Rhodes Before the Synoecism and the Cult of Zeus Atabyrios

 
Title (other)Родос до синойкизма и культ Зевса Атабирия
PIIS032103910013863-2-1
DOI10.31857/S032103910013863-2
Publication type Article
Status Published
Authors
Affiliation: The University of Chicago
Address: USA, Chicago
Journal nameVestnik drevnei istorii
EditionVolume 81 Issue 3
Pages663-672
Abstract

The question has been asked whether there already existed a federal state regrouping the three Rhodian cities in the Archaic and early Classical period, before the start of the process of unification of the Rhodian cities at the end of the fifth century BCE. This essay argues that although the existence of a formal Rhodian federal state remains unproven, there existed other institutional structures that linked the three Rhodian cities. They shared a common membership in the Hellenion of Naucratis in Egypt, a sanctuary that was managed by nine cities of western Asia Minor on the model of an amphictiony. The organization of their common cult of Zeus Atabyrios also had the characteristics of an amphictiony. A new restoration of an early Hellenistic dedication of the attendants of the cult proves the existence at that time of a rotating priesthood of this god between the three cities. This may suggest that such a system existed already before the synoecism and even that the organization of the common priesthood of Halios, the cult of the unified Rhodian state, was modeled on that of the previous organization of the cult of Zeus Atabyrios.

Abstract (other)

Автор статьи рассматривает вопрос, существовало ли федеративное объединение трех родосских городов в позднеархаический и раннеклассический период, до начала процесса синойкизма родосских полисов в конце V в. до н.э. В статье отстаивается точка зрения, согласно которой, хотя существование формального родосского федеративного государства остается недоказанным, в этот период существовали другие институциональные структуры, объединявшие три родосских города. Так, их объединяло совместное участие в Эллинии Навкратиса в Египте, святилище, которым управляли девять городов Западной Малой Азии по модели амфиктионии. Организация общего культа Зевса Атабирия также имела характеристики амфиктионии. Новое восстановление раннеэллинистического посвящения служителей культа доказывает, что в то время имела место своего рода ротация жрецов этого бога между тремя городами. Это может означать, что такая система существовала еще до синойкизма, и даже что организация единого жречества Гелиоса, главного божества объединенного родосского государства, копировала более раннюю модель культа Зевса Атабирия.

KeywordsRhodian unification, synoecism, amphictyony, federal state, Zeus Atabyrios
Keywords list (other)объединение Родоса, синойкизм, амфиктиония, федеративное государство, Зевс Атабирий
Received14.09.2021
Publication date16.09.2021
Number of characters27693
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1 Talking inscriptions with Yuri Vinogradov was always a fascinating experience. Having such a discussion in the freezing basement of the lapidarium at the Novodevichy Convent at the end of a Moscow winter was also a test of endurance. I do not remember whether that day we mentioned in our conversation the dedication from Neapolis Skythica to the Rhodian god Zeus Atabyrios, but we might well have1. In any case, this inscription is only one among the many documents illustrating the close relations established between Rhodes and the Black Sea in antiquity, thus unwittingly prefiguring the friendship that was to come to exist between the modern scholars working on these two regions. It also provides the link that will allow me to dedicate this essay to the memory of our distinguished colleague. 1. IOSPE3 III. 594: Διὶ Ἀταβυρίωι Ποσίδεος Ποσιδέου | χαριστήριον (middle – second half of second century BCE on the basis of paleography by I. Makarov).
2 The process of political unification of the three cities of Rhodes, Ialysos, Camiros and Lindos, was started in the winter of 411 BCE. Until this moment, the cities of the island were in the Athenian alliance and had democratic regimes. But, as explained by Thucydides (VIII. 88. 1–4), following its victory at Syme over an Athenian contingent the fleet of the Lacedaemonian navarch Astyochos set sail for Rhodes. The Lacedaemonians were invited by the local oligarchic party in Rhodes, whose prominent members, such as the Diagorid family at Ialysos, were by then in exile2. Landing at Camiros, they summoned the people of the three cities and persuaded them to join them in their fight against Athens. The consequence of these events was that oligarchic regimes replaced democracies. Until then, Rhodes was not a unified state. It was precisely in 411 that the three cities formed a common federal state. 2. On the Diagorids see Bresson 1979, 149–161.
3 This can be implied from a proxeny decree found at Lindos for an Egyptian interpreter from Naucratis, in Egypt, which mentions that the honorandus would be “proxenos of all the Rhodians”, a formula characteristic of federal states3. Still in 408, according to Diodorus (XIII. 70. 2), Lysander received the help sent “by the cities of Rhodes”. However, the Athenian pressure remained very strong4. It is certainly to reinforce their political structure that the Rhodians decided to make a new step, that of the fusion of their three cities into one, homonymous to the island. The date of the Rhodian synoecism referred to by Diodorus (XIII. 75. 1) and Strabo (XIV. 2. 6–11) has been fixed to the end of 408 BCE5. In the following year (407), the Rhodians inaugurated the priesthood of Halios, their eponymous god6. 3. I. Lindos 16 (with Bresson 1980, 300–307 [= 2000, 28–36], and Demetriou 2012, 126–128). That Rhodes was in this period a federal state was the brilliant hypothesis of Kinch in: Blinkenberg, Kinch 1905, 34–48. The fact that the decree was passed by a council alone, not by a popular assembly, fits well with both the structures of a federal state and with a period of oligarchic regime, although this view has been challenged (see below and n. 13).

4. On the context of the synoecism, see Wiemer 2002, 53.

5. The date has been fixed to October 17th, 408 by Badoud 2015, 23 (see also p. 163 on the question of the date of the synoecism).

6. Badoud 2015, 23.
4 This is the story as it is commonly told and accepted by most scholars. However, an alternative scenario has been suggested by V. Gabrielsen7. For him, there existed a federal Rhodian state already before 411. The proxeny decree for an Egyptian interpreter at Naucratis assigned by Kinch to the period 411–408 BCE, which clearly refers to a Rhodian federal state, could also be dated to before 411 or after 408 (probably rather after 408 but a similar decree could have been passed before 411)8. Gabrielsen puts a strong emphasis on the use of the ethnic Rhodios (on both a collective basis and for individuals)9. Instead of a radical transformation that would have taken place all at once in 408/407 BCE, the fusion of the three cities into one state would have been only a slow process extending over a long period. The downgrading of the councils, boulai, of the three former cities into local councils of mastroi or the creation of the deme system would have taken place long after 408/407. Even the creation of the common priesthood of Halios would not have taken place before 358 BCE10. 7. Gabrielsen 2000.

8. By contrast, there is no doubt about the date of the I. Lindos 16 app. (Bresson 1980, 300–301 [= 2000, 27–28]; Demetriou 2012, 124–126), a proxeny decree of the city of Lindos dating to before 411 (Lindos was a democracy when the decree was passed).

9. Gabrielsen 2000, 181–183.

10. Gabrielsen 2000, 187, 202, n. 49.
5 Without any doubt, this thought-provoking article forces us to reexamine a series of questions relating to the formation process of the Rhodian state. The extreme poverty of the epigraphic dossier from fourth-century BCE Rhodes does not allow us to document the history of Rhodes in this period. But the view that the priesthood of Halios was only introduced in 358 cannot be accepted, if only because the unified Rhodian coinage introduced in 408/407 BCE has the head of the god as its main type on the obverse, a view that everyone accepts and that R. Ashton’s studies on Rhodian coinage have also reinforced11. Besides, the names mentioned in the initial part of the list of the priests of Halios fit perfectly with a date in 408/407 BCE12. If indeed Gabrielsen has brought forward a series of arguments in favor of the view that the inscription of the Rhodian federal state could be dated before 411 or after 408/407 (whether or not we accept his view is another matter), he has not disproved (and admittedly does not claim to have) Kinch’s hypothesis on the date of the decree referring to a Rhodian federal state, which could well remain fully valid13. 11. Ashton 2001, 79–82 for the earliest coinage of Rhodes.

12. Badoud 2015, 23 and 159 for the date.

13. Gabrielsen 2000, 179 and 200, n. 9 considers that the existence of a decree of the Rhodian boula (alone) from the Hellenistic period, when Rhodian democratic institutions were fully operative, disproves the view that the proxeny decree of the boula I. Lindos 16 would have been voted in a period of oligarchic government. Indeed, it was routine for a council to vote decrees on its own. For technical reasons, they could also be inscribed on stone (see inter alia for democratic Athens Rhodes 1972, 82–87). The decree of the Rhodian boula in question, Syll.3 644, republished in Badoud 2015, 358–359, no. 16 (173 BCE), l. 10–16, is part of a dossier of four documents relating to the honors granted to Eudemos of Seleukeia on the Kalykadnos. The second and third documents, l. 4–10, are based on the first one, l. 1–4, the decree of the people for Eudemos. The fourth one, the decree of the boula, regulates the details of a diplomatic mission in Syria, which among others will meet with Eudemos: this falls exactly in the diplomatic prerogatives of a council. It remains that in democratic Rhodes just like in democratic Athens it was the people who voted on the decrees committing the city.
6 Only a long and detailed study could allow us to examine all the points that have been made by Gabrielsen. It suffices here to say however that the existence of a formally fully organized federal state before 411, with a permanent common council, magistrates, regular common assemblies and one single common ethnic in all circumstances for Rhodian individuals in foreign territories, remains unproven. But, indeed, it is also clear that beyond episodes of occasional cooperation (for colonization or for military expeditions) there existed before the synoecism institutional links between the three Rhodian cities, although in themselves these links did not imply the existence of a formally established federal state14. 14. See already Cordano 1974; Bresson 1979, 156–161; 1980, 308–309 [= 2000, 37–40].

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