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Sacred and Public Land in Ancient Athens$

Nikolaos Papazarkadas

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199694006

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199694006.001.0001

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(p.296) APPENDIX VI The Split of the Salaminioi and the Eponymous Archon Phanomachos

(p.296) APPENDIX VI The Split of the Salaminioi and the Eponymous Archon Phanomachos

Sacred and Public Land in Ancient Athens

Papazarkadas Nikolaos

Oxford University Press

The archon Phanomachos, whose name occurs in the preamble of the Hellenistic arbitration of the Salaminioi, has been considered, ever since the editio princeps, as the eponymous archon of Athens, rather than the archon of the genos, and probably for good reason.1 Otherwise unattested, Phanomachos had long floated throughout the third century,2 before being placed in the year 265/4 of the notorious Athenian archontic list for lack of better candidates, a date ostensibly strengthened by the lettering criterion.3 Now, under any other circumstances the date might have passed uncontested. However, 265/4 was not a random year; it fell well within the Chremonidean War, or, on another view, it marked its outbreak.4 Of course, for the advocates of the latter view Phanomachos could not belong to 265/4, since this slot is reserved for the archon Peithidemos, but, on the other hand, they have never bothered probing into the issue of dating Phanomachos. Recently, however, Osborne, faute de mieux, reassigned Phanomachos to the year 263/2.5 This replacement might appear to have certain merits, even though ones probably not fully realized by its proponent, but, unfortunately, things are far from clear.

I must clearly state my case in advance. From a historical perspective, to place Phanomachos in 265/4, 263/2, or any other year during the Chremonidean War presents major difficulties, for how likely is it that the two gene would have embarked on an arbitration concerning their landed assets, while the war was still raging? In his excellent recent monograph Oliver (p.297) convicingly showed that the Attic countryside was particularly affected during the conflict.6 The opinio communis is that Sounion, unlike Rhamnous, was constantly under Macedonian occupation from 287 down to 229.7 The disputed property lay in the area of Sounion, within the grip of Macedonian troops garrisoned there. The decree recording the arbitration was found in the Agora and was certainly set up in the Eurysakeion. The findspot along with the inscription’s content presupposes open access to Sounion and is incongruent with a war situation. Now, it is generally assumed that the Chremonidean War seriously interrupted the effort of cultic rejuvenation that started after Athens’ independence of 287/6.8 What is more, there is internal evidence in our arbitration that the structure of the Salaminioi had been severely affected by the political situation; the Salaminioi of Sounion and the Salaminioi from the Seven Tribes are portrayed as distinct gene, rather than as two branches of the same association. This has been implicitly understood to be the inevitable result of a gradual separation between the two Classical branches. But if the geographical distance had not prevented the two branches from cooperating over a long period—and it is reasonably assumed that the Salaminioi had already been a bicellular organization by the time of the Cleisthenic reforms—one should seek a more palpable reason to explain the eventual split. In my view, the cause is none other than the political exigencies of the early Hellenistic period. The idea is not new; it was first expressed by Ferguson in his masterly editio princeps, but, surprisingly, it has received no attention whatsoever.9 For a large part of the third century Sounion was under Macedonian domination, but then again so was Athens.10 It was probably only during the Chremonidean War that the two branches would have been de facto hindered from jointly performing their ancient rites. Surely, such a split would have affected their whole structure and regular operation. We could envisage a situation whereby the Sounian branch kept performing the gentilician rites in the Herakleion of Porthmos, whereas the Seven Tribes branch would use the Eurysakeion. Such a situation might have continued for as long as the Chremonidean War lasted. By the (p.298) end of the War the split would have been crystallized and the two branches would have counted as separate gene. This reconstruction opens various possibilities: first, that Sounion was firmly in Athenian hands when the arbitration was inscribed, an unlikely scenario. Second, that the archon Phanomachos was not actually the eponymous archon of Athens, but rather the main magistrate of the genos. Third, and in my opinion more likely, that the eponymous archon Phanomachos has been misplaced in 265/4. A cursory look at the archontic list would suffice to demonstrate that such a placement is only tenable somewhere in the late 260s or in the 250s.

To recapitulate. For contextual reasons, it seems highly unlikely that the dispute between the two gene was resolved during the Chremonidean War. The settlement must have happened at a time when communication between the urban centre of Athens and Sounion was open, but I concede my inability to fix this point chronologically on any firm grounds. The lettering would allow any year between 286/5 and c.239.11 For reasons I highlighted above, the end of the Chremonidean War should probably be a terminus post, rather than ante, quem.12 At any rate, it seems prudent to remove the archon Phanomachos from the 265/4 (or 263/2) slot which has been assigned to him by those scholars who place the Chremonidean War between 268/7 and 263/2. The onus of finding a new location lies with them.13


(1) Ferguson 1938, 69; Lambert 1997b, 99, and 1999b, 119.

(2) See e.g. Meritt 1981, 89.

(3) 265/4: Osborne 1989, 229–30; accepted hesitantly by Walbank in Agora XIX L4b; see also Lambert 1997b, 89 n. 3. Lettering: Tracy 1988, 305 and now idem 2003a, 86.

(4) The chronology of the Chremonidean War constitutes one of the most vexed questions of Athenian chronology. 268/7 (archon Peithidemos) is the date favoured for its inception by Heinen 1972, 213; Bouraselis 1982, 158; Osborne 1989, 216; Steinhauer 1995, 140–1; Habicht 1997, 142–5; Tracy 2003a, 15 with n. 2. The placement of Peithidemos in 265/4, advocated by Meritt (e.g. Meritt 1981), is still favoured, albeit hesitatingly, by Woodhead in Agora XVI, pp. 275–6; Dreyer 1999, 374 and passim. For a recent conspectus see O’Neil 2008, 68–71. Note, however, that Byrne 2006–7, 175–9, has now dated Peithidemos to 269/8.

(5) Osborne 2000, 519–20 n. 42.

(6) Oliver 2007, 127–31 (‘The territory of Attica was at the heart of the conflict’).

(7) Lauter  1988, 32–3; Lohmann 1993, 250; Habicht 1997, 130; Goette 2000, 55; Habicht 2003, 52–3; Goette 2003, 160 (who asserts Macedonian occupation of Sounion only for the duration of the Chremonidean War); Oliver 2007, 148; O’Neil 2008, 74.

(8) See especially Mikalson 1998, 105–36; cf. Mari 2003, 90–1. It is often maintained that Piraeus, its cultic nexus included, was hit particularly hard by Macedonian domination (Taylor 1997, 230–1, offers a synopsis though she eventually downplays the effects of Macedonian control); Sounion might have been affected in a similar fashion.

(9) Ferguson 1938, 74.

(10) But as Goette 2003, 160 has shown, and Oliver 2007, 120 accepts, Sounion was in Athenian hands at least in 298/7.

(11) Thus Tracy 1988, 304 and, mainly, idem 2003a, 80–98, esp. 86, where he assigns the Hellenistic arbitration to the Cutter of Agora I 3238 and 4169, providing a vague date of c.240 for archon Phanomachos (cf. idem 2003a, 168).

(12) Only for the sake of bringing the arbitration in line with my interpretation of it as regulating distress caused by the Chremonidean War, I would favour, extremely hesitantly, the year 261/0, which has been left unassigned by Tracy 2003a, 167, but not by Osborne 2000, 515 (archon Arrheneides).

(13) Osborne 2009, has now produced an updated list of 3rd-cent. archons, in which Phanomachos has been assigned a new slot in 242/1 BC. In view of my analysis above (of which Osborne, for obvious reasons of accessibility, could not have been aware), this relocation is an improvement, although it is still based on the principle of ‘vacancies’ (see in particular Osborne 2009, 97) rather than on any historical considerations. It goes without saying that my suspicions have been confirmed, albeit in an indirect way.