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A Thucydidean Scholium on the ‘Lelantine War’

  • S. D. Lambert (a1)

The purpose of this note is to bring to light a piece of evidence on the ‘Lelantine War’ which has hitherto been neglected, and briefly to review the Thucydidean and some of the other evidence in the light of it.

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1 i 1–23.

2 i i.3.

3 Cf. i 18.3; iv 61.1; vi 79.3.

4 Just as it had a few lines above, i 15.1: ἐπιπλέοντες γὰρ τὰς νήσους κατεστρέφοντο, καὶ μάλιστα ὄσοι μὴ διαρκῆ εἶχον χώραν.

5 As it turns out, of course, they are good examples to illustrate an exception to what he has just said about ἀστυγϵίτονϵς.

6 If he had said πλὴν ὅτι, or something similar, it would have been clearer that he was pointing a contrast.

7 Cf. D.H. de Thuc. xxiv(ff.).

8 i 1.3.

9 It is not clear that τὸν πόλϵμον here (or in Hdt.) indicates anything more than that it is a war the mention of which should ring a bell in the minds of educated readers. Why it will do so we can only guess: perhaps they will be aware of it from poets or (less likely) early prose-works; perhaps it was merely general knowledge that there was a war between the two cities. If we think it likely that there was a series of squabbles between the two cities, if not a protracted war, this might be supposed to have left an impression on the popular historical awareness much as England's traditional enmity, or Scotland's traditional friendship, with France has done; cf. our phrases ‘The Old Alliance’, ‘The Hundred Years War’. There is even a slight possibility that, even at this stage, it might only have been known about because it was controversial. At any rate if there was a shared corpus of knowledge/tradition, and this is indicated by the definite article here, there is no reason why it should be a uniform one. In short, it seems to me that τὸν in both Thuc. and Hdt. could carry such a variety of implications that speculation on the matter, though it might be instructive, is ultimately bound to be fruitless.

10 Cf. section 3 below.

11 And even then they are not considered worthy of much attention: cf. Gomme, , HCT i 43.

12 It should be pointed out that there is no second ὅτι inserted between ἀλλὰ and μόνοι: this does make the final clause read like a statement of fact rather than purely an interpretation of T. Of course it may read like a statement of fact merely because it was thought that this was the fact of which T. was informing us.

13 i 76; viii 16, 18.

14 Cf. section I(a) above.

15 Mr W. S. Barrett kindly provided the following examples: Polyb. xxi 26.7 (of Scipio's mother) … τὸν πρὀ τοῦ χρόνον ἀνακεχωρηκυι.ας αὐτῆς ἐκ τῶν ἐπισήμων ἐξόδων; Polyb. xxviii 3 (two Roman legati in Greece) … ἄμα δε, διὰ τῶν λόγων παρενέφαινον ὡς εἰδότες τοὺς ἐν ἐκἁσταις τῶν πολέων παρὰ τὀ δέον ἀναχωροῦντας , ὡσαυτῶς δὲ καἰ τοὐς προπίπτοντας προσπίπτοντας . καὶ δῆλοι πᾶσιν ἧσαν δυσαρεστούμενοι τοῖς ἀναχωροῦσιν οὐχ ἧττον ἤ τοῖς ἐλφανῶς ἀντιπρἁττουσιν. In these two cases it clearly means ‘stand aloof’. Also cf. Aristid. xlix 39 p. 422.17 Keil (i 498 Dindorf): the speaker, because of a previous oracle, is careful to avoid eating beef. Now, after an earthquake, ὁ θεὸς κελεύει μοι . . . θῦσαι βοῦν δημοσίᾳ τῷ Διὶ τῷ σωτῆρι ἀναχωροῦντος δέ μου καὶ ὑποπτεύοντος , καὶ δεδιότος τὴν προτέραν ἐκείνην πρόρρησιν, ἐγἐνετο κτλ; and Aristid. li 59 p. 465.6 Keil (i 549 D).

16 P1. Leg. 876c may be closer to this: ‘pull in different directions’ (LSJ).

17 If we thought the scholiast was giving the traditional interpretation we would have to take ἀνϵχώρησϵν as ‘retreated from one another’, i.e. into two (or even, perhaps, many) different camps; this force of the word would be very peculiar and the interpretation would break down anyway at οὐ γὰρ λέγϵι κτλ.

18 ἐς in ἐς ξυμμαχίαν used respectively as it is earlier in the sentence: cf. LSJ s.v. IV 2.

19 I am asked to stress that, on the whole, there is little evidence of much historical interest on the part of commentators on Thuc. This is a generalisation, however, from which it is quite unwise to jump to conclusions. This comment is quite likely to have come from the same source as a preceding scholium (in ABGc2), which does give us a piece of historical information not in Thuc., namely that the war was fought for the Lelantine plain: πόλεμον Χαλκιδέων καὶ ᾿Ερετριέων ἐπολέμουν οὗτοι πρὸς ἀλλήλους περὶ τοῦ Ληλαντίου πεδίου.

20 Cf. n. 12.

21 I do not propose to indulge in a thorough review of the evidence here. Cf. especially Forrest, W. G. G., Historia vi (1957) 160 ff.; and generally Coldstream, J. N., Greek Geometric Pottery (London 1968) 368 ff. and Geometric Greece (London 1977); Burn, A. R., The Lyric Age of Greece (London 1960) 92–3. Contrast Gardner, , CR xxxiv (1920) 90–1.

22 This passage tends only tentatively to be asserted as relevant.

23 One thing τὸν πόλϵμον does indicate in Thuc. and Hdt. is that there was one war. With this should be compared modern theories of multiple wars: e.g. Dondorff, , De Rebus Chalcidensium (Berlin 1855).

24 But cf. n. 9.

25 i 3.3.

26 See Jeffery, L. H., Archaic Greece (London 1976) 159 n. 2 for possible re-dating of Ameinocles to the mid-seventh century.

27 πάλαι ποτὲ does, it seems to me, indicate vagueness, uncertainty or something of the sort, ποτὲ either merely emphasises πάλαι thus suggesting the mists of antiquity, or it invests whatever πάλαι is describing with a sort of legendary quality, equally misty (cf. ‘once upon a time’). Cf. Plat., Critias 110a. Ar. Plut. 1002 is no exception: πάλαι ποτ᾿ ἧσαν ᾶλκιμοι Μιλήσιοι. The vigour of the Milesians has long since degenerated into pleasure and luxury: it is far back in the mists of a legendary past that they were ἄλκιμοι. There is here in Thuc. too, I think, a suggestion of either the great amount of time since the war or its rather mythical character. It is precisely the phrase Thuc. would use if his source(s) were poets, local traditions or his own general knowledge and when he is not particularly confident in any or all of them; cf. ἀϵί ποτϵ, with Gomme's note, ii 13.3 (HCT ii 26).

28 Forrest's scepticism about this on the basis of the paucity of inscriptions at this early period, Strabo's supposed lack of epigraphic skill and the intrinsic unlikeliness of such a compact is reasonable but not necessarily to be shared. Archilochus fr. 3 (West) is probably irrelevant per se to the inscription; both of them clearly reflect a particular reputation that the Euboeans had and it seems sensible to suppose that they did so independently of one another. This does not affect the point, however, that this was, for S., a chivalrous and, it seems, local affair.

29 Even if he was not he is quite likely to have been the philosopher's source: cf. Jacoby on A. of Chalcis, FGrH 423, ‘und dann könnte dieser A. eine der Quellen seines grossen Namensvetters für die Politieen euboeischer Städte gewesen sein’.

30 If this concurrence is found implausible it can be avoided by deleting ῾Ομήρου καὶ ῾Ησιόδου (Wilamowitz), or deleting Λέσχης and reading προύβαλ᾿ ὁ μέν, ὥς φασι (David).

31 Cf. n. 29.

32 Or wars.

33 Cf. section 3 on chronological difficulties in Hdt.

34 Also the Euboean chronicler Archemachus involves the mythical Curetes in a Lelantine war (FGrH 424 F 9).

35 Chalcis wins in Plutarch but archaeological evidence indicates Eretrian dominance in the seventh and sixth centuries: Pyrrhic victory perhaps? See Boardman, BSA lii (1957) 1 ff.

36 The First Messenian War, for instance, might make just as valid a claim to importance. Professor Forrest suggests that the conflict between Assyria and Phrygia over division of power in Asia Minor at about this time, particularly with reference to the Black Sea ports, ought also to be considered in connection with the war.

37 This might suggest the simple and drastic solution of considering Thuc. i 15.3 as an interpolation made in the context of controversy about the war and by someone who meant the sentence the way the scholiast interprets it. Some may be attracted by this solution; it seems to me, however, that the evidence is insufficient.

38 My thanks are due to Professor W. G. G. Forrest and Messrs W. S. Barrett and P. S. Derow for their advice in general and for their careful, percipient and useful criticism of earlier drafts of this paper.

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