Skip to main content Accessibility help

Greeks abroad: social organisation and food among the ten thousand1

  • Andrew Dalby (a1)

This study of the Ten Thousand on their way home will consider, with regard to some important aspects of their social behaviour, whether they were adopting and adapting the Greek city way of life, or that of a mercenary army, and whether other possible models may help us to understand their problems and their success.

The Ten Thousand had been part of an army and many of them would form part of one again. The assumption that in the meanwhile they were really just like an army justifies the space given to them by Parke, by Marinovich and by Griffith in books which are studies of Greek mercenary warfare. Of course the men's aim when they were Cyrus's mercenaries (like the aims of other mercenaries) had been to follow what instructions had come to them from above and to take home, individually, what pay and profit they could. But once Cyrus was killed they were no longer mercenaries nor employed by any authority, and their aim, decided by themselves, was to find a way home. Their entirely different status, and their ability to succeed in these new circumstances, mean that it is unwise in investigating the patterns of behaviour either of mercenaries or of the Ten Thousand to assume without question that the two patterns will be the same.

Hide All

2 It is not, of course, the first. Anderson, Griffith, Marinovich, Nussbaum, Parke and Roy are among modern authors who have followed Diodorus Siculus (see n. 8) in giving close attention to this undeniably gripping historical episode.

The following works are referred to by author's name alone: Anderson, J. K., Xenophon (London 1974); Garlan, Y., La guerre dans l'antiquité (Paris 1972) [available in English with omissions as War in the ancient world (London 1975)]; Goody, J., Cooking, cuisine and class (Cambridge 1982); Graham, A. J., Colony and mother city in ancient Greece (Manchester 1964); Griffith, G. T., The mercenaries of the Hellenistic world (Cambridge 1935); Malkin, I., Religion and colonization in ancient Greece (Leiden 1988); Marinovich, L. P., ‘Grecheskiye nayemniki v kontse V — nachale IV vv. do n. e.’ in Vestnik drevnei istorii vol. 4 no. 66 (1958) 7087 [Marinovich, ‘Nayemniki’]; Marinovich, L. P., Grecheskoye nayemnichestvo IV v. do n. e. i krizis polisa (Moscow 1975) [available in French translation by Garlan, J. and Garlan, Y., Le mercenariat grec et la crise de la polis (Annales littéraires de l'Université de Besançon no. ccclxxii), Paris 1988: cited here as Marinovich]; Mossé, C., ‘Armée et cité grecque’ in Revue des études anciennes 65 (1963) 290297; Nussbaum, G. B., The ten thousand: a study in social organization and action in Xenophon's Anabasis (Leiden 1967); Parke, H. W., Greek mercenary soldiers from the earliest times to the battle oflpsus (Oxford 1933); Pritchett, W. K., Ancient Greek military practices part 1 (Berkeley 1971) [reprinted as The Greek state at war, vol. i]; Roy, J., ‘The mercenaries of Cyrus’ in Historia xvi (1967) 287323 [Roy, ‘Mercenaries’]; Roy, J., ‘Xenophon's evidence for the Anabasis’ in Athenaeum n.s. xlvi (1968) 3746 [Roy, ‘Evidence’]; Shaw, B. D., ‘Eaters of flesh, drinkers of milk’ in Ancient society xiii/xiv (1982/1983 [1985]) 531; Vernant, J.-P., ‘Manger aux pays du soleil’ in La cuisine du sacrifice en pays grec ed. Detienne, M. and Vernant, J.-P. (Paris 1979) 239249 [also published in Culture, science et développement: mélanges Ch. Morazé (Toulouse 1979) 57–64].

I have found myself citing Roy's two papers most frequently. The French translation of Marinovich was, for me, very timely: without it I would have missed Marinovich's insights. On the Ten Thousand see 122–177 (135–196 of the translation: references will be given to both).

3 Decisions made by Cyrus and discussed with the men who shared his table (syntrapezoi, Xenophon Anabasis i 9.31) were transmitted to Clearchus, who had most de facto authority among the mercenary generals (i 3.8, i 6.5 etc. References in this form are to Xenophon's Anabasis. See Roy, ‘Mercenaries’ 292–3 on Clearchus's position). Syntrapezoi is no doubt the appropriate term here but it is an uncommon word in classical Greek because it was not applicable to (e.g.) Athenian dining customs, in which tables were seldom shared. Hence homotrapezoi is more often found, e.g. i 8.25, also Xenophon, Cyropaedia vii 1.30, Plato, Laws 868e (cf. synestios ib. 868d), Deinarchus, Against Demosthenes 24, Strabo ix 3.5, Chariton, Chaereas and Callirhoe vii 2.5.

4 On their aims see also n. 22.

5 Marinovich 174–5/192–5.

6 Roy, ‘Mercenaries’ 303–8.

7 On the Sicilian expedition see Mossé; on Xenophon, n. 22–23 below.

8 Three centuries later Diodorus Siculus (Library, xiv 27.1–37.4) wrote a fairly full narrative of the retreat; where this differs from Xenophon it does so by over-simplifying, cf. Roy, ‘Mercenaries’ 294–5. It has nothing independent to offer. There were other memoirs of the retreat by participants, now lost. Diodorus (and later Plutarch, Artaxerxes) had independent sources for Cyrus's advance, cf. Anderson 80–84.

9 It is fair to infer this from the generous space given in the Anabasis (examples below) and Hellenica (e.g. ii 1.1–5) to soldiers' opinions and to their morale.

10 Examples from Anabasis below; cf. Hellenica vii 5.15, vii 5.20, etc. Socrates, in Xenophon's Memorabilia (iii 2.4), argues explicitly the prime importance to a general of his men's morale.

11 On Xenophon's political views see Anderson, especially 40–45.

12 But see n. 44, with its reference to Roy, ‘Evidence’, for one line of enquiry. In the same paper is a full discussion of Xenophon's method of work; references there too, 45 n. 29, on the date of composition. But whatever Roy may say, we have really no idea whether Xenophon kept notes, nor whether there were ‘official records’ of the Ten Thousand, nor whether he would have had access to them later if there were.

13 This again is inference: Xenophon wrote few prefaces. But most of his works overtly instruct novices (On Hunting, On Horsemanship) or correct misleading statements by others (Ways and Means, Symposium: see the opening sections of these two) or propound ideals (Spartan Constitution, Education of Cyrus).

14 Marinovich 176/194 and 140–141/154–5; see further Marinovich, ‘Nayemniki’ 76–7 and n. 26–39.

15 i 7.10. For the calculation, and for what is known of origins, see Roy, ‘Mercenaries’ 301–9.

16 ii 5.32, cf. iv 1.12. Strangely, Roy, ‘Mercenaries’ 310 argues that soldiers did not have personal servants, although there is plenty of evidence that it was common practice: for references see Pritchett, 16 n. 50, 49–51.

17 Dancing girl, vi 1.12; boys, mostly from among the captives, took part in wrestling, iv 8.27; women and boys as sexual partners, iv 1.14. What was the age and status of the dyo neanisko, two youngsters, at iv 3.10? Thucydides vii 60.3 implies that there was a certain number of children with the Athenian army in Sicily.

18 Prostitutes vi 3.19, cf. v 4.33; mule-driver v 8.

19 iii 2.36.

20 vi 1.12–14: ‘with the large number of people, twice the quantity of food had to be obtained and transported.’ It was at this point that the generals attempted to reduce supply problems by expelling the slaves who had been acquired most recently.

21 iii 2.23–26. P. G. van Soesbergen saw that this was a joke (‘Colonisation as a solution to social-economic problems in fourth-century Greece’ in Ancient society vol. xiii/xiv [1982/3] 131–145). Parke (33) took it seriously: ‘their plan,’ he says, ‘was to fight their way northward and westward … or if they failed to find a way, to settle and defy the King as the Mysians and other native tribes had succeeded in doing’. By ‘native tribes’ Parke means Asiatics: Xenophon's point is that the Pisidians and Lycaonians were not natives but recent migrants. Marinovich (131–2/145) takes the sentence about the Lotus-eaters as evidence that there really was a section of the army that wanted to stay in Babylonia, although Roy, ‘Mercenaries’ 318 n. 124 had rightly pointed out: ‘The passage does not prove that the desires mentioned actually existed.’

22 vi 4.8, iii 4.46, cf. ii 6.13. Roy, ‘Mercenaries’ (316–320) and Marinovich (132–4/143–7) discuss the aims of Cyrus's mercenaries; on the aims of mercenaries in general see also McKechnie, P., Outsiders in the Greek cities in the fourth century BC (London 1989) 80, 90. These are by no means the most convincing passages of the Anabasis; see especially Roy's comments on vi 4.8.

23 i 2.4.

24 In a discussion of the fantasy of settling the Athenian army in Sicily, attributed by Thucydides (vii 77.4–5) to Nicias, Mossé examines its demography. There are not enough statistics to permit a firm conclusion, but she estimates that the proportion of hoplites (1500) to total population in that army was similar to the proportion in Attica as a whole.

25 For text and a translation see Graham, 224–6. The decree is a 4th century BC reconstitution, erected at Cyrene, which seems to contain old material.

26 Reported sceptically by Polybius xii 9.3. For a similar metaphor see Plato, Laws 754a.

27 Supported by Herodotus, iv 153, who adds that brothers drew lots to determine who was to sail. Accepting the evidence of the inscription and of Herodotus seems to entail rejecting the view of the Libyan historian Menecles (schol. Pind. Pyth. 4.10) that the colony resulted from civil strife in Thera. What Menecles may have thought of the inscription is unknown.

28 Text in Buck, C. D., The Greek dialects (Chicago 1955) 248253; a translation in Graham, 226–8.

29 The question has been discussed by Rougé, J., ‘La colonisation grecque et les femmes’ in Cahiers d'histoire xv (1970) 307317, by Graham, A. J., ‘Religion, women and Greek colonization’ in Atti del Centro Ricerche e Documentazione sull’ Antichità Classica xii = n.s. i (1980/1981 ) 293314, and by van Compernolle, R., ‘Femmes indigènes et colonisateurs’ in Forme di contatto e processi di trasformazione nelle società antiche: Modes de contacts et processus de tranformation dans les societes anciennes. Actes du colloque de Cortone, 24–30 mai 1981 (Collection de l'Ecole Francaise de Rome lxvii) (Pisa 1983) 10331049: the evdience is not abundant, but is on the side of those who argue that most of the initial migrants (in archaic and classical colonisation were young men and that they would seek wives or concubines, sometimes from among local peoples, once the colony was established.

Graham, in a paper of patchy logic, could well be right at least that some few Greek priestesses were likely to accompany a typical colonising venture. But the only recorde cases even of this are Strabo iv 1.4 (Massalia); Pausanias × 28.3 (thasos, if one assumes that the incident concerned did take place at its foundation).

To van Compemolle's references concerning intermarriage one may add Herodotus i 146.2–3 and Pausanias vii 2.6 (Greek and Xarians at miletus: but note Graham's well-founded doubts); Justin xliii 406–10 (a second episode in the remance of Massalia). for the first episode, Aristotle fr.549 Rose [Athenaeus 576a-b] is older than justin xlii 3.4–12). cf. Buchner, G. in Cahiers J. Bérard. II: Contributions à l' étude de la société et de la colonisation eubéenne (Naples 1975) 79 on intermarriage at Ischia. the rarer cases in which males, not females,were draw from native peoples attacted more interest in the sources: for the evidance on these see Asheri, D., ‘Tyrannie et mariage forcé’ in Annales: économies, sociétés, civilisations xxxii (1977) 2148.

A character in the (incredible) story of the foundation of Taras, as told by Pausanias x 10.7, is the foundeer's wife who had ‘accompanied’ or ‘followed him from home'; the fact that Pausanias had to explain this in so many words suggests that the circumstance seemed unusual to him Against this Ploat, Laws 776a and Herodotus i 146 both seem to imply that women might normally be involved in the initial stages of colonisation.

In the first century AD the settlement on Socotra populated by Arabs, Indians and Greeks was the only current importer of fact female slaves worth nothing in the whole Indian Ocean, ‘because of a shortage’. This presumably resulted from the fact that the inhabitants, still first-generation settlers (epixenoi), had not brought enough women with them: Periplus Maris Erythraei 30–31.

A non-Greek comparison may also be relevant. In his attempt to establish a permanent colony at Leifsbúdhir (Leif's Houses) in Vinland about AD 1010, Thorfinn Karlsefni gathered a party of sixty men and five women, according to Groenlendinga saga ch. 7. Eiriks Saga, recounting the same events but different in many details, hints that a woman could be an encumbrance in the early stages of colonisation (ch. 11) but also tells of jealousy arising ‘in the third winter’ among the men who had no women (ch. 12); the Greenlanders never established friendly relations with the Amerindians, were too weak to take women from them by force, and abandoned their settlement after four years. These narratives were written about two hundred years after the event but appear to give a convincing picture of social behaviour; or, to put it another way, ‘both of them are of much greater interest in regard to human relations than as records of exploration:’ Chadwick, H. M. and Chadwick, N. K., The growth of literature (Cambridge 19321940) i, 542. Texts in Eyrbyggja saga, Brands thdttr orva, Eiriks saga Raudha [etc.] ed. Sveinsson, Einar O. and Thórdharson, Matthias (Reykjavík 1935) 261, 229, 233, cf. Jansson, S. V. B., Handskrifterna till Erik den Rödes saga (Lund 1944) 72, 76; a translation in The Vinland sagas: the Norse discovery of America tr. Magnusson, M. and Pálsson, H. (Harmondsworth 1965) 65, 100, 102.

30 One son to Cyrene; more might go to Naupactus. One man in every ten from Chalcis went via Delphi to found Rhegium, according to the story in Strabo vi 1.6 (257).

31 This is clear in the case of Cyrene. It is implied by the following clause in the Naupactus decree (which also has its parallel at Cyrene): ‘If the Hypocnemidian Locrians are driven out of Naupactus by force, they may go back, each to where he was, without forfeit.’ It would be difficult to make this promise if family homes were being given up.

32 Cf. Odyssey vii 155 and scholia; Plato, Laws 634d-e, 658e–660d, 680a–e, 690a.

33 Here not called strategoi ‘generals’ but arkhontes ‘rulers’, iii 1.47, cf. also iii 2.29–30, as if to emphasise that the group was ceasing to be an army: the term strategoi is not dropped, however.

34 iii 1.4–2.38. At the end of the officers' meeting, iii 1.45–47, there was also somehow no opportunity for debate. Roy, ‘Mercenaries’ (288) observes that the election of generals had been ‘conducted entirely by the surviving officers; the ordinary soldiers had nothing to do with it, and did not even discuss … these elections … Democracy played no part.’

35 iii 1.26–32. By no means all the army was of Greek origin. Roy, ‘Mercenaries’ (303–6) and Marinovich, ‘Nayemniki’ tabulate names and origins so far as known. The ‘foreigner with pierced ears’ accusation was, for all we know, simply a quick way to discredit a trouble-maker. Xenophon as narrator confirms that the man's ears were pierced, stating nothing as to his origin. Marinovich, less circumspect, classes him in her table as a Lydian ex-slave.

36 Iliad ii 211–278.

37 Though certainly we can gather that he usually attacked Achilles and Odysseus and that his criticism of Agamemnon was unusual, Iliad ii 220–222.

38 He is characterised as ametroepes ‘of unmeasured words’; his words were ou kata kosmon ‘improper’ and critical of the leaders, but usually raised a laugh among the men, Iliad ii 212–216.

39 Iliad ii 84–181; Anabasis v 6.37–7.4.

40 Iliad ii 200–206, cf. ii 188–194.

41 As Plato had learnt (for Socrates surely represents him): ‘Do you not know that [the masses and their favourite speakers] punish with disenfranchisement, fines and death one whom they do not persuade?’ Plato, Republic 492d. In Sparta and on Crete, claims the Athenian in Plato's Laws (634de), young men were forbidden to question the merits of any law.

42 Demosthenes, Against Timocrates 139. Socrates inclined to attribute his own death to the fact that he persisted in asking unwanted questions: Plato, Apology 37c–d.

43 Nussbaum's thesis is in essence an exegesis of this hierarchical structure.

44 iii 5.7, 5.14. Other meetings of the generals: iii 3.20, 4.21 etc. By emphasising Xenophon's priority at this stage of the march I may seem to take a controversial position: I state it thus firmly because I am less interested in the form of leadership (see below) than in the power of decision.

Most later scholars have followed Diodorus (xiv 27.1) who thought that ‘they gave the leadership to one of the generals, Cheirisophus the Lacedaemonian’. Roy, ‘Mercenaries’ (293–4) shows the insecure basis of this opinion. Diodorus held it, in all likelihood, because Cheirisophus commanded the troops that headed the line of march.

A minority has emphasised the role of the generals as a whole: Anderson (118) says that all the way from the Tigris to Sinope ‘the army was directed by the majority vote of the generals’ (my emphasis), following Rex Warner's tendentious translation of Anabasis vi 1.18 ek tes nikoses (Xenophon, The Persian expedition, Harmondsworth 1949, 218). Most committees do not reach most of their decisions by ‘majority vote’: it is rather an expedient in cases where argument has failed to effect the prevalence of one point of view. I see no evidence in Anabasis books iii–iv that anything during the period they cover was decided by any majority vote.

Roy, ‘Mercenaries’ (290–295) gives attention to the extent to which individual generals still commanded their individual units, whose make-up, however, varied during the course of the retreat. And in ‘Evidence’ Roy points out that in books iii-iv of the Anabasis Xenophon tends to mention incidents involving men of his own unit (the rearguard) much more predominantly than in books v-vi. This is potentially of great importance for assessing his position in the hierarchy: it can hardly show intentional bias, and therefore must reflect the limits on his powers of observation and sources of information. But these limits, during the march through Armenia, would have been (as Roy observes) imposed by geography even if they were not imposed by hierarchy. In darkness, bad weather and broken terrain the rearguard simply did not know what the vanguard was doing.

A final detail which must be given due weight is that, late in the retreat, there was formal discussion of the choice of a single commander (vi 1). Up to that point, certainly, there was no formal single commander (and at that point the honour went to Cheirisophus, Xenophon apparently declining it).

45 iv 3.10. Nussbaum 7, 29 plays down this point precisely because it has nothing to do with the overt hierarchy of command.

46 Even in an ad hoc grouping without laws or constitution men could be accused of anomia, lawlessness (v 7.34).

47 The less that immediate danger threatened and the nearer that the Ten Thousand got to Greek civilisation and to their homes, the less they were inclined to follow one leader's lead without question, cf. Roy, ‘Mercenaries’ (288): ‘The conduct of the army changed markedly after reaching the Black Sea.’ Danger had concentrated their minds: in any case, there had been fewer realistic choices in the mountains of inland Asia Minor. It is worth remembering, too, that the regular formal training between battles undergone by a serving army reinforces habits of discipline; the lack of this particular kind of conditioning was no doubt beginning to take effect.

48 Aeneas makes much use of impersonal constructions, but, when these are dropped, the second person singular is used (e.g. ix 1–3), the reader being envisaged as wielding power sometimes over military, sometimes over civilian activities.

49 Odyssey vi 491253

7–11, already quoted in this connection by Graham, 29. Hekas andron alphestaon has been omitted: see n. 96 below.

50 Unlike the general of an army, he was not there to follow and interpret the directions of the home government. The home government might occasionally try to exert a paternalistic authority, but typically the colonists were on their own. Graham discusses all this on pp. 29–39.

51 Bérard, J. in L'expansion el la colonisation grecques jusqu' aux guerres médiques (Paris 1960) 3657 collects and discusses these traditions. In general see Malkin on similarities between oecist, king and general.

52 E.g. iv 1.8–9.

53 Pritchett (34–41) shows that the commander of a classical Greek army saw his obligations similarly, and compares the South Vietnamese system under which a soldier, from his pay, purchased his own rations, the army undertaking only that rice would be available to him for purchase; other food he obtained as best he could. So Roy, ‘Mercenaries’ (311) deduces from Anabasis i 5.6 that Cyrus ‘provided food, but evidently did not feel obliged to provide good food’ (by which, I take it, Roy means a balanced diet).

54 For discussion of these choices see iii 2.21, v 1.6, v 5.13–19. Griffith (266) oversimplified when he wrote that the Ten Thousand ‘were marching through a hostile country, taking what they could get without paying for it.’

55 vi 2.4. This earliest occurrence of siteresion, meaning booty or coin to exchange for food, cannot help to elucidate the relation of the term to misthos, ‘wage’ (as hoped by Griffith (268–272), Pritchett (3–6 and 51–2) since the Ten Thousand got no wages, as Marinovich (162/146–7) observes.

56 E.g. vi 6.38: ‘They got a lot of human and animal property (andrapoda kai probata): in six days they arrived at Chrysopolis in Chalcedonia and stayed there seven days selling booty.’ This procedure had a long history. In an episode of the Iliad a ship arrived from Lemnos with a cargo of wine which the Achaeans bought, ‘some for bronze, some for fiery iron, some for hides, some for whole cows, some for slaves (andrapodessi),’ Iliad vii 472–5. This, incidentally, is the only occurrence of any form of andrapoda in the Homeric epics, because it is one of the few places in the epics where slaves are seen as liquid assets. It may be argued, following Zenodotus and Aristophanes of Byzantium (cited by the Iliad scholia) that the line is a late addition to the epic because this word is late. Andrapoda is certainly formed by analogy from tetrapoda (itself an unexceptionable compound attested in Linear B). But about its date all that can really be said is that the link between the two words was no longer felt by the fifth century, for by that time they had established dissimilar singular declensions, e.g tetrapoun Herodotus ii 68, andrapodon Pherecrates fr. 220 Kassel-Austin.

57 i 1.5.6, cf. i 2.18.

58 i 1.5.10, cf. i 2.24.

59 In Greece itself even regular armies, like Asiatic caravans, required cities on their route to arrange markets for them (for references see Pritchett 45–6). These would be outside the walls: by contrast, markets for regular local trade took place inside town defences even at times of danger, though that meant opening the gates to aliens (Aeneas Tacticus 30.1–2).

60 Khurdadhbih, Ibn, Kitab al-masalik wa-'l mamalik: Liber viarum et regnorum ed. and tr. De Goeje, M. J. (Leiden 1889). I owe this reference to the article by Teall, J. L., ‘The grain supply of the Byzantine Empire, 330–1025’ in Dumbarton Oaks papers xiii (1959) 87139.

61 iv 8.23.

62 iv 8.8, cf. v 5.18.

63 Doughty, C. M., Passages from Arabia deserta (Harmondsworth 1956) [selection from his Travels in Arabia deserta, London 1888], 22.

64 The travels of lbn Jubayr tr. Broadhurst, R. J. C. (London 1952) 214–6.

65 v.19; vii 1.7–35.

66 Garlan (69) says that mercenaries in general had ‘the right to stock up with food cheaply in the markets’ and the English translation (96) says boldly that they bought ‘at cut prices’, my emphases, but I know of no evidence for it. On the contrary, Pritchett (23–4), citing Thucydides vi 22 and [Arist] Oec. 1347a, shows not surprisingly that prices in these special markets might be inflated not just by the stallholders but by decision of the towns involved.

67 ii 3.27.

68 v 5.18.

69 v 1.6.

70 cf. Plato, Laws 744b.

71 iii 3.1.

72 iv 5.5.

73 vi 6.2. Marinovich (140–142/154–6) generalises from this passage: ‘The mercenary convoy also included the common property which consisted of booty taken during general raids.’ A careful reading of the passage in its context makes it clear that no such generalisation is justified. She adds: ‘As it grew, it was shared among the soldiers,’ but this seems to me to be fantasy. I discuss later the real use of the Ten Thousand's small store of common property.

74 E.g. Plutarch, Agesilaus 1.19. And even under the new rule quoted in the text, individuals retained their own booty if it was acquired ‘when the army stayed still’.

75 At any rate ‘Xenophon and the other generals ... pointed out that the reason for the trouble was the decision passed by the army’ (vi 6.8). It is worth remembering that a previous lack of central distribution of wealth would also have meant relative freedom from the interference of superiors.

There was an exception: gifts of supplies received by the group as a whole from towns en route were, not unnaturally, distributed in rations to all (e.g. vi 2.3–4).

76 Pritchett (85–92): the commander was answerable to the state for his disposal of booty. The question is taken up again in Pritchett's new fifth volume, which I have not seen.

77 Iliad i 122–9, 149–171, cf. also i 365–9 and ii 225–8. Garlan (49) (translation 74) is wrong to extrapolate backwards from classical armies and say that even in the Iliad the king did the sharing-out.

78 And perhaps remembering that the Greek leaders at Troy drank demia, ‘at public cost’, with Agamemnon, and Menelaus, , Iliad xvii 250. See Anabasis iv 7.27, vi 6.2 and 37. Pace Roy, ‘Evidence’ (44), iii [2]. 28 does not indicate the existence of a centrally managed treasury: the speaker does not claim authority over the assets under discussion or state that they are all in one place; he urges all to agree to discard them.

79 vii 8.

80 Or something of that kind. The fashion of reclining at meals had been familiar in the Near East earlier than in Greece (cf. Dentzer, J.-M., ‘Aux origines de l'iconographie du banquet couché’ in Revue archéologique1971215258). The fact that Xenophon specifies the furniture that had to be used suggests that reclining would not have been normal at the daily meals of the Ten Thousand; no doubt the fashion was adopted here in order to impress.

81 vil. 3–4.

82 Athenaeus 556c-e, with reference to Iliad ii 226 and vii 467, citing Aristotle fr. 144 Rose: ‘It is unlikely, comments Aristotle, that this mass of women was [given by the Achaeans to Agamemnon] for use, but rather for geras, just as his stores of wine were not built up for him to get drunk.’

83 The same word is used of Nausithous's division of land in the mythical colony of Scherie (see n. 49).

84 Odyssey ix 548–557; cf. xiv 231–3.

85 Odyssey ix 152–165; xiv 437–8; xv 310–316 etc.; Iliad xxii 492–8.

86 i 1.2, 4.12, 7.7, 9.17.

87 On this see the brief remarks by Foxhall, L. and Forbes, H. A., ‘Sitometreía: the role of grain as a staple food in classical antiquity’ in Chiron xii (1982) 4190 and the more expansive discussion by Figueira, T. J., ‘Mess contributions and subsistence at Sparta’ in TAPA cxiv (1984) 87109.

88 Plato, Laws 755a.

89 For the ‘generosity’ of Philip see Demosthenes xix 139–140 and passim; for Hellenistic Macedonia see Hippolochus quoted by Athenaeus 128a–130d.

90 For the gifts of food and valuables at Seuthes' banquet see Anabasis vii3. Independent Thracian evidence of gift-exchange is provided by the pattern of provenance of gold cups originating from the royal court.

91 Goody (66) says of the Gonja, a Ghanaian tribe: ‘Chiefs enjoyed the right to receive a portion of the palm wine collected, the fish caught, a leg of the wild animals killed and of the domestic animals sacrificed. … Such tribute was … recognised as a proper measure of support for an individual who had to entertain strangers and look after the affairs of the village.’

The ‘leader's share’ of a Greek army's booty, reserved for the state, served no very different purposes. The state entertained the gods and its own citizens with temples and sacrifices; it entertained ambassadors and ‘those who seemed most deserving’ in the prytaneion.

92 ii 3.15–16, v 4.29. Efficient foragers concentrate their efforts on the most productive sources of food, taking into account the size of their community, and do not touch the less productive (Ross, E. B., ‘Food taboos, diet and hunting strategy’ in Current anthropology xix 1 (1978) 136). Such a large group as the Ten Thousand could not expect to make any serious difference to its food stocks by hunting. Therefore, although hunting was a hobby of Xenophon's, mentioned in the Anabasis as a pastime during Cyrus's advance (i 5.2–4), again in the digression about Xenophon's estate (v 3.10), again as the occupation of a headman's son-in-law (iv 5.24), the returning Greeks never gave time to it so far as we are told. For precisely the same reason, when he lists what foods were found in one village or another, Xenophon never mentions game: there would not have been enough of it to be useful.

93 vi 6.1. It is not a chance omission: the list appears again at vi 4.6. A little further on, at Byzantium, the foods in demand were barley, wine, olives, garlic and onions, vii 1.33–41. For similar statements, briefly characterising fertile regions just north of the range of the olive, see Strabo, , Geography xi 11.1 and xi 13.7 on Bactria and Media.

94 Odyssey viii 222, ix 89, ix 191: Vernant, 242.

95 Iliad xiii 322 with ‘a man who is mortal and eats the grains of Demeter’ does imply that immortals eat something different. The well known Iliad v 341–2, attributing to the gods a non-human physiology, states that they ‘do not eat cereal, do not drink fiery wine’. Early in the Odyssey, v 196–7, Calypso and Odysseus, goddess and man, eat different food in a passage with complex implications on which I have commented elsewhere: Dalby, A., ‘Men, women and food in early Athens’ in Ikinci Milleretlerasi Yemek Kongresi: Second International Food Congress, Turkey, 3–10 September 1988 (Konya 1990) 8097, ns. 13, 17, 53.

96 And indeed the narrative of Odysseus is not so much about the difference between gods and men and animals; it is more about the difference between barbarism and civilisation. In one line in the frame narrative of the Odyssey (vi8) the phrase hekas andron alphestaon may imply a similar classification, ‘far distant from barley-eating men,’ but the translation is disputed. In the narrative of Odysseus there is no unambiguous occurrence of sitos in its extended sense ‘food’.

97 Turkish and Bulgarian scholars consider that the fact that their warlike medieval ancestors had a regular supply of meat, dried and salted under their saddles, contributed to their success against opponents who fought on cereal food. The method (said to be precursor of modern Turkish pastirma) is first recorded of the Huns by Ammianus Marcellinus 31.2.3, quam inter femora sua equorumque (Gardthausen; vaporumque or equorum mss.) terga suhsertam … calefaciunt, ‘[meat] which they warm by placing it between their own legs and their horses’ backs', not, as Shaw (25) has it, ‘between the hind quarters of their horses’. On pastirma see Kaymak, M. G. in Türk Folklor Arastirmalari no. 208 (November 1966); Riddervold, A., ‘On the documentation of food conservation’ in Food conservation: ethnological studies ed. Riddervold, A. and Ropeid, A. (London 1988) 210218; L. Radeva, ‘Traditional methods of food preserving among the Bulgarians’ ib. 38–44.

98 Fr. 2 West.

99 Iliad xix 44: ‘And stewards were beside the ships, givers-out of sitos.’

100 Odysseus says that his crew (who will do very well, for our purposes, as pirates or raiders) took sheep and cows, slaughtered them, roasted them and washed them down with wine (Odyssey ix 39–46, cf. 154–165). They would naturally eat sitos when it was provided for them by Circe (Odyssey xii 19, 327), whether accompanied by meat or not, just as they might have done at home. To catch birds and fish was tiresome (Odyssey xii 331) and to be provided with ready-to-eat cereal was a lucky chance. They ate what was available, and their diet differed markedly from that in the domestic settings of the Odyssey.

101 Shaw examines ancient views of the diet of hunter-gatherers and transhumant pastoralists, the bios thereutikos and bios nomadikos of Aristotle, Politics 1256a 30–40.

102 Food such as ‘might have been offered by any nomad chief’, as Tannahill, Reay perceptively remarks in Food in history 2 (Harmondsworth 1988) 60.

103 Iliad ix 216, where sitos is additional to meat and wine at Achilles's dinner. But to the poet of the Iliad sitos was ‘bread’ and by extension ‘food’, and the word is used in the latter sense at xix 161, xix 163, xxiv 602. The Trojans' food, less often described, naturally included sitos as well as meat, Iliad viii 47.

104 Thucydides (il 1.1–2) in his rationalist way imagined the Greeks at Troy tilling the soil as well as plundering to get their supplies, and so ingeniously approximated their diet to that of regular armies.

105 Plato (Republic 404b–c) and the comic poet Eubulus noticed the limited culinary repertoire of the Greeks at Troy: ‘Where has Homer said that any of the Achaeans ate a fish? and meat they only roasted, because he has never shown any of them boiling it. Why, none of them even saw a whore …’ (Eubulus fr. 118 Kassel-Austin). Anthropologically, Eubulus's juxtaposition (no boiled meat and no women) is suggestive. Goody (71) observes what a general rule it is in human societies that women may boil meat (among many other cookery operations) but men butcher and roast it.

106 Demosthenes, Against Conon 4. These mess groups could be stable enough to be the basis for a security system in Aeneas Tacticus's recommendations (27.13). Presumably such groups worked together in a self-organised fashion on food collecting and cooking, as in the prisoner-of-war way of life that Jack Goody (84) has described from his own experience.

107 vi 6.2.

108 iii 5.7, 5.14.

109 Iliad ix 190–668.

110 Wickert-Micknat, G., Die Frau (Archaeologia Homerica iii chapter R) (Göttingen 1982) 53 observes the difference and attributes it to the fact that the Iliad is here depicting a ‘male society’. And we may be pressing the detail of an epic in an oral tradition rather far. The women were there at bedtime, in the poet's imagination, but who can say they were there at dinner time?

111 Men setting out on a colonial venture might eat in mess groups, if we can take it that the detail is accurate in the story reported from Archilochus (fr. 293 West) by Demetrius of Scepsis (fr. 73 Gaede) and relayed by Athenaeus (167d) that Aethiops of Corinth sold his share of land in Syracuse to his messmate on the boat for a honey-cake. Mess groups in civilian life in Greece were not so ubiquitous; see especially Athenaeus 138d–143e and 148f–150a.

112 Faure, P., La vie quotidienne des colons grecs de la Mer Noire à l'Atlantique au siècle de Pythagore (Paris 1978).

113 As Malkin (102–4) says of Anabasis v 6: ‘Rarely do we get such a penetrating glimpse into the reality of the social position of the oikist as we do here.’

1 I am grateful for the comments on earlier versions of this paper made by Jane Rowlandson, James Roy, Michael Crawford and Gerald Mars. Faults in it are not theirs.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

The Journal of Hellenic Studies
  • ISSN: 0075-4269
  • EISSN: 2041-4099
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-hellenic-studies
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed