You are on page 1of 13

L'antiquité classique

The Development of Ancient Greek Diplomacy


Frank Ezra Adcock

Citer ce document / Cite this document :

Adcock Frank Ezra. The Development of Ancient Greek Diplomacy. In: L'antiquité classique, Tome 17, fasc. 1, 1948.
Miscellanea Philologica Historica et archaelogia in honorem Hvberti Van De Weerd. pp. 1-12 ;

doi : https://doi.org/10.3406/antiq.1948.2822

https://www.persee.fr/doc/antiq_0770-2817_1948_num_17_1_2822

Fichier pdf généré le 18/12/2018


THE DEVELOPMENT OF ANCIENT GREEK DIPLOMACY

by F. E. Adcock

The need for a diplomatic technique and the formulation of


diplomatic acts was not a need that was immediately apparent to
the Greek city-state. For the sake of a contrast may be adduced the
documents of the Second Hittite Empire, in which is reflected the
diplomatic activity of the most politically-minded people of their
day. The formulation of a Hittite treaty normally includes a
sketch of the historical events that preceded it, drafted no doubt to
suit the views of the High Contracting Power that had thé upper
hand. As has been shown, above all by Korosec (*), the Hittite
authority over vassals or half-vassals is recorded in treaties which
show a skilful adaptation of the formulae of diplomacy. Here in
the fourteenth and thirteenth centuries before Christ we find a type
of diplomacy that indeed anticipates Roman rather than Greek
statecraft. It was, however, to be centuries before the
of the Amarna age was to be repeated. Had the Amarna
archives been of the same character as those of Boghaz Keui, we
might be able to tell how far the diplomatic methods of the Hittites
were emulated by the other great monarchies of the day. We can
trace the existence, not perhaps of an international law, but
of a comitas gentium. The convulsions at the close of the
second millennium and the rise of the Assyrians, who set little store
on political finesse, swept this all away. The Assyrians were neither
willing to live at peace among equals, nor to leave to vassal states the
shadow of independence. The heavy hand of the Assyrian resident or
governor removed the need for the manipulations of the diplomatist.
Thus when Greek diplomacy begins, the city-states had not before
them the lessons of the past in that art. They attributed to their

(1) F. Schachermeyer, Mitt. d. altorient. Ges. IV, 1929, 180 sqq ; V. Koro-
§ec, Hett. Staatsverträge, in Leipz. rechtswiss. Stud. 60, 1931. See review by
P. Koschaker, in Z. d. Sav. St. rom. Abt. LU, 1932, p. 506 ff.
¿ F. Ε. ADCOCK

Heroic Age a kind of internationalism of ideas like the


of medieval chivalry (*), but they have no word to say of
formal diplomatic interchanges or of political combinations beyond
the sharing in a common adventure. It was left for Thucydides (2)
to suggest that the Greek chieftains followed Agammenon for much
the same reasons that in his day the Allies followed the lead of
Athens. Odysseus is one of Nature's diplomatists, and the Ninth
book of the Iliad was not called the Embassy for nothing, but
neither in the Heroic Age nor in the earliest period of historical
Greece can we trace a formal systematic art of diplomacy. This is
not surprising. The early Greek city-state was unbureaucratic, the
political instinct of the citizens of the poleis directed itself mainly
to their domestic affairs. States were so concerned with developing
what was characteristic of them, so intent on self-sufficiency, so
afraid of limiting their freedom of action, or entering into obligations
beyond their means, that were was little room for the growth of
diplomacy. Aristocracies were ready to forgo the pleasure of
imposing their wills on their neighbours if they might be assured
that no neighbour could impose his will upon them. Herein lies
the contrast with the Hittite Empire. There it was the first duty of
the king to concern himself with all his neighbours, to bring them and
keep them in certain relations to himself, relations of equal alliance,
protectorate, vassaldom or, if need be, enmity. On the other hand,
it is roughly true to say that so long as an early Greek state could
live as though it had no neighbours, it was content to do so.
The reluctance with which city-states developed permanent
political relations one with the other has been well emphasized by
Dr Hans Schaefer in his Staatsform und Politik, though he has
been carried too far in a reaction against the juristic combinations
of Kahrstedt and others. It is one thing to argue that the Greek
symmachia is a far different thing from Bundesgenossenschaft,
— an argument which somewhat misses those who translate
by « alliance » and not by « Bundesgenossenschaft » — another
to assert that until the middle of the fifth century Greek states did
not stand to each other in relationships that continued to have
meaning in time of peace. If we grant that the spring of Greek
was most often the rendering of assistance in war, which

(1) G. De Sanctis, Problemi di storia antica, p. 7.


(2) I, 9, 1.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF ANCIENT GREEK DIPLOMACY ¿5

ceased to be needed when the war was over, it remains rash to say
that an alliance of this kind might not readily be continued as an
alliance in a more political sense. It has often been urged that the
fact that early treaties are for limited periods (*) reflects an
to live at peace indefinitely, but it also does mean that
states are prepared to remain in a constant relation one to another
long after any particular war is over.
So far as diplomacy is a form of persuasion there must be
to which it can appeal. The natural appeal, at first, is to
religion, partly because it supplies a sanction independent of material
force, partly because religion passes beyond the bounds of the several
city-states. The ruce of God which sheltered the common festivals
of the Greeks was largely the pattern for the truce that interrupted
or terminated their wars. The religious sanction that protects the
single suppliant may be invoked to assist the plea of a state that
turns to another for help. The methods of diplomacy in its earliest
phase may take a religious formulation. One servant of such a
diplomacy was the oracle. During the sixth century Delphi was
probably the scene of an underground struggle between the
influence of Thessaly working through the Amphictiony and the
influence of Sparta. It has long been observed how Delphic oracles
furthered policy, and how they were used to make the voice of the
god echo round the whispering gallery of Greece (2).
By the fifth century the degree of sophistication of the several
Greek states is reflected in their diplomacy. It seems a reasonable
assumption that the speeches which Thucydides puts into the mouth
of Corinthian envoys at Athens and at Sparta in 433 and 432 B.C.
reflect, and are meant to reflect, the character of Corinthian
at that time, a mixture of directness and subtlety, an
of commercial interests and a kind of cynicism, the belief
that everything can be the object of a bargain. In the speech against
the Corcyraeans at Athens there is the veiled offer to give to Athens
a free hand with her subject-allies if Athens will give Corinth a free

(1) This rule is not without exceptions. If 13. D. Mehitt's restorations of the
Athenian alliances with Rhegium and Leontini (I. G. I2 51 and 52) are accepted
(see Class. Quart. XL, 1946, p. 85 ff.), these alliances were defined as
though this did not preclude their renewal in identical terms within a
decade or two.
(2) The evidence is conveniently collected by H. W. Parke, History of the
Delphic Oracle, 1939.
4 F. Ε. ADCOCK

hand with her recalcitrant colony (*) ; in the speech at Sparta there
is the veiled threat to desert the Lacedaemonian interest if Sparta
will not help her allies (2). So long as Corinth was an important
factor in Greek interstate politics, so long are these the
of her diplomacy.
Athenian diplomacy is harder to envisage. The inscriptions and
the treaties preserved in literary texts usually show the result,
rather than the character, of Athenian diplomatic activity. A
weakness of Athenian negotiations was the fact that the changing
moods of the demos, played upon by partly irresponsible persuasion,
might cross its purposes. From the envoys who, in the last decade
of the sixth century, were sent to ask help from Persia and took on
themselves to make submission to the Great King and then on their
return fell into great disgrace (3),to the recriminations of the envoys
who went to King Philip in 346 it is only too often the same story.
To Philip the shifts of Athenian diplomacy made it almost too
unstable to afford a steady target for his skill. The mockery in the
Acharnians, the anxieties of Andocides, reflect the low regard of the
demos for those who attempted to speak for Athens. The decree
which was the prospectus of the Second Athenian Confederacy was,
it may be, an attempt to convince the Greek world that Athenian
policy might be stable ; but the attempt did not wholly justify itself.
On the other hand the network of relations which held together
the Confederacy of Delos, and then the Athenian Empire, in the
fifth century was woven by many envoys for half a century after
Aristides. The recently reconstructed decree about coinage (4), the
Methone decrees (5), and even the drastic τάξις φόρου reflect an
awareness that diplomacy had a rôle to play in Athens' attitude
to the Cities. It is possible that Athenian episkopoi and phrourarchs
worked unobtrusively to maintain the influence of pro-Athenians,
especially democratic politicians, in the Cities. The goodwill of
the demos throughout the Empire (e) was very possibly earned,
and not wholly due to a disinterested ideology. But the generosity
that marks the decree for the Samians (7) at the thirteenth rather

(1) Thucyd. I, 40, 4-6.


(2) Id. I, 71, 4-5.
(3) Herod. V, 73.
(4) M. Seqke, Clara Rhodos, IX p. 151 ff.
(5) I. G. Ia, 57.
(6) Thucyd. Ill, 47— 2.
(7) I. G. I2, 126; IIa, 1.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF ANCIENT GREEK DIPLOMACY 5

than the eleventh hour of the Peloponnesian war was too isolated
a phenomenon. The truth seems to be that Athens had to make
high demands but was not skilful at devising ways of making her
demands compensated by concessions and mitigated by considerate-
ness. And her policy afforded too little scope for diplomacy or her
diplomacy fell short of serving her policy to the best advantage
or doing justice to the cleverness of the cleverest among the Greeks.
A contrast in almost every way is the diplomacy of Sparta.
From the close of the sixth century Sparta both needed and used
diplomacy in the service of a shrewd, and, in the main, consistent
foreign policy. Beneath a cloak of Laconic bluntness and
propriety Sparten diplomacy was crafty,tortuous and selfish.
We may think the Spartans dull ; the Greek believed them to be
wily, once the respect for their internal institutions was forgotten.
The peculiar position of Sparta, holding her helots like a wolf by the
ears, the fact that her army was a highly tempered weapon that
must not rust but must not be risked too often, and that she had
not the man-power for Imperial greatness, dictated her policy. A
great defeat would be fatal, a great victory might be dangerous.
Her policy born of her needs and her character, imposed great
tasks on her diplomacy which, like her warfare, was more
than that of the Greek states of the day. Her embassies were
led by men long trained in negotiation like Lichas, Dercyllidas
and Antalcidas. Her very character was made the instrument of her
diplomacy. The kings and ephors were masters at using the scruples
of their own people and others. Sacrifices proved of good or evil
omen as the interests of the State demanded ; her responsibilities
as Hegemon of the Peloponnesian League were at times relieved
by the failure of the diabateria that governed the crossing of her
frontiers. Even the works of Nature were pressed into their service.
For example in the winter of 413-41 an earthquake was neatly
exploited to prevent Sparta from being forced into action in Asia
Minor which might hinder a modus vivendi with Persia (1). In
other states diplomacy had by then been secularized : Sparta knew
how to make the best of both worlds. Spartan secrecy was
yet the Lacedaemonians knew how to use publicity. In the

(1) Thucgd.Ylll, 6. 5. It is just possible that the earthquakes early in 426 B.C.
(Id, III, 89, 1) may have served the ends of those who wished to arrange a
peace with Athens (Arist. Ach. 647-53).
D F. Ε. ADCOC.K

autumn of 418 when Argos was wavering, the Spartan government


caused a decree to be passed in the Apella disclosing the terms on
which they were ready to make an agreement with the Argives and
saying in effect that certain allies of Argos might come within its
scope i1). The public statement had the desired effect at Argos and
it was presently followed by a treaty of peace and alliance between
the two states.
One other of the Greek states of the classical period deserves a
mention. The twenty years which followed the Theban risorgimento
of the fourth century produced in Epaminondas and Pelopidas
well able to counter and overreach the trained skill
even of an Antalcidas.
I have spoken of the secularization of diplomacy. This is
in the formulation of treaties. In earlier treaties there is a
distinction, as Keil has pointed out (2), between the όρκος which
gives validity to an agreement and the terms of the agreement
itself. With the second half of the fifth century the validity of the
δρκος is curiously limited. In the Peace of Nicias it is provided that
the δρκοι shall be renewed each year. The same stipulation is to
be found in the alliance between Athens and Sparta and in that
between Athens, Argos, Mantinea and Elis (3). Such a stipulation
envisages, no doubt, renewal up to the limit fixed in the treaty ;
and the provision to revise the details of a treaty by agreement
that comes into practice at the same time might make treaties last
longer, but it is clear that states come more and more to regard
treaties as only of validity rebus sic stantibus.
A further consideration that affected the course of diplomacy is
this. The history of the fifth century had shown a certain readiness
to leave treaty-obligations unfulfilled without abrogating the
treaties. The existence of a treaty-obligation becomes more a
for action desirable on other grounds than a compelling
motive for action whether at the moment desirable or not. A result
of this is that diplomacy becomes more active, if only because its
results are less binding, less exclusive of other connections. As the
fourth century proceeds, states enter into even more numerous
engagements, which to a modern historian present bewildering
inconsistencies. The result is a paradox. Whereas in earlier times

(1) Thucyd. V, 76-7.


(2) Ber. d. Sachs. Ges. d. Wiss. 1916, p. 1. ff.
(3) Thucyd. V, 18, 10 ; 23, 4 ; 47, 10.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF ANCIENT GREEK DIPLOMACY 7

city-states retained freedom of action by avoiding treaties, now


city-states retain freedom of action by making so many treaties that
anything they care to do can be justified by one of them. The
result of this was to limit in time the results of any piece of
and to make more effective and less suspected the patient
skilful diplomacy of Philip of Macedón. For the very activity of
Greek diplomacy had gone far to destroy itself as an instrument of
combined national defence.
With the secularization of diplomacy there did not come a
legalistic definiteness. No one who has studies Attic law will
not recognize that by the side of a commonsense flexibility which
gives it a merit of its own, it falls short in verbal definition and
precision, and allows too great latitude to the will of a jury
by precedent. Something of the kind happened in the language
of interstate relations. The official vocabulary of Attic records of
diplomatic agreements suffers from a lack of precision which has
been well contrasted with the richer political vocabulary of Thucy-
dides. Thus the words symmachia, symmachos are used in
to cover a variety of degrees of association and
One instance will suffice The word epimachia in the sense
of a defensive alliance is found twice in Thucydides : it is not to be
discovered in the contemporary Attic inscriptions that have survived
In the fourth century diplomatic activity increased, but it does
not appear that the phraseology of diplomacy became more precise.
The language of compliment becomes more regular ; the practice
of preceding a treaty by a kind of preamble reciting the grounds for
its making becomes more common, and the obligations entered into
are somewhat more sharply defined, but a technical vocabulary is
still in the making The concept of a κοινή είρηνη haunted the
statecraft of the fourth century and inspired more hopes than were
fulfilled The idea itself might be exploited by those who had other
purposes, above all by Philip of Macedón, and the exploitation was
made the easier by the lack of precise and agreed definition (*).
It was impossible for the Greeks not to be clever, but it needs
instinct and training to be wise, and the diplomacy of the city-
states ended too often in bankrupt cleverness. Eloquence had its
diplomatic triumphs. Nothing could be more striking than Aeschi-
nes' brilliant intervention at the Amphictyony, which turned a

(1) See V. Mahtin, L'histoire diplomatique dans la tradition littéraire du


I V siècle avant J. C. in Museum Helveticum 1944, fase. 1, p. 14 fl.
ö F. Ε. ADCOCK

sacred war against Athens into a sacred war against Amphissa.


But the Greeks never worshipped for long or whole-heartedly at the
altar of Persuasion. Peitho was dangerous, and a Greek persuaded
by eloquence was only half persuaded and not for long.
Philip knew well the effect of shrewdly composed documents.
With Alexander the Great there comes in the full practice of written
diplomacy. From the start his secretaries were persons of note, and
this was continued by the Successors. Rostovtezeff pointed out long
ago that the epistolographos ranked with the higher court officials
in Ptolemaic Egypt and in Seleucid Syria (*). The rescripts of the
Hellenistic kings are often diplomatic acts, and their importance
for the communities to whom they were addressed assisted their
survival in the shape of inscriptions. The useful collection and
of these royal letters by Dr. Schroeter displays the
of a Kanzleistil and occasonally the personality of a king
himself or of his chief secretary (2). The very first document in this
collection, the letter of Antigonus to the people of Scepsis (in 311
at the conclusion of peace with this rivals), is an epitome of royal
statecraft in dealing with the Greek enclaves in the king's dominions
or spheres of influence. It is full of references to the freedom and
autonomy of the Greeks as the king's prime care. It is because of
his solicitude for the Greeks worn out by the burdens of the war
that he accepts the onerous proposals of Cassander and refrains
from crushing Ptolemy in isolation. This last point is indicated with
suitable vagueness, but it is strongly suggested that it is Ptolemy
who has to seek peace rather than Antigonus. The Greek cities
are invited to take an oath to join in preserving their freedom and
autonomy, and also the agreement between the Kings, which is
described as ουκ αδοξον οϋτε άσύμφερον τοις "Ελλησιν. The
despatch continues in the formula which was so often in following
generations to veil a command καλώς δη μοι δοκεΐ εχειν ομόσαι
υμάς τον δρκον δν αφεστάλκαμεν (3).
I have cited this well-known inscription because it shows the
hand of a Hellenistic ruler in a matter of high policy (4). The
of the diplomacy of the Kings is the diplomacy of the Greek

(1) Camb. Anc. Hist. VII, pp. 119, 165 : See also C· B. Welles, Royal
in the Hellenistic Period, p. xxxvm.
(2) ¥. Schkoetek, De regum Hellenisticomm epistulis in lapidibus servatis
quaesiiones selector. 1932.
(3) 11. 63-4.
(4) 11. 65-6.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF ANCIENT GREEK DIPLOMACY 9

cities. The usual method is for the city to pass a decree which in
effect states what they want to make valid and then to send it in
the hand of ambassadors, whose task is to justify it. But of true
negotiation there is little trace. It is exceptional that the royal
rescripts give any hint that the ambassadors went beyond the
contents of the decrees which they brought with them.
On the other hand there exists a diplomacy of the older kind
between the several Greek states that are not under the immediate
shadow of the great monarchies. Rhodes was the protector and
patron of this diplomacy, and we can see states making agreement
with her or under her aegis in the old manner. The great increase
of arbitration which was so marked by the third century, though
it has the air of pleadings before a judge, involved a great deal of
what was really diplomacy. Sometimes it is one'or other claiment
seeking to secure the ear of the judge, sometimes it is the judge
making capital out of his award, sometimes it is the linking together
of a diplomatic request with an offer to arbitrate as in the case of the
offer of Magnesia to arbitrate between Cnossos and Gortyn, an
offer which is associated with the request to restore certain exiles.
If the decrees of Cnossos and of Gortyn are read side by side (*)
it will be seen how these small states were masters of the courteous
diplomatic refusal.
Into this Greek world, so full of developed diplomacy and delicate
gradations of relationship, entered the Romans, often hesitant,
sometimes violent, generally conscientious and legalistic. The
commissions of Senators who went abroad to make plain the wishes
of the Republic or to judge between states that hastened to lay
their cause before them, must have puzzled the Greek diplomatists.
The courtly professional ambassadors of Kings, the small men
from small states, the leaders of parties momentarily in the
the philosophers with their eloquence, their subtle political
as well as ethical speculation, found these senators often strangely
deaf. Now and then the Hellenistic powers score a diplomatic
as when Antiochus the Great revealed his secret arrangement
with Egypt, but behind the Romans stood the last argument, the
legions. And beneath a kind of obtuseness which masked their
statecraft, there was discovered a notable instinct for turning the

(1) See discussion in Welles, op. cit. p. 66 ff. and cf tlje able diagramme
ot Polyperchon, Diodor. XVITI, 56.
(2) S.G.D.I. 5153-4.
10 F. Ε. ADCOCK

diplomatic niceties of the Greeks and their gradation of philia and


symmachia against themselves, so that the imperial needs of Home
if not her policy — for of farsighted policy there is little sign — were
well served, sometimes by the use, sometimes by the disregard,
of Hellenistic devices.
As time went on, it may be assumed that the Hellenistic powers
studied the psychology of the Roman Senate and sought to take
advantage of it. When Ptolemy the Younger published an extract
from his will in his Kingdom of Cyrene (x), he made known the fact
that he bequeathed « την καθήκονσάν μοι βασίλειαν » to Rome if
he died before leaving successors tohis throne, and at the same time,
that he committed his realm (τα πράγματα) (2) to the protection of
the Republic, adjuring the Romans to help him against any
in accordance with the φιλία and συμμαχία that existed between
them and him and in accordance with justice. As the preamble to
the extract shows, he took this step after a conspiracy against him
had ended in an attempt upon his life. The diplomatic purpose is
not hard to discover. He seeks at once to strengthen his claim upon
Roman support by committing his realm to their care in the present,
and to make clear to his subjects that if his enemies succeed in
him, the result will be that Rome will be entitled to step
in as his heir. The result will not be either independence or annexa-
ation by his brother of Egypt but subjection to Rome (3). On the
other hand, the bequest to Rome lapses if he has a son born to him,
which, as he was only about thirty years of age, was not out of the
question. Ptolemy may have reflected that he was placing
in the way of the Senate, the temptation to arrange matters
so that he died before he had a son to succeed him, but if so, he
correctly judged that the temptation would be resisted. It is a
matter for juristic argument whether the effect of the παρακαταθήκη
— the placing of his πράγματα in the care of Rome — can be
as the equivalent of a fidei commissum. But in any event

(1) Documenti antichi dell' Africa itulianu Fase. 1, 1932.


(2) For the significance of this phrase see Wklles, op. cit., Index s.v. πράγμα.
(3) For this interpretation of the purpose of the document and its
see Proc. Cambridge I'hilol. Soc. 1932 p. 7 ff. : W. Otto arrived at the
same conclusion independently in his Zur (¡eschichte der Zeit des 6. Ptolemäers,
Abh. Bay. Akad. 1934, p. 114 sqq. Otto argues that the publication at Cyrene
was not the act of Ptolemy but happened with his consent. This may be so
(though the reason advanced, that the King is described as ' the younger '
is far from decisive), but, if so, it as a distinction rather than a difference.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF ANCIENT GREEK DIPLOMACY 11

it appealed to the legalistic point of view of the patres. On the


other hand, the Senate was not asked to commit itself to any
formal act at the time being as the inheritance was contingent only :
it was enough that no one could venture to assume that Home would
not accept the inheritance if it came to her, or that Rome would not
consider her interests, and perhaps her honour involved in the
maintenance of Ptolemy's rule in Cyrene. More than that, Ptolemy
was planning to attempt to take Cyprus from his brother. If he
was successful, Cyprus as well as Cyrene might be included in the
elastic phrase τήν καθήκουσάν μοι βασιλείαν and so might pass
to Rome if Ptolemy died without issue in possession of it.
On the whole, this ingenious diplomatic manœuvre was a success,
Ptolemy was in the next year 154 allowed to visit Rome, despite
the ruling ban on visits by reigning princes. Rome gave him some
slight support in his enterprise against Cyprus, and it is a probable
conjecture that when he failed and was taken prisoner by his
brother, he owed his life to the belief that his death would not
bring his brother nearer to the possession of Cyrene, but put it for
ever out of his reach as a Roman province (*). Finally, it may be
supposed that Ptolemy had so little good will to lose in Cyrene that
he stood only to gain by the publication of the contingent bequest
and that he was more concerned to survive as king than to enable
his kingdom to survive his death (2).
Finally, the conjecture may be made that this was not the last
time that it was, at least, intended to use a bequest as an instrument
of self-preservation. In 133 B.C. the Roman People found itself
the heir of Attalus III of Pergamum.
The state of affairs at Pergamum at the beginningOf the year
was that the King was faced by the claim of his half-brother
Aristonicus to a reversion of the throne (3), and presumably was
aware of social discontent or the danger of a revolt of serfs and
slaves. Though he is said to have lived the life of a recluse with
interests other than statecraft, he, or at least his counsellors, would
be concerned with the safeguarding of his throne and fortunes.

(1) Cf. Otto, op. cit. p. 117 for a discussion of this incident.
(2) Wilckens arguments <S. B. Preuss. Akad. Phil. Hist. Kl. 1932, XIV).
for the secrecy of the document and its publication in 96 B. C. (or less probably
η 75 Β. C.) have been effectively answered, in particular, by E. Bickermann
in Gnomon VIII, 1932, p. 424 ff.
(3) See WiLcKiiN in V. W. s. v. Aristonikos (14) col. 962.
12 F. Ε. ADCOCK

With this end in view, it may be surmised, he made a will which


bequeathed to Rome his kingdom or crown possessions, so far as
there was any distinction between them, adding, it would seem, a
clause expressly maintaining or commending to Roman protection (*)
the « freedom » of the Greek cities, of which the chief was
his capital of Pergamum. When precisely this will was made there
is no evidence, nor is it known whether, as in the will of Ptolemy
the Younger, the claim of any future legitimate heirs of his body
was asserted, whether, that is, the bequest to Rome would lapse
if a legitimate son was born to him. But it may be regarded as more
than probable that the claim of Aristonicus was barred. That Attalus
anticipated his own decease as imminent seems unlikely if, as appears
reasonable, the statement in Justin that his death was due to
— a statement not refuted by Strabo's vaguer phrase
ετελεντα νόσω τον βίον — is accepted as true. For however
may have been the king's researches into the natural sciences
he can hardly have anticipated a sunstroke, and he was still
young, for his birth may be set in 171 B.C. (2). The
local government of Pergamum was aware of the contents of his
will before the bequest was accepted by Rome (3), and its publication
would have the effect of discouraging support of Aristonicus, whose
claim would be countered by that of Rome and of encouraging the
loyalty of the Greek cities in his kingdom. It may therefore be
conjectured that the original purpose of the will was not unlike
that attributed above to Ptolemy the Younger, and that its
were made known in Pergamum either by the King shortly
before his death or by his counsellors immediately his death occurred.
The communication of the will to Rome may even have been in
train when an untimely sunstroke converted a kind of life insurance
or act of self-preservation into an actual and immediately effective
bequest. If this conjecture is accepted, this act of state was intended
as an imitation of the shrewd device of the Younger Ptolemy but
dis aliter uisurn. The Roman Senate accepted the bequest, and
Roman power, assisted no doubt by the trust of the Greek cities
in the good faith of Rome, defeated the claim of Aristonicus and
the revolt of the slaves to whom he turned for support of it.
King's College, Cambridge.
(1) Cf. Bickermann, op. cit. p. 429 f.
(2) See Wilcken, in P. W. s. v. Attalos (10) col. 2169-70.
(3) 0· G. 1. S.338 1. 7 αεί ôè έηικνρωθήναι την διαθή[κην] νπό 'Ρωμαίων