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Historical Consciousness and Political Agency among Ancient Greek Refugees

Conscience historique et pouvoir politique chez les réfugiés de la Grèce ancienne
Benjamin Gray
p. 231-245

Résumés

Cet article cherche à démontrer que, comme beaucoup de leurs homologues modernes, les réfugiés de la Grèce ancienne se servirent avec finesse de l’histoire et de la mémoire collective pour exercer le pouvoir politique, ceci afin de compenser la perte de leur autorité et statut politique traditionnels. L’article analyse les façons multiples par lesquelles ces réfugiés grecs firent appel à la mythologie, l’histoire et la mémoire dans le but de revendiquer une légitimité politique, construire une véritable communauté en exil et développer des relations diplomatiques avec leurs bienfaiteurs. Il montre aussi comment, après leur retour chez eux, ces anciens réfugiés commémorèrent leur période d’exil, s’en servant comme un outil important afin de reconstruire leur statut civique et de maintenir leurs réseaux diplomatiques.

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1. Introduction

  • 1 Gatrell, 2013, these examples from p. 287-288; on Hutu refugees in particular, cf. Malkki, 1995.
  • 2 Gatrell, 2013, p. 288.

1In an influential recent book, which has given new impetus to the developing field of ‘refugee history’, P. Gatrell stresses the political agency of twentieth-century refugees. He argues that refugees succeeded in playing an active, influential role in twentieth-century history, despite the multiple impediments to their political agency. Gatrell singles out as key to overcoming those impediments refugees’ tenacious, often skilful preservation, adaptation and harnessing of historical traditions and memory. He traces this in (for example) the activities of Basque refugees from Franco, who presented themselves as preservers of a republican tradition; of Tibetan refugees who presented themselves as ‘guardians of a distinctive civilisation’; or of later twentieth-century Hutu refugees in Tanzania, who harnessed and developed mythical and historical claims to their lost land.1 As Gatrell puts it, few twentieth-century refugees in camps can be accused of a ‘dearth of historical consciousness’. On the contrary, what is striking is their ‘intense historicity’, which underpinned their recovery or assertion of political agency.2

  • 3 On such groups see Mackil, 2004.
  • 4 On different types of exiles and refugees in ancient Greece: Balogh, 1943; Seibert, 1979; McKechnie (...)
  • 5 On the distinction between these types of shared memory, ‘cultural memory’ and ‘collective memory’, (...)
  • 6 Compare Assmann, 1992, esp. p. 53-56.
  • 7 Foxhall, Gehrke, Luraghi, 2010; compare recently (on polis histories) Thomas, 2019.

2Gatrell focusses on the twentieth-century examples of this type of refugee agency, based on rich historical consciousness, but it has a long history. In this paper, I offer some examples of similar behaviour on the part of refugee groups in ancient Greece, including city populations expelled en masse from their home city by war or disaster3 and exiled factions driven out in civil war (stasis).4 These ancient examples reveal effective political use of the past both while in exile and after a successful return home. Refugees’ claims could touch on both the deep mythical or historical past and more recent political, diplomatic and cultural events.5 Like Gatrell’s modern refugees, ancient refugees did not simply harness pre-formed historical traditions, but also deliberately shaped those traditions to bolster their political agency, an example of the strong connection between power and the shaping of memory6 and of what ancient historians have recently called ‘intentional history’.7 I offer here a survey of varieties of this phenomenon in ancient Greece, which I hope can be the basis for further research.

  • 8 Consider the arguments of Isocrates’ Plataicus: Isoc. 14.1-2, 51-57. See also Lonis, 1993, for the (...)
  • 9 See, for example, SEG 39.1243 (Colophon, c. 120 BC), col. III, ll. 25-35, with Robert - Robert, 198 (...)
  • 10 For detailed defence of the arguments of this paragraph: Gray, 2015, p. 334-339, and 2017, esp. p.  (...)

3There were urgent practical reasons why ancient Greek refugees relied on historical arguments: when they argued for aid in political contexts, before host communities, they could rarely hope for unconditional aid or protection on the grounds of their bare humanity alone. It is true that the figure of the suppliant was core to Greek culture. Nevertheless, in the evidence from Classical Athens, it was mainly those who were not adult males – children, women and the elderly – who could be readily presented in political contexts as automatically worthy of aid on the grounds of their helpless vulnerability. Ideals of aid to the supplicant could be invoked in political contexts in more general appeals for assistance, including to adult males, but usually only in combination with more substantive arguments based on desert, justice, shared culture and shared political interests.8 This pattern changed to some extent in the Hellenistic period, when it became more acceptable in political contexts, even a civic assembly, to advocate or celebrate humane aid to refugees without reference to particular bonds or claims of justice beyond common humanity and suffering.9 Even in the Hellenistic period, however, it certainly helped refugees’ case, as will become clear in the examples below, if they could draw attention to historical traditions and long-standing reciprocal ties which made it incumbent on their hosts to help them.10

4This exercise faces the same challenge as any study of ancient Greek refugees: there is very little surviving direct evidence for their behaviour, ideology and arguments, though some such evidence is considered in the next section. We are reliant mainly on reports of refugees’ speech and action in documents written by their hosts, or by more distant observers, especially historians writing in antiquity. This second-hand evidence does, however, offer insights into what would have sounded like plausible refugee behaviour for an ancient audience. It is partly in order to include more evidence in refugees’ own voice that I have here expanded the enquiry to include the behaviour and rhetoric of refugees after they returned to their home city, when they were in a much better position to set up durable inscriptions recording their own perspective. After return, as during the period of exile, historical arguments were an effective way to exercise political agency: they made it possible to build and reinforce alliances, to craft a distinctive (purportedly unbroken) political identity and to ground the legitimacy of the new regime.

2. History, memory and agency among refugee groups

  • 11 IG II2 1263. Compare Loddo, forthcoming, for this phenomenon among refugees who settled in Athens.
  • 12 See Loomis, 1992, pl. 17, with Piérart, 1995, p. 259-260, discussing what is now Osborne - Rhodes, (...)

5The simplest way for exiles and refugees to express collective memory, and thus assert political status, was for them to claim to retain their original citizenship, despite their changed circumstances. Those driven into exile by the destruction of their polis could continue to use their original civic ethnic, even long after the immediate aftermath: for example, an individual could still be identified as ‘Olynthian’ in early third-century Athens, long after the destruction of Olynthos by Philip II in 348 BC.11 Whole groups from destroyed cities could also claim to continue to constitute the citizen-body: the Spartan War fund inscription from the Peloponnesian War includes contributions from the Aiginetans, whose polis had been uprooted by the Athenians, and the Melian contributors may also have been refugees from a destroyed polis, if this inscription dates to the later stages of the war.12

  • 13 See now Loddo, 2019.
  • 14 Rhodes, Osborne, 2003, no. 22, ll. 131-134; Seibert, 1979, p. 117; Gehrke, 1985, p. 198. For many m (...)
  • 15 Xen. Hell. 2.4.13–17.

6Factions exiled in civil war could also claim – perhaps an even bolder move – to remain legitimate citizens of their polis, in this case in opposition to the rival incumbent faction. Indeed, it was common for groups of political exiles to engage in diplomacy in their own right during their exile.13 The Athenians inscribed as members of the Second Athenian Confederacy the so-called ‘Zacynthians in the Nellos’, presumably an exiled pro-Athenian faction of Zacynthians.14 A better attested example of this kind of self-confident faction is that of Thrasyboulos’ democratic Athenian exiles from the Thirty Tyrants in Athens in 404-403 BC, who eventually regained control of the city. Xenophon presents Thrasyboulos confidently addressing them in the Piraeus as ‘citizens’, despite their loss of power. Thrasyboulos also emphasises legitimacy in this speech, with an eye on the past, by stressing the injustice of their expulsion; this will put the (ancestral?) gods on their side and help them to recover ‘fatherland, homes, freedom, honours, children, for those who have them, and wives’ (πατρίδα καὶ οἴκους καὶ ἐλευθερίαν καὶ τιμὰς καὶ παῖδας, οἷς εἰσί, καὶ γυναῖκας).15

  • 16 Lys. 31.5–9.
  • 17 For a Hellenistic parallel, compare the Amphictyonic decree CID 4.118, which praises some exiled De (...)

7The same emphasis on these Athenian democratic exiles’ unbreakable bond with their ‘fatherland’ is also found in Lysias’ speech Against Philon, dating to after their return. That speech vilifies Philon as an opportunist, because he chose to live as a metic at Oropos, treating his property as his ‘country’, rather than remaining loyal to the exile community of his fellow citizens focussed solely on recovering their true country, Athens. According to Lysias, Philon preferred to live without danger, rather than taking risks to ‘save’ his polis together with his fellow citizens (ἡγησάμενον κρεῖττον εἶναι αὐτὸν ἀκινδύνως τὸν βίον διάγειν ἢ τὴν πόλιν σῴζειν ὁμοίως τοῖς ἄλλοις πολίταις κινδυνεύοντα).16 The language of ‘saving the polis’ casts the exiles as the true conservatives, upholding Athens’ traditions against the revolutionary oligarchs of the Thirty. Mere physical displacement could not separate them from membership of the polis of their ancestors and ancestral gods.17

  • 18 Diod. Sic. 14.3.3.
  • 19 E.g. Memnon, FGrH 434, lone fragment, 4.1, 3; 7.3-4. Memnon probably used here the historical works (...)

8It is probable that some of these Athenian exiles did claim explicitly to be preserving the specifically political traditions of Athens from attack: as Diodorus reports, immediately before their expulsion, oligarchs and democrats had been making rival claims to safeguard the true ancestral constitution of Athens.18 This kind of rhetoric is attributed to later fourth-century exiles from Heracleia Pontica by the much later historian from Heracleia, Memnon: he claims that exiles opposed to the tyranny of Dionysios appealed to Alexander the Great, asking him to secure their return and restore the ‘ancestral democracy’ of Heracleia (τῶν τῆς Ἡρακλείας φυγάδων ... καὶ κάθοδον καὶ τὴν τῆς πόλεως πάτριον δημοκρατίαν ἐξαιτουμένων). Though this first attempt at return failed, Memnon reports that the exiles did later return amicably; this enabled the Heracleians to ‘recover their old nobility and constitution’ (τῆς παλαιᾶς εὐγενείας τε καὶ πολιτείας ἐπελαμβάνοντο).19

  • 20 Strabo 8.5.5, with Ducat, 2006, p. 42-44.

9It is unclear to what extent the Heracleian exiles’ appeals to constitutional tradition went beyond this simple slogan, though there is evidence for intense interest in constitutions and constitutional history on the part of other exiles. This is true not only for famous exiled historians such as Thucydides, Xenophon and Polybius, but also for the Spartan king Pausanias, who is reported to have written a polemical work ‘against the laws of Lycurgus’ during his own exile in the early fourth century.20

  • 21 Compare Assmann, 1995, for a theoretical analysis of the link between shared memory and identity.
  • 22 See in general Luraghi, 2008.

10Another Peloponnesian example also suggests a rich engagement with the past among refugees, which went far beyond sloganeering about preserving ancestral traditions: the Messenian exiles of the fifth-century BC seem to have played an active role in adapting – or even inventing – Messenian ethnic and religious traditions, their shared cultural memory, which constituted their identity21 and gave them agency on the panhellenic stage.22 The most important group were those who fled from Messenia after the failure of the Ithome revolt of 464 BC and were given refuge by the Athenians at Naupaktos on the Corinthian Gulf. This group may well have played a decisive role in sharpening ‘Messenian’ identity and traditions into a cohesive whole, transforming a disparate diaspora of those with some claim to ‘Messenian’ roots into a politically effective community, which provided the basis for the post-369 BC Messenian polis.

  • 23 Paus. 4.33.2.
  • 24 West, 2002, p. 110.
  • 25 D’Alessio, 2009, p. 144-145.
  • 26 For this argument about this group: Luraghi, 2008, p. 188–194.
  • 27 D’Alessio, 2009, p. 144.
  • 28 Delphi: FD III 4.1; SEG 32.550. Olympia: IvO 259; Meiggs-Lewis GHI 74; Osborne, Rhodes, 2017, no. 1 (...)

11This group at Naupaktos was thought by Pausanias to have been responsible for commissioning the cult statue of Zeus Ithomatas, later a centrepiece of the restored polis.23 It must also have played an important role in preserving,24 or perhaps even bringing into being,25 the Delian prosodion attributed to the Archaic poet Eumelos, which celebrated the cult life of early Ithome, before the Spartan conquest, and is mentioned by Pausanias directly after the cult statue.26 D’Alessio suggests that these Messenian refugees may have themselves exploited or instigated the link between this key poem and Delos, a major centre of diplomacy and cultural interaction in the fifth century, especially between Athens and its allies.27 The Messenians at Naupaktos certainly knew how to make effective political use of other major sanctuaries, commissioning victory monuments over the Spartans at both Delphi and Olympia.28 Establishing these monuments in their own name as ‘Messenians’ (alongside the Naupaktians) was itself a historical statement about their independent membership of the panhellenic community, worthy of recognition and interaction on equal terms, despite their very long-term exile.

  • 29 On reception of exile and refugees by settled poleis, see Lonis, 1993.
  • 30 On the Greek world as a system held together by interstate norms and institutions: Low, 2007; compa (...)

12The Messenian case introduces a wider pattern: refugee groups did not draw on, and adapt, the past only in order to cultivate their own identity and to preserve or forge an internally united exile community, but also in pursuit of the aim – equally vital for their survival – of building connections with other states29 and asserting their rightful historical place within wider panhellenic networks.30 Another rare preserved sample of the voice of refugees themselves, similar to the monuments of the Messenians at Delphi and Olympia, is a Hellenistic statue-based set up at Delphi during the Social War of 220-217 BC by some ‘exiles from Achaia’, who were allied with the Aetolians and Spartans against the incumbent Achaian federal regime. The statue-base bears the following inscription:

  • 31 FD III 4.239.

[Κλεό]πατρος καὶ οἱ φυγάδες Σῖμον
[Σίμ?]ου Αἰτωλὸν [ἐσ]τεφάνωσαν ἐν Δελφοῖς εἰκόνι χαλκῆι ὅτι τὸν [Σ]κ̣ίρον λαβὼν ἀπέδωκε Κλεοπάτρωι καὶ τοῖς φυγάσι [τ]οῖς ἐξ Ἀχαιίας.

Kleopatros and the exiles honoured Simos, son of Simos, an Aetolian, with a bronze statue because, having captured Skiros, he gave it back to Kleopatros and the exiles from Achaia.31

  • 32 Compare [Dem.] 7.6, cf. 28, 35.

13These exiles were slightly more tentative than many others, including the Messenians, in their claim to legitimacy: they claimed only to be ‘exiles from Achaia’, rather than ‘the Achaians’. Nonetheless, they did make a claim to legitimacy, grounded in historical right, in their use of the verb ἀποδιδόναι, which in Greek diplomatic language indicated restitution of territory to its rightful historical owners.32 The implication was that the marginal territory of Skiros/Skiritis, between Laconia and Arcadia, was the rightful property of the enlarged Achaian League, of which these exiles were, in fact, the legitimate representatives. Furthermore, establishing this statue and inscription at the panhellenic sanctuary of Delphi was itself a claim to represent Achaia on the wider Greek stage, including as bearer of its historical entitlements.

  • 33 See especially Isoc. 14.46.
  • 34 Consider especially Isoc. 14.1-2, 51-57, already noted in the introduction.
  • 35 Isoc. 14.26-32.
  • 36 Isoc. 14.57-61.
  • 37 Rhodes, Osborne, 2003, no. 77 (see now IG II/III3 316), esp. ll. 6-13.

14A more extended example of this use of history to forge and shape relations with other Greeks comes, not in exiles’ own voice, but in the voice invented for them by Isocrates. In his Plataicus, ostensibly written for delivery by Plataean refugees of the 370s BC, Isocrates offers a rich elaboration of the Plataeans’ close historical ties with the Athenians, all framed as an argument for the Athenians to show favour to these fourth-century Plataean refugees, driven out by the Thebans, as they had to their fifth-century forefathers, driven out by the Spartans. Isocrates does make appeals for compassion and pity, with hints of the kind of universalism which became more common in Hellenistic rhetoric,33 but he embeds them in more particularist arguments about the distinctive historical qualities of the Plataeans and their relations with Athens: the Plataeans have a special claim to reciprocal charis and concern from the Athenians.34 Isocrates’ Plataeans take pains, for example, to contrast the Plataeans’ long loyalty to Athens with the ‘old treacheries’ of the Thebans, from the Persian Wars onwards.35 The Plataeans have also made positive contributions to the Athenians’ welfare now deserving of reciprocation, especially during the Persian Wars, when the Plataeans aided Athenian refugees and provided the stage for the historic Athenian-led victory over the Persians.36 This kind of emphasis on the previous good services of the refugees, and also of their polis and ancestors, does seem to have been a stock feature of fourth-century Athenian discourse about aid to refugees, as confirmed by inscriptions: for example, the leaders of the Akarnanian exiles given privileges at Athens in 338/7 BC were praised for sustaining and putting into action the ancestral ties with Athens reflected in their inherited Athenian citizenship.37

  • 38 Isoc. 14.51. For the salience of arguments based on blood relations in Athenian political discourse (...)
  • 39 Compare Loddo, 2019, p. 15-16.
  • 40 On ‘kinship diplomacy’ in general, as practised by settled states as well as mobile groups: Jones, (...)

15In the Plataicus, Isocrates’ Plataeans also emphasise their kinship with the Athenians, in this case a very obvious kinship because of the intermarriage resulting from the citizenship grant to the earlier (fifth-century) Plataean refugees.38 Emphasis on – often more distant, usually mythical – kinship bonds with potential hosts and helpers was one of the most important ways in which refugees could convert myth and history into political capital.39 As noted in the introduction, host cities were generally reluctant, at least before the Hellenistic period, to accept arguments for political aid based on universal, humanitarian arguments alone; political aid had to be justified on political grounds. This gave special importance to arguments based on long-standing relations of kinship, which demanded the prolongation of the chain of reciprocal exchange of services appropriate to that bond.40 This type of argument was given central prominence in early second-century BC Stymphalos in Arcadia, when the Stymphalians granted aid to their mythical kin, the Elateians, displaced from their home city by either the Aetolians or the Romans. The Elateians’ later decree of thanks to the Stymphalians, passed after their successful return home, was inscribed at Stymphalos (c 189 BC). It runs as follows:

  • 41 IPArk 18, ll. 2-18.

...νοι καὶ ἐκτενεί[αν φιλα]ν̣θ̣ρωπίας τᾶι σ̣[υγγενείαι καθ]ακοῦσαν καὶ κατα ............. -αις ὑπεδέξαντο ἕ[κ]αστος ἐπὶ τὰν ἰδι[αν] ἑστίαν μετὰ πάσας φι[λανθρωπίας(?), ἀπό τε τ]οῦ δαμοσίου ἐσειτομέτρησαν πᾶσιν ἐν πλείονα χρόνον καὶ ὅσων [χρεία ἦν μετέδωκα(?)]ν πάντων· καὶ ἱερῶν καὶ θυσιᾶν ἐκοινώνησαν, νομί[ξ]αντες ἰδίους [πολίτας εἶναι· καὶ τ]ᾶς αὑτῶν χώρας ἀπεμέριξαν καὶ {καὶ} διέδωκαν Ἐλατέοις καὶ ἀτέ[λειαν πάντων ἐτέω]ν δέκα· καὶ περὶ τούτων πάντων γράψαντες εἰστάλαν χαλκέαν [ἀνέθεσαν ἐν τῶι ἱερῶι] τᾶς Ἀρτέμιτος τᾶς [Βραυρ]ωνίας, οὐθὲν ἐνλείποντες πάσας εὐερ[γεσίας ποτ’ αὐτούς· ὕστερον δ]ὲ πάλιν μετὰ ἔτ̣η τινὰ παραγενομένων Ῥωμαίων ἐν τὰν Ἑλλάδα [μετὰ στρατοῦ(?) καὶ κυριε]ύσαντος Μανίου τῶν κατ’ [Ἐ]λάτεαν τόπων, ἐπρόσβευσαν Στυμφάλιοι πο[τὶ τοὺς Ἀχαιούς, ὅπω]ς ἐκπεμφθῇ προσβεία ποτὶ Μάνιον π̣ερὶ τᾶς Ἐλατέων καθόδου ἐν̣ τὰν [ἰδίαν]....

“... [showing] assiduousness in humane behaviour, appropriate to our kinship (?) ... they welcomed us, each of them into his own home, with all humanity (?), and from public funds they provided all of us with bread rations for a substantial period of time and let us share in everything which was necessary. And they allowed us to share in their sacred activities and sacrifices, considering us their own fellow citizens. And they divided off some of their own territory and distributed it to us Elateians, along with general immunity from taxation for a period of ten years. And concerning all these things they inscribed a bronze inscription and placed it in the sanctuary of Artemis Brauronia, not omitting any good service towards them. Later, when, after a few years, the Romans were again in Greece with an army and Manius gained control of Elateian territory, the Stymphalians made an embassy to the Achaians, in order that an embassy could be sent to Manius concerning the Elateians’ return to their own land.”41

  • 42 Paus. 8.4.6; see also the commentary in IPArk, with further bibliography.
  • 43 On this example see Daubner, 2011, p. 21-25; Mack, 2015, p. 200, both with further bibliography.

16This account of the aid and its justifications does twice describe the Stymphalians’ help to the refugees (if the restorations are correct) as φιλανθρωπία, ‘love of humanity’ of the kind in principle due to all humans, regardless of their origins. This was in keeping with the Hellenistic developments noted above. However, if another separate restoration is correct, the Elateians qualified this apparent universalism by suggesting that the aid was based on the particularly intense relationship of kinship (σ̣[υγγενεία]). The argument for kinship would have been based on the claim that the mythical eponymous founder of the Arcadian city, Stymphalos, was a son of the mythical Elatos.42 The Elateians also stressed that the bond between refugees and hosts was here based on sharing of religious rites, as well as material necessities; this shared cult would also have been a recognition of the mythical kinship between the two cities.43

  • 44 Livy 37.17.5-6.

17In this case the Elateians lost some of the political autonomy retained and exercised by other refugee groups, including many of those considered in this section: when it came to sending embassies to address their plight, the Stymphalians undertook the embassies on their behalf. Nonetheless, drawing attention to kinship with the Stymphalians would have been an effective way to exert more informal power, based on culture and history rather than institutionalised political activity and hard-power considerations. The likelihood that the Elateians drew attention to the kinship argument in this decree after their return makes it probable that they did also use it while displaced. A report of roughly contemporary exiles appealing to kinship considerations during their exile itself can be found in Livy’s account of the approach made in 190 BC to the Rhodians in the Roman fleet by the Iasian exiles driven out of their city by Antiochos III: the Rhodians should not sit back and allow a city which was familiar and kin to them (urbem et uicinam sibi et cognatam) to be destroyed by the Romans, simply because it had fallen victim to Seleucid occupation.44

  • 45 Paus. 8.27.5-6, with Roy, 2013, p. 19-20.
  • 46 Consider Hdt. 1.168, with Graham, 1992; and the second-century decree of Abdera for the Teians publ (...)

18Another, more direct form of collective kinship on which refugees could play was the relationship between mother-city and daughter-city. For example, Pausanias reports that, when in the 360s BC they protested against being integrated into the new Arcadian mega-foundation of Megalopolis, those Arcadian Trapezountians who avoided massacre found refuge in their daughter-city, Trapezous in Pontus. The Pontic Trapezountians reportedly welcomed them as representatives of their mother-city, with the same name (μητροπολίτας τ᾽ ὄντας καὶ ὁμωνύμους).45 It is probable that these Arcadian refugees would, like the Elateians at Stymphalos, have drawn attention to the supposed kinship link in order to gain a favourable reception. Refugee flows often themselves played a role in the founding of apoikiai, or stories about them, which further increased the force of this style of argument in subsequent dealings between colony and mother-city, including when citizens from one or the other city were in peril or even exile. The relationship between the closely linked city-pair of Teos and Abdera is an interesting extended example of this phenomenon.46 Appealing to, and shaping, visions of the distant (as well as the recent) past was in all these examples an effective alternative source of power and agency for refugees who had lost formal political and military authority.

3. Commemoration and agency after the return home

  • 47 For detailed discussion of this phenomenon, with much additional bibliography: Gray, 2015, p. 300-3 (...)

19As clear from the previous section, it is quite difficult to recover the voice of ancient Greek refugees’ themselves, although it is found in occasional inscriptions, such as those set up by the Messenian and Achaian refugees considered above. As noted in the introduction, there are more preserved examples of the voice of refugees after their return to their home polis, usually achieved with the aid of the supporters they gained through skilled historically-minded diplomacy. This was because the return home restored to them full access to polis institutions, including the practice of durable epigraphy, which could record their own perspective for the far future. Many returned refugees in this situation put to use their skills in harnessing history and memory to achieve political agency by actively shaping how their period of collective exile was commemorated and interpreted, with a view to influencing contemporary politics. Most relevant examples involve whole citizen-bodies expelled en masse from a destroyed polis which was subsequently refounded, but some returned factions after stasis also achieved public commemoration of their exile and return (see especially the Athenian cases discussed below).47

  • 48 Paus. 9.3.5.

20Sometimes civic commemoration of mass exile after return home was principally a question of assuaging collective trauma, commemorating citizen self-sacrifice and celebrating the very survival of the polis. These functions would have been met, for example, by the Plataeans’ reverential decision to make the interval between each Great Daedala festival, which they shared with the other Boeotians, equal to the total length of their collective exile, which had forced the festival to be suspended.48 However, already in this example it is possible to detect how commemoration of collective exile also served current political purposes on the wider Greek stage, in this case by advertising the Plataeans’ resilience and commitment to liberty to a wider Boeotian and Greek audience.

21Reversing the order of presentation of topics in the previous section, I will here first consider other examples in which historical consciousness of collective exile was an important tool for the restored polis in reintegrating itself into interstate life. Secondly, I will consider some examples in which restored refugees used the shared memory of their displacement to influence the internal constitution and broader political culture of their polis.

  • 49 IG XII 6 1 17-40 (cf. 42-43).
  • 50 Compare Shipley, 1987, p. 161-164; Thomas, 2019, p. 376-377; on far-flung networks in the Greek wor (...)
  • 51 Ampolo, 2001, Entella text A2, ll. 9-13, and A3, ll. 8-14, with discussion on p. xii–xiv; also Mack (...)
  • 52 IPArk 18, esp. ll. 2-5; I.Oropos 307 (Oropos, 151/0), ll. 4-25.

22The most striking uses of commemoration of collective exile to build or reinforce interstate bonds involve restored refugees’ assiduous cultivation of links they had forged with hosts and benefactors while in exile. For example, the Samians restored to their polis in 322 BC, after long exile since 365 BC, passed a large number of decrees in honour of communities and individuals who had helped Samians in exile.49 They displayed these inscriptions in their major sanctuary, the Heraion, making them a key part of their communication with the wider Greek world and beyond. The beneficiaries honoured in these decrees came from different parts of the Mediterranean, as far afield as Sicily: the decrees contributed to restoring the Samians’ connections with many different parts of the well-networked Greek world.50 The same combination of commemoration with current political interests can also be detected among the decrees of Entella in honour of Sicilian communities who had helped them during a period of collective exile: the shared memory of exile was used to cement bonds of solidarity across borders.51 It is also possible to note other honours by restored communities for their hosts and benefactors in exile, such as the Elateian decree for the Stymphalians considered in the previous section or a similar second-century Oropian decree for a citizen of Aigeira, like Stymphalos a member polis of the Achaian League which gave sanctuary to refugees.52

  • 53 Livy 32.22.10. Compare the Hellenistic Amyzonians’ honours for a royal (Seleucid) official after he (...)

23It was not only with fellow poleis that restored exiles forged and preserved links of this kind. In the later third century BC, the Megalopolitans insisted on a special bond with Antigonid Macedonia, cemented by Macedonian assistance in returning to their polis after their collective expulsion by Cleomenes III of Sparta in 223 BC. They accepted only very grudgingly the Achaian League’s transfer of allegiance from the Antigonids to Rome in 198 BC. At the meeting of the Achaian League which decided this change of policy, the Megalopolitan delegates withdrew (and were excused for doing so, together with the Dymaians and Argives), because of their collective memory of reciprocal obligations to the Antigonids: Antigonus Doson had restored them to their fatherland from exile ‘in the memory of their grandfathers’ (auorum memoria).53 Even though in this case the Megalopolitans had eventually to accept an outcome which ran counter to their cherished ‘intentional history’, the fact that their dissent was widely tolerated shows that they had by this point succeeded in persuading their neighbours and allies of their interpretation of their past and its ethical implications.

  • 54 Kalliontzis, Papazarkadas, forthcoming, p. 10-11, 18, cf. 6 n. 12 (see also the full text of the in (...)

24Although most relevant cases involve gratitude towards former hosts, some restored groups may also have been inspired by their city’s memory of the experience of exile to offer aid to those who later suffered the same fate, even in the absence of particularly strong pre-existing bonds of reciprocity. Kalliontzis and Papazarkadas suggest that this dynamic may have motivated some of those who were commemorated at Thebes in 315 BC as contributors to the refoundation of the city after its destruction by Alexander. According to their argument, the Eretrians and Melians listed may have been inspired to ‘empathy’ with the Thebans partly by their own civic memory of the destruction of their cities and collective displacement in the fifth century BC.54

  • 55 E.g. IG XII 6 1 24, ll. 5-9.

25Some of these examples also themselves show how returned refugees’ shaping of the commemoration of their collective exile was also intended to address a domestic audience and domestic political issues. In their decrees for benefactors, the Samians, for example, made clear that the aid had been granted to the Samian demos as a whole, ‘during the exile’, as well as to individuals, widely dispersed around the Mediterranean.55 The implication that the Samians had remained very much a demos during the exile suggested that the Samian people were united in a solidarity which even exile and physical dispersal could not undermine. This was also an egalitarian solidarity: the solidarity of a democratic citizen-body (the word demos is significant), which experienced hardships and successes together and jointly thanked its benefactors.

  • 56 I.Priene2 6 (new edition of I. Priene 11), with Crowther, 1996, p. 211-213, 220.
  • 57 Magnetto, 2008, text (pp. 34-45) (new edition of I .Priene 37, now I.Priene2 132), ll. 87-105.

26The link between commemoration of collective exile and a particular constitutional orientation is even clearer in some other examples. The early Hellenistic Prienians celebrated as a defining moment in their political history the overthrow of the alleged tyrant Hieron, who ruled the city in the period c. 300-297 BC. A new festival, the Soteria, gave these events a firm place in Prienian civic cult and ideology.56 A separate document shows that part of this tradition focussed on the role of the exiles from Hieron’s regime: the Rhodian arbitration between Priene and Samos over the disputed territory at the Karion (dating to 196-191 BC) records that the Prienians brought to bear on their side of the argument evidence from their civic records that the Prienian exiles from Hieron’s regime had established themselves in the Karion garrison.57

  • 58 For the role of inscribed decrees in crafting such pointed constructions of civic history, compare (...)

27This Prienian tradition made clear the anti-tyrannical fervour of these exiles: they slaughtered the incumbent commander of the garrison with his soldiers, because they had ‘chosen the side of the tyrant’. It also stressed the unity and solidarity of these exiles: the inscription uses the verb συμφυγεῖν (‘to go into exile together’, ll. 88, 94). This pointed construction of the events as a victory of pure civic spirit over tyranny may well have concealed a reality of moral ambiguity and mixed allegiances. Indeed, that was probably precisely its point: to unify the Prienians behind a simplified version of their own history, the basis for restored confident collective agency by the citizens.58 This phenomenon is paralleled in the example from Heracleia Pontica considered in section 2, in which the local tradition about heroic exiles preserving the egalitarian, republican civic spirit during a tyranny survived for centuries, to be recorded by Memnon in the Roman period.

  • 59 See, for example, Hdt. 8.79-80, 143-4; 9.3-6; Plut. Them. 10-17; Lycurg. 1.68-71, 122; Dem. 18.204- (...)
  • 60 On social memory in Classical Athens in general: Thomas, 1989; Steinbock, 2013.
  • 61 Thuc. 8.75-77. Cf. Hornblower, 2004, p. 253-254; Forsdyke, 2005, p. 183, 189-190.
  • 62 E.g. Rhodes, Osborne, 2003, no. 4; Lys. 25 and 31, esp. 31.9, already discussed above in section 2; (...)
  • 63 IG II2 448, ll. 62–64, with (on the previous emigration) Diod. Sic. 18.18.4; Plut. Phoc. 28.7

28The most famous and sustained case of commemoration of collective exile as a paradigm of shared commitment to liberty and equality derives from the Athenian democracy. The fifth-century Athenians constructed their collective defiance of the Persians, even after having to evacuate their city, as a paradigm of shared democratic heroism.59 This image of the heroic ‘demos-in-exile’ may well have inspired subsequent democratic exiles from Athens, though direct evidence is lacking. In any case, it helped to shape how orators, local tradition60 and historians interpreted and represented the activities of subsequent Athenian democratic exile movements, presented as (re)incarnations of the ‘demos-in-exile’. This applies to the commemoration of the anti-oligarchic exiles of both 41161 and 404-3.62 This model also retained purchase in the fourth century: the restored democracy of 319/8 BC claimed that ‘the demos had returned from exile’ after the end of the census-based regime installed by Antipater, which had led some poorer, now disenfranchised Athenians to flee Athens.63 This recurring motif of the demos-in-exile is a good example of the use of a history of displacement for contemporary political ends. The resulting traditions both advertised and promoted the strength of the Athenians’ solidarity and democratic commitment, which were capable of surviving the deprivations of exile. Indeed, according to these traditions, exile provided a unique opportunity for collective heroism in defence of the Athenian democratic ideal.

  • 64 Plut. Pel. 6. In the Plataicus, Isocrates makes his Plataeans criticise the Thebans for not showing (...)
  • 65 Consider the groups attested in inscriptions such as Rhodes, Osborne, 2003, no. 77 (Akarnanian exil (...)

29The strength of this tradition in Athenian ideology also created openings for other refugees to exercise agency in prevailing on the Athenians for help, in keeping with the patterns discussed in section 2 above. Indeed, Plutarch claims that the Athenians gave aid to the Thebans expelled from their city by the Spartan seizure of the Cadmeia in 382 BC partly out of gratitude for Theban help to the exiled Athenian democrats in 403 BC.64 Other exiled groups honoured and aided at Athens in the fourth century could also have played on the Athenians’ consciousness of the role of exile movements in protecting democracies such as their own.65

  • 66 Arist. Pol. 4.15.1300a16-19.

30It was not, however, only democracies which could make celebration of the heroism of exiles core to a restored politeia: Aristotle claims that fifth-century Megarian oligarchs restricted eligibility for office to those who had participated in the recent anti-democratic exile movement.66 Similar dynamics would have been at work in this case, though the tradition about this oligarchic exile movement would obviously have been suitable for enthusing only a much smaller group.

31In sum, the examples in this section reveal the versatility with which citizens restored from exile could exploit history and memory to recover and deploy the political agency proper to settled citizens. In many of the cases considered here, involving the restoration of destroyed cities, returned refugees were actively making a case that their polis did have a history, even for the period in which it had been uprooted: as citizens-in-exile they had perpetuated both internal political life and their city’s traditions, including its role in wider Greek networks. When the displacement was a result of factional conflict, members of the restored faction were faced with the challenge of developing a history of their exile which appropriated for themselves the legitimate claim to their city’s traditions and political voice, even during the period when a rival faction had controlled civic institutions, cults and territory. Civic legends about the heroism of the ‘demos-in-exile’ served this function by asserting the power of democratic agency and civic commitment, even in periods of pressure or defeat.

4. Conclusion

32It is a commonplace that exile provided the opportunity and stimulus in ancient Greece for many great individual historians to write about the past, including the canonical figures Thucydides, Xenophon and Polybius. Those historians’ strove in exile to construct and propagate their own interpretations of recent (and more distant) history, with continuing political bite: this is clear in Thucydides’ presentation of Athens’ descent from Pericles’ rule to that of the demagogues, or in Polybius’ defence of the traditional punctilious respect for treaties and agreements of the Achaian League. This paper has sought to show that whole groups of refugees in ancient Greece also displayed a high level of historical consciousness, as well as skill in deploying everything from the mythical to the more recent past in order to exert political agency in exile and after their return. They sometimes drew on existing traditions and interpretations, but also developed their own historically-based rhetoric in ways which were effective for securing foreign aid and building internal unity and resolve. Like the modern refugees studied by Gatrell, these ancient Greek refugees used the past in order to lay claim to a continuing political voice.

  • 67 Diog. Laert. 6.63, 93; see Richter, 2011, on these claims in context.

33This is not to say that all ancient Greek exiles and refugees made the past central to their identity and political posturing. Some could move to the other extreme: the later image of the early Cynic exiles was that they rejected past attachments and traditions in order to forge a truly natural and philosophical life in exile. Diogenes of Sinope claimed to be a citizen of the world, while Crates of Thebes claimed that his true patris was lack of repute and poverty, impregnable to fortune (ἀδοξίαν καὶ πενίαν ἀνάλωτα τῇ τύχῃ).67 These alternative historical stories about exiles show that claims to radical deracination, involving a kind of exit from history in favour of a ‘life according to nature’, could themselves be the basis for claims to attention and agency in exile. Nonetheless, the fact that these claims represented part of the Cynic rejection of all conventional political activity and conventional honours confirms that insistence on a distinctive historical identity and deep historical ties with others was central to the activities of most ancient Greek exiles.

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Notes

1 Gatrell, 2013, these examples from p. 287-288; on Hutu refugees in particular, cf. Malkki, 1995.

2 Gatrell, 2013, p. 288.

3 On such groups see Mackil, 2004.

4 On different types of exiles and refugees in ancient Greece: Balogh, 1943; Seibert, 1979; McKechnie, 1989; Forsdyke, 2005; Garland, 2014; Gray, 2015, ch. 6.

5 On the distinction between these types of shared memory, ‘cultural memory’ and ‘collective memory’, see Assmann, 1995.

6 Compare Assmann, 1992, esp. p. 53-56.

7 Foxhall, Gehrke, Luraghi, 2010; compare recently (on polis histories) Thomas, 2019.

8 Consider the arguments of Isocrates’ Plataicus: Isoc. 14.1-2, 51-57. See also Lonis, 1993, for the epigraphic evidence for grants of aid.

9 See, for example, SEG 39.1243 (Colophon, c. 120 BC), col. III, ll. 25-35, with Robert - Robert, 1989, and Hamon, 2011.

10 For detailed defence of the arguments of this paragraph: Gray, 2015, p. 334-339, and 2017, esp. p. 202.

11 IG II2 1263. Compare Loddo, forthcoming, for this phenomenon among refugees who settled in Athens.

12 See Loomis, 1992, pl. 17, with Piérart, 1995, p. 259-260, discussing what is now Osborne - Rhodes, 2017, no. 151.

13 See now Loddo, 2019.

14 Rhodes, Osborne, 2003, no. 22, ll. 131-134; Seibert, 1979, p. 117; Gehrke, 1985, p. 198. For many more similar examples, see Seibert, 1979, p. 312-314; Gehrke, 1985, p. 224–229; Gray, 2015, p. 310-329.

15 Xen. Hell. 2.4.13–17.

16 Lys. 31.5–9.

17 For a Hellenistic parallel, compare the Amphictyonic decree CID 4.118, which praises some exiled Delphians for preserving their commitment to looking after the sanctuary while in exile (ll. 1-7).

18 Diod. Sic. 14.3.3.

19 E.g. Memnon, FGrH 434, lone fragment, 4.1, 3; 7.3-4. Memnon probably used here the historical works of Nymphis of Heracleia, an early Hellenistic historian (FGrH 432) who was a leader of the exile group (11.3) (cf. Jacoby, 1955, p. 259, 273); his report probably does, therefore, give an insight into these exiles’ self-justification.

20 Strabo 8.5.5, with Ducat, 2006, p. 42-44.

21 Compare Assmann, 1995, for a theoretical analysis of the link between shared memory and identity.

22 See in general Luraghi, 2008.

23 Paus. 4.33.2.

24 West, 2002, p. 110.

25 D’Alessio, 2009, p. 144-145.

26 For this argument about this group: Luraghi, 2008, p. 188–194.

27 D’Alessio, 2009, p. 144.

28 Delphi: FD III 4.1; SEG 32.550. Olympia: IvO 259; Meiggs-Lewis GHI 74; Osborne, Rhodes, 2017, no. 164.

29 On reception of exile and refugees by settled poleis, see Lonis, 1993.

30 On the Greek world as a system held together by interstate norms and institutions: Low, 2007; compare Malkin, 2011.

31 FD III 4.239.

32 Compare [Dem.] 7.6, cf. 28, 35.

33 See especially Isoc. 14.46.

34 Consider especially Isoc. 14.1-2, 51-57, already noted in the introduction.

35 Isoc. 14.26-32.

36 Isoc. 14.57-61.

37 Rhodes, Osborne, 2003, no. 77 (see now IG II/III3 316), esp. ll. 6-13.

38 Isoc. 14.51. For the salience of arguments based on blood relations in Athenian political discourse, see recently Lape, 2010.

39 Compare Loddo, 2019, p. 15-16.

40 On ‘kinship diplomacy’ in general, as practised by settled states as well as mobile groups: Jones, 1999.

41 IPArk 18, ll. 2-18.

42 Paus. 8.4.6; see also the commentary in IPArk, with further bibliography.

43 On this example see Daubner, 2011, p. 21-25; Mack, 2015, p. 200, both with further bibliography.

44 Livy 37.17.5-6.

45 Paus. 8.27.5-6, with Roy, 2013, p. 19-20.

46 Consider Hdt. 1.168, with Graham, 1992; and the second-century decree of Abdera for the Teians published and analysed in Marek, 1997 (see esp. p. 176-177).

47 For detailed discussion of this phenomenon, with much additional bibliography: Gray, 2015, p. 300-304.

48 Paus. 9.3.5.

49 IG XII 6 1 17-40 (cf. 42-43).

50 Compare Shipley, 1987, p. 161-164; Thomas, 2019, p. 376-377; on far-flung networks in the Greek world, Malkin, 2011.

51 Ampolo, 2001, Entella text A2, ll. 9-13, and A3, ll. 8-14, with discussion on p. xii–xiv; also Mackil, 2004, p. 503-504. For the comparison of the Entella and Samos texts in this respect, compare Mack, 2015, p. 200.

52 IPArk 18, esp. ll. 2-5; I.Oropos 307 (Oropos, 151/0), ll. 4-25.

53 Livy 32.22.10. Compare the Hellenistic Amyzonians’ honours for a royal (Seleucid) official after he had assisted in their refounding, including by re-assembling exiles: I.Amyzon 15, ll. 14-17.

54 Kalliontzis, Papazarkadas, forthcoming, p. 10-11, 18, cf. 6 n. 12 (see also the full text of the inscription, p. 4-5). Kalliontzis and Papazarkadas argue that the Aiginetan contributors also listed were motivated by the long-established links between their polis and Thebes (p. 11), but Aiginetan civic memory of their own fifth-century BC uprooting could also have been at work in that case.

55 E.g. IG XII 6 1 24, ll. 5-9.

56 I.Priene2 6 (new edition of I. Priene 11), with Crowther, 1996, p. 211-213, 220.

57 Magnetto, 2008, text (pp. 34-45) (new edition of I .Priene 37, now I.Priene2 132), ll. 87-105.

58 For the role of inscribed decrees in crafting such pointed constructions of civic history, compare Luraghi, 2010.

59 See, for example, Hdt. 8.79-80, 143-4; 9.3-6; Plut. Them. 10-17; Lycurg. 1.68-71, 122; Dem. 18.204-205.

60 On social memory in Classical Athens in general: Thomas, 1989; Steinbock, 2013.

61 Thuc. 8.75-77. Cf. Hornblower, 2004, p. 253-254; Forsdyke, 2005, p. 183, 189-190.

62 E.g. Rhodes, Osborne, 2003, no. 4; Lys. 25 and 31, esp. 31.9, already discussed above in section 2; Dem. 20.48; Aeschin. 3.181, 187, 208. Cf. Thomas, 1989, p. 132-138; Forsdyke, 2005, p. 262-263.

63 IG II2 448, ll. 62–64, with (on the previous emigration) Diod. Sic. 18.18.4; Plut. Phoc. 28.7

64 Plut. Pel. 6. In the Plataicus, Isocrates makes his Plataeans criticise the Thebans for not showing sufficient gratitude to the Athenians in return after regaining control of Thebes (Isoc. 14.28-29).

65 Consider the groups attested in inscriptions such as Rhodes, Osborne, 2003, no. 77 (Akarnanian exiles); these groups are considered in more detail in L. Loddo’s contribution to this collection.

66 Arist. Pol. 4.15.1300a16-19.

67 Diog. Laert. 6.63, 93; see Richter, 2011, on these claims in context.

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Benjamin Gray

Birkbeck, University of London

Lecturer in Ancient History
Birkbeck College, University of London
Department of History, Classics and Archaeology
b.gray[at]bbk.ac.uk

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