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AFFECTIVE EPIGRAPHY:

EMOTIONS IN PUBLIC INSCRIPTIONS


OF THE HELLENISTIC AGE
Angelos Chaniotis

1. Revealing and concealing emotion in decrees


uring one of the most dramatic moments of their history, the Persian inva-
D sion of 480 BCE, the Athenians decided to abandon their city. A third-century
inscription from Troizen purports to be a decree of the Athenian assembly that
took this decision following a proposal by Themistocles.1 The text reads:
Themistokles, the son of Neokles of the deme Phrearrioi proposed: To place the polis in
the hands of Athena who rules over Athens and in the hands of all the other gods, to guard
against the barbarians and to keep them from the land; and that all Athenians and foreign-
ers living in Athens should place their children and wives in Troizen [in the care of The-
seus?] the archegetes of the land; and that they should place the old men and the moveable
property on Salamis; and that the treasurers and priests should remain on the acropolis
guarding the belongings of the gods; and that all other Athenians and the foreigners of mil-
itary age should board the two hundred ships that have been readied and resist the barbar-
ians in defence of their own freedom and that of the other Greeks, along with the Lacedae-
monians and Corinthians and Aeginetans and the others who are willing to face the danger
together

1
SEG XVIII, 153; Meiggs-Lewis, GHI2 23; A. Chaniotis, Historie und Historiker in den griechischen In-
schriften. Epigraphische Beitrge zur griechischen Historiographie, Stuttgart 1988, 240-241, D11. For the dis-
covery of this document and an overview of research see F. Muccioli, Stratocle di Diomeia e la redazione
trezenia del decreto di Temistocle, in B. Virgilio (a cura di), Studi ellenistici XX, Pisa 2008, 109-136; D.
Knoepfler, Les veillards relegus Salamine survivront-ils au jubil de la publication du dcret de Thmistocle
trouv Trzne?, CRAI 2010, 1191-1233. Summaries of the most recent studies in SEG XLVI, 369; LII, 333;
LIV, 438; LVI, 434. For arguments in favour and against the authenticity of this text see especially M.
Johansson, The Inscription from Troizen: A Decree of Themistocles?, ZPE 137, 2001, 69-92; Id., Plutarch,
Aelius Aristides, and the Inscription from Troizen, RhM 147, 2004, 343-354; C. Mayer, Der Volksbeschluss in
der Themistokles-Inschrift von Troizen (ca. 370-350 v. Chr.): Die Rckberufung der Ostrakisierten vor der
Schlacht von Artemision (480 v. Chr.), in P. Siewert (hrsg.), Ostrakismos-Testimonien I. Die Zeugnisse antiker
Autoren, der Inschriften und Ostraka ber das athenische Scherbengericht aus vorhellenistischer Zeit (487322 v.
Chr.), Stuttgart 2002, 357-367; W. Blsel, Themistokles bei Herodot: Spiegel Athens im fnften Jahrhundert.
Studien zur Geschichte und historiographischen Konstruktion des griechischen Freiheitskampfes 480 v. Chr.,
Stuttgart 2004, 247-254. On the possible historical context of its epigraphic publication in Troizen see
more recently Muccioli, Stratocle, cit.; Knoepfler, Les veillards relegus, cit., 1206-1212. Personally, I be-
lieve that the text was composed in Athens in the mid-fourth century BCE, possibly by Kleidemos. Its
publication in Troizen belongs to a different historical context (early/mid-third century BCE).

mediterraneo antico, xvi, i1, 2013, 745-760


746 ANGELOS CHANIOTIS

After a series of practical, administrative instructions concerning the manning of


the ships, the text mentions measures aiming to promote concord:
So that all Athenians may be united in resisting the barbarians, those who have removed
themselves for the period of ten years are to go to Salamis and wait there until the demos
decides about them.

The rest of the text is lost. One of the few undisputed facts about the Hellenis-
tic period is that it does not start with the Persian Wars; and one of the many dis-
puted things concerning the Persian Wars is the authenticity of this so-called
Themistocles decree. Then why have I opened a paper dedicated to public in-
scriptions of the Hellenistic period with this text?
I belong to those who believe that the Themistocles decree is not an authentic
document, but rather a text based on a true incident and composed in the fourth
century or later possibly in the mid-fourth century by the local historian Klei-
demos.2 If authentic, this document shows how an Athenian would have formu-
lated a decree in the most dramatic moment a civic community can possibly expe-
rience; if (re)constructed, it demonstrates that a fourth-century Athenian, with
some experience in formulation of decrees, would have known what such a docu-
ment looked like. In neither case is the document Hellenistic.
Four hundred years later, another city was facing a similar danger: Aphrodisias
in Karia was threatened by Mithridates VI because it had chosen to remain faithful
to the Romans. Like the Athenians, the Aphrodisians were determined to fight, but
unlike the Athenians they were not willing to evacuate their city. A decree explains:3
Quintus Oppius, son of Quintus, Roman praetor with proconsular power, has sent (a
message) that Laodikeia and he himself are under siege. The People decided that they
should help him in force and that the paroikoi and slaves should march out with them. It has
also chosen in the assembly a man for their leader. It is necessary to dispatch ambassadors
too, to inform the proconsul of the policy of our People towards the Romans who are sav-
iours and benefactors, and, if the governor gives any other instruction for the city, to
arrange that it is relayed clearly and executed. For these reasons the People decided to elect
as ambassadors men from among those who are honoured and hold trust and are well dis-
posed towards the Romans. They shall go to Quintus Oppius, the proconsul, to inform him
of the policy of our People towards him and all the Romans. They shall report that we have
not only decided to fight alongside him in force but have also chosen a man to command
this auxiliary unit, Artemidoros the stephanephoros, a man from among those who are hon-
oured and hold trust, a man distinguished in military excellence. They shall also inform him
that our whole People, together with our wives and children and all our property, is ready
to risk all for Quintus and the Roman cause; and that without the rule of the Romans we
do not choose even to live.

2
Chaniotis, Historie, cit., 261.
3
J. Reynolds, Aphrodisias and Rome, London 1982, 11-16, no. 2; IAph2007 8.3.
EMOTIONS IN PUBLIC INSCRIPTIONS OF THE HELLENISTIC AGE 747

As one would expect, two decrees dealing with a similar situation an imminent
threat have many similarities despite the fact that they belong to two quite distant
historical periods. They both list defence measures proposed by the authorities and
approved by the assembly. Without using words such as courage and fearless-
ness, they both express the determination to fight against the enemy. They set pri-
orities: the Athenians were willing to sacrifice their city for their freedom; the
Aphrodisians were willing to sacrifice their lives and property for the Romans.
Without explicitly referring to emotions, both decrees nevertheless allude to
emotions. The Themistocles decree refers to the hope that the gods will help; to
the love of freedom; to concord among the Athenians and between the Athenians
and their allies; and it alludes to courage. Similarly, the Aphrodisian decree alludes
to courage, trust, and faith; it alludes to the concord among the entire population;
and above all it refers to the gratitude felt by the Aphrodisians towards the Ro-
mans, the saviours and benefactors. Both texts employ language that allows the
reader to discern emotions without great difficulty. In so doing, these texts are in-
deed so successful that we tend to overlook the emotional background that these
texts wish to conceal. What brought the Athenians from their city to Salamis was
not hope for a divine miracle but hopelessness, not courage but anxiety in the face
of an unavoidable defeat. The decree from Troizen is composed in such a manner
that it conceals more than it reveals. For instance, the exiled Athenians, men en-
vied and hated, are described as those who have removed themselves for ten
years.
The same tension between display and concealment can be observed in the de-
cree from Aphrodisias. The ambassadors are designated as men who are well dis-
posed towards the Romans; obviously, not everyone was well disposed towards the
Romans. The decree claims that our whole People together with our wives and
children and all our property is ready to risk all; but neither the women, nor the
children, nor the property (that is the slaves) were present in the assembly that
passed this decree, and they were certainly not asked about their feelings towards
the Romans. The decree displays concord in order to conceal disagreement; it ex-
presses courage in order to conceal the fear that is always, and very reasonably, felt
in the face of battle. Neither of these texts informs us about the emotions that the
Athenians and Aphrodisians really felt; they do not even inform us about the emo-
tions that they displayed during the assembly. Part of the actual emotional back-
ground of these texts remains unknown and may even be intentionally obscured.
The two texts share another common feature: Regardless of when they were
composed, they were inscribed only after the danger that had caused their compo-
sition had subsided. When the decrees were inscribed, the measures that they con-
tained did not have a practical function but a commemorative one. Even if the
Themistocles decree should be considered an authentic document, it was inscribed
in Troizen in the third century. If it was also inscribed in Athens, then it was cer-
tainly done after the Athenians had defeated the Persians (and most likely more
than a century after these events). As for the decree of Aphrodisias, whose authen-
748 ANGELOS CHANIOTIS

ticity need not be doubted, it is known from an inscription of the second century
CE on the stage of the theatre.
Ancient historians are justified in characterizing these texts as decrees; the in-
scriptions, however, are monuments (hypomnemata),4 and, as such, the allusion to
emotions in these monuments performed a commemorative function. Decrees
were part of a citys public life in a double sense: when they were debated in and
approved by the assembly as well as when they were monumentalized. As inscribed
texts they were part of emotional display in public life. Despite their many similar-
ities, there is a noticeable difference between the text from Classical Athens and the
text from late Hellenistic Aphrodisias: the Aphrodisian decree closes with an emo-
tional phrase, a phrase full of pathos:
our whole People, together with our wives and children and all our property, is ready to risk
all for Quintus and the Roman cause; and that without the rule of the Romans we do not
choose even to live.

Stricto sensu, this is what the Aphrodisian envoys were to communicate to the
Roman general, both orally and by submitting a copy of the decree. The decree
might have also been inscribed in Aphrodisias, immediately after its approval and
during the war, presumably on a wooden board, in order to communicate to the
population the citys determination to fight. But by inscribing the decree on stone
later, perhaps as soon as shortly after the war and certainly two hundred years later,
the leading elite was not communicating to posterity; it was selecting what ought
to be remembered, both by the Aphrodisians and by the Romans; it was construct-
ing memory. For the original communication in 88 BCE the author of the text used
emotional language. With this expression I designate phrases with which an orator
or author directly exhibits emotions, describes emotions, or aims to arouse emo-
tions in his audience.
Is this difference between the Themistocles decree and the decree from Aphro-
disias a difference between two authors or a difference between two historical peri-
ods? I can only answer part of the question by limiting myself to decrees that were
selected for inscription. First, I shall argue that the use of emotional language in in-
scribed Hellenistic decrees serves four interconnected purposes: it is explicatory/le-
gitimating; emotive; commemorative; and performative. The display of emotions
explains and at times legitimates actions and decisions; it aims to arouse emo-
tions; it vividly recreates the emotional context of past events; and it is meant to
leave a strong impression on audiences. These functions are interwoven and it is

4
Inscribed decrees designated as hypomnemata: e.g. IG II2, 570, 637, 653, 677, 706, 858, 891, 895, 908,
909, 927, 954, 982, 984, 987, 997, 1008, 1011, 1024, 1037, 1047, 1223, 1224, 1331, 1534; IG XII 3, 331; XII 9, 237.
See also C.W. Hedrick, Democracy and the Athenian Epigraphical Habit, Hesperia 68, 1999, 387-439, part.
421-422 and 434; N. Luraghi, The Demos as Narrator: Public Honours and the Construction of Future and
Past, in H.-J. Gehrke - N. Luraghi - L. Foxhall (eds.), Intentional History: Spinning Time in Ancient Greece,
Stuttgart 2010, 247-263, part. 259-260.
EMOTIONS IN PUBLIC INSCRIPTIONS OF THE HELLENISTIC AGE 749

usually not possible to separate them. Secondly, I shall claim that although decrees
of the Classical period do have an emotional background, they do not use emo-
tional language. And thirdly, I shall seek an explanation in a convergence of socio-
cultural factors that determined both Hellenistic public life and the function of the
Hellenistic assembly.

2. Emotional language in Hellenistic decrees and its functions


My first example is an Ephesian decree, which I have chosen because it concerns
the same war as the decree of Aphrodisias. The text reads:5
As our people has kept the traditional benevolence towards the Romans, the common sav-
iors, and has willingly obeyed all their commands, when the king of Kappadokia, Mithri-
dates, violated the treaties with the Romans, collected his armed forces, attempted to oc-
cupy land that did not belong to him at all, occupied first our neighboring cities with fraud,
and also gained control of our city as well, causing sudden fear with the magnitude of his
army and the sudden attack, our people, which has jointly kept together the benevolence
towards the Romans, as soon as it got the opportunity to contribute to the common cause,
decided to declare war against Mithridates in favor of the leadership of the Romans and
common freedom, and all the citizens with one spirit dedicated themselves to the struggle
for these causes. For this reason, may it be resolved by the people that, since this matter
concerns war, the protection and security and the rescue of the sanctuary of Artemis, the
city, and the territory, the generals and the secretary of the council and the presidents shall
propose immediately a decree also concerning privileges, as is opportune and as has been
discussed by the people (the assembly).

On a very superficial level, the Ephesian text does not differ much from the
Aphrodisian one. The Ephesians redundantly highlight their benevolence (eunoia)
towards the Romans; they explicitly mention concord and unanimity. They declare
their love for freedom and their determination to fight. The main difference from
the Aphrodisian text is that, unlike the Aphrodisians, the Ephesians confess their
fear; indeed they do so explicitly: Mithridates, they admit, gained control of our city
as well, causing sudden fear (6-@-<73:819;>) with the magnitude of his army and
the sudden attack. No courage and self-sacrifice here are claimed. The terrified
Ephesians, as they themselves admit, let a fraudulent barbaric king take control of

5
IvEphesos 8, ll. 1-14: [Q<150, @; 08;A BA7??;9]@;> @9 <=> E8-;A> @;> 6;[59;> ?E@=->
<-]7-59 19];5-9 6- Q9 <?59 @;> Q<5@-??;8[9;5> <=;48E> <154-=C];9@;>, !54=-0@3>
-<<-0;6[-> .-?571> <-=-.> @> <]=> E8-;A> ?A946-> 6- ?A9-/-/[9 @> 0A9815>
Q<1C1=3]?19 6=5;> /19?4-5 @> 8349 R-A@5 <=;[?36;?3> C=-]>, 6- <=;6-@-7-.819;> @>
<=;61589-> Y89 <[715> J<@], Q6=@3?19 6- @> Y81@=-> <71E> 6-@-<73:819;> [@5] @1
<7415 @9 0A981E9 6- @5 J<=;?0;6@E5 @> Q<5.;7> [] 0 08;> Y89 J< @> J=C>
?A9BA7??E9 @9 <=> E8-;A> 19;5-9, Q?C36> 6-5=9 <=> @ .;3419 @;> 6;59;> <=/8-?59,
66=5619 J9-01:-5 @9 <=> !54=-0@39 <718;9 <= @1 @> E8-E9 Y/18;9-> 6- @> 6;59>
Q71A41=->, 8;4A8-09 <9@E9 @9 <;75@9 Q<5010E6@E9 R-A@;> 1> @;[> <]1= @;@E9 J/9->.
750 ANGELOS CHANIOTIS

their city and decided to fight against him only as soon as the Ephesian people got
the opportunity when it was clear that Mithridates was loosing the war.
Looking at the text more carefully we notice a second difference from the Aphro-
disian decree. While the latter contains precise measures, the Ephesian decree has
none. It only asks the authorities to propose measures. These measures are indeed
contained in another decree, which annuls legal actions and provides incentives for
the war.6 The Ephesian decree was not inscribed because it has content, but only be-
cause it presents excuses. It was passed only two years after the ominous Ephesian
Vespers, during which thousands of Romans had been massacred. The Ephesians
had every reason to present themselves as victims and not as criminals. This is the
sole function of this decree and the sole function of the unexpected display of fear.
As I have already said, the public display of emotions performs several functions,
and this can be clearly observed in this text. Besides being explicative, it is com-
memorative since it constructs an emotionally loaded and biased version of re-
cent history; and it is emotive, in the sense that it aims to excite emotion (the mercy
of the Romans, gratitude towards the Romans, hatred against Mithridates and
those Ephesians who had brought Ephesos to this difficult situation).
To the best of my knowledge, the earliest decree in which we find public display
of emotions in a developed form is the Athenian honorary decree for the orator Ly-
curgus (307/6 BCE).7 This decree is also in another respect a turning point in Greek
decrees: It had a very clear historiographical aim that was almost a biographical. It
is not entirely preserved, but we know from other sources that one of its clauses or-
dered the collection and epigraphic publication of all decrees in honor of the ora-
tor and statesman.8 Other dossiers of this type were to follow.9 In a very fragmen-
tary part of the decree, its author lists Lycurgus achievements. The section refer-
ring to Alexanders rule is well preserved:
When great fears and dangers surrounded the Greeks, after Alexander had defeated Thebes
and had subdued all of Asia and other parts of the inhabited earth, he continually opposed
(Alexander) for the sake of the demos, presenting himself throughout his life uncorrupted
and beyond reproach for the sake of the fatherland and for the rescue of all the Greeks,

6
IvEphesos 8, ll. 14-62.
7
IG II2, 457 b1.
8
S.D. Lambert, Inscribing the Past in Fourth-Century Athens, in J. Marincola L. Llewellyn-Jones C.
Maciver (eds.), Greek Notions of the Past in the Archaic and Classical Eras. History without Historians, Edin-
burg 2012, 264-265.
9
Chaniotis, Historie, cit., 274. The most important dossiers of this type are those concerning
Opramoas of Rhodiapolis (TAM II, 905; C. Kokkinia, Die Opramoas-Inschrift von Rhodiapolis. Euer-
getismus und soziale Elite in Lykien, Bonn 2000), Chairemon of Tralleis (Syll.3 741), Potamon of Mytilene
(IG XII 2, 23-71), Menogenes of Sardeis (Sardis 8), Demetrios of Athens (FDelphes III 2, 161), and Iason
of Kyaneai (L.G. Berling in F. Kolb [hrsg.], Lykische Studien I. Die Siedlungskammer von Kyaneai [Asia Mi-
nor Studien 9], Bonn 1993, 25-37). On the possibility that a similar dossier existed in Kos for C. Ster-
tinius Xenophon see D. Bosnakis - K. Hallof, Alte und neue Inschriften aus Kos II, Chiron 38, 2008, 205-
242, part. 206.
EMOTIONS IN PUBLIC INSCRIPTIONS OF THE HELLENISTIC AGE 751
struggling with all means so that the polis remains free and autonomous. For this reason,
when Alexander demanded his surrender, the people refused to concede and even to discuss
his surrender

The decrees author contrasts the fear of the Greeks with the courage of Lycur-
gus and the Athenians; he enforces this contrast in a subtle manner by referring to
Thebes. The image of one of the oldest cities of Greece laying in ruins, utterly de-
stroyed by Alexander, had not been forgotten; it is evoked here precisely in order to
make clear to the assembly, and later to the readers of the decree, what was at stake
when Lycurgus and the Athenians defied Alexanders authority and commands.10
Finally, the reference to freedom and autonomy in this text is more than a stereo-
typical formula; these words were written only months after the tyrant of Athens,
Demetrios of Phaleron, the hated puppet of Kassander, had taken flight and
democracy had been restored. The words eleuthera kai autonomos, embedded in the
recent experiences of the Athenians, had an emotional meaning that we can only
grasp, taking into consideration the specific historical context. This context allows
us also to recognize the significance of the list of Lycurgus building activity in the
first part of the decree, which is only partially preserved. Lycurgus is praised for
adorning the city with buildings, among them, the theatre of Dionysus, the Pana-
thenaic stadion, and the gymnasium at the Lykeion. I suspect that this reference to
the buildings of Lycurgus for Athens and the Athenians aimed at contrasting the or-
ator with Demetrios of Phaleron. The latter was notorious for the large number
allegedly hundreds of statues that had been erected to honour him and were de-
stroyed only months if not weeks before this decree was passed.11 What at first
sight seems to be an ordinary honorary decree is in fact a carefully composed text
that gives an impression of what was shouted with anger against Demetrios of
Phaleron in the streets of Athens exactly at the time when this text was composed.
Recalling the courage of Lycurgus in a time of fear justified the honours.
Who is the decrees author? No other than Stratokles, the man who proclaimed
Athens freedom, the most influential Athenian statesman, and more importantly
a man extremely conscious of the significance of inscribed texts wrote it. As
Stephen Tracy has pointed out, Stratokles had many decrees published on stone as
part of his democratic program. In so doing, he ensured that the inscribers of these
measures used blank spaces or line-initial position to give his name visual promi-
nence on the stone.12 Clearly, he expected his fellow citizens to notice this, that is,

10
Cf. e.g. the reference to the burning of Thebes in Polyb. IX 28, 8 and IX 34, 1.
11
On the exaggerations concerning the honorific statues for Demetrios see L. OSullivan, The
Regime of Demetrius of Phalerum in Athens, 317-307 BCE: A Philosopher in Politics, Leiden 2009, 126.
12
S.V. Tracy, Athenian Politicians and Inscriptions of the Years 307 to 302, Hesperia 69, 2000, 227-233.
On Stratokles and his interest in the past and in the construction of memory see additionally Mucci-
oli, Stratocle, cit., who also suspects that Stratokles may have been responsible for the transmission of
a (possibly modified) copy of the Themistocles Decree to Troizen.
752 ANGELOS CHANIOTIS

to read his name. Stratokles knew how to exploit fully the medium of the inscrip-
tion, and as my analysis of his Lycurgus decree suggests, he also knew how to ex-
ploit emotional display and a carefully composed text in order to construct a ver-
sion of the past for the future, and to excite emotions among the Athenians: grati-
tude for Lycurgus, fearlessness in the struggle for democracy and freedom, hatred
for the oligarchs.
Past fear is explicitly mentioned in several other Hellenistic decrees, precisely in
order to explain the magnitude of the service done by an individual and to justify
his honours.13 The proposer of an honorary decree for Protogenes of Olbia (c. 200
BCE) repeatedly reminded the popular assembly of the fear of the demos on past
occasions, when Protogenes had saved the city with his benefactions:
The king took the presents but became angry and broke up his quarters [; he treated?] the
magistrates [unworthily?. And so] the people met together and [were] terrified
(<1=,B[;.;>]). The largest part of the city along the river was not fortified. Deserters
were reporting that the Galatians and the Skiroi had formed an alliance, that a large force
had been collected and would be coming during the winter, and in addition that the This-
arnatai, Scythians and Saudaratai were anxious to seize the fort, as they themselves were
equally terrified of the cruelty of the Galatians. Because of this many were in despair
(QCG9@E9 J4H8E>) and prepared to abandon the city. Because of this, the people met in
an assembly in deep despair (053/E95-6I>), as they saw before them the danger that lay
ahead and the terrors in store.14

Explicit references to fear are found in several other honorary decrees, all of
them dating to the Hellenistic period: in an honorary decree of Erythrai for gener-
als who helped defend the city against the Galatians (c. 275 BCE), when many ter-
rors and dangers were surrounding us; in a decree of Histria in honour of Agath-
okles, when the city was in confusion (c. 200 BCE); in a decree of Sestos for
Menas, who came as her rescuer when the city was in danger because of the fear
caused by the neighbouring Thracians (late second century BCE); and in a decree
of Daulis for Hermias of Stratonikeia during the Mithridatic War (c. 86 BCE),
when our land was met with great fears and dangers.15 Interestingly, in all these
cases the aggressor who causes the fear stands outside the world of the Greek
poleis, as a king (Alexander, Saitaphernes in Olbia, Mithridates in Ephesos and in
Daulis), a barbarian enemy (in Olbia, Erythrai, and Histria), or both.

13
See A. Chaniotis, Moving Stones: The Study of Emotions in Greek Inscriptions, in A. Chaniotis (Ed.),
Unveiling Emotions: Sources and Methods for the Study of Emotions in the Greek World, Stuttgart 2012, 114-
120.
14
IOSPE I2, 32 A ll. 91-95; B 1, ll. 5-13 and 21-24.
15
Erythrai: IvErythrai 24, ll. 10-11: <;[779 0 B]|.E9 6- 65909E9 <1=5?@9@E9. Histria: I.Histriae
15, ll. 8-9: @> @1 [<71E>] | ;?3> Q9 @-[=]-C5. Sestos: IvSestos 1, ll. 16-17: @> <71E[> Q]9 | Q<565909E5
6-5=5 /19;893> 05 @1 @9 J< @9 /15@959@E9 =69 B.;9. Daulis: FDelphes III 4, 69, ll. 1-2:
<1=5?@[9@E9 @]9 | [C=-9 K89 B.]E9 6-<> 65909E9 81/7E9.
EMOTIONS IN PUBLIC INSCRIPTIONS OF THE HELLENISTIC AGE 753

Admittedly, fear and other emotions are commonly invoked by historians of the
Classical period in order to explain or justify actions; but the reference to fear as a
justification for honours is a Hellenistic phenomenon. In connection with the ex-
plicative and legitimating function of emotional display, I would like to cite in this
context the letter of Attalos II to the priest of Kybele in Pessinous.16 This letter was
inscribed only centuries later, but the king surely must have known, when he com-
posed the text, that it would be seen not only by the priest. In this letter Attalos ex-
clusively refers to emotions in order to explain why he decided not to go to war
against the Galatians without Roman permission:
as day after day we kept considering, it appealed more and more, and to launch an un-
dertaking without their participation began to seem fraught with great danger; if we were
successful, the attempt promised to bring us envy and detraction and evil/baneful suspicion
(B;D-9 8;C43=9) which they also felt toward my brother whereas if we failed we
would meet certain destruction. For they would not, it seemed to us, regard our disaster
with sympathy, but rather would be delighted to see it, because we had undertaken such
projects without them. As things are now, however, if which may God forbid we were
worsted in any matters, having acted entirely with their approval we would receive help and
might recover our losses, if the gods favoured

If fear is an emotion used to justify actions, other emotions were expected to be


aroused by decrees: anger, sorrow, gratitude. A nice example is presented by a de-
cree of the small community of Olymos (second century BCE). In the first part of
the decree it is explained that although participation in the sacrifices and other acts
of worship in a sanctuary of Apollo and Artemis was reserved to the members of
three subdivisions of the citizen-body, some honorary members of the subdivision
claimed for themselves the right to participate in the gatherings of the citizens. The
decree is not well preserved and some of the restorations are not at all certain, but
the expressions that are certainly preserved clearly express the indignation of the
man who proposed to inscribe the names of the legitimate participants as well as
the indignation that he wanted to provoke.17

16
C.B. Welles, Royal Correspondence in the Hellenistic Period, New Haven 1934, 245, no. 61 = IvPessi-
nous 7 (c. 158-156 BCE; inscribed in the late first cent. BCE / early first cent. CE): 81@ 01 @-@- Q9
N77-5> 6- N77-5> Y8=-5> J1 05-?6;<;?59 <@1@; 877;9 Y89, @ <=;<1?19 N91A 619E9 8/-9
Q0615 690A9;9 SC159 6- /= Q<5@AC;?59 B49;9 6- JB-=1?59 6- B;D-9 8;C43=9, [9 6-
<1= @; J017B; S?C;?-9, 6- J<;@AC;?59 N=?59 <=037;9. ; /= Q<5?@=-B?1?4 Q619;A>, J77
Y0E> D1?4-5, @5 N91A R-A@9 @3756-@ Q659;814-. On the possible date of the publication (c. 23
CE) see C. Mileta, berlegungen zur Datierung der Inschriften des Inschriftendossiers I.Pessinous 17, in T.
Brggemann et al. (hrsg.), Studia Hellenistica et Historiographica. Festschrift fr Andreas Mehl, Gutenberg
2010, 107-120, part. 111.
17
IvMylasa 861, ll. 10-13: @59> 7-.9@1> 6-@ ?A9C=38- @9 81@;A?-9 Q9 ?A9/19[1-5> @9
b1=9, J:5;9@1> -@;> 81@;A?-9 6- Q9 @-> @9 ]E6@E9 ?A90;5> <=C159, @1@;786-?59 Q<
@ 05;56;819- < @; 7A8E9 08;A, ;b 89 -@9 Q< @[> 4A?-> 89;9 9-5, ;b 0 6- Q< @>
@58> @> @1 b1=;A]=/-> 6- b1=E?93> 6- <=;B3@1->, 6- Q6 @> @9 8349 <=;?369@E9
J9-50;> J8B52.3@?1E> [<;77 J?1.8-@- ?A9.3 6-@ @9 056-E9 @9 <;75@]9 6- 6-@ @>
754 ANGELOS CHANIOTIS

Some individuals, who have received (6-@ ?A9C=38-) the right to be members of the syn-
geneiai as a favour, claimed that they also have the right to attend the meetings of - and
attempted an attack (@1@;786-?59) against the funds administered by the people of the
Olymeis, some of them by attending the sacrifices, others by occupying the offices of the
hierourgos, the priest, and the prophet. The rights of the people and the care of the gods
were violated in an impious way through this shameless appropriation (Q6 @> J9-50;>
J8B52.3@?1E>) of rights that they did not deserve. In order that in the future this whole
evil pretence (<?- 8;C43= <-=1=1?5>) is stopped, as best as this is possible, etc.

In this text we do not find a word that describes an emotion, but two words of
moral condemnation that excite emotions: anaides and mochtheros. These words are
never attested in public documents earlier than the Hellenistic period and in Hel-
lenistic public documents they are only used in the context of indignation. For
anaides (shameless) there is only one attestation in a Hellenistic decree in the con-
text of the invasion of the Gauls.18 Mochtheros (evil) appears in five public docu-
ments. We have already encountered this word in the letter of Attalos, and the re-
maining four texts are Hellenistic decrees. One of them honours foreign judges in
Gonnoi, who showed courage and justice by denouncing an attempted bribery;19
another honours a magistrate who showed courage in the prosecution of injus-
tice;20 a third one honours men who punished pirates;21 the fourth is the decree
from Olymos. In all these decrees anaides and mochtheros fulfil the same function:
they arouse indignation against injustice.22
With these few examples, a small selection from a larger group of related texts,
I have tried to illustrate the main functions of references to emotions and of the
use of emotional language in Hellenistic decrees. Not all Hellenistic decrees are
characterised by this feature; those that do are in fact a minority, but this makes
them even more valuable. Such decrees are in a sense marked. The use of emo-
tional language can be understood as a signal that indicates a special significance.
There is nothing analogous in the pre-Hellenistic decrees, although we may be cer-
tain that the assemblies that passed them were attended by citizens that were just
as emotional as the Hellenistic citizens. Let us take as an example the Athenian

<=;?@-?-> @9 419 6-@-?61A21?4-5 9- ;9 1> 09-859 <?- 8;C43= <-=1=1?5> <[1= @;@E9
J9-5=@-5 @ 7;5<9].
18
IvPriene 17, ll. 11f.: [8349 Q771<;9]@1> @> 1> @ 4[1];9 J9-50[1]->.
19
Gonnoi II, 91 (second century BCE): Q<5.-7;89;A 0 @59;> 6- B41=159 -@;> <1= @59E9
0569, ; <-=1?5<3?-9 J77 ?A9-C41?3> <=;?67@;A @9 <;75@9 6-@ <=?E<;9 6-@3/=3?-9
@9 Q<5.-77819;9 8;C43=9 6- <-=9;8;9 <=:59.
20
IvMylasa 132: ;C B;=819;> @9 Q6 @;@E9 -@5 Q?;8939 J<C415-9, 6=9-> 0 1> Q<[6=]58-
<N>/1?4-5 @ 8;C43=, 85?;<;9=<E>> 051@715.
21
IG XII 3, 1286: @;> 89 7?@> 6- 6-6;=/;[A> Q@58]E=[?-9@; <-=-C=8-] J:E> @> R-A@9
8[;C43=->].
22
For such emotive words see A. Chaniotis, Emotional Language in Hellenistic Decrees and Hellenistic
Histories, in M. Mari - J. Thornton (a cura di), Parole in movimento. Linguaggio politico e lessico storiografico
nel mondo ellenistico, Atti del Convegno internazionale, Roma 21-23 febbraio 2011, in B. Virgilio (a cura
di), Studi Ellenistici XXVIII, Pisa 2013, 339-352.
EMOTIONS IN PUBLIC INSCRIPTIONS OF THE HELLENISTIC AGE 755

honorary decree for Neapolis, a colony of Thasos, a faithful ally of the Athenians
in the Peloponnesian War, which fought against its own mother city. The original
decree explains:
We shall praise the Neapolitai near Thasos, first because although they were colonists of
Thasos, when they were besieged by them and the Peloponnesians, they did not wish to de-
fect from the Athenians, and they proved to be virtuous men as regards the campaign, the
Athenians, and the allies. For this benefaction let now the Athenians be grateful to them
also in the future because they are virtuous men.

This text explicitly refers to gratitude, but in a very restrained manner. It does
not reveal much about the emotions of those who attended the assembly. Two
years later, a new decree was passed to honour these faithful allies:
We shall praise the Neapolitai who are in Thrace because they are virtuous men as regards
the campaign and the city of the Athenians and because the campaigned against Thasos in
order to besiege it together with the Athenians and because they were victorious in a sea-
battle that they fought together with the Athenians and because they were always their al-
lies on land and because they aid the Athenians; for these good things let them receive the
gratitude of the Athenians, as has been voted by the people.

Interestingly, the decree amends the earlier decree:


and let the secretary of the council make a correction in the earlier decree and replace the
reference to the colony of the Thasians with a reference to the fact that they fought the war
together with the Athenians.

There is not doubt that the original decree was read otherwise there would be
nor reason to change its content. There is also no doubt that the original decree is
directly connected with emotions. A few of them are explicitly referred to (grati-
tude towards a faithful ally, bravery) but in a very temperate manner; the decree ex-
cited hatred or anger against the untrustworthy allies that did defect, pride among
the Neapolitans, but also embarrassment or even shame because of the reference
to the fact that they had fought against their mother-city. But this decree, as is the
case with all pre-Hellenistic decrees, does not adopt emotional language, notwith-
standing its undeniably emotional background.

3. Emotional display in Hellenistic culture


The use of emotional language and emotional display is a distinctive feature of
a group of Hellenistic decrees that clearly distinguishes them from the decrees of
the Classical period. Of course this striking difference is not due to a change in the
behaviour of the masses or the orators in the Hellenistic assemblies that passed de-
crees. Even a very selective reading of orations in Thucydides or Xenophon, a look
756 ANGELOS CHANIOTIS

at graffiti on Athenian ostraka, and the study of fourth-century political oratory


shows that assemblies have always been emotionally loaded events. If the emotions
and their importance did not change, then what did?
Let us look again at the four functions of emotional display: explicative, com-
memorative, emotive, performative. These functions of emotional display in Hel-
lenistic decrees correspond exactly with the functions of emotions in historiogra-
phy, from the very beginnings of the genre. Emotions (e.g. fear, anger, hope, envy)
explain the course of events and justify actions;23 they help recreate a historical sit-
uation in the past;24 they are used in order to excite emotions among audiences; and
they contribute to the dramatic character and the aesthetic appeal of a historical
narrative; they attract attention, and they make a narrative vivid. This correspon-
dence may help us understand the function of emotional display in this group of
decrees. Up to a certain extent, this correspondence results from the fact that the
authors of histories and the authors of decrees had both gone through the same
rhetorical training. They had learned the significance of enargeia and the use of
metaphor.25 But I think that rhetorical training is only part of the explanation.
Decrees that are characterised by emotional language and emotional display are
very close to historiography, both in content and in function. Some of the decrees
of this group are long biographical decrees, which are an innovation of the Hel-
lenistic period26 I have already mentioned the honorary decree for Lycurgus as the

23
See e.g. Thuc. I 65, 8-10; III 36, 2; VI 24, 1-4; VIII 86, 4-7; Xen. Hell. II 2, 21; III 5, 21-22; V 3, 7-8;
Polyb. II 35, 2-10; VI 18; XXXVIII 16, 5-7.
24
See e.g. references to emotions in Thucydides narrative of the siege of Syracuse by the Atheni-
ans: VII 3, 1 (Q4;=A.+43?-9); VII 8, 2 (J917<5?@G@1=-); VII 24, 3 (B;.;H819;>); VII 25, 1 (6-@)<73:59
J4A8,-9); VII 37, 1 (@14-=?36G@1>); VII 37, 3 (Q4;=A.;9@;); VII 38, 1 (Q7<,2E9); VII 44, 1 (Q9 <;77
@-=-C 6- J<;=,); VII 44, 6-7 (BG.;9 <-=1C1 1> BG.;9 6-@*?@3?-9); VII 47, 2 (J9*7<5?@-); VII
55, 1 (QB;.;9@; , J4A8,-> ^?-9 , 81@)817;>); VII 56, 2 (BG.;A J<;7H1?4-5); VII 60, 5
(J4A8;9@->); VII 61, 1 (J4A819 Q7<,?-9@1>); VII 67, 1 (Q7<,>); VII 68, 1 (=/); VII 69, 2
(Q9<1<73/8*9;>); VII 71, 2 (BG.;>); VII 71-73 (J914)=?3?-9, 7;BA=8 QC=9@; , <1=501>); VII 71,
7 (J9*7<5?@;>); VII 72, 4 (05 @ 6-@-<1<7C4-5); VII 75, 2 (J9@ 81/)73> Q7<,0;> 6590A91H;9@1>);
VII 75, 3 (Q> 7H<39 81@ BG.;A); VII 75, 4 (8;5/> , 0)6=A?5 <73?4*9, 0105G@->, 6-@+B15) @*
@5> O8- 6- 6-@)818D5>); VII 76, 1 (Q4)=?A91); VII 77, 1 (Q7<,0- C= SC159); VII 79, 3 (877;9 S@5
4H8;A9); VII 80, 3 (BG.;5 6- 0+8-@-). Cf. e.g. Xen. Hell. II 2, 3.
25
On enargeia in oratory, historiography, and literature see N. Otto, Enargeia: Untersuchung zur
Charakteristik alexandrinischer Dichtung, Stuttgart 2009; R. Webb, Ekphrasis, Imagination, and Persuasion
in Ancient Rhetorical Theory and Practice, Farnham 2009, part. 87-105; G. Zanker, Enargeia in the Ancient
Criticism of Poetry, RhM N.F. 124, 1981, 297311.
26 2
On this phenomenon see A. Chaniotis, Das Ehrendekret fr Diophantos (IOSPE I 352) und die
Geschichtsschreibung, in A. Fol - V. Zhivkov - N. Nedjalkov (eds.), Acta Centri Historiae Terra Antiqua Bal-
canica II, Sofia 1987, 233-235; K. Rosen, Ehrendekrete, Biographie und Geschichtsschreibung. Zum Wandel der
griechischen Polis im frhen Hellenismus, Chiron 17, 1997, 277-292; A. Chaniotis, War in the Hellenistic
World: A Social and Cultural History, Malden-Oxford 2005, 226-227, 242; E. Culasso Gastaldi, Atene nella
prima et ellenistica: la testimonianza dei decreti onorari, in P. Desideri - S. Roda - A.M. Biraschi (a cura
di), Costruzione e uso del passato storico nella cultura antica, Atti del Convegno internazionale di studi,
Firenze 18-20 settembre 2003, Alessandria 2007, 115-138; Luraghi, The Demos as Narrator, cit., 252-260. A
few examples: T.L. Shear Jr., Kallias of Sphettos and the Revolt of Athens in 287 B.C., Princeton 1978; SEG
EMOTIONS IN PUBLIC INSCRIPTIONS OF THE HELLENISTIC AGE 757

first text of this tradition; the decree for Protogenes of Olbia (see note 14) is an-
other good example. Decrees of this group aim at intentionally constructing a bi-
ased version of the past for the future. This is, for instance, the objective of a
posthumous honorary decree for Apollonios in Metropolis, an officer killed during
the first phase of the Aristonikos War.27 In this text we find references to the joy of
the people for the award of freedom, the gratitude of the demos, the courage and
fearlessness of Apollonios, his love of the fatherland, the love of freedom, and the
affection of his sons for their father.28 The emotional overtones reach the climax,
when the author of the decree summarises Apollonios battle exhortation, his last
speech before he fell:29
Finally, when the decisive battle was about to take place, he encouraged those who partici-
pated in the campaign with him, as was appropriate both to him and to our city, and re-
garding it a fair thing to fight for the fatherland and the citizens and freedom that had been
returned, and to receive as a funerary offering the glory and the honour that would follow
him.

The authors of decrees also successfully exploited the medium of enargeia, in or-
der to foster an emotional attachment in future readers with the past event; they in-
vited future readers to join a virtual emotional community. The narrationes of some
of these decrees were dramatic rhetorical performances in the assembly, with the-
atrical pathos, paradoxes, and unexpected turns of fate. We get a glimpse of these
performative elements when we study some of the better-preserved and longer de-

2
XXVIII, 60 (Kallias of Sphettos in Athens); IOSPE I , 352 (Diophantos in Chersonesos in Tauris); IOSPE
I2, 34 (Nikeratos in Olbia); J. Robert - L. Robert, Claros I. Dcrets hellnistiques, Paris 1989; SEG XXXIX,
1243-1244 (Polemaios and Menippos in Kolophon); M. Holleaux, Dcret dAlabanda, REG 11, 1898, 258-
266 (Pyrrhakos in Alabanda); IvPriene 108 (Moschion in Priene).
27
B. Dreyer - H. Engelmann, Die Inschriften von Metropolis, Teil I. Die Dekrete fr Apollonios: stdtische
Politik unter den Attaliden und im Konflikt zwischen Aristonikos und Rom (IK 63.1), Bonn 2003 (IvMetropolis
1 = SEG LIII, 1312). Discussions of this text: C.P. Jones, Events Surrounding the Bequest of Pergamon to
Rome and the Revolt of Aristonicos: New Inscriptions from Metropolis, JRA 17, 2004, 469-485; F. Coarelli, Ari-
stonico, in B. Virgilio (a cura di), Studi Ellenistici XVI, Pisa 2005, 211-240; B. Dreyer, Rom und die griechi-
schen Polisstaaten an der westkleinasiatischen Kste in der zweiten Hlfte des zweiten Jahrhunderts v. Chr. He-
gemoniale Herrschaft und lokale Eliten im Zeitalter der Gracchen, in A. oskun (hrsg.), Roms auswrtige
Freunde in der spten Republik und im frhen Prinzipat, Gttingen 2005, 55-74; F. Daubner, Bellum Asiati-
cum. Der Krieg der Rmer gegen Aristonikos von Pergamon und die Einrichtung der Provinz Asia, Munich
20062, 68-70; B. Virgilio, Sui decreti di Metropolis in onore di Apollonio, in B. Virgilio (a cura di), Studi El-
lenistici XIX, Pisa 2006, 249-268.
28
I.Metropolis 1, ll. 6-7: @> <=> @[9 <-@=0-] | 19;->; l. 11: @> 6-@-:-> J<;0509-5 C=5@->; ll.
21-22: 81@ @> 81/?@3> C-=> J<;01:819;> @9 Q71A41=|-9; l. 22: 19;5-9 Q9 @;> J9-/6-5;@@;5>
6-5=;>; l. 25: @9 @1 <=> @9 <-@=0- 6- %E8-;A> 19;5-9; l. 28: @9 6-4 R-A@9 1DAC-9; l. 29:
;0<;@1 05-679->; ll. 41-42: @5 <=> @9 <-|@=- B57;?@;=/-5.
29
I.Metropolis 1, ll. 31-33: @ 0 @171A@-;9 @> <=:1E> 8177;?3> ?A9@171?4-5 <-=-6-7?-> @;>
?A?@=-|@1A;89;A>, > =8;?19 Q619E5 @1 6- @5 <715 Y89, 6- 6-79 19-5 Y/3?819;> <=
<-@=0;> 6- <;75@9 | 6- @> J<;010;893> Q71A41=-> J/E95?819;> Q9@B5;9 SC159 @9
Q<1?;8939 -@5 0:-9 6- @589.
758 ANGELOS CHANIOTIS

crees and their impact. For instance, envoys of Kytenion to Xanthos (206 BCE) nar-
rated the myth of Asklepios birth; they presented a foundation legend with dra-
matic qualities how the hero Chrysaor saved colonists from a barbarian attack and
married their leaders daughter; and they gave a dramatic account of how King
Antigonos invaded their country after earthquakes had damaged the city walls,
burning down the houses of the cities.30 The assembly responded with grief and
compassion (?A93C4*?43?-9).31
In the Hellenistic period, assemblies were gradually transformed into stages of
display: rhetorical, theatrical, emotional.32 The word display, that is purposefully
to make something visible for others to see, is the key notion here, a notion of
great importance for the understanding of the Hellenistic Zeitgeist more generally.
Emotions have always played a role in public life; this is not new; however, the con-
scious effort to show them to others is. This concept is not the invention of a mod-
ern historian. It is, instead, precisely what Hellenistic decrees clearly, unambigu-
ously, and repeatedly convey through the words B-91=G9 and B-,91?4-5: A decree
from Eretria (c. 100 BCE) is a good example:33
Theopompos zealously pursued a life in virtue and glory from the earliest youth on, wish-
ing to make visible (B-91=9 6-45?@9159) the love of virtue that he had from the very be-
ginning as regards public affairs, as well as his dedication to the polis He wished to leave

30
SEG XXXVIII, 1476. Discussions: J. Bousquet, La stle des Kytniens au Lton de Xanthos, REG 101,
1988, 12-53; O. Curty, Les parents lgendaires entre cits grecques. Catalogue raisonn des inscriptions con-
tenant le terme 
 et analyse critique, Genf 1995; C.P. Jones, Kinship Diplomacy in the Ancient World.
Cambridge (Ma.) - London 1999, 61-62; 139-143; A. Chaniotis, Travelling Memories in the Hellenistic World,
in R. Hunter - I. Rutherford (Eds.), Wandering Poets in Ancient Greek Culture: Travel, Locality, and Pan-
hellenism, Cambridge 2009, 249-269, part. 249-255.
31
SEG XXXVIII, 1476, ll. 43-44: 010GC4-5 J<;6=,9-?4-5 -@;> @5 89 @;> <1= @9 <G759
/1/1938*9;5> | J673=+8-?59 <)9@1> ")945;5 ?A93C4*?43?-9.
32
On theatrical display see A. Chaniotis, Theatricality Beyond the Theater: Staging Public Life in the Hel-
lenistic World, in B. Le Guen (d.), De la scne aux gradins. Thatre et reprsentations dramatiques aprs
Alexandre le Grand dans les cits hellnstiques, Actes du Colloque, Toulouse 1997 (Pallas 47), Toulouse
1997, 219-259; A. Chaniotis, 
           , Iraklion 2009. On
emotional display see Chaniotis, Emotional Language, cit.; Id., Paradoxon, Enargeia, Empathy: Hellenistic
Decrees and Hellenistic Oratory, in C. Kremmydas - K. Tempest (eds.), Hellenistic Oratory: Continuity and
Change, Oxford 2013, 201-216.
33
IG XII 9, 236 + Suppl. 553: @9 Q< J=1@ 6- 0: .;9 Q237E6> J< @> <=@3> Y756->,
.;A7819> @1 @9 J< @> J=C> <=> @ 6;59 <=/8-@- B57-/-4-9 B-91=9 6-45?@9159 6- [9
SC15 <=> @9 <759 Q6@915-9 etc. .;A7819> @1 @> R-A@; 6-7;6J/-4-> @1 6- 19;-> > SC15
<=> @9 08;9 J49-@;9 <8938- 6-@-71<159 1> @9 O<-9@- C=9;9 <E> ;9 6- 08;>
1C=5?@;> B-93@-5 @589 @;> J=1@ 6- 0: 05-B=;9@-> N90=->, 237E@- @1 <;77; @9 8;E9
/9E9@-5 @58E89E9 {@1} @9 6-79 6- J/-49 J90=9 ?@1B-[9]?-5 -@9 C=A? ?@1B9 6-
16?59 C-76-> 0A?9, 9 @9 89 8-9 ?@?-5 Q9 @ b1= @> P=@850;> @> P8-=A?-> Q9 @
Q<5B-91?@@ @<, @9 0 N7739 Q9 @ /A89-? Q<5/=D-9@-> 08;> U=1@=5E9 1<;8<;9
P=C108;A J=1@> T91619 6- 19;-> @> 1> -@9 J9-/=D-5 0 @01 @ DB5?8- 1> ?@7->
7549-> 0; 6- J9-419-5 <-= @> 169->, <E> Q6B-9> <=C @;> @1 <;7@-5> <?59 6- @9
:9E9 @;> <-=1<5038;?59 @1 @; J90=> 81/-7;8=15- 6- 6-7;6J/-4- 6- Y @; 08;A
1C-=5?@- 1> @;> 6-7;> 6- J/-4;> N90=-> 6- <;77; 237E@- /9E9@-5 @9 8;E9.
EMOTIONS IN PUBLIC INSCRIPTIONS OF THE HELLENISTIC AGE 759
an eternal memorial (J49-@;9 <8938-) of his virtue and benevolence towards the peo-
ple in order that the people are shown (B-93@-5) to be grateful in honouring men who
distinguish themselves in virtue and glory, so that when the good and virtuous men are ho-
noured many other zealously pursue the same.

The decree orders the erection of statues in the location of the most effective vis-
ibility (epiphanestatos topos) and explains:
This decree shall be inscribed on two stelai and dedicated near the statues, in order that
the magnanimity and virtue as well as the gratitude of the people towards good and virtu-
ous men become clearly visible (ekphanes) to all the citizens and to the foreigners who are
in the city, so that many people zealously pursue the same things.

The honours were to be announced in the most prominent moments of the


most prominent festivals, when the largest audiences were expected. This strongly
felt need to show and sometimes to show off is not only the background of the
decrees that were the subject of this lecture, but also of many aspects of Hellenis-
tic culture, such as the display of statues, the staging of festivals and processions,
the keen interest in places of display in epiphanestatoi topoi (places of effective dis-
play), and the public display of emotions by public figures. In a passage, whose vo-
cabulary finds exact parallels in the Hellenistic decrees, Polybius gives us a sense of
such a public display of affection by the sons of Attalos I when they visited Kyzikos,
the native city of their mother Apollonis.34 Placing their mother between them and
holding both her hands, they walked all around the sanctuaries of the city followed
by their servants. The spectators approved of the young men and held them wor-
thy; remembering the deeds of Kleobis and Biton, they compared their conduct to
this.
With the selection of this subject and with these observations I presented a case
study that explains in what sense the study of emotions can and should be fruitful
for ancient history. Emotions do not have a history, but history includes emotions.
Ancient historians should not study texts in order to understand emotions; rather,
they should study emotions in order to understand texts, and, through them, an-
cient society, political life, and culture.35
Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton
achaniotis@ias.edu

34
Polyb. XXII 20, 5-7: N/;9@1> /= Q: J8B;9 C1=;9 8*?39 -@9 @9 83@*=- <1=51?-9 @ 4 b1=
6- @9 <G759 81@ @> 41=-<1,->. QB ;> 41I819;5 81/)7E> @;> 91-9,?6;A> J<10*C;9@; 6-
6-@3:,;A9 6- 8938;91H;9@1> @9 <1= @9 7*;.59 6- ,@E9- ?A9*6=59;9 @> -b=*?15> -@9.
35
My research on The Social and Cultural Construction of Emotions: The Greek Paradigm has
been supported with an Advanced Investigator Grant by the European Research Council (2009-2013).
760 ANGELOS CHANIOTIS

Abstract

From the late 4th century BCE onwards, decrees that clearly served a commemorative func-
tion, used emotional language, i.e. phrases with which an orator or author directly exhibits
emotions, describes emotions, or aims to arouse emotions in his audience. The use of emo-
tional language in inscribed Hellenistic decrees served four interconnected purposes: to ex-
plain and legitimates actions and decisions; to arouse emotions; to recreates the emotional
context of past events; and to leave a strong impression on audiences. Although decrees of
the Classical and earlier periods did have an emotional background, they did not use emo-
tional language. The use of emotional language and emotional display, as well as the use of
enargeia, can be explained as part of a more general trend towards emotional display in Hel-
lenistic culture, which can be observed in contemporary historiography and oratory.
Key-words: decree, emotion, oratory