ElAnt v3n1 - Aspects of Power in the Ancient World

Volume 3, Number 1
June 1995


Humanities Research Centre, 
Australian National University, 
12-14 July, 1995 

Conference convener:
James McDonald
Classics Department
Australian National University
Canberra, ACT, 0200
e-mail: James.McDonald@anu.edu.au

Barlow, Jonathon (University of Sydney)

'Leadership as Metaphor in the Late Roman Republic'

Power is often perceived in terms of its physical manifestation: the insignia of office; the right to coerce; the display of dependants. The physical manifestation of power in turn often leads to the individual: the ability to lead; the exhibition of uirtus; the innate personal qualities of men in conflict. Little wonder the Roman Republic is read in terms of the deeds of great men.

I argue, however, that the metaphorical imagery of leadership is as important as its physical manifestation. A leader portrayed as vigorous and robust suggested a vigorous and robust Republic, while softness and decadence evoked an ailing Republic. Having analysed the schooling of four leaders against contemporary literature, I illustrate the power of conflicting imagery in the Roman Civil Wars.

Bassett, Sherylee (University of Western Australia)

'Power Politics Among the Ten Thousand'

The Greek mercenaries who in 401 B.C. accompanied Cyrus the Younger on his ill-fated attempt to overthrow Artaxerxes were left leaderless and isolated following the death of Cyrus and murder of their generals. Xenophon's Anabasis describes how they overcame internal disputes and external attacks to reach safety.

Using selected passages from the Anabasis, my paper will address the manner in which issues of power were resolved by this group of individuals who functioned rather like a moving polis, holding assemblies, electing leaders and voting on courses of action to be taken. Consideration will also be given to the techniques employed by Xenophon in his portrayal of the decision-making process.

Blanshard, Alastair (University of Queensland)

'The Power of Popular Conceptions: The Politics of Rumour, Gossip and Appearance in Aeschines, Against Timarchus'

To understand power, we need to understand the methods of control and production of truth and reality. Thus, a fundamental issue that we should examine is the manner in which the Athenians of the Classical and Post-Classical period could differentiate between truth and falsehood. Law-court speeches allow us to see this production of truth in action. In convincing the jury of a particular case and set of circumstances the orator, both intentionally and unintentionally, reveals the way in which the Athenians were supposed to view their world and their criteria for acceptance and rejection of ideas. This paper examines the issues of truth, power and proof in Aeschines, Against Timarchus. In looking at the propositions and the proof on which they rely, we see that gossip, rumour and preconceived notions are far more important issues in defining truth and believability than logic and deductive reasoning. Although the nature of this case tends to exaggerate the role that these issues play, these indicia of truth were important in the Athenian polis. In particular, they are consistent with the sociological concepts of honour and shame and the discursive constructs of the 'Other' and the distinction between slave and free.

Brown, Jennifer (University of Adelaide)

'The Bacaudae of Fifth-Century Gaul'

The Bacaudae of mid-fifth-century Gaul have been variously characterised by modern scholars as peasant revolutionaries or the manifestation of the growth of private aristocratic powers (i.e. aristocrats and their followers challenging state control). The mid- fith-century Bacaudae are directly mentioned by two sources, the Gallic Chronicle of 452 and the moralistic tract, De Gubernatione Dei, of the Gallic priest Salvian. It will be argued that these two sources are speaking of two disparate phenomena, tarred with the same epithet, which had perjorative, lower-class overtones. The Bacaudae described by Salvian were communities of bandits, living somewhat apart from Roman control. The Bacaudae mentioned in the Gallic Chronicle were provincial separatists. The catalysts for both movements were the excessive tax demands of the late Roman state and their unequal distribution.

Buxton, Bridget (Victoria University of Wellington)

'The Temple of Diktynna and the Romans in Western Crete'

The temple of Diktynna on Cape Spatha served as the major cultural and religious centre of western Crete for over 800 years, from the sixth century BC until the time of Commodus. This paper traces the history of the Diktynnaion and attempts to explain how it was able to maintain its preeminent position. During Classical and Hellenistic times, the temple catered mainly to the northwestern coast, and in her sanctuary the goddess was the protector of peaceful relations and business between the rival pirate cities. After the campaigns of Q. Caecilius Metellus, however, the western cities declined and Diktynna came to depend more and more upon Roman patronage. This was an arrangement which suited both parties. The sanctuary was the closest thing to a capital city which western Crete possessed, and its pro-Roman stance had an important propaganda value. The goddess profited in turn: at a time when many Greek sanctuaries were in decline, the Diktynnaion became extremely wealthy and attracted the attention of great rulers and religious leaders, including Apollonius of Tyana and the emperor Hadrian. This paper examines how the Diktynnaion and the Romans formed a mutually profitable alliance to increase their influence in Crete.

Calkoen, Helen (Monash University)

'Concepts of Power and the Gaze: The Erechtheion Caryatids'

This paper attempts to explore a number of issues associated with the artistic tradition of the Caryatids and the culture which generated their creation. The intertextual nature of the Erechtheion Caryatid is rich and Complex. The Caryatids' inheritances appear to draw upon a variety of archaic religious forms and artistic genres including: sculpture (especially korai figures), cult vessels, bronze mirrors and anthropomorphic architectural forms. Traditional korai forms may be acknowledged as signifiers of the physicality of the female (as 'body'), and recipients of the gaze, appearing to mediate the realms of exchange between the physical world and 'otherness', maintaining an expression which simultaneously registers an awareness but lack of engagement or response. Their gaze is controlled and enigmatic, the ultimate model of the virtue, sophrosune . These modes form the wider context for the Erechtheion Caryatid idea, ultimately providing troping elements appropriated and modified by the Western artistic tradition from the late classical to the post-modernist period of the twentieth century. Significantly, their implicit referencing and subtleties in departure from earlier models indicate a capacity to respond to manipulation within the specifics of site, architectural discourse and social circumstance of the classical epoch, and may possibly be interpreted as registering a shift in cultural values and the impending destabilisation experienced within Athenian culture. The architectural/sculptural concept of the Caryatid Porch indicates particularities of a classical point-of-view concerning the perception and representation of the female body within Greek culture, and more specifically within the perameters of spatial encounter and behavioural expectation. Moreover, the work appears to reflect an important artistic attitude towards the exertion of power and control in the ancient world, the politics of gender and the means by which such issues may have been negotiated.

Cheung, Ada (Monash University)

'The Creation of Imperial Auctoritas in the Consolidation of Accession'

Many of the aspects of the propaganda which surrounded each new princeps were intended to generate what may be termed imperial auctoritas - the creation of a general belief that it is the new incumbent alone who is worthy of empire. The themes covered in this process were the same for all principes from Octavian to Nerva: the propagation of omina imperii and other specific uses of religion; the evocation of the example of Divus Augustus (Octavian, naturally, excepted); the selective promotion of members of the princeps' family and other inlustres; the advertisement of a personalized set of Virtues; the sanitization of previous actions if necessary; and tangible displays of auctoritas principis.

Dawson, Stuart (Monash University)

'The Dating of the Synoecism of Attica'

It is conventionally held that the political unification of Attica occured around 800 B.C. Thus, the Attic state is seen as an extensive organized state from quite early times relative to developments elsewhere in Greece. There are reasons to doubt this extensive and early unification. Sociologically, Attica may be regarded as a protostate down to and under the Peisitratid tyranny. This paper consequently argues that the transition to full statehood (and with it the historical synoecism of Attica) occured with the Cleisthenic reorganisation of state and cult at the end of the sixth century.

Donnelly, Debra (University of Newcastle)

'Ptolemy I, a Victim of His Own History'

Ptolemy I Soter was arguably the most successful of the inheritors of Alexander's empire. He died in his bed at the age of 84 after having ruled Egypt for 40 years, and established a dynasty that lasted for 300 years until Kleopatra VII met her Roman nemesis. Ptolemy wrote a history of his time with Alexander which Arrian used as one of his two major sources for his Alexandri Anabasis, so giving us our most complete account of Alexander's campaigns. Yet Ptolemy remains an enigmatic figure, seen as a competent, if rather prosaic, member of Alexander's inner circle, but showing remarkable acumen as pharaoh of Egypt. This paper will attempt a portrait of Ptolemy I Soter as an historical figure and examine the difficulties presented by the primary material which have often seen this Successor misunderstood and underestimated.

Evans, Trevor (University of Sydney)

'A Semitic Etymology for the Greek and Latin Words for Purple'

The associations of the colour purple with power in Antiquity are well known. This paper will touch briefly on the reasons for and development of such associations. However, its theme is the notoriously elusive etymology of the Greek and Latin words for purple.

The etymology of the ancient Greek word porphura (purple) is unknown. This is the assessment of the great etymological dictionaries of Frisk and Chantraine. Ernout and Meillet have a similar view of Latin purpura, which is clearly related in both form and meaning.

The paper will explore the recoverable history of the words (did the Greek term originally mean 'purple' or 'purple fish', or was it, as the Linear B evidence suggests, a technical term relevant to the dyeing process?) and consider the provenance and production of purple dye in the ancient world. The industry had special links with Phoenicia.

A speculative Semitic etymology will then be offered. The notion that the word might belong with the numerous Semitic loans in the Classical languages is not new, but previous attempts to find a Semitic explanation have been failures.

Fraher, Rachel (University of Queensland)

'Manifestations of Power in the Burial Rituals of Iron Age Britain'

The study of burial ritual in Iron Age Britain as reflected in archaeological evidence has been determined in the past according to the type of framework used for understanding pagan Celtic religion. Those scholars who see 'Celtic' peoples isolated within a specific time frame and geographical location use burial ritual as a feature of Celtic religion distinctive from other contemporary populations such as the Romans, Greeks or Germans. A second approach towards Celtic pagan religion involves the extraction of certain rituals and beliefs from a corpus of material spanning a range of temporal and geographical locations, burial ritual being just one such 'universal' trait common to all 'Celtic' cultures, regardless of their location in time and space.

Both these frameworks for viewing pagan Celtic religion appear to have a number of weaknesses, the most obvious being the conflict between the theoretical concepts and the actual archaeological evidence. To resolve these issues, perhaps what is needed is a third perspective from which to view the religion of the Celts. A first step would be to assert that Celtic religion survived, from its inception, into the period of Roman occupation and even beyond. The continued practice of Celtic religion can then be explained by acknowledging its evolution or development throughout time.

Power as reflected in the organisation of a society is a force that is readily identifiable in both the archaeological and literary material. Charting the manifestations of power in Celtic religion would, thus, be an important tool for demonstrating the fact that pagan Celtic religion did change and develop throughout time.

The aim of this paper is to show that power as an effective force in society was manifested in the burial rituals of the pagan Celtic peoples of Britain. Following that, it will be demonstrated that different levels of power existed in society directly affecting the treatment of people in death.

Gillespie, Marion Hamilton (University of New England)

'Women, Literacy and Power'

The scope of this paper is Greek women's literacy in the Archaic and Classical periods, from c800 to 323 BCE. Were there any literate women at all during this time? The first part of this paper consists of a survey of both literary and material evidence to try to answer this question. Secondly, if there were women who could read and/or write, did their literacy empower them, or to what ends was it adapted in this male-dominated world?

Grafton, Margaret (University of Sydney)

'Anaximander and Sexual Difference'

[Anaximander was asking the question, 'what makes things different from one another?'. His question, came before Socrates and Plato. Binary opposition did not appear to structure and dominate thinking in the seventh-sixth centuries BC, and from the fragmentary remnants of this thought, a supposition may be made about the notion of pure difference or alterity. There seems to be an affinity between Anaximander's apeiron , from which he thought all things were derived, and Jacques Derrida's differance, a term coined to express the movement between things of difference. In the disparateness of these two thinkers, separated by two and a half thousand years, there are also implications for the issue of sexual difference, placed before us by Luce Irigaray. Feminist genealogy falters at the threshold of Platonic thought. It is as if the masking of a Presocratic and 'feminine' source, of justice, equality, and difference itself, and the reinscription of this erasure as trace, within the perameters of philosophical tradition, has silenced contemporary feminist scholarship.]

Harrison, Jim (Macquarie University)

'Redefining Patronal Power: the Apostle Paul and Ancient Benefaction Ideology'

The dependence of city-states and their inhabitants upon the generosity of local or imperial benefactors was a commonplace of the honorific inscriptions in the first century A.D. The Graeco- Roman honour system ensured that the moral and social status of the benefactor was deeply entrenched. Moreover, the suppliant position of the beneficiaries was reinforced ideologically by the convention of reciprocity.

The hostilities and social humiliation implicit in the benefaction system are disguised by the (almost) universally positive tone of the honorific inscriptions. However, the evidence of the epistolary theorists and the philosophers usher us past the polished rhetoric of the inscriptions into a more complex and threatening web of benefaction relationships. Here the raw nerve of ancient benefaction rituals lies exposed for all to see.

Against this backdrop, the paper explores the degree to which the apostle Paul embarks upon a radical redefinition of patronal power in his arrangements for the Jerusalem collection (2 Corinthians 8- 9). It will be argued that Paul abandons the trappings of patronal social status in his presentation of Christ as the impoverished benefactor (2 Corinthians 8.9; Philippians 2.5-11). This self- emptying of Christ explains why Paul implicitly critiques - by means of a novel understanding of charis - both the ethos of reciprocity and the traditional honour system. Importantly, Paul also elevates the social status of the beneficiaries by encouraging Christian communities to adopt the role of benefactor themselves. In this radical redefinition of patronal power, we are witnessing the democratisation of arete which up till then had been the preserve of the benefactor.

Harrison, Ursula (University of Tasmania)

'Patriarchy in Seneca's Phaedra'

This paper will examine the operation of patriarchy within the play, especially in regard to the father-son relationship of Theseus and Hippolytus. It will be viewed in the wider context of the Roman institution of the pater familias. I will draw contrasts between this play and the Euripidean version to emphasize my argument.

Hawley, Marjan (Victoria University of Wellington)

'Private Power, Public Result: The Repercussion of the Father's Power on Athenian Public Life'

The intergenerational conflicts and their resolutions, whether perceived or actual, are frequently attested in Athenian literature and forensic writing. These tensions can be considered as a training exercise for the participation in democratic government, in which the ability to resolve problems is vital. This paper examines the extent to which the father's power influenced this process, and its manifestation in the public arena.

Hay, Kathleen (University of Melbourne)

'Desert Domination: The Ascendancy of the Monk'

The rise of monasticism in Egypt in the fourth century had a profound influence on Church and State. The monks and their precursors, the Desert Fathers, by virtue of their abstinence, holiness and victorious battle over evil, came to represent to their society the spiritual heights which man could reach on earth. This conferred on them an ideological power which became apparent on a number of occasions. Weilding enormous influence on the members of the Church, the monks were harnessed at various times by the Patriarchs of Alexandria to enforce their theology on both the Church and the corridors of power in the city. Athanasius' use of St. Anthony, the Father of the monks, in his fight against Arianism laid the foundation for the actions of future Patriarchs. The actions against pagans, by Theophilus and Cyril in Alexandria, were spearheaded by the monks and reinforced the growing power of this group. It was, however, the theological dispute that erupted in AD 399 between the Origenist and the Anthropomorphite monks under the Patriarch Theophilus, that clearly demonstrated their authority and latent power. Moving from Egypt, the dispute escalated to Constantinople and produced dramatic reversals in Church and Imperial policy with important consequences for both.

Hayes, Matt (University of New England)

'Themistocles and the Persian Wars'

In this paper I shall retrace the strategies of Themistocles during the Persian Wars and in doing so attempt to discover whether Thucydides' judgement in I.138.3 is correct. Also briefly discussed will be the controversy of the use of the diekplous at Salamis. In his Histories, Thucydides says that Themistocles possessed uncanny native sagacity with regard to naval matters. An analysis of Themistocles' strategies, especially at Artemision and Salamis, shows Thucydides' opinion to be valid. It has been claimed by many modern historians that the diekplous was employed by the Greeks at Salamis. This claim will be assessed against the battle site and the type of ships involved.

Jennings, Victoria (University of Adelaide)

'Pindar and Theron: Reconciling the Metempsychotic Beliefs of Poet and Patron in Olympian Ode 2 and fr. 133 (Bergk)'

Pindar went to Sicily in 476BC. Olympian 2 is dated to this year; it was composed, along with Olympian 3 to commemorate the victory of Theron, ruler of Akragas, in the Olympic Games.

Olympian 2 has been seen to differ radically from the typical Pindaric formula for a victory ode - instead of being primarily a poem of praise, it has elements of a rather unusual eschatology and deals explicitly with metempsychosis/palingenesis (reincarnation). The poem illustrates the problem of reconciling traditional (Pindaric, Homeric) religious beliefs with those of the 'hot-house culture' (Woodforde) of semi-mystical cults of Magna Graecia - the result is, inevitably, an almost unintelligible confusion of detail. This illustrates the dilemma of the poet adopting religious beliefs which are foreign to him, at the wishes of his patron, and the problems which this has caused for interpreters who attempt to restore a coherent picture of metempsychotic belief (whether Orphic or Pythagorean) existing in fifth-century Akragas.

In terms of reconstructing Theron's beliefs, most commentators amalgamate the eschatology of Olympian 2 with the baffling Pindar fragment 133 (Bergk; quoted by Plato at Meno, 81b-c). It is the improbability of this reconciliation forming (or conforming to) a known coherent doctrine of metempsychosis which will be the focus of my discussion.

Johnson, Gary (University of Queensland)

'Royal Participation in Episcopal Elections in Merovingian Gaul'

This paper discusses the nature of royal participation in the episcopal elections of Merovingian Gaul. There are two aspects to royal participation, the approval of an episcopal candidate and the nomination of an episcopal candidate. A comparison of Merovingian Gaul and other contemporary kingdoms demonstrates the continuity of royal participation througout this period, as well as the differences caused by circumstances, the interest of the king in religious matters, the power of the king to enforce his decisions, and the orthodoxy or heterodoxy of the king. Considering the evidence leads to the conclusion that rulers only interfered in sees which they considered important, usually for political reasons. Furthermore, if a royal decision was not secured by election to the episcopate, it is clear that the decision could be reversed by the king's successor, who was not bound by his predecessor's promise.

Katsaros, Andrea (University of Adelaide)

'The Concept of Maritime Power in the Fifth Century B.C.'

The 'Old Oligarch', or Pseudo-Xenophon, wrote a political pamphlet in the second half of the fifth century BC. It has yet to be dated precisely, but estimates range from 440-415. Essentially, it is an attack on Athenian democracy, and part of the anonymous author's analysis of Athens' power concerns the thalassocracy which enabled her to maintain her empire.

Traditionally, land power supposedly represented and fostered virtue, while sea-power was considered to foster avarice and injustice. The 'Old Oligarch' confirms and deplores the relationship between sea-power and democracy (i.e. as Athens was dependent upon the sea, the sailors, oi poneroi , were therefore the masters of Athens).

My discussion will focus upon the philosophical and political dilemma which thalassocracy presented to the fifth-century oligarchic mind.

McAuley-Jones, Lesley (University of Queensland)

'Delphi: The Power of Prevarication'

The Delphic oracle is an institution that has appealed to the imagination of countless thousands over the centuries - unfortunately, in many instances, merely as a fortune-telling establishment whose success depended on ambiguous oracles which were all too often misinterpreted by the recipients.

The infamous oracle delivered to Croesus is the one on which the popular reputation for ill-judged ambiguity is based, and the obvious solution is to consign it to the realms of fiction, as a spurious response. Yet it is quite conceivable that such a response could have been delivered, if the Delphic oracle were faced with a situation in which it could not give a straightforward reply.

By investigating the circumstances which may have been operating at the time, and using a technique known as a decision- tree, (J.F. Magee, 'Decision-Trees for Decision-Making', Harvard Business Review, 42 [1964], pp. 119-38) it is possible to demonstrate that an ambiguous oracle was the only rational course of action open to the Delphic oracle - the only means of preserving its prestige as the premier decision-making body of the ancient world.

P. Maurice McCallum (Australian National University)

'Meleager in Context, the Power of One (Anthologist)'

Politically powerful leaders from at least the Peistratids and the Ptolemies to the Bolsheviks and the Nazis have seized on cultural influence to legitimate their regimes and to influence both elites and the masses. This kind of cultural manipulation is of its nature sporadic. There are other sorts of more constant influence (which may or may not be 'power', depending on how the latter is defined), of the world of culture over the 'real world'. The ability to influence, or to initiate, styles of expression is a sort of power, whether consciously exercised or an unexpected result of someone's doing what they felt driven to do, or merely wanted to do.

Individual writers such as Theocritus, and various coteries of writers and admirers, have been at the headwaters of very influential movements, in the particular case mentioned, of 'pastoral'. The western epigrammatic tradition seems to have been most directly shaped by Meleager of Tyre, later of Syrian Gadara, the subject of this paper. His mega-anthology seems to have directly influenced Philip and Agathias, and medieval Constantine Cephalus, to the extent that without Meleager the latter would not have done what they did. Papyri finds and a review of the documentary evidence allows us to suggest the degree of individuality of Melager's surviving achievement, and to trace its progeny. What we now call epigram is to be divided forever more, it would seem, into pre and post Meleagran periods.

A close look at the extant stone poems of the Greeks and at the more observable processes at work in exotic and familiar traditions of short poetry, oral, written and inscriptional, allow the historical imagination to reconstruct what Meleager had to deal with without total lack of responsibility, though proof for some points to be made in the paper may never be possible, for lack of hard evidence.

Some of these points are:

* How sure can we be that we 'have' large sections of Meleager's collection? * How did he make his collection? * What were his preferences in poetry? * How much did Meleager reflect the traditions of his times, and how much did he reshape them? * What Meleager-like works have been lost? * What was his real influence on other, well-known anthologisers of shorter poetry? * To what degree, especially in the Roman period, was competence in writing occasional poetry a badge or an expectation of those in high office? * How and why did Meleager's work survive? * Should it have survived?

As a result of long studies of epigraphic verse, not just in Greek, and with reference to the treatments now available in Fraser's Ptolemaic Alexandria and Cameron's The Greek Anthology from Meleager to Planudes the contributor will attempt a brief, 1990s review of Meleager's centrality and uniqueness.

McDonald, James (Australian National University)

'Did Aeschylus Owe the Areopagus?'

Few would dispute that the Elphialtic reforms of 462/1 were part of a wider power struggle between conservative and radical forces at Athens in which the latter triumphed. The claim that Aeschylus' Eumenides (in which Orestes is tried by the Areopogus) provides evidence of Aeschylus' own political view of these reforms has generated a vigorous debate. It is surprising that not one voice in this debate has seriously considered the evidence for the tragedian's own alleged trial before the Areopagus and acquittal from a charge of asebeia . It needs to be asked whether Aeschylus was personally grateful to the Areopagus. This paper will examine the evidence for Aeschylus' trial to see if it can throw any light upon the way in which the poet portrays the Areopagus and the parricide Orestes in the Oresteia.

Naylor, Greg (Monash University)

'Power Through Trade in the Eastern Mediterranean During the Late Bronze Age'

The primary focus of the paper will be Cyprus, as a major player in relations between Egypt, the Near East and the Aegean. Egypt's contacts with Crete, the Cyclades and mainland Greece have often been seen in relation to the Aegean perspective. Through Egypt's dealing with Cyprus, that brought it into contact with both, her attitude to the Eastern Mediterranean in general can be seen. Middle to Late Bronze Age Cyprus appears to have overcome internal division and confronted external conflicts between the major forces in the Levant and emerged as an important entrepot in the region. The island developed a primarily Near Eastern and Egyptian orientation in trade to gain this role as an entrepot; yet Egyptian influence continued and indeed Egypt contacted the Aegean through Cyprus. This appears as a result of the capacity of both the Egyptians and Cypriotes to adapt and seize opportunities when they were presented. The discovery of the reviticulation site at Marsa Matruh, off the North African coast, with the large quantity of Cypriote pottery of the late Bronze Age and indication of bronze smelting will be used as testimony to the success of these skills, as well as ceramic evidence from Crete, Syria/Palestine and Egypt.

Neil, Bronwen (Australian Catholic University)

'Anastasius Bibliothecarius: Papal Librarian, Translator and Diplomat'

[Anastasius played an important linguistic and political role between Rome and her two emperors, in the East and the North, in the late ninth century. He was interpreter for the papal delegation which was seeking recognition of the primacy of Rome in the church. The political nature of his role as librarian and secretary to three popes, notwithstanding a brief interlude as anti- pope himself, warrants careful examination. Much can be gleaned from his translation methodology, and his choice of works for translation. His methodology may be compared with that of his contemporary, John Scotus Eriugena. The work of both these translators has much to tell us about the status and knowledge of Greek in the early middle ages, and how this linguistic knowledge could be used to advantage in the complex power relations between church and state.]

Orchard, Darren (University of Newcastle)

'The Power of Assassination: the Conspiracy to Murder Nero in A.D.65 and Its Classical Precedents'

The Pisonian Conspiracy of A.D.65 was the first real opposition to Nero and his court, and the largest conspiracy to come out of the Julio-Claudian house. This paper will explore the motives and aims of the Pisonian conspirators (senators, equites, and rebellious soldiers) in an attempt to identify the nature of opposition to the Neronian court. A comparison will be drawn with past conspiracies, principally the successful plot to assassinate Caligula (A.D.41) and the failed revolt of Camillus Scribonianus against Claudius (A.D.42), to highlight the similarities and differences between the Pisonian Conspiracy and its immediate models.

Oxley, Graeme (University of Tasmania)

'Delicias suas, ... puer autem lippus, sordidissimis dentibus: Notions of Sexuality, Power and Disgust in Petronius' Satyricon'

Petronius' Satyricon occupies a unique place in the canon due to its portrayal of lower class Roman provincial life. One of the major issues arising from this portrayal is the confusion which occurs when the slave/master relationship becomes a homosexual affair, and the power relationships which are both reinforced and changed by the altered nature of the relationship. The response of Encolpius to the relationship between Trimalchio and his favourite raises important questions regarding the ethics surrounding such relationships. This paper explores these issues using Foucault's and Halperin's work on the place of homosexuality in ancient society as a basis for discussion.

Riley, Josephine (University of Newcastle)

'Semiramis: Was She a Powerful Queen or a Creature of Greek Myth and a Symbol of Oriental Splendour?'

Semiramis is a prominent figure in Greek myth. This paper examines the possibility that there is some fact behind the fiction. Justin, in his Epitome of Pompeius Trogus' Philillppic Histories, devotes an entire chapter (I.2.1-12) to the career of Semiramis and shows that deception and duplicity led to her acquisition of power. Diodorus gives a fuller account (II.4- II.20.4) but notes no deception in her accession to the throne of Assyria. The differences in these accounts will be considered.

The historically valid counterpart of Semiramis is thought to be Sammuramat, wife of Shamsi-Adad V and mother of Adad-Nirari III. Some claim that Sammuramat ruled Assyria for five years, either in her own right as queen, or as a regent. This opinion is based on the translation of an inscription of the Sab'a Stele. This translation has been questioned as mistaken and misapplied. The outcome of this debate will be discussed in the paper.

The Semiramis legend is resilient and the beautiful queen has been depicted in poetry and music as the symbol of oriental power wielded by an amorous and desirable woman. The question that this paper poses is: 'How much of the story of Semiramis has a basis in fact?'.

Ritchie, Paula (University of Adelaide)

'The Ultimate Symbol of Power: The Crown in the Ancient World'

The crown has long been recognised as a symbol of power, yet its use in the ancient world presents us with a paradox: women in Ancient Greece, one of the least powerful groups in that society, are at times depicted on vase paintings as crowned. It is, therefore, possible either that the equation of the crown with power was a later development, or that 'crowns ain't crowns'; that is, the enormous variety of crowns displayed in the ancient world do not all indicate power.

My paper will trace the iconographic history of the crown, primarily through art and coins, and will look at the variety of ways that leaders and monarchs chose to use this object for political and propaganda purposes.

Vincent, Andrew (University of Melbourne)

'P.Coll.Youtie, II 77: Some New Thoughts. Fourth-Century Egyptian Monasticism'

This text (P.Coll.Youtie, II 77) records the first attested use of the word monachos as an ecclesiastical title. It preserves the petition of Aurelius Isidorus son of Ptolemaeus complaining to the praepositus pagi that he had been severely beaten, almost to death, by two of his neighbours who had let their cattle graze on his crops. Isidorus goes on to relate that if Antoninus the deakon and Isaac the monk had not happened by he would have been killed. The questions that this paper will be addressing mainly concern the role that Isaac the monk and Antoninus the deakon had in fourth-century Karanis. It is the aim of this paper to place the petition of Isidorus into a social context and attempt to draw some conclusions about early fourth-century monasticism and fourth-century Karanis.

Vitkos, Con (LaTrobe University)

'The Question of the Origin of the Macedonian Politarchate'

[Soon after the military defeat which Perseus suffered at the hands of the Romans and the subsequent settlement of 167 BC, the term politarches began to appear in various inscriptions throughout Macedonia. The question whether or not the Romans instututed the politarchate in 167 BC has been, and is still, the subject of a long debate. However, in the course of the past two decades or so new inscriptions have come to light and formed the basis for fresh arguments in favour of a pre-167 BC origin. This paper draws attention to the difficulties associated with this position, and concludes by suggesting that the evidence at hand does not constitute sufficient ground for bringing this issue to a close.]

Wheatley, Pat (University of Western Australia)

'The Chronology of the Third Diadoch War, 315-311 B.C.'

In this paper I aim to rationalise the chronology of the third Diadoch war, 315-311 B. C., building on the work done from 1992-1994 by A.B. Bosworth on the chronology of 322-316. In brief, the problem is that the major source for the period, Hieronymus of Cardia, remains to us only in the work of Diodorus Siculus, 18-20. Hieronymus' chronographic system of recounting events as they fit into campaigning years, ending with the winter quarters of the respective protagonists, has regrettably been largely discarded by Diodorus, who superimposes his own chronographic system using Olympic, Roman consul, and Athenian archon years. The dislocation in the narrative engendered by Diodorus' method, which is unworkable for the purpose of transmitting Hieronymus, has been far reaching. The traditional 'high' chronological scheme for the period, established by scholars such as Beloch, which asserted the third Diadoch war to have started in 315, was seriously challenged by R.M. Errington in two articles (JHS 1970; Hermes 1978), resulting in a 'low' chronological school of thought postulating the beginning of the war in 314. Influential proponents of this system include W. Heckel, E. Badian, E. Anson and R.A. Billows. Recently, and in the light of new evidence, Professor Bosworth has challenged the 'low' chronology, cogently re-establishing the 'high' system for the years 322-316. My paper seeks to complement his work and solve the chronological problems of the succeeding years up to the peace of 311. In doing so I also will be addressing another problem which has engendered much discussion: the date of the battle of Gaza. Although generally agreed to have fallen within the Julian year 312, much scholarly debate has centred around the attestation of Demetrius Poliorcetes' winter quarters at Diodorus, 19.80.5, and it is uncertain whether the battle was fought in spring or autumn of that year. While this problem is not soluble beyond all doubt, I have analysed the numerous sources on Gaza, and drawn the most likely conclusion, based on these documents.

The method I have used in order to achieve the aims of this paper is to discern the chronographic system of Hieronymus within the matrix of Diodorus' historical narrative, and induce independent epigraphic, chronographic, and numismatic documents to fix the chronology in both a feasible and orderly sequence. The resulting perspective clearly exposes the fallacious nature of the 'low' chronological system.

The main documents analysed are: Diodorus 19.56-105; IG II (2) 450; Milesian stephanephoroi list, no. 123; Sidonian dated tetradrachms with Ptolemaic types for 312/11.

Wilson, Andrew (University of Sydney)

Marcus Aurelius: Imperator

Marcus Aurelius is everyone's favourite emperor. The myth has it that he was a paragon of rulers: the philosopher-emperor, reluctantly forced into wars to defend Rome from the barbarous enemies attacking her frontiers. The reason for such a one-sided view must be the survival of his book of private thoughts, usually referred to as the Meditations. The work's existence casts its shadow of contradiction over all our views of Marcus and temporarily hides a more plausible, albeit less intellectual, view of the emperor's behaviour. This paper attempts to examine Marcus Aurelius within his proper context; i.e. as all-powerful ruler of a conservative exceptionally powerful autocratic state, heir to Roman military and aristocratic political beliefs. Briefly I attempt to show that Marcus was not the reluctant philosophical leader of the myth, but one more in the long line of Roman imperialist emperors.

Wilson, Paul (University of Newcastle)

'Martial on Spectacula'

It is generally accepted that all but one of the thirty-three epigrams, which appear in the manuscript tradition under the title Liber de Spectaculis, form a significant portion of what was Martial's first book of epigrams, written to commemorte the Spectacula of 80AD, which was in turn conducted to celebrate the life of Vespasian, the construction and completion of the Flavian Amphitheatre and Baths and the accession of Titus. In this work, Martial, by describing events in the arena, emphasises the divine and secular powers of the new Caesar, either explicitly or implicitly. Martial returns to the subject of events in the arena at generic Spectacula twenty-three times in books I-XII, presenting fourteen epigrams which are thematically consisent with those in the De Spectaculis. In this paper, the themes of the De Spectaculis, as well as the nine epigrams deemed thematically inconsistent shall be examined in order to provide a clearer picture of Martial's views on the arena as an instrument of the imperial cult and possibly an insight into Martial's personal view of the often bloody events which took place there.

Woodcock, Ina (University of Queensland)

'Gender and Power: Profile of a Politically Elite Roman Woman'

This paper looks at the trinity of concepts: power, influence and authority. Which has most importance in the perception of political power? I argue for authority, or more correctly auctoritas. The paper considers the means at the disposal of Roman politically elite women to gain these qualities. The raw power acquired was harnessed into active power. These means almost invariably originated from private sphere resources, except for religious roles, which are mentioned in passing. (A detailed discussion of these is beyond the scope of this paper.) Although means originated in the private sphere, these women were able to make the effects felt in the public sphere, and most particularly, in the male domain of the political arena.

Wright, Andrew (University of Sydney)

'The Death of Cicero: Rhetorical Invention in Ancient Historiography'

The death of Marcus Cicero in November 43 BC is one of the most widely-evidenced of 'famous deaths' in the ancient world. Not only are we served here by our usual sources of information, such as Plutarch, Appian and Dio as well as the later epitomizers and chronographers, but thanks to Seneca the Elder we possess passages from important, and now largely lost, historians of the early Principate, including Asinius Pollio and Livy, as well as important 'editorial' commentary from Seneca himself. Yet the result of our possessing this large amount of evidence is not, as one might assume, clarification of the historical event, but rather obfuscation. Numerous anomalies and contradictions exist between the different sources, and in at least one case, almost certain proof arises that the historical record has been contaminated by a fiction generated by the practice of declamation. This in turn raises our suspicions regarding the origin and reliability of many other pieces of anecdotal evidence regarding this event. In a wider context, these accounts provide us with a powerful test case for the whole question of the rhetorical contamination of ancient historiography, which has recently been the subject of so much scholarly contention.

Text supplied in square brackets, [], was furnished by the convener

COPYRIGHT NOTE: Copyright remains with authors, but due reference should be made to this journal if any part of the above is later published elsewhere.

Electronic Antiquity Vol. 3 Issue 1 - June 1995
edited by Peter Toohey and Ian Worthington
ISSN 1320-3606
by Kaavya Giridhar