifice attested in the Classical period still survived, the cave under the Cliffs was celebrated in the opening lines of Euripides’Ion, and the classically educated tend to know opening lines better than the remainder of a classical text. But more than a sudden urge to classicism in literature and to reviving old cults, though both of these were fostered in the Augustan age16, can be seen in a new requirement that a retiring archon dedicate his crown in Ion’s cave. For this ritual marked a personal transition, and a transition of heightened importance in the Roman period: the passage from archon to Areopagite. The Roman background to this heightened importance was not the emperor but the Senate. Many Greek cities of the Empire instituted a gerousia, or so relabeled their city councils; whatever its constitutional content in the different cities, the term itself implies an imitation of the Senate. Eventually these included Athens, where a gerousia was inaugurated in the 170’s AD17.

  • 18 See Geagan 1967, 32, 41-61, and 1974, 51-56.
  • 19 Cicero already in 61 BC: Senatus Ἄρείος πάγος: nihil constantius, nihil severius, nihil fortius (A (...)
  • 20 The testimonia are gathered by Levick 1983, 105-108; cf. Geagan 1974, 52.

12But Athens had from the start a unique advantage in this enterprise of emulation: structurally, the Areopagus was identical with the Roman Senate, each the club of former senior magistrates. The well-known rise in visibility and honor of the Areopagus in Imperial times18 reflects the awe in which the Senate was held. The feeling was mutual, and indeed Romans rather than Athenians may have led the way in promoting the dignity of the Areopagus and the analogy with the Senate19. The author of Acts, with his keen nose for who mattered in local society, has Paul addressing the Areopagus and welcomed by one of its members (Acts 17:19-34). Plutarch reports a law that Areopagites could not stage comedy, as it was felt to be beneath their dignity (ἄσεμον ἡγοῆντο καί φορτικόν, Mor. 348b). The date of the law is not stated; one thinks of the Roman legislation that barred senators from acting20. Among those listed as honoring a famous doctor-poet of the second century are Ἀθηναῖοι καὶ ἡ ἱερωτάτη Ἀρεοπαγειτῶν βουλή (TAM, II, 910), as though the two are of equal distinction.

  • 21 In the 170’s the two Athenian councils marched in a procession, first the Areopagus, then “the les (...)
  • 22 Geagan 1967, 1 n. 2 (“the archons” in a text of AD 210), 5 on some collegial acts (late II), 7-8 o (...)

13I suggest that the Areopagites of the Julio-Claudian age saw themselves, and not the Council of 50021, as the correspondent to the Roman Senate, and felt the need to mark their passage into such a dignity by a ritual act, conceived in memory of their first member Ion. This need was addressed by a new law, if we can judge from the large number of surviving dedications. Behind the practice lies also the growing perception of the nine archons as a college. Even while knowing that the offices had different names, originated at different times, and had virtually no joint duties, people came to speak casually of “the archons,” as we do (Aristotle in the Ath. Pol. had written carefully “the nine archons”; at 55.1 οἱ δὲ καλούμενοι ἒννεα ἄρχοντες); the expression “eponymous archon” to specify one of their number was coined in the first century22. This new spirit of collegiality hints at emulation of Roman ways. A college needs a patron, and surely a shared ritual–whence Apollo under the Cliffs and the archons’ceremonious gesture.

  • 23 Geagan 1967, 56; as in classical times: Wallace 1989, 94-97.

14A few scholars have held that thesmothetai of Roman times did not enter the Areopagus; Geagan has shown that they did, and the plaques can be said to support this23. And not only they, but also the secretaries are on record making these dedications (secretaries: nos. 4, 28, 29, 44, all showing crowns). The secretaries were citizens of dignity, who represented the tenth tribe for their year; we can suspect that Roman Athens generously included them in the Areopagus as well.

  • 24 Suet., Aug., 31,4; Res Gestae, 19 (Lupercal… feci).
  • 25 Suet., Aug., 94,4, citing Asclepiades of Mendes; Cass. Dio, 45.1.2. Cf. Weinstock 1971, 14.

15Augustus, finally, may after all have set the archons an example as well, though not as Apollo. For the Athenians may have known that he revived the Lupercalia and rebuilt the Lupercal24, the shrine-cave in which Romulus and Remus, begotten by another divine rape, were saved by the wolf. Perhaps too the Athenians knew the story, told in a Greek book, that Augustus was himself a changeling, a son of Apollo rather than of the inconsequential C. Octavius25.

  • 26 See generally Hoff & Rotroff 1997, especially the studies of Geagan 1997, Walker 1997, and Lambert (...)

16These dedications by the archons remind us how far Romanization might be a class phenomenon26. The gesture bespeaks a shift in the use of the myth of Apollo’s paternity of Ion: Apollo under the Cliffs commemorated not the genetic unity of the Athenian people (for that there was Apollo Patroos), but the dignity and collegiality of the archons as they entered the Areopagus–a shift in spirit from Classical democracy to Roman oligarchy.

Notes

1 Nulton 2003. It is a shortcoming that the book has no indices, and appears not to have been proofread.

2 The “Makrai” are named again at 283, 937, and 1400.

3 Gawlinsky 2007, fr. A. 4-5 [Ἀπόλλωνα ὑπò] Μαòκραῖς [ἱερòν τέλε]ọν. on. I am most grateful to Dr. Gawlinsky for early information about the new text.

4 Obviously this question will be affected by the choice of animal–a lamb would be easier than a bull. The climb is clumsy, and the level space offered by the cave floor is limited. But a cutting at the front of the cave has been thought to be for an altar: Keramopoulou 1929, 86-92. Kavvadias urged that the altar stone on which the archons took their first oath of office (Ath. Pol., 7.1 and 55.5) was here; but it has since been located in front of the Stoa Basileios, see Rhodes 1993a, 135-136. On the Peripatos and the sacred sites that line it see Glowacki 1991.

5 On the problems in defining public cult, see Aleshire 1994a.

6 Nulton concluded from the latter silence that the priest of Apollo Patroos must have had charge of the cult of Apollo under the Cliffs. But a place can be sacred without having a priest, or any element of cult–e. g., the sacred olive stumps of Attica.

7 Testimonia at Nulton 2003, 31-32; Parker 2005, 97.

8 Tense is lacking when a noun is used rather than the participle: nos. 8, 11, 12, 16, 17, 19, 20, 21, 27, 28, 34, 38, 44.

9 An instance of a decree ordering the dedication of a magistrate’s crown in a temple: IK, 3-Ilion, 3. B.

10 Cf. Hoff 1992, 223–232.

11 E. g., Anth. Gr., 9.224, 297, Sel. Pap., III, 113 (Augustus), Anth. Gr., 287 (Tiberius), 307 (Gaius), 355 (Nero).

12 Cf. Robert 1938, 111-112 (both Nero and Athenian ephebes hailed as Heracles).

13 E. g., Dem. 18,141, τòν Ἀπόλλω τòν Πύθιον, ὅς πατρῷος ἐστι τῇ πόλει. For example, Nilsson 1961, 328, thought Apollo’s ancestry a sufficient explanation of the plaques.

14 Cf. Paus. 7,1,5, ἐπὶ ἡγεμονία τοῦ πολέμου and 9 πολεμαρχν Άθηναΐοις. Philochorus offers instead εβοήθησε (FGrHist, 328, F 13) in order to achieve his etymological link with the Boedromia.

15 Cf. schol. Ar., Aves, 1527, Ἲων ὁ πολέμαρχος Ἀθηναίων. See Jacoby ad FGrHist, 323a, F 23, note 54 (arguing that Ion as first polemarch was Aristotle’s idea).

16 IG, II2, 1035 attests an ambitious program of restoring sacred places: Culley 1975 and 1977 (for an Augustan date); the date however remains disputed, cf. Baldassarri 1998, 242-246 (the generation after Sulla). On classicism in Augustan Athens see Bowersock 1979, 72-74.

17 Oliver 1941.

18 See Geagan 1967, 32, 41-61, and 1974, 51-56.

19 Cicero already in 61 BC: Senatus Ἄρείος πάγος: nihil constantius, nihil severius, nihil fortius (Att. 1, 14, 5). Earlier in the same letter: Pompey spoke μάλ ἀρίστοκραλτικῶς of the auctoritas of the Senate.

20 The testimonia are gathered by Levick 1983, 105-108; cf. Geagan 1974, 52.

21 In the 170’s the two Athenian councils marched in a procession, first the Areopagus, then “the lesser one”: ἡ μὲν Ἀρεΐω[ν], ἡ δ' ἑτέρη μείων (IG, II2, 3606.25-26)

22 Geagan 1967, 1 n. 2 (“the archons” in a text of AD 210), 5 on some collegial acts (late II), 7-8 on the emergence (from the mid first century) of the phrase “eponymous archon.” In the first century “the nine archons” together erected a statue of the herald of the Areopagus: IG, II2, 3540.

23 Geagan 1967, 56; as in classical times: Wallace 1989, 94-97.

24 Suet., Aug., 31,4; Res Gestae, 19 (Lupercal… feci).

25 Suet., Aug., 94,4, citing Asclepiades of Mendes; Cass. Dio, 45.1.2. Cf. Weinstock 1971, 14.

26 See generally Hoff & Rotroff 1997, especially the studies of Geagan 1997, Walker 1997, and Lamberton 1997.

Auteur

Classical Studies, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA

© Ausonius Éditions, 2010

Conditions d’utilisation : http://www.openedition.org/6540