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Reviewed Work(s): Feeding the Democracy: The Athenian Grain Supply in the Fifth and
Fourth Centuries (Oxford Classical Monographs) by A. MORENO; War, Food and Politics in
Early Hellenistic Athens by G.J. OLIVER
Review by: David Braund
Source: The Journal of Hellenic Studies, Vol. 132 (2012), pp. 213-215
Published by: The Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies
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Accessed: 01-04-2019 09:45 UTC

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naval and mercenary war;

economy of ancient Athens. The reasons are not far t
(rather than to mere
seek. On the one hand, the set of data that we
one's means seek tothen locked
bring to bear on Athens' economy (and on
system, and in of regions
the economies the long-t
which may or may not be
elimination especiallyweaker
of relevant to Athens) is very patchy,
with its deeply embedded
fragmented and different in kind, to an extent that
exception that
is extreme tested the
even by the standards of ancient
land On the
telling other, economic analysis
blows in thrives
before it statistics.
got its Accordingly,
hands anyone setting out
onto give P
P. Krentz reconsiders
an account of the Athenian economy is drivenHe to
'run' of theseek out such numbers as different kinds of
Greeks ancient
into c
usually considered implausi
testimony seem to support, whether these are to be
gear. Surprisingly,
found in the polemical knockabout of (forno-on
thought to Athenian rhetoric or in the forensica
account relative sobriety
the weight (however the
of that may be estimated)
hopliteof various kinds pa
result is much lighter
of inscription. Archaeology may offer valuable th
estimates of 33kg
help, especially and
where intensive excavation (some up
discussion to a survey)
would add cup by
and broadly reliable Dour
and a hoplite
are available.
Comparative evidence may also be side
tentatively brought
(though attrac
to bear with advantage, though replete with
all its familiar
commemorate the problems. Taken together, all this
charge; if
would may be selected
support recent and constructed to generate
chronology numbers, whether
of early rooted in a specific
red text or fig
I have done too
broader projections little
(retrojections, perhaps) about jus
contributions, and
Athenian demand can
or need, or about do
the productive n
Archer on the
capacity of Athens ordevelopme
some other region, as a whole
chariotry (touching
or in some part. Such is the procedure
on of economic
in southwest historyAsia);
in this field, as in theseFagan
two impressive on
system; L. studies. Ultimately, the extent to on
Rawlings which their the
Rosenstein casting
conclusions are convincing must serious
depend both on d
early Roman army
readers' openness fought
to this broad methodology and
Potter on on theirdevelopment
the assessment of the application of the o
in the late method in each case. I find it hard to be at all
James Thorne confident about many of the numbers used.
University of Manchester Chronologically, these two studies could hardly fit better. Moreno offers a strong narrative
which takes us from Archaic beginnings down to
the later fourth century, where Oliver takes up the
MORENO (A.) Feeding the Democracy: The baton. However, the tendencies of their conclu-
Athenian Grain Supply in the Fifth and sions are interestingly different, which seems to be
Fourth Centuries BC (Oxford Classical a consequence of more than the difference in the
Monographs). Oxford: Oxford University periods which they address.
Press, 2007. Pp. xix + 420, illus. £65. Moreno begins with a substantial set of projec-
9780199228409. tions, concluding that Attica could sustain
between 52,000 and 106,000 people and
OLIVER (G.J.) War, Food and Politics in Early
promising to work with a figure of 84,000 (32).
Hellenistic Athens. Oxford: Oxford These figures are not random, but rooted in much
University Press, 2007. Pp. xxiii + 360, and serious scholarship during recent
£60. 9780199283507. decades. And Moreno honestly acknowledges the
doi: 1 0. 1 0 1 7/S00754269 1 200047X many variables which apply. However, one does
not have to be a great sceptic to feel disquiet about
As these two valuable books amply testify in theirthe value of figures which embrace a spectrum of
different ways, there remains a lot of life in debates
roughly 2:1. Moreno proceeds on that projection
on even the most fundamental questions aboutto examine archaeological evidence, albeit

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deploying literary texts for

The final part ofkey
Moreno's parts of his ca
book moves away
First, the deme Euonymon.
from archaeologyHe(albeit aconcludes
rather text-led archae- that t
ology) to 'Literature'.
area was heavily farmed and that Here he develops
its further
was directed at the supply of
his analysis of the the
ideology within market
which Athenian of t
urban core of ancient relationships Athens withrather
the Bosporus were
to feed
itself. Next he offers a valuable discussion of enacted and expressed. So, once more to the
Athenian exploitation of Euboea in the fifth
orators, in particular, and 'the rhetoric of the
Athenian grain supply' (303), with much
century, especially as a source of grain. He places
particular emphasis on the role of cleruchies ininsightful comment. A concluding chapter sums
that exploitation, while insisting also on their
up Moreno's case with admirable clarity: Classical
prominence in Athenian overseas activities inAthens, unable to feed itself, relied particularly on
its cleruchies down to the end of the
general. There follows a chapter on the Black Sea
as a source of goods for Athens down to the later
Peloponnesian War, when the Bosporan kingdom
fifth century. This is especially welcome, sincetook over much of their role. The Bosporus
English-language scholarship seldom takes the produced its surplus on royal lands of the steppe
while the Athenian democracy found ways t
considerable trouble to engage significantly with
the vast array of scholarship available for the
manage that special relationship. Moreno writes
with panache and optimistic ambition, but o
region. In fact, Moreno largely concerns himself
with the north coast, where the Bosporan kingdom
must observe how little we know about key facto
is his main interest, though the Black Sea is in
of this argument, such as the role of cleruchies,
course much more than that. The kingdom itself the
is extent and significance of royal Bospora
lands. Grain might come to Athens by man
a deeply complex social, political and economic
entity, whose most productive agricultural area routes
is and from many places. However, this is a
usually understood to have been the Asiatic side. impressive piece of work, by any standard, and
Moreno concerns himself primarily with the will figure prominently in the further debates tha
can be expected on the Athenian food supply
European side (map 3), possibly because this is the
area of Panticapaeum and Nymphaeum, on which while its byways and several appendices will
found useful elsewhere besides.
he has a good deal to say. We should be clear that
the archaeology of Panticapaeum continues to Oliver's book has a different feel. Inscriptions
suffer very badly from the presence of the cityplay
of a much larger role, while there is more focus
on Athens and Attica. The emphasis here is on the
Kerch that sits above most of it (as Moreno knows,
207), so that most conclusions are preliminary, fragility of Athens' economy, not least in the
while Nymphaeum, though now under careful supply of food, by its nature and in the context of
excavation, has not always been so lucky, as the the chaos of Hellenistic events. Oliver strives to
remnants held at the Ashmolean serve to illustrate. show the history of the Athenian economy
We need to be clear also that the sweeping through these years from the bottom, from the
hypotheses of Y.G. Vinogradov, for all their lives of the peasantry of Attica in particular. By so
brilliance, are good bases for discussion but not doing, he neatly turns the lack of a dominant élite
for the construction of further arguments. Moreno narrative text into what may be seen even as a
finishes this chapter with a short tour of highlights positive. After a thoughtful introduction, Oliver
in Scythian art and conclusions which depend sets out 'economic vulnerabilities', which
largely upon Demosthenes' suggestions in the encompass Athens and its overseas sources in a
Against Leptines. Moreno finds no difficulty in Macedonian world, the Piraeus and cleruchies,
inferring that Athens received 400,000 medimni of and (especially valuable) the people of Attica.
grain from the Bosporan kingdom each year in The second part of the book switches from
Demosthenes' day. He is consistent in his rather economics and food supply to questions of war.
accepting approach to the orators (cf. 32-33 and Decade by decade Oliver takes us through the
several times on Aeschines' claims about Gylon, experience of ordinary Athenians after Alexander.
albeit with more reserve), while more sceptical Next, he sets out the archaeological and other
readings are available (for example my own, in V. evidence for the defence of the land and gives a
Gabrielsen and J. Lund (eds), The Black Sea in valuable account of command and leadership
Antiquity (Aarhus 2007) 39-68 (note there also through these years under the forceful gaze of
Moreno's paper); similarly, Oliver, 21, though he powerful monarchs. There follows a very
is not always so critical). welcome survey of the Athenian military, which is

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alsoa surveyempire
of and fewer citizens, confirms theat lar
special forces, etc.).
connection between democracy andThe
war-making, th
turns to thewhile
public finances
the scale of Athens' military activity will
interaction have
of had at least an indirect effect on thebene
revenues and support
democracy. from
the provision The
of grain.
papers which follow are grouped themati-
Oliver offers
cally in twos and a convincin
threes. J. Ober argues here, as
Athenian economy in
he has argued elsewhere, for Athens' success in ong
disruption, under siege,
deploying the shared knowledge of the citizens; occu
yet surviving well
and R.K. Balot supports enough
the view of Thucydides'
unclear how Pericles that the Athenians
much of did indeed
thathave a eco
really new, superior
for (Moreno's
courage based on deliberation. I. Spence
standing) the Athenian
discusses the acceptance by democratic food
Athens of
an uncertain and
its need yet
for a force of cavalry; and vital
M. Trundle
conclusion poin
Athens' innovative use of light infantry.
to be gained S. Mills examines
by bringingEuripides' treatment of warfare,
supply with and argues that he did not
themes ofcriticizewar
Athenian a
often handled more
military ventures; or that
and D. Konstan suggests less
only be Aristophanes
struck by criticized warmongering,
the but in
whose fragilities might
such a way that the audiences als
could feel that both
flexibilities. sides
had been heard and could continue making Ol
understanding war. A.J.L.
how lawcourt
very speeches could indeed,
impressive on occasions challenge as is
awkward set
mainstreamof data
military values; to
and P. Hunt argues p
history. that Athens was not exceptionally militaristic, but
Sincere apologies are due to both authors, for was optimistic enough to think of the past as
this review has been delayed for far too long by a victorious and to believe that victory could be
series of unforeseen difficulties, now overcome. won in the present.
David Braund R. Osborne focuses on the funeral monument
University of Exeterof the cavalryman Dexileos, in 394/393, as a in the development from Athens'
commemoration of collective achievements in war
towards the greater commemoration of individual
PRITCHARD (D.M.) Ed. War, Democracy achievements;and P. Hannah studies the fifth-century
Culture in Classical Athens. Cambridge: 'warrior loutrophoroV , which by depicting
Cambridge University Press, 2010. Pp. xviii + beautiful men in beautiful equipment, calmly
460, illus. £65. 9780521190336. going to their deaths like heroes, reinforced the
doi: 1 0. 1 0 1 7/S00754269 1 200048 1 positive view of fighting for Athens; M.C. Miller
explores the symbolism of the 'I am Eurymedon'
Pritchard has assembled a galaxy of well-qualified vase, stressing the lower-class physiognomy and
contributors from four continents. Most spoke at dress of the victorious Greek. P. Low suggests
a conference on this theme in Sydney in 2006, the that the tombs of the war-dead meant less to the
two on drama at a conference there the following Athenians than other, more positive commemora-
year. tions of war; S. Yoshitake argues that the war-dead
In his introduction Pritchard stresses that were praised in the funeral speeches not because
Athens in the late sixth and fifth centuries
all had displayed arete or because they on their
underwent not only a democratic but alsoown
a had gained Athens' successes, but because
they had all faced and succumbed to the dangers
military transformation, with much more frequent
resort to warfare, in new styles, supported by and
the so could be considered representative of all
empire and by the large number of citizens Athens' warriors. J. Keane in an epilogue shows
available for service. The democracy encouraged
from Athenian and recent history that democracies
resort to war, but reduced the risk of ill-chosen
are not inherently peace-loving, but are at least
and badly-managed adventures. Continuing
able to hold to account those who would lead them
military success in the fourth century, with into
no war.

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