Greek Economic Inscriptions

GEI015

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Athens. Kitian merchants acquiring land for a sanctuary


[θ]εοί.
ἐπὶ Νικοκράτους ἄρχοντ-
ος ἐπὶ τῆς Αἰγεῖδος πρώτ-
ης πρυτανείας· τῶν προέδ-
5ρων ἐπεψήφιζεν Θεόφιλο-
ς Φηγούσιος· ἔδοξεν τῆι β-
ουλεῖ· Ἀντίδοτος Ἀπολλο-
δώρου Συπαλήττιος εἶπε-
ν· περὶ ὧν λέγουσιν οἱ Κιτ-
10ιεῖς περὶ τῆς ἱδρύσειως
τῆι Ἀφροδίτηι τοῦ ἱεροῦ,
ἐψηφίσθαι τεῖ βουλεῖ το-
ὺς προέδρους οἳ ἂν λάχωσ-
ι προεδρεύειν εἰς τὴν πρ-
15ώτην ἐκκλησίαν προσαγα-
γεῖν αὐτοὺς καὶ χρηματί-
σαι, γνώμην δὲ ξυνβάλλεσ-
θαι τῆς βουλῆς εἰς τὸν δῆ-
μον ὅτι δοκεῖ τῆι βουλεῖ
20ἀκούσαντα τὸν δῆμον τῶν
Κιτιείων περὶ τῆς ἱδρύσ-
ειως τοῦ ἱεροῦ καὶ ἄλλου
Ἀθηναίων τοῦ βουλομένο-
υ βουλεύσασθαι ὅτι ἂν αὐ-
25τῶι δοκεῖ ἄριστον εἶναι.
ἐπὶ Νικοκράτους ἄρχοντ-
ος ἐπὶ τῆς Πανδιονίδος δ-
ευτέρας πρυτανείας· τῶν
προέδρων ἐπεψήφιζεν Φα-
30νόστρατος Φιλαίδης· ἔδο-
ξεν τῶι δήμωι· Λυκο͂ργος Λ-
υκόφρονος Βουτάδης εἶπ-
εν· περὶ ὧν οἱ ἔνποροι οἱ Κ-
ιτιεῖς ἔδοξαν ἔννομα ἱκ-
35ετεύειν αἰτοῦντες τὸν δ-
ῆμον χωρίου ἔνκτησιν ἐν
ὧι ἱδρύσονται ἱερὸν Ἀφρ-
οδίτης, δεδόχθαι τῶι δήμ-
ωι δοῦναι τοῖς ἐμπόροις
40τῶν Κιτιέων ἔνκτησι[ν] χ[ω-]
ρίου ἐν ὧι ἱδρύσονται τὸ
ἱερὸν τῆς Ἀφροδίτης καθ-
άπερ καὶ οἱ Αἰγύπτιοι τὸ
τῆς Ἴσιδος ἱερὸν ἵδρυντ-
45αι.
Translation:
Gods.
During the archonship of Nikokrates, in the first prytany of the tribe of Ageidos, Theophilos of Phegaea, of the presiding committee, put the following to a vote. It was resolved by the boule. Antidotos, son of Apollodoros of Sypalettos, proposed: as far as the Kitians’ proposal about the establishment of the temple to Aphrodite is concerned, it is resolved by the boule that the presiders who are chosen by lot to preside in the first assembly shall bring it forward and place the matter on the agenda and put to the demos the proposal of the boule: that it seems good to the boule that the demos shall decide whatever seems the best for it, having heard the Kitians regarding the building of the temple and any other Athenian who wishes.
During the archonship of Nikokrates, in the second prytany of the tribe of Pandionis, Phanostratos of the deme of Philaidae, one of the presiders, put the following to a vote: decided by the demos; Lykourgos, son of Lykophron, of the deme of Boutadai, proposed: regarding the legitimate request the Kitian merchants made asking the demos for the right to acquire a plot of land on which they propose to establish a temple of Aphrodite, be it resolved by the demos to grant to the Kitian merchants the ownership of the land to establish the temple of Aphrodite, in the same way that also the Egyptians established the temple of Isis.
Commentary:
The document consists of two distinct parts. The first (ll. 2-25) is a decree of the Athenian boule which records the motion of Antidotos, passed during the first prytany of Nicocrates’ archonship (ll. 2-8), i.e. in the summer of 333 BC (Nikokrates was archon in 333/2 BC: see Dinsmoor 1931, 357; Meritt 1977, 169; the decrees and laws where his name appears are listed by Kloppenborg, Ascough, Greco-Roman Associations I, 28). Nothing else is known about the proposer of the probouleuma, except that he must have been a member of the boule who was to serve again in 328/7 BC (see Agora XV 49.26). The motion is in response to the request of a group of merchants from Kition in Cyprus to have the permission to build up a temple of Aphrodite (ll. 9-11). Antidotos proposed to entrust the matter in question to the Athenian ekklesia: the Kitian delegates should be brought by the proedroi before the ekklesia at its next meeting (ll. 12-17; in fact at least one ekklesia meeting took place between the passing of the probouleuma and the passing of the ekklesia’s decree: see IG II3 338) and the demos should decide the question for the best after giving audience to them (ll. 17-25). The second portion of the stele (ll. 26-45) is a decree of the demos dated later the same year, at the time of the second prytany of the same archonship (so in the late summer of 333 BC). The decree passed on the motion of the leading politician Lykourgos (ll. 31,32; Lykourgos’ inscribed decrees and laws are listed by Rhodes 1972 with 1984 Addenda 309). He granted the Kitian merchants of the legal right to acquire and hold a plot of land (ll. 37, 41-2: χωρίου ἔνκτησιν) on which to erect the temple on the basis of the precedent foundation of a temple of Isis by the Egyptians (ll. 38-45).
This text is interesting in several aspects. First of all, for the light it sheds on the Athenian decision-making procedure and on the standard procedural language (for a brief discussion on the open probouleuma, see Rhodes, Osborne, GHI 91; on the hiketeria, see Arist., Ath.Pol. 43.6 with Rhodes 2016 ad loc. with updated bibliography). Secondly, due to the nature of the permission granted. Normally non-citizens (metoikoi) were not allowed to own land in Attica (see Harrison 1968, 153, 199, 237 et alii). Such a permission was fundamental to legitimate the metics’ intention of continuing or even inaugurating their own cults and forms of worship, especially in view of the limited share they had in the native Attic cults (there has been disagreement whether this decree amounted to approving the introduction of a new cult or whether it merely concerned the right to acquire land; however, as Arnaoutoglou 2003, 90 states, the existence and legitimacy of the Kitian cult is tacitly acknowledged in the grant, and it is possible that both the Kitians, like the Egyptians, had already formed cult associations, sharing cultic space in some other sanctuary; see also Papazarkadas 2011, 200-201). Therefore, metics wishing to acquire a plot of land on which to erect a shrine to a foreign god were required to find a sponsor and to submit a formal request to the boule, who determined whether it should be referred to the ekklesia. This one had the final say for the grant of choriou enktesis.
As far as the meaning of the term χωρίον is concerned, see Finley 1952, 59-60 and notes on 251-252, according to which it means 'building lot', and Pritchett 1956, 268-269, who concludes, from examples in Thukydides and from inscriptions that chorion means ‘land’, ‘landed property’, ‘estate’; see also, more recently, Lambert 1997, 225-226 and Jones 2004, 17-47 passim. As Pečírka 1966, 60 n. 2 noticed, one must pay attention to the fact that this is the only time the Athenian ekklesia used this term in relation to a grant of enktesis instead of the standard formula enktesis tes ges, perhaps because the plot of land had already been chosen and a more concrete term had to be employed. There is another example of the use of the term in relation to a plot on which a temple is located: that is the case of IG II2 4960-4963, 4969, fragments of the so-called ‘Monument of Telemachos’ (see SEG 47 232, l. 22, where a new text of the fragments is provided; for a full commentary of the inscription see Clinton 1994, 21-34).
We do not have many records of grants of this type. In fact, we know of three extant cases: the Thracians for the temple of Bendis (IG II2 1283, ll. 4-6; for a brief discussion of the history of the Bendis groups in Athens and the Piraeus with update bibliography, see Kloppenborg, Ascough 2011, no. 23), the Egyptians for the temple of Isis (ll. 43-46 of our inscription) and the Kitian merchants for the temple of Aphrodite. Aphrodite was said to have been born in Cyprus (Hes. Theog. 188-200; for an extensive treatment of the relationship between Cyprus and Aphrodite see Pirenne-Delforge 1994, 309-369), where Kition was. Two dedications to Aphrodite Ourania, of uncertain date, have been discovered in the southern part of the Piraean peninsula, one bearing the name of a Kitian woman as dedicator (IG II2 4636; 4637; for a brief discussion of Aphrodite Ourania’s cult in the Pireaus see Garland 1987, 112-113). Although this inscription does not specify which Aphrodite is to be honoured, the goddess mentioned in it has been identified with the Syrian Aphrodite or Aphrodite Ourania, who was also worshipped by the Athenians in the north-west corner of the Agora (for a detailed discussion of her Athenian cult site and her iconography in artistic and literary evidence in Rosenzweig 1999, 89-124) The meaning of the absence of the epithet which commonly goes with the goddess in her oriental manifestation is not clear.
The construction of the temple of Isis in the Piraeus by the Egyptians was conducted in the same terms of the Kitian temple (ll. 42-43). We know neither the exact date of this grant (we only have the terminus ante quem, i.e. 333/2 BC) nor where the temple to Isis was built. No trace of the temple has been discovered up to now. Therefore two different scenarios have been proposed. Following Koehler, Hermes, 5, 1871, 352, some scholars (Dittenberger, Syll.3 280, Tod, GHI 189 et alii) think that Lykourgos, the proposer of our decree, is not simply referring to a precedent, but he is implicitly hinting at the role for the concession of enktesis to the Egyptians played by his grandfather Lykourgos, whose nickname Ibis was mentioned by Aristophanes (Av. 1296; see also Schol. Ar. Av. 1296a-b, which preserves two fragments, from Cratinus F 32 and Pherecrates F 11, where the same Lykourgos is mocked). However we have no proof that the elder Lykourgos proposed the grant of enktesis for a temple to Isis in the Athenian assembly, nor do we possess the slightest piece of evidence which allows us to firmly identify the Lykourgos who was given the nickname Ibis with the grandfather of Lykourgos the younger (see Pečírka 1966, 61; PAA 611320). A more sober view was taken by Dow 1937, 185 (followed by Pečírka 1966, 61 and Mitchel 1970, 32-33), who claims that Lykourgos here is referring not to a motion made by his grandfather in the distant past, but to a precedent recently set by himself. Nevertheless, the text does not allow us go any further. I would only stress the fact that, as has been suggested above (see Dating), the inscription is not the original one officially engraved under the direction of the Assembly; I wonder if the official exemplar could have borne more information.
Anyway, the Thracians, the Egyptians and the Kitians are the only metics known to have sought and obtained official permission to establish hiera. The fact that none of the cults which made their entry in Athens subsequently allude to the privilege of enktesis might show that this was not perceived as a privilege anymore (see Garland 1987, 108).
One may wonder why Athenians should have granted this kind of right to metics. This was not only a matter of mere philoxenia. As many scholars have pointed out (since Foucart 1873, 131), the reason for this religious concession to non-Athenians may lie in economic and political motives. Strongly defeated twice in mid-fourth century, firstly at the hands of its allies in 355 and secondly by Philip II at Cheronea in 338, Athens was deprived of its empire. It maintained possession of only a few islands and its cleruchies in the Chersonese, trying to protect the trade route to the Black Sea. To make things worse, both metic and foreign merchants started leaving Athens, because their stay in the city did them more harm than good (Isocr. 21.8; Xen. Poroi 2). We also have to bear in mind that Athens went through a severe grain shortage between 330 and 323/2 BC (evidence is collected and discussed by Garnsey 1988, 150-162; see also Pezzano 1985, 104-107, Faraguna 1992, 330-333; on the problem of the Athenian grain supply in the fourth century, see recently Moreno 2007).
It was time for Athens to learn to rely upon its own sources. Thus, after the Social War a financial recovery took place in Athens, coordinated by Eubulos in the 350s and 340s and by Lykourgos in the 330s and 320s. It is often said that the guidelines of Eubulos’ programme are, if not inspired by, at least comparable with the proposals Xenophon made in his Poroi (see Cawkwell 1963, 56 et alii); some even posit that Xenophon’s ideas betoken Lykourgos’ program for financial and economic recovery in the aftermath of the disaster of Chaeronae and the changes of the Hellenistic era (see Faraguna 1992, 289-380). Be that as it may, I think it is interesting to notice how particular attention, shared both by Xenophon and Lykourgos, was paid towards metics. Writing about 355/4 BC, Xenophon suggested specific measures which should not only improve the conditions of metics, but also attract foreign traders to the Piraeus. In particular, having listed what already made Athens an unrivalled commercial centre (Poroi 3.1-2), he made a few suggestions such as prompt settlement of disputes, special honours for merchants, an increase in the number of lodging-houses for ship-owners near the harbour and hotels to accommodate visitors (ibid. 3.3-13). Since there were many vacant sites for houses within the city walls, he also recommended granting the freehold of the land to approved applicants on which to erect houses, so as to find a larger and better class of persons desiring to live at Athens (ibid. 2.6). For a commentary of the passages quoted see Giglioni Bodei 1970 ad loc.; Gauthier 1976 ad loc.
It is into this frame that we might put this decree proposed by Lykourgos. Trade was vital to Athens and the foreign merchants were vital to trade. Thus it was fundamental to attract them. It was necessary to care for their happiness and well-being. A way to do that was the concession of choriou enktesis. In a few words, the concession of rights to foreign cult associations may have provided the Athenian state with the means to liaise with the foreign communities which were essential for its economy. Finally, there was the building of the new sanctuaries, which was at the same time a good opportunity to create jobs and to decorate further the Peiraeus: a thing which Lykourgos seemed to care for (on Lykourgos’ building program and its interpretation see Faraguna 1992, 257-269).


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Author: Flavio Santini DOI: 10.25429/sns.it/lettere/GEI0015