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PUBLIC FINANCE AND WAR IN ANCIENT GREECE*

Abstract

Before the Persian Wars the Greeks did not rely on public finance to fight each other. Their hoplites armed and fed themselves. But in the confrontation with Persia this private funding of war proved to be inadequate. The liberation of the Greek states beyond the Balkans required the destruction of Persia's sea power. In 478 bc Athens agreed to lead an alliance to do just this. It already had Greece's largest fleet. But each campaign of this ongoing war would need tens of thousands of sailors and would go on for months. No single Greek city-state could pay for such campaigns. The alliance thus agreed to adopt the Persian method for funding war: its members would pay a fixed amount of tribute annually. This enabled Athens to force Persia out of the Dardanelles and Ionia. But the Athenians also realized that their military power depended on tribute, and so they tightened their control of its payers. In so doing they turned the alliance into an empire.

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d.pritchard@uq.edu.au
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*

This article was delivered as a paper at Macquarie University's Australian Centre for Ancient Numismatic Studies. I thank the Centre's Director, Prof. K. Sheedy, for his invitation to be its Senior Research Fellow for 2014. The article draws heavily on D. M. Pritchard, Public Spending and Democracy in Classical Athens (Austin, TX, 2015). For their helpful comments on the article I am most grateful to A. Florence, D. J. Phillips, C. Pry, P. J. Rhodes and K. A. Raaflaub. All translations of Greek are my own.

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1 Pritchard D. M., ‘The Symbiosis between Democracy and War: The Case of Ancient of Ancient Athens’, in Pritchard D. M. (ed.), War, Democracy and Culture in Classical Athens (Cambridge, 2010), 715.

2 E.g. Hdt. 6.34–7; see also Frost F. J., ‘The Athenian Military before Cleisthenes’, Historia 33 (1984), 283–94.

3 E.g. Plut. Vit. Sol. 9.

4 E.g. Thuc. 6.56–8.

5 Singor H. W., ‘The Military Side of the Peisistratean Tyranny’, in Sancisi-Weerdenburg H. (ed.), Peisistratos and the Tyranny. A Reappraisal of the Evidence (Amsterdam, 2000), 107, 110.

6 The exception is the archaic Spartans, who enslaved the Messenians and turned themselves into full-time hoplites in order to maintain their enslavement; see e.g. Cartledge P., Spartan Reflections (Berkeley, CA, Los Angeles, CA, and London, 2001), 299307.

7 Connor W. R., ‘Early Greek Land Warfare as Symbolic Expression’, Past & Present 119 (1988), 68.

8 [Arist.] Ath. Pol. 20–1; Hdt. 5.66–73.

9 Hdt. 5.96–7; see also Pritchard (n. 1), 15–16.

10 Raaflaub K. A., ‘Learning from the Enemy: Athenian and Persian “Instruments of Empire”’, in Ma J., Papazarakadas N., and Parker R. (eds.), Interpreting the Athenian Empire (London, 2009), 98–9.

11 Hdt. 3.89–97.

12 [Arist.] Ath. Pol. 22.7; Hdt. 6.87–93, 7.144; Thuc. 1.14.

13 E.g. [Arist.] Ath. Pol. 22.7; IG ii2 1628.339–68; see also Pritchard D. M., ‘Costing Festivals and War: The Spending Priorities of the Athenian Democracy’, Historia 61 (2012), 51.

14 [Arist.] Ath. Pol. 22.7; Hdt. 7.144; see also Davis G., ‘Mining Money in Late Archaic Athens’, Historia 63 (2014), 257–77.

15 Gabrielsen V., Financing the Athenian Fleet. Public Taxation and Social Relations (Baltimore, MD, and London, 1994), 19104.

16 E.g. Dem. 21.155; 21.80; Lys. 19.29, 42; 21.2; see also Pritchard (n. 13), 28.

17 E.g. [Dem.] 50.22, 53–5; see Pritchard (n. 13), 47–8.

18 E.g. [Dem.] 50.7–8, 12–13, 18–19; see also Burckhardt L. A., ‘Söldner und Bürger als Soldaten für Athen’, in Eder W. (ed.), Die athenische Demokratie im. 4. Jahrhundert v. Chr. Vollendung oder Verfall einer Verfassungsform? Akten eines Symposiums 3.–7. August 1992, Bellagio (Stuttgart, 1995), 125.

19 E.g. [Dem.] 50.11–12, 14–16, 25, 36.

20 Gabrielsen V., ‘Die Kosten der athenischen Flotte in klassischer Zeit’, in Burrer F. and Müller H. (eds.), Kriegskosten und Kriegsfinanzierung in der Antike (Darmstadt, 2008), 4673.

21 E.g. Thuc. 3.14; 6.8, 31; 7.27.

22 Loomis W. T., Wages, Welfare Costs, and Inflation in Classical Athens (Ann Arbor, MI, 1998), 3261, 97–120.

23 E.g. Thuc. 6.8.

24 E.g. Plut. Vit. Them. 10.

25 Thuc. 1.94–7.

26 Rhodes P. J., A History of the Classical Greek World (Malden, MA, Melbourne, and Oxford, 2006), 1421.

27 Kallet L., ‘The Origins of the Athenian Economic Arche’, JHS 133 (2013), 56; Raaflaub (n. 10), 100–1.

28 Thuc. 1.96, 99; see also D. J. Phillips, ‘Thucydides 1.99: Tribute and Revolts in the Athenian Empire’, ASCS 31 [2010] Proceedings, available at http://msc.uwa.edu.au/classics/ascs31.

29 Thuc. 1.97–8.

30 Meiggs R., The Athenian Empire (Oxford, 1972), 152–74; Rhodes (n. 26), 20–1, 41–51.

31 Pritchard (n. 1), 17–21.

32 For its unsurpassed skill as a besieger, see e.g. Thuc. 1.102.

33 Pritchard D. M., ‘“The Fractured Imaginary”: Popular Thinking on Military Matters in Fifth-century Athens’, AH 28 (1998), 55.

34 See e.g. Andoc. 3; Ar. Ach. 162–3; Ar. Av. 378–80; Ar. Lys. 170–6, 421–3, 488, 496; Ar. Plut. 112; Ar. Ran. 365; Dem. 4.40; 8.48; 9.40, 70–2; 13.10; 22.12–17; Lys. 13.46–8; 28.15.

35 E.g. Thuc. 1.142–3; 2.13, 65.

36 Pritchard (n. 13), 39–44.

37 For the cost of state religion, see Pritchard (n. 13), 23–39. For the cost of democracy, see Pritchard D. M., Public Spending and Democracy in Classical Athens (Austin, TX, 2015), 5290.

38 Xen. An. 7.1.27.

39 Thuc. 3.19; see also Samons L. J., Empire of the Owl. Athenian Imperial Finance (Stuttgart, 2000), 205.

40 Gabrielsen V., ‘Finance and Taxes’, in Beck H. (ed.), A Companion to Ancient Greek Government (Chichester, 2013), 342.

41 Andoc. 3.8–9; Ar. Vesp. 656–60; Plut. Vit. Arist. 24; IG i3 71.61–181; see also Pritchard (n. 13), 41–2.

42 Thuc. 2.13; IG i3 369.

43 Aeschin. 2.175; Andoc. 3.8–9; Thuc. 6.26; see also Pritchard (n. 13), 44–5; Samons (n. 40), 166–7.

44 E.g. [Xen.] Ath. Pol. 2.16; see also Pritchard (n. 1), 20–1.

45 Thuc. 8.2–5.

46 Thuc. 8.18, 37, 58.

47 Rhodes (n. 26), 142–54.

48 Xen. Hell. 2.1.27–2.9.

49 E.g. Xen. Hell. 3.5.1–2; 4.8.9–11.

50 Seager R., ‘The Corinthian War’, in Lewis D. M., Boardman J., Hornblower S., and Ostwald M. (eds.), The Cambridge Ancient History, Volume VI. The Fourth Century bc (Cambridge, 1994), 100–6.

51 Xen. Hell. 4.8.9–10.

52 Seager (n. 50), 113–17.

53 E.g. Xen. Hell. 4.8.27–30.

54 E.g. IG ii2 24.

55 Thuc. 7.28.

56 Dem. 20.60.

57 Ar. Plut. 178; Xen. Hell. 4.8.24, 5.1.10.

58 Xen. Hell. 5.1.25.

59 Ibid. 5.1.28.

60 Ibid. 5.1.30.

61 Ibid. 5.1.31.

62 E.g. Diod. Sic. 15.5.3–5; Xen. Hell. 5.2–3; see also Rhodes (n. 26), 212–13.

63 Diod. Sic. 15.28–9; see also Cargill J., The Second Athenian League. Empire or Free Alliance? (Berkeley, CA, and Los Angeles, CA, 1981).

64 IG ii2 43.15–45; see also Rhodes P. J. and Osborne R., Greek Historical Inscriptions 404–323 bc (Oxford, 2003), 92113.

65 Christ M. R., ‘The Evolution of the Eisphora in Classical Athens’, CQ 57 (2007), 5369.

66 E.g. Dem. 2.24, 30; 22.44; [Dem.] 50.8; Isae. 6.60.

67 RO 26.53–5; see also Rhodes P. J., ‘The Organization of Athenian Public Finance’, G&R 60 (2013), 219.

68 Dem. 1.19–20; 3.11–13.

69 E.g. Dem. 18.234; [Dem.] 49.49; IG ii2 43.23; see also Brun P., Eisphora – syntaxis – stratiotika. Recherches sur les finances militaires d'Athènes au IVe siècle av. J.-C. (Besançon and Paris, 1983), 91–3.

70 E.g. IG i3 71.

71 Rhodes (n. 26), 232–3.

72 E.g. IG ii2 233; see also Rhodes and Osborne (n. 64), 358–61.

73 E.g. Aeschin. 2.71; Dem. 18.234.

74 Pritchard (n. 13), 45–57.

75 Gabrielsen V., ‘Warfare and the State’, in Sabin P., Wees H. van, and Whitby M. (eds.), The Cambridge History of Greek and Roman Warfare, Volume I. Greece, the Hellenistic World and the Rise of Rome (Cambridge, 2007), 264–72.

76 For this use of booty, see e.g. Diod. Sic. 15.47.7; Nep. Timoth. 1; Xen. Hell. 6.2.36. For plunder, see e.g. Isoc. 15.111–12; Polyaenus, Strat. 3.10.0. For protection money, see e.g. Aeschin. 2.71–2; Dem. 8.24–6.

77 Hamel D., Athenian Generals. Military Authority in the Classical Period (Boston, MA, Cologne, and Leiden, 1998), 158, pace Taylor C., ‘Bribery in Athenian Politics Part I: Accusations, Allegations, and Slander’, G&R 48 (2001), 61.

78 E.g. Dem. 24.11–14; Lys. 28.1–4, 6, 10; 29.2, 5, 8–11, 14; Xen. Hell. 1.2.4–5.

79 Dem. 8.9; 21.3; Diod. Sic. 16.57.2–3; Lys. 28.5–6; see also Burckhardt (n. 18), 115, 130; Millett P., ‘Finance and Resources: Public, Private, and Personal’, in Erskine A. (ed.), A Companion to Ancient History (Chichester, 2009), 475.

80 Dem. 20.17–80; Lys. 28.6; see also Fröhlich P., ‘Remarques sur la reddition des comptes des stratèges athéniens’, Dike 3 (2000), 81111.

81 E.g. [Arist.] Oec. 1350b–1a, 1353a; Polyaenus, Strat. 3.11.5; see also Davies J. K., ‘Athenian Fiscal Expertise and Its Influence’, MediterrAnt 7 (2004), 491512.

82 Pritchard (n. 1), 51–5.

83 For this protection of Attica, see e.g. Harding P., ‘Athenian Defensive Strategy in the Fourth Century’, Phoenix 42 (1988), 6871. For the shipping lines, see e.g. Dem. 18.301–2; [Dem.] 50; Xen. Hell. 5.4.61.

84 E.g. Dem. 6.12; 8.45; Diod. Sic. 15.78.4; Xen. Hell. 7.1.1.

85 Rhodes (n. 26), 296–322.

86 E.g. Dem. 9.47–52; Diod. Sic. 16.3.1; Frontin. Str. 4.1.6; Polyaenus, Strat. 4.2.10.

87 E.g. Dem. 9.58.

88 E.g. Dem. 9.48–50; Diod. Sic. 16.8.2.

89 J. Serrati, ‘Warfare and the State’, in Sabin, van Wees, and Whitby (n. 75), 462–4.

90 Bosworth A. B., Conquest and Empire. The Reign of Alexander the Great (Cambridge 1988), 89.

91 Diod. Sic. 16.8.6.

92 Bosworth (n. 90), 8.

93 E.g. Diod. Sic. 7.80.13; see also Bosworth (n. 90), 241–5.

94 Serrati (n. 89), 470–9.

95 Chaniotis A., War in the Hellenistic World. A Social and Cultural History (Oxford, 2005), 117.

96 Polyb. 5.65, 79–87.

* This article was delivered as a paper at Macquarie University's Australian Centre for Ancient Numismatic Studies. I thank the Centre's Director, Prof. K. Sheedy, for his invitation to be its Senior Research Fellow for 2014. The article draws heavily on D. M. Pritchard, Public Spending and Democracy in Classical Athens (Austin, TX, 2015). For their helpful comments on the article I am most grateful to A. Florence, D. J. Phillips, C. Pry, P. J. Rhodes and K. A. Raaflaub. All translations of Greek are my own.

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