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Rome, the Greek World, and the EastVolume 3: The Greek World, the Jews, and the East$

Fergus Millar, Hannah M. Cotton, and Guy MacLean Rogers

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780807830307

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807876657_millar

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The Greek City in the Roman Period*

The Greek City in the Roman Period*

Chapter:
(p.106) Chapter Six The Greek City in the Roman Period*
Source:
Rome, the Greek World, and the East
Author(s):

Fergus Millar

Publisher:
University of North Carolina Press
DOI:10.5149/9780807876657_millar.12

Abstract and Keywords

Greek cities in the imperial period provided the fullest expression of their own communal identity through the medium of inscriptions. This chapter examines Hellenistic texts that provide better understanding about the history of Greek cities under Roman rule, and how these cities have dealt with their complex relationships with Roman governors and political institutions. Looking at these inscriptions, it assesses the immediate effect of colonisation—introducing Roman, and Latin, elements into a Greek social and cultural environment.

Keywords:   imperial period, inscriptions, Hellenistic texts, Greek cities, Roman rule, political institutions, colonisation

This paper will concentrate on the imperial period, the first three centuries A.D., when “the Greek city” is more visible to us than at any other time. For it is from this period that the vast majority of the surviving remains of Greek cities date; it was in these centuries, except for the last few decades, that the largest number of Greek cities struck coins; and, above all, it was in this period that the Greek cities provided the fullest expression of their own communal identity, through the medium of inscriptions. Although there are cities, such as Athens, Ephesus, Miletus, and others in Caria and Lycia, which provide substantial numbers of Hellenistic inscriptions, in almost all cases there is a sharp decrease in the extremely troubled period of the first century B.C., the time of the Mithridatic wars and the Roman civil wars, largely fought on Greek soil. The victory of “Imperator Caesar Divi filius” (that is, “Imperator Caesar son of the deified [Julius]”), soon to add the name “Augustus,” both allowed and stimulated the production of public inscriptions on an unprecedented scale. In this sense the Augustan regime marks an epoch in the history of Greek inscriptions which is almost comparable to that which it certainly signals, as Géza Alföldy has shown, in the history of Latin epigraphy.1 In the inscriptions, as in the coins and in the physical and monumental structure of the Greek cities, the person, that is, the name and the image of the emperor, was to play an essential role.2 How Greek cities expressed (p.107) their complex relationships to the new line of individual rulers is one of the central aspects of what “the Greek city” of the imperial period was.

In a wider sense, however, the expression “the Roman period,” as regards the history of Greek cities, covers a far larger time scale, which begins centuries earlier and continues several centuries later than the High Empire. The Greek expansion into Italy, Sicily, and the coasts of Gaul and Spain in the archaic period had meant that from the very beginning Rome belonged on the fringes of the Greek world. Caere (Agylla), a few kilometres from Rome, was adopting the custom of the Greek agōn (contest), as a form of expiation, in the middle of the sixth century.3 At the end of that century, as a detailed Greek narrative preserved by Dionysius of Halicarnassus records, the tyrant of Cumae, Aristodemus, played an important role at the time of the expulsion of Roman kings and in conflicts with the Etruscans.4 Similarly, Roman contacts with Massilia go back at least to the early fourth century, when spoils from the Gauls were deposited by the Romans in the Massaliote treasury at Delphi, and when Justin claims that there was already a treaty between Massilia and Rome.5 Already in the next couple of centuries, Greek cities were presented with the problem of how to construe the identity of the Romans, the significance of their claimed descent from Aeneas, and thus the nature of their relationship to themselves. These questions are, of course, already explicit in the famous inscription of the 190s B.C. from Lampsacus, describing an embassy to Massilia and then to Rome, to claim protection (against Antiochus III) on the basis of a mythical common descent.6 Other elements of the mythical identity of Rome are reflected in a more recently found inscription of about the same date from Chios, recording the creation there of a monument representing “the founder of Rome, Romulus, and his brother Remus.”7

By that time of course all the Greek cites of Italy had become socii navales (allies providing Rome with warships) of Rome, while one, Posidonia, had (p.108) been refounded as the Latin colony (colonia) of Paestum, and another, Dicaearchia, as the Roman colony of Puteoli.8 The Greek cities of Sicily had provided the battleground for the First Punic War;9 while in the Second the kingdom of Hiero had come to an end, Syracuse had fallen, and the whole island had become a Roman province, with a complex network of statuses and obligations, later to be illuminated by Cicero's speeches against Verres.10 The history of the later Greek city under Roman rule in the West—on the Mediterranean coast of Spain, on the coast of Gaul (Massilia with Nicaea and Antipolis), in Italy (above all Neapolis, still a major centre for Greek festivals in the imperial period), and in Sicily—is a major historical topic, which cannot be properly treated here. It need only be stressed, as regards the complex relations of the wider Greek world to Rome in the Hellenistic period, that this area, though certainly marginal, was never unknown or irrelevant. In Livy's narrative of the year 199 B.C., for instance, we read how a meeting of the Aetolian league was addressed by ambassadors from Mace- don, who reminded the league that Syracuse, Messina, Lilybaeum, Regium, Tarentum, and Capua were all now subject to Rome.11 By the time that Livy was writing Diodorus had already given the history of Greek Sicily, from the earliest times to his own day, a central place in his universal Bibliotheca;12 while if any Greeks had ever been disposed to read Latin, they could have studied the most “Hellenistic” of all universal histories, the Historiae Philippicae of Pompeius Trogus, a Vocontian who surely owed his historical culture to the influence of Massilia.13

This is not the place to rehearse the conclusive steps which gave Rome a central place in the Greek world: first, the suppression of the revolt of Andriskos, the defeat of the Achaean league, and the establishment of the province of Macedonia, including Greece proper; and, then, the end of the Attalid kingdom and the formation of the province of Asia. But for how a Greek city would manage its dealings both with Roman governors and with the political (p.109) institutions of the city, a central place will now be claimed by the two vast inscriptions from Claros, published by Louis Robert (posthumously) and by Jeanne Robert.14 These two inscriptions, neither complete, of the last third of the second century, still come to 275 lines (that for Polemaios) and 159 lines (for Menippos) and provide by far the most complex and detailed picture so far available of Greek cities in the period of the transfer of power from the Attalids of Pergamum to Rome. Out of many details, only one need be noted here: that by gaining the friendship of leading Romans Polemaios was able to benefit his fellow citizens (of Colophon) by creating for his native city relations of patronage (patrōneiai, in the plural) with the “best men.”

As regards the first century B.C., we should not forget the small Greek cities which lined the coast of Illyricum, for instance, Issa and its colony Tragurion, whose embassy to Julius Caesar at Aquileia is recorded in an inscription.15 Or, on the opposite shore of the Mediterranean, the Greek cities of Cyrenaica, which were abandoned to fend for themselves for several decades after Ptolemy Apion had left his kingdom to the Roman people in 96 B.C. This interval of involuntary independence is now brilliantly illuminated by an inscription from Berenice: after the death of the king the city was first besieged by kakourgoi (wrongdoers), and then, being unwalled, was twice sacked by pirate fleets. Very typically, the inscription is in fact in honour of a local benefactor, Apollodorus, who apart from his military role seems also to have gone on an embassy to the Roman Senate.16

A very similar situation, of acute political and military danger, necessitating political and military action to seek protection, or at least benevolence, from wherever it could be found, is reflected in the famous inscription from Dionysopolis on the Black Sea honouring a citizen named Acornion; he had performed ceremonials during the stay there over the winter (probably 62/1 B.C.) of C. Antonius, had been on an embassy to Burebista, “first and greatest of the kings in Thrace,” in the interests of his city, and had also been sent by Burebista as ambassador to Pompeius at Heraklea Lynkestis. There (p.110) he had taken the opportunity to represent the interests not only of the king, but also of his city. As its benefactor, in a way which was becoming a prime function of the communal institutions of the Greek city, he was to be honoured with a crown each year at the Dionysia and with a statue at the most conspicuous point in the market-place (agora).17

The story could be paralleled many times over in the complex, disturbed, and violent relations of the cities of the Black Sea region with local kings and dynasts, with Mithridates, and with the Romans. But if we are to think of what the “Roman peace” brought by Augustus really meant, one essential starting point is the whole succession of “local histories” offered by the Geography of Strabo. For obvious reasons of local knowledge and sympathy these gain an added force when they relate to northern Asia Minor: not only his wonderful evocation of his own city, Amaseia in Pontus (561), but also the brief vignette of the rise of Gordioucome to be the city of “Iuliopolis” (574), or his account of Sinope in the later Hellenistic and Republican period:

The city itself is beautifully walled, and is also splendidly adorned with gymnasium and market-place and colonnades. But although it was such a city, still it was twice captured, first by Pharnaces, who unexpectedly attacked it all of a sudden, and later by Lucullus and by the tyrant who was garrisoned within it, being besieged both inside and outside at the same time; for, since Bacchides, who had been set up by the king as commander of the garrison, was always suspecting treason from the people inside, and was causing many outrages and murders, he made the people, who were unable either nobly to defend themselves or to submit by compromise, lose all heart for either course. At any rate, the city was captured; and though Lucullus kept intact the rest of the city's adornments, he took away the globe of Billarus and the work of Sthenis, the statue of Autolycus, whom they regarded as founder of their city and honoured as god. The city had also an oracle of Autolycus. He is thought to have been one of those who went on the voyage with Jason and to have taken possession of this place. Then later the Milesians, seeing the natural advantages of the place and the weakness of its inhabitants, appropriated it to themselves and sent forth colonists to it. But at present it has received also a colony of Romans; and a part of the city and the territory belong to these.18

(p.111) Nothing could more accurately convey the sense of a long tradition, a period of acute danger and disturbance, the value placed on public buildings, or (in this case) the impact of Roman colonisation.

Equally significant, if sometimes more confused geographically, is Strabo's account of the Phoenician cities: their extremely varied fortunes during the progressive break-up of the Seleucid kingdom; the rise here too, as in Syria proper, of a generation of local tyrants, finally suppressed by the Romans; and the imposition of the Roman peace.19 In the case of Phoenicia Strabo makes a direct and unmistakable connection between the disorders of the first century B.C. and the establishment in 15 B.C. of the colony of Berytus—Colonia Iulia Augusta Felix Berytus, which was to be perhaps the only established “island” of Latin culture in the whole of the Greek world of the eastern Mediterranean.20

In spite of all the problems which its composition raises, the Geography of Strabo cannot but serve as the most important picture which we have of the Greek world as it was when imperial rule began. Precisely two of its most important functions are, firstly, to recall how the present situation of each place could be seen in the context of a distant, often mythological, past; and, secondly, to record how so many places had faced violent external threats and internal disturbances in the first two-thirds of the first century B.C. In the established Empire it is in general true that cities, when they collectively recalled the past, tended to avert their gaze from the Hellenistic and early Roman periods, to focus on mythological origins and (if they could) on the classical past.21 Strabo is closer in time to the most troubled period, and therefore all the better evidence for how much the imposition of peace really meant.

One place of which Strabo makes only two passing mentions is Aphrodisias in Caria.22 It ought to have attracted his attention, however, for it too had taken part in the military conflicts of the first century. In 88 B.C., when the two communities of the “Plaraseans” and the “Aphrodisieis” still formed (p.112) a joint political unit, their people (dēmos) had decided to march out, accompanied by paroikoi and slaves, to help Q. Oppius, besieged by Mithridates in Laodicea. Whether or not they had ever arrived (or had contrived not to arrive in time?), they had taken care, when Oppius was released after the Peace of Dardanus, to remind him of their loyalty, and to seek his patronage (patrōnēa), which he granted; he would also, he wrote, speak in their favour before the Senate and People when he reached Rome. In the Triumviral period the city gained both a treaty (orkion) and a long decree of the Senate (senatus consultum), of 39 B.C., with provisions for its free status. Everything was owed, as is quite clear, to the identification of the Aphrodite whose temple stood there with Venus, as the mythological ancestress of the Julian house. But the locus of power in Rome was changing. When the new ruler wrote (whether before or after 27 B.C. is uncertain) to tell the Samians that the privilege given to the Aphrodisians was unique, he said “You yourselves can see that I have given the privilege of freedom to no people except the Aphrodisians.”23 Such rights could now be seen as being at the personal disposition of a monarch.

These inscriptions are of crucial importance for understanding the Greek city of the imperial period. Firstly, as inscriptions, they are in fact of the imperial period. The two relating to Oppius were cut in the second century A.D.; the long series from the Triumviral period belong to the “archive wall” on the parados (entry passage) of the theatre and date, as inscriptions, to the first half of the third century. Aphrodisias had in fact no classical, still less archaic or mythological, history, but had emerged as a privileged community in the last decades of the Republic. Here at least, that troubled period was not forgotten, and could not be. How significant was it, for a Greek city of the second century A.D., that such a re-cut inscription might serve to remind its citizens of one essential role of every city community of the archaic, classical, and Hellenistic period which it had now lost, namely its military function? In that respect, even if Platea might send off a contingent to assist Marcus Aurelius on his northern campaigns,24 there could be no continuity with the Greek city of before the Augustan peace. Or might there be, none the less? The poorly recorded history of the third-century invasions shows that some cities might indeed resume their ancient military role.25

(p.113) Equally significant, the archive from Aphrodisias is one reflection of the range of privileged statuses which emerged out of the conflicts of the late republican period, when cities sought the favour of Rome, while Rome, equally, used all possible diplomatic means to alleviate the effects of brutal oppression and exaction by grants of alliances and favours. The cities of the Greek world in the imperial period might therefore retain one or more of the following rights. (It would be extremely difficult to state what combinations of these rights were normal, or how common it was for one to be enjoyed without the others.) The possibilities were: a treaty, as enjoyed by Aphrodisias and also (for instance) by Tyre, as Ulpian's wellknown celebration of it recalls;26 libertas (freedom), meaning, as the imperial documents from Aphrodisias put it, that the city was “exempt from the typos [formula] of the province.” This certainly implied exemption from the jurisdiction, and the personal visits, of the governor; but it does also seem, as is shown in Hadrian's letter to Aphrodisias, to have carried with it exemption (immunitas) from Roman taxation. It is not, however, possible to assert that these two latter rights could never be dissociated.27

Finally, there was the status of Roman colony, which almost certainly, in this early period, carried with it automatically exemption from all forms of direct taxation, what the lawyers were later to label tributum soli (land tax) and tributum capitis (poll tax). At the moment of Actium, Roman colonisation was still a minor phenomenon in the Greek world. The known cases are Tauromenium, probably in 36 B.C.;28 Corinth, refounded in 46 B.C.; Philippi, made a colony in 42 B.C.; Cassandrea; Buthrotum; probably Dium; Lamp- sacus; possibly Alexandria Troas and Parium; Apamea in Bithynia; briefly Heraclea Pontica; and Sinope (see above).

There are many uncertainties in the list, which would be considerably lengthened if we added the certainly Augustan colonies. The most notable of these are, firstly, a group in Sicily; secondly, Berytus (see above); and, finally, the important series in Pisidia and neighbouring regions.29 We will look later (p.114) at the very significant process, characteristic of the established Empire, by which emperors came to grant the title of colony to Greek cities, without the settlement of actual colonists; for even this involved a transformation of the formal structure and constitution of each city, and (in theory at least) the public use of Latin.30

The “real” colonisation of the Caesarian, Triumviral, and Augustan period (the only major period of colonisation outside Italy in Roman history) should be stressed, however, for it combined with two other very wellknown processes to produce marked changes in what we understand as “the Greek city”: these are of course the widespread private emigration to the provinces by Roman citizens from Italy, and their settlement in Greek cities; and the steadily increasing scale of the granting of Roman citizenship to individuals, and hence to their descendants, in the Greek cities. It is not necessary here to accumulate references to modern studies of these two processes; but it may be noted simply that our knowledge of both, as regards the imperial period, is very largely a function of the sudden explosion of the “epigraphic habit,” referred to above.

Taken all together, however, these processes, along with others to which we will come, meant that “the Greek city” of the imperial period would be more correctly described as “Graeco-Roman”: that is, as a fusion or mélange of languages and constitutions, types of public entertainment, architectural forms, and religious institutions. The role of colonisation within this process of fusion has perhaps not been sufficiently stressed, so an example will be given from a series of second-century inscriptions from the colony of Cremna in Pisidia. In principle of course, colonies were supposed to use Latin in their public life. An important Augustan inscription from the colony of Alexandria Troas indeed shows this rule in operation. It honours C. Fabricius Tuscus, duovir (one of the two annual magistrates) and augur (priest) in the colony, who apart from a long list of military functions had been “prefect… in charge of public works carried out in the colony by order of Augustus” (praef(ectus) … operum quae in colonia iussu Augustifacta sunt); the inscription was put up d(ecreto) d(ecurionum) (by a decree of the senators).31

Elsewhere, however, and no doubt in Alexandria Troas too with the passage of time, Greek tended to reassert itself, while still being deployed to express those new and distinctive institutions which had been created by the (p.115) establishment of the colony. Hence for instance there is a group of inscriptions from Cremna, which come from a series of statue bases, of Herakles, Nemesis, Athena, Hyg(i)eia, and Asklepios, put up by the colony.32 One example will suffice to illustrate the fusion of languages and concepts involved:

  •                     τὸν Ἡρακλέα
  •                     ἡ κολωνία
  •                     δυανδρία〈ι〉ς πϵνταϵτηρικῆ[ς]
  •                     τῶν ἀξιολογωτάτων Φλα‎.
  •                     Ἀουιδίου Φαβιανοῦ Καπιτω-
  •                     νιανοῦ Λουκίου καὶ Ῥοτϵι-
  •                     λιανοῦ Λογγιλλιανοῦ
  •                     Καλλίππου

The colony (honour) Herakles at the time of the quinquennial duovirate / of the most worthy Flavius / Avidius Fabianus Capito / nianus Lucius and of Ruti / lianus Longillianus / Callippus.

The deities honoured are all addressed in purely Greek names. But otherwise the names of the duoviri, Flavius Avidius Fabianus Capitolianus Lucius (?) and Rutilianus Longillianus Callippus, are almost entirely Latin, using both the lengthened -anus forms and the extended combination of names characteristic of the later imperial period. Colonia is duly transliterated as κολωνία‎. More than a century and a half after the foundation of the colony, Cremna could not be characterised either as “Greek” or as “Roman”; for it was evidently both.

Colonisation was, however, a relatively isolated example of a positive measure taken by Rome which had the immediate effect of introducing Roman, and Latin, elements into a Greek social and cultural environment. Paradoxically, it was far outweighed in its effects by the creation of new Greek cities, both by emperors and by dependent kings; foundations by both often had mixed, Graeco-Latin, names borrowed from those of the ruling imperial dynasty. The first and most prominent of the imperial foundations was of course Nicopolis, founded to commemorate Actium, created by the concentration of population, involving a re-distribution of votes in the Delphic amphictyony (the group of cities with rights at the shrine), and giving rise to a new and central element in the circuit of Greek athletic and theatrical festivals, (p.116) the “Actia.” It seems to be as early as the 20s B.C. that we have the first reflection of this new element, in the inscription from Pergamon recording the victories of Glycon at the Olympian, Pythian, Actian, and Nemean games.33 But in spite of its name, and its new role among Greek cities, it can be argued that Nicopolis was a double community, both a Greek city and a Roman colony, not physically distinct.34

If it were really so, it was a rare case. More commonly, both emperors and kings spread over the map of the Greek world an ever-denser network of Greek cities, whose Greek names incorporated Latin, that is, (almost always) imperial, personal names. It is superfluous to give more than examples, since the process was detailed with remorseless care by A. H. M. Jones: Sebastē, Caesarea, Tiberias, Germanicia, Claudiopolis, Flaviopolis, Flavia Neapolis, Traianopolis, Marcianopolis, Hadrianopolis and Hadrianoutherae, and so on to Philippolis and two places called Maximianopolis, a Diocletianopolis, and of course Constantinopolis itself.35 The real nature of such refoundations cannot be pursued further here, for only very detailed local examination would serve to make clear how far in each case urbanisation, in various forms, had preceded the creation of the “new” city, and how radical the changes in local social structures were. We cannot always distinguish a new foundation, and the creation of a new urban structure, from the mere acquisition of a new imperial name, as when Palmyra became “Hadrianē Palmyra”; or be certain as to how much new building accompanied any such transformation, or what role was played by imperial initiative and benefaction.36 What is clear in two wellknown cases is that an imperial decision to grant the status of city to an existing community could be a response to initiative from below. Hence the letter, in Latin, addressed to a governor by an emperor whose name is lost, agreeing that Tymandus in Pisidia has fulfilled the criteria for achieving city status; in this case the availability of sufficient persons (fifty, initially) to act as decuriones (members of a local senate), pass decrees, and elect magistrates.37 (p.117) Different criteria are set out by Constantine in allowing the claim of Orcistus in Phrygia: its previous possession of the rank of civitas (a city status), its location at the meeting place of four roads, a well-watered site—and the fact that the population are Christian.38 Both imperial communications embody a general statement of favour towards the creation of new cities (civitates/poleis), without allowing us to determine on whose initiative such a creation normally depended.39

The question of construction, urban development, and architectural techniques will also not be pursued further here, except to emphasise that it was not merely colonies which we would do better to characterise as “Graeco-Roman” rather than as “Greek” cities. For even the “Greek” cities tended to exhibit a range of “Graeco-Roman” features: theatres, usually of the “Roman” type with a raised stage; temples on a raised podium, with a frontal axis; occasional amphitheatres; and more often perhaps theatres adapted to accommodate gladiatorial shows or wild-beast hunts; baths and colonnaded streets—all these represented a language of urbanism and public architecture which was shared with the generally less developed cities of the Latinspeaking West.40

Nor is it necessary to review here the administrative and political aspects of the role of Greek cities within the Roman Empire, or their internal constitutional and financial structure. It may be sufficient to note that the independence of the last fully self-governing koinon (league of cities), that of Lycia, was removed by Claudius in A.D. 43, when the area became part of the new province of “Lycia et Pamphylia.”41 The koinon itself continued, though (p.118) with features which made it not entirely typical of the “provincial” koinon familiar from other areas; nothing of significance can yet be added to the study of these by J. Deininger.42

As regards individual poleis, it is beyond question that, while the formal constitution found almost universally was that of magistrates (archontes), council (boulē), and people (dēmos), the council was normally now a body whose members retained their position for life, and represented the upper class of the community; it is also noticeable, as we have seen, that it was assumed that the prospective council (curia) of Tymandus would be responsible for electing magistrates. A tendency towards oligarchic regimes determined by class and wealth is thus undeniable, without its being demonstrable, except in the case of Pontus and Bithynia, that such a non-democratic regime was actually instituted by Roman regulation.43 The question of for how long the assembly of the people (ekklēsia) of a typical polis continued to meet, and what real powers it will have exercised, would deserve further examination. What is in any case certain about the Greek, or Graeco-Roman, city of the imperial period is the central place occupied by the council (boulē). That essential role is mirrored by the vast range of archaeological evidence for city council houses (bouleuteria or curiae), collected and assessed for the first time by Jean-Charles Baity.44

In any case the broad themes of the political functioning of the Greek cities, treated in the great work of A. H. M. Jones, have more recently been reexamined, as regards the period between Augustus and Severus Alexander, in a masterly study by Maurice Sartre.45 It is particularly valuable that Sartre has been able to place the “Greek city” of this period within the frame-work both of the geographical and administrative evolution of the Empire on the one hand, including the role and progressive disappearance of “client kingdoms,” and of a series of regional studies on the other. The areas treated are Greece and Macedonia; Thrace and Moesia Inferior; Asia Minor; Syria and Arabia; Judaea (and the Jewish diaspora); and Egypt. The Greek cities of (p.119) the western Mediterranean and the Adriatic thus inevitably remain outside his brief. So, more regrettably, do those of the Bosporan kingdom, which have produced a substantial crop of inscriptions;46 those of Cyrene, whose inscriptions have yet to be collected in a corpus, but which include important items, for instance of course the five “Cyrene edicts” of Augustus; and letters of Hadrian and Antoninus Pius on membership of the Panhellenion, and on the question of where jurisdiction should be given by the proconsul of the geographically divided province of Crete and Cyrene.47

For obvious reasons the Greek cities of the Parthian Empire also lay outside the scope of Maurice Sartre's work. The available evidence on Seleucia on the Eulaeus (Susa), Spasinou Charax (Mesene), or the cities of Babylonia, notably Seleucia on the Tigris, as they were in the first three centuries A.D., has not increased greatly in recent years.48 Nor has much greater attention been paid to those places which in the second and third centuries were incorporated in the Roman Empire. The most notable is of course Dura-Europos, the study of which, as it was both in the Parthian and the Roman periods, has been gravely hampered by the failure to produce a corpus of its inscriptions, in an unprecedented range of different languages.49

Somewhat more progress has been made with the Greek cities produced by Hellenistic colonisation in northern Mesopotamia. Long part of the Parthian Empire, they came under Roman rule with the conquests of Septi- mius Severus in the 190s, and many then underwent a rapid transformation into Roman colonies, producing documents in an inextricable mélange of Greek, Syriac, and Latin.50 Like the “Greek cities” of other regions, they were carefully treated in A. H. M. Jones' great survey; but both their character as self-governing “Greek” cities and their bilingual Syriac/Greek culture (p.120) render them mysterious, if extremely interesting, and their history will not be pursued here.51 But it should be noted that the history of this region is now illuminated by the publication of a new archive of Greek and Syriac documents from the Middle Euphrates of the 230s to 250s.52

This rapid sketch is intended only as a reminder that, fundamental as Maurice Sartre's L'Orient remain is, its programme is dictated by the geographical shape of the Roman Empire up to 23$; if its subject had been not “the Roman Orient” but “the Greek city,” it would have been relevant to explore some more marginal zones of the existence of the “Greek city”; perhaps “the frontiers of Greek city life” might be a topic, another day, for a different colloquium.

As it is, it is inevitable that if we try to characterise the most salient features of the Greek city of the Roman imperial period, we should focus on the central zone, Greece (Achaea) itself, Macedonia, the province of Asia, Pontus and Bithynia, Lycia, and to a lesser extent the other provinces of Asia Minor. Our conceptions are necessarily dependent on the survival of literature which illuminates these places, the presence of substantial bodies of inscriptions, and the existence of physical remains. In large and important areas when substantial numbers of “Greek cities” were to be found, such as central Asia Minor or the Near East west of the Euphrates (the Roman provinces of Syria, Judaea/Syria Palaestina, and Arabia), these conditions are only partially present, and historical study is only now beginning to bring some aspects of social and cultural history into focus.53

None the less, there is one medium by which the Greek cities of the Roman period, in all areas, expressed their identity, and whose products are available to us in vast numbers, and independently of the types of evidence mentioned above. This is of course the coinage of the cities, whose significance requires some emphasis. Ramsey Mac-Mullen's phrase “the epigraphic habit” has justly established itself as a key element in our perception of the Roman Empire and its cities.54 For the sheer scale of communal and individual self-expression through the medium of public writing in permanent (p.121) form is one of the most striking features of imperial city culture. But so also is the profusion of coinage, with the extra dimension that it involved the selection of visual images to accompany the (inevitably brief) written legends. The figures are remarkable: more than 530 Greek cities or city leagues (koina) minted coins at one time or another, in the first three centuries of the Empire, and the largest total for a single reign was reached under Septimius Severus (A.D. 193–211), namely something over 360.55 The result is an extraordinarily rich repertoire of imagespluslegends deployed to express the collective identity of cities; to portray and sometimes name the deities which were important to them; and on occasion to commemorate recurrent events, such as festivals, which played a central point in their collective existence, or individual events, such as visits by emperors. It is important to stress that the city coins, almost all only in bronze, were produced discontinuously; their strictly economic function, and their role within the framework of properly “Roman” coinage, in gold, silver, and bronze, awaits serious analysis. More important is the conclusion which has to be drawn from the late Konrad Kraft's study of the coinage of Asia Minor.56 He showed that the same work-shop (however we might imagine the physical reality of a “workshop”) might produce coins for two or more different cities. We cannot therefore speak of “the mint” of Ephesos, or of any other city, but only of coins “of” Ephesos; and this term can be used legitimately only where the city (or rather community; see below) concerned is explicitly named. Deductions of the form that (for instance) silver tetradrachms struck under Caracalla, but naming no city, were produced by “the mint of Laodicea,” because the types resemble those on coins of Laodicea, are wholly illegitimate.57 We have no basis for imagining the existence of stable city “mints”; all that we can know is the coins themselves, as extremely explicit and—in artistic terms—often very refined and beautiful expressions of collective identities and values. How, where, and by whom they were actually produced or manufactured is a matter of speculation.

Until recently the best introduction to these coins, the “Greek Imperials,” has been in a well-illustrated study by K. Harl of the Greek city coinages of the period from A.D. 180 to their complete disappearance in approximately the third quarter of the third century.58 It is a pity that this fine study, consistently (p.122) trying to set this coinage in a wider social and ideological context, does not attempt to explain the reasons for its disappearance (other than the depreciation of the imperial silver coinage) or the economic effects of the cessation of local minting. But for the latter question it would be necessary to distinguish minting—the production of new coins—from circulation—the use as a medium of exchange of coins of various origins and dates.

If the economic effects of this great change are highly uncertain, the abandonment of local coining cannot fail to be seen as the loss of a crucial means of self-expression by several hundred Greek cities. In the longer term, it can be taken as an aspect of the transformation of later Greek cities from pagan communities, symbolised above all by images of their deities and of the temples which housed their cult statues, into Christian communities under bishops. But since city coining was never to revive, no Greek city in the Roman Empire ever had occasion to adorn its coins with Christian images or legends.

Our knowledge of city minting in the early part of the period, from circa 44 B.C. to A.D. 69, has been transformed by the publication of the first two parts of a really major project, The Roman Provincial Coinage.59 For the first time all the provincial coinages of the first century of the Empire have been assessed and catalogued; further volumes (how many?) will carry the story to the cessation of minting in the later third century.

It is too early to assess in any detail the significance of this already gigantic contribution, which at a stroke transforms our ability to envisage the Roman Empire from the standpoint of hundreds of separate provincial communities. But three features stand out. Firstly, the scale and geographical range of coining. In the first two-thirds of a century of the Empire local communities in Spain and Africa might also produce coins. But by the reign of Claudius (A.D. 41–54) they fall silent, and coinage becomes one of a range of ways in which the Roman Empire gave, or allowed, a specially privileged status to Greek cities. Beyond that, the number of Greek cities producing coins increased rapidly in the third century, to reach (as mentioned above) a maximum of more than 360 under Septimius Severus. At that moment it was at least one-and-a-half centuries since any community which was not Greek, and which belonged to the Roman Empire, had minted its own coins. The exception proving the rule is of course the Hebrew coinage of the Jewish revolt and the Bar Kochba war; but at those moments, each prolonged for several years, the community concerned did not “belong” to the Empire.

(p.123) The second feature which is (almost) all-pervasive is the name and image of the reigning emperor. Except where local eras were used, it is of course precisely the presence of this name and image which allows us to arrange the coins of any one community in a temporal sequence. The naming and portrayal of the emperor is not universal: there is a large category of city coins from all areas of the Greek East in which other images (most often of gods) and legends are substituted for the portrait and name of the emperor. Such coins are conventionally labelled “pseudoautonomous,” on the presupposition that they embody some special privilege, or special degree of freedom from Roman control: but none such can in fact be identified. None the less, it is surely significant that Tyre is both the only “Greek city” in the Empire which continued to use some non-Greek (Phoenician) letters on its coins right up to the moment of its transformation in the 190s into a Roman colony; and that it was one of only three cities (the others being Chios and Athens) which never (up to the same point) named or portrayed the reigning emperor on its coins.60

The presence of the name and the image of the emperor has to be taken as one of the dominating features of the collective life of the Greek city in the imperial period. This applies, as noted above, very widely to the names of the cities themselves, and not merely to those transformed into Roman colonies; to the personal names of individual citizens, in which the family names (nomina) of successive ruling houses—“Iulius,” “Claudius,” “Flavius,” “Ulpius,” “Aelius,” “Aurelius,” “Septimius”—were ever more prominent, transliterated into their Greek forms; to the cults and temples of the emperors, reigning or deceased, and individual or collective (“the Sebastoi”); to the identities of public buildings, like the “Hadrianic Baths” revealed at Antioch in Syria by a new document of A.D. 245;61 to the names of months in city calendars; to the names of tribes or other sub-units of the communities; to the names of festivals; to the actual clothing of agōnothētai (president of games) or archiereis (high priests; see below); to the presence of honorific statues of emperors and members of their families; and to the prominence of inscribed letters from emperors, written in Greek, and of other inscriptions recording privileges granted to individuals by emperors. It is not too much to say that the public self-expression of the “Greek city” in the Empire embodied at every level an explicit recognition of the distant presence of the emperor. When (p.124) the emperor travelled, that presence might become real; but our evidence, however biased, is enough to show that a real, concrete connection between city and emperors was maintained far more intensively by the constant traffic in embassies, whether on diplomatic missions or in pursuit of requests or disputes, to bring city decrees before the emperor, address him in person, and bring back a letter in Greek in reply.62 As we see in the case of a letter of Caracalla of A.D. 213, even an imperial letter to an individual, referring to the obligations to his patris (home city) on the part of another individual, might be “read out in the theatre,” in this case that of Philadelphia in Asia.63

The purpose of doing that was of course to publicise it before the citizens, meeting in the theatre, “where it is their custom to take counsel,” as Tacitus wrote of the Antiochenes in Syria.64 When aroused, the citizens might even gather spontaneously in the theatre, as Acts represents the Ephesioi doing when provoked by Paul's teaching.65 But these allusions reflect a much more important truth about what we call, in some ways misleadingly, a “Greek city.” A Greek city was not essentially a “place” or an urban centre; it was a community of individuals. The point is made with great clarity but without further development, in an important chapter by Joyce Reynolds on “Cities” in the context of the administration of the Empire.66 Thus when an emperor wrote, as we would say, “to Pergamon,” that was not in fact how he expressed himself: his letters would go to “the archontes, boulē, and dēmos of the Pergamēnoi” (to the magistrates, council, and people of the Pergamenians); or, if “to Aphrodisias,” “to the archontes, boulē, and dēmos of the Aphrodisieis” (to the magistrates, council, and people of the Aphrodisians). The point is not a trivial one, for we consistently mistranslate, and therefore misconceive, the nature of the communal attachments which gave people their identity, in the (p.125) eyes of both themselves and others. Confronted with “Dionysios the Halt-karnasseus” we invariably write “Dionysius of Halicarnassus,” as if what he belonged to were a point on the map, but it was not; it was a community of citizens.

This point is consistently reinforced by the extremely extensive evidence of communal designations on the coinage “of cities.” Here too, we would be less liable to confuse ourselves if we called it the coinage of “communities.” The male genitive plural is by far the most common grammatical form of identification on the coins: so, to take only some cases from the index of Roman Provincial Coinage I “of the Aizanitai,” “of the Alabandeis,” “of the Amisoi.” There are exceptions, though they are far less common; occasionally we do find a place-name used to identify the origin of a coin. So, for example, from the same source “Amisos,” “Gadara,” “Gerasa,” “Thessalonikê.” But the fact that we now can, at least for the first hundred years of the Empire, read right across the entire local (or communal) numismatic production of the provinces is the first great service which Roman Provincial Coinage I rendered. In a profound sense, an important means of approach to the communities of the Empire, and to the “Greek city” above all, has been opened up for the first time.

I have placed a lot of emphasis on this material, precisely because in this now organised and intelligible form, it is new. But the Greek city of the Empire has of course revealed itself to us primarily via inscriptions. It is impossible to sum up the wealth of information contained in the tens of thousands of Greek city inscriptions of the imperial period, which now constitute a genre of literary expression in themselves. Instead, it may be preferable to attempt to present, and bring out the significance of, a few choice examples. The two most revealing both illustrate the mass, collective character of the life of the Greek city (or community), a point heavily and correctly stressed by Ramsey Mac-Mullen and Robin Lane Fox in their studies on the paganism of this period.67 But they also reflect the way in which the collective ceremonials and observances of Greek communities under the Empire gave a special place to the figure of the emperor.

The first inscription comes from a relatively little-known corner of the Greek world, the modest city of Kalindoia in Macedonia.68 With a certain (p.126) poetic appropriateness, it dates from the first year of the Christian era, and thus forms a pair with a comparable inscription from Kyme, of 2 B.C.–A.D. 2.69 Like thousands of other inscriptions of the period, the latter honours a euergetês (benefactor) who had offered hospitality and public shows to the people; moreover “during the Kaisareia [a festival in the name of the emperor] celebrated by Asia, as he had promised, he carried out sacrifices and banquets where the flesh of the victims was consumed, having made a sacrifice of oxen to the emperor Kaisar Sebastos and to his sons and to the other gods.”

But this document, significant only for being so characteristic of the epigraphic expression of the next three centuries, is far exceeded in importance by that from Kalindoia, which presents in concentrated form, and very early, almost all the values of Greek communal life, in its relation to the Empire. It therefore deserves translation in full:

Year 148 [of the provincial era of Macedonia, A.D. 1]

The city magistrates [politarchai], after a preliminary resolution by the members of the council [bouleutai], and an assembly of the people [ekklesia] being held, declared before the people [dēmos]:

Since Apollonios son of Apollonios son of Kertimos, being a good man and deserving of every honour, having accepted spontaneously the priesthood of Zeus and Rēmē and Caesar Augustus divifilius (son of the deified [Iulius]), has exhibited so much nobility, living up to the high reputation of his ancestors and of his own virtue, as to omit no excess of expenditure on the gods and his native city, providing from his own resources throughout the year the sacrifices offered monthly by the city to Zeus and Caesar Augustus; and has also offered all manner of honours to the gods, and provided for the citizens feasting and lavish entertainment, similarly dining the whole populace, both en masse and by triklinia (separate dining groups), and organising the procession at the festival so as to be varied and striking, and putting on the contests in honour of Zeus and Caesar Augustus in elaborate and worthy style … has shown his generosity to his fellow citizens by asking from the city leave to take over the public sacrifices offered during the festival to Zeus, Caesar Augustus, and the other benefactors, and has provided them at his own expense; and having sacrificed oxen has entertained (p.127) each of the citizens throughout the whole festival, by triklinia and on a mass basis, and made the most lavish distributions to the tribes, so that, wherever they wished to take their pleasure, they did so by his grace. Not only has he spared no expense, but he has had a statue of Caesar made at his own cost, and has offered it as a permanent memorial of the beneficence of Augustus to all mankind; he has thus provided an additional ornament for his native city, and for the god the appropriate honour and favour.

For these reasons it seems appropriate to the council and people to praise him for the enlightenment of his spirit and of his generosity towards his native city, to crown him with a wreath and to vote a stone (marble?) image of himself, of his father Apollonios and his mother Stratto; to set up the statues and the decree in whatever place in the agora the agōnothetēs [Apollonios] chooses, in order that other citizens might be rendered eager to seek honour and to contribute generously to their native city

When the decree was voted (by the assembly), Apollonios accepted the honour and the gratitude of his homeland, but relieved the city of the expense.

It was voted on the 14th of Daisios.

This very early inscription encapsulates almost all the key features of the public life of the imperial Greek city: the role of festivals and of public, communal celebrations; the importance of public writing and publicly placed images; the “presence” of the absent emperor, both as an object of worship and as visibly represented in his statue; and the central significance of the complex symbolic, political, and financial exchanges between leading individuals and the mass of their fellow citizens which made up the institution of euergetism. Given the early date, one element is missing: the progressive extension to the leading families in most Greek cities of the Roman citizenship, and, following on that the acquisition by their members of positions in the equestrian service and the Roman Senate. This steady evolution, known to us almost entirely through honorific inscriptions put up by their native cities, is familiar, and need not be reexamined here.70 The effect was, (p.128) firstly, that in all cities the ruling circle of office-holders and members of the council showed a steadily increasing proportion of Latin names, normally in the standard triple Roman form of praenomen, nomen, and cognomen (the latter very frequently still a Greek name); and with that, in principle at least, the application to their family structures and property relations of Roman private law (for instance, the father's legal authority over his extended family known as the patria potestas). But neither the rules of the pre-existing private law of the Greek cities nor the real extent of the currency of Roman private law can be easily understood.71 The spread of the Roman citizenship to individuals, and hence families, culminating in the Constitutio Antoniniana (the universal grant of citizenship made by Caracalla in 212), was however yet another respect in which the “Greek” city of the imperial period was in reality “Graeco-Roman.” A secondary effect was that those persons who served as equestrians or senators “belonged” not only to their native cities, but also to a much wider world, whose varied regions might be represented before their fellow citizens in the record of the places where they had served, incorporated in inscriptions put up in their honour.

The processes touched on above might have led to a wholesale loss, or even suppression, of the historical identities of Greek cities, and their absorption into an undifferentiated Graeco-Roman culture and outlook; or on the contrary, to a clear ideological “resistance,” and to a reassertion of historic identity; to actual armed resistance on the part of cities or regions; or, perhaps, to a claim to Greek dominance within that Graeco-Roman world on which the Empire had imposed so high a degree of unity. As regards the last possibility, we have seen above that it was indeed the case that Greek cities enjoyed privileges, like coinage, or the fact that emperors and governors paid them the compliment of addressing them systematically in Greek, which did indeed mark them out from the urban communities of the West. But their status was thereby explicitly recognised, and no Greek cities, or groups of cities, offered any parallel to the major Jewish revolts of A.D. 66–74 and 132–35. It was however not merely a strategic shift towards the eastern frontier which meant that Constantine's new capital would be situated in the Greek world, on the route between the Danube and Euphrates, and would have a (p.129) Greek name. It was also a symbol of the fact that in the end Graecia capta did indeed imprison her captor.

As regards the first possibility, the signs of any real loss of cultural identity were indeed very few. Latin literature, for instance, seems to have gained extraordinarily little currency in the Greek East; and there is no certain evidence even of the translation of Virgil until Constantine included part of a Greek version of the Fourth Eclogue in his Address to the Assembly of the Saints.72 Roman law, however, as taught in the schools of the Roman colony of Berytus, did, from the third century onwards, act as a magnet for the youth of the Greek cities.73 Looking in the reverse direction, it is of real significance that the history of Rome is largely “constituted” for us by Greek writers of the imperial period, Dionysius from Halicarnassus, Plutarch from Chaeronea, Appian from Alexandria, and Cassius Dio from Nicaea.74 The latter three were all Roman citizens, the middle two of equestrian rank and the last-named a senator and consul.

None the less, the most interesting and significant new items of evidence, or new studies of already-known evidence, of the last few years have tended to show a reassertion of historic and mythological identity in the frame-work of the collective life of the Greek city. But this cannot properly be seen as a movement “against” Rome (and here again the contrast with the two great Jewish revolts is fundamental). The most systematic of all these re- assertions, indeed, the Panhellenion, was the work of the emperor Hadrian.75 In more specifically local contexts, the symbolic and communal assertion of a city's identity will have been the work of its local governing class—but in the cases known to us this was a class in which the Roman citizen-ship, and even Roman office-holding, were already widespread. At Athens indeed, there are clear indications that actual Roman office was not sought as frequently as elsewhere. None the less, the Roman citizenship was common among the upper classes, and the resistance to the Herulian invasion of the 260s was led by a member of a family which had long held the citizenship, Herennius Dexippus.76 Athens remained, even after the Herulian (p.130) invasions, a major Hellenic centre. But the most systematic communal recreation, or reenactment, of the past which modern study has revealed was that at Sparta. Spawforth's study has shown, however, that this recreation, whose salient features drew tourists from all over the Greek world, did not really reproduce at all precisely the institutions of archaic and classical Sparta, and was the work, as elsewhere, of a local elite among whom the Roman citizenship was increasingly common. Note for example the inscription of the early third century in which a group of his synarchontes (fellow magistrates), all with Roman names, honour “Pop(lios) Mem(mios) Pratolaos also called Aristokles Damarous, aristopoleiteutēs [best citizen], for his protection of the Lykourgan customs, and his benevolence towards them.”77

An equally vivid picture of the communal evocation of tradition is provided by Guy M. Rogers' analysis of the foundation of Vibius Salutaris in early second-century Ephesos.78 Salutaris was of course a Roman citizen and equestrian officeholder; the route of the procession which his foundation instituted would take the participants down streets which had been completely transformed by monumental public building in the course of the first century A.D.; the statues to be carried included representations of Trajan and Plotina, as well as the personified Senate, equestrian order, and the Roman people; and the terms of the foundation were approved by the proconsul and his legate. But the prime honorand was the main deity of the city, Artemis; and the other statues included one of Enonymos, son of Kephios/Ouranos and Gê; Pion; probably Androklos, the mythical founder of the city; and certainly Lysimachos, the early Hellenistic refounder, as well as Augustus himself. The rituals celebrated the present as the fulfilment of a long history, not an opposition between Greek past and Roman present.

But of course the primary place among all recent work on the Greek city of the Roman period must belong to Michael Wörrle's publication of the foundation inscription of a new agōn (contest), the Dēmostheneia, set up at Oenoanda under Hadrian by a leading local notable, and Roman citizen, C. Iulius Demosthenes.79 This almost perfectly preserved inscription of 117 lines perhaps surpasses all others in its expression of the structure and values of the imperial Greek city. I will isolate only a few features. First of all, there is something of which our evidence rarely gives so vivid an impression, the (p.131) list of villages (kōmai), with associated monagriai (farmsteads?) in the territory of Oenoanda which are listed as being due to contribute cattle for sacrifice (lines 72–83). Then there is the detailed specification of the content of the various forms of competition, and the prizes to be attached to them, listed in the chronological sequence which is to be followed (lines 38–46):

  1. 1. Trumpeters and heralds. 50 den(arii).

  2. 2. Composers of Prose Encomia. 75 den(arii).

  3. 3. Poets. 75 den(arii).

  4. 4. Oboists. 1st prize 125 den(arii)., 2nd 75.

  5. 5. Comic Poets. 1st prize 200 den(arii)., 2nd 100.

  6. 6. Tragic Poets. 1st prize 250 den(arii)., 2nd 12$.

  7. 7. Kitharodes. 1st prize 300, 2nd 150.

  8. 8. Open competition. 1st prize 150 den(arii)., 2nd 100, 3rd 50.

  9. 9. Mime-artists and acts and displays. No prizes.

  10. 10. Other acts giving pleasure to the city. 600 den(arii). in all.

  11. 11. Gymnastic competitions for citizens. 150 den(arii). in all.

The detailed specification given here makes possible, not to say imperative, a comprehensive new study of the competitive festival in the Greek world of the imperial period, in which the primacy continued to the end to be held by the ancient games of Delphi, Olympia, Nemea, and the Isthmus, together with the Actia of Nicopolis. There have been important preliminary studies: for instance the excellent collection of agonistic inscriptions published by L. Moretti in 1953; the two suggestive papers by the great Louis Robert, cited by Stephen Mitchell in his review article on Wörrle's book (with an English translation of the text); and the collection of the inscriptions relating to the artists of Dionysus in the new edition of Pickard-Cambridge on the dramatic festivals of Athens.80 But none comes anywhere near being the full-scale study of the hierarchy of types of festival (from the major ones to the most local), as well as their geographical distribution and their allocation over the calendar, which could now be undertaken. Their geographical distribution alone would almost serve to define the world of the Greek city: from Zeugma (but not across the Euphrates) to Bostra (the Aktia Dousaria, (p.132) the festival for the Nabataean God, Dousara) Gerasa, and Tyre; in Cappadocia and all of Asia Minor; in Egypt (but only at a modest local level); at Puteoli, Naples, and (from Domitian onwards, with the Greek-style Capitoline games which he founded) Rome itself; at Massilia (but also at any other western Greek cities?).

Their distribution in space was also, at least as regards the more important contests, an allocation in time, as two inscriptions from Aphrodisias explicitly state. One of them, concerned with the setting-up of a festival in a manner quite close to that at Oenoanda, seems to schedule the festival “before the [departure of the competitors] to Rome.” In another, a high priest of Asia also makes regulations for a festival and lays down that it will be held “in the period between the celebration of the Barbilleia at Ephesus and [? the provincial games] of Asia.”81

The games set up at Oenoanda, like so many others, were due to the philotimia (love of fame) of a local notable who was also a Roman citizen; the procedures for ratifying it involved other locals who were also Roman citizens; the terms were approved both by the governor and by Hadrian himself, whose letter opens the inscription; and images of the Emperor were to be deployed in the proceedings.

But perhaps the most telling detail in the great inscription from Oenoanda relates to the golden crown which the agōnothetēs was to wear, with “relief portraits of the emperor Nerva Trajan Hadrian Caesar Augustus and our leader, the ancestral god Apollo.”82 This passing allusion has much greater significance than might appear at first sight. The crown combining images of a deity and the emperor, to be worn by an agōnothetēs at a festival, might be taken as a symbol of that whole “Romano-Greek” complex of beliefs, customs, and communal observances which constituted the collective life of the “Greek” city in the imperial period. In archaeological terms it is also noteworthy that comparable crowns are worn by some of the local notables portrayed in the remarkable statuary from Aphrodisias of this period.83 But, more significantly, a crown of precisely this type appears in one of the most brilliant of literary evocations of the challenge which Christianity offered to the beliefs, customs, and collective values of the Greek city, the Acts of Paul and Thecla, of which one version at least was already in circulation by the end of the second century. When Paul and Thecla reach Antioch (apparently (p.133) the one in Pisidia), Alexander, “one of the first of the Antiochenes,” lays hold of her. But she resists, tearing his cloak and dashing from his head a golden crown with an image of the emperor.84

The Acts of Paul and Thecla represents only one of a series of Christian portrayals of the life of the Greek city, of the crisis caused in it by the preaching of Christianity, and of the profound transformations which then came about. One of the most striking is the Life of Gregorius Thaumaturgus by Gregory of Nyssa. Written in the 380s, this novelistic portrayal of Christian preaching in the mid-third century vividly evokes the public buildings and popular festivals of cities in Pontus, and seems to be unique in explicitly portraying the establishment of a calendar of Christian martyr festivals as a conscious device to create a new “rhythm” of city life (the term used is very significant: metarrythmizōn),85 That the communal structures and the pagan calendar, or “rhythm,” of the Graeco-Roman city did in fact, over a period of not much more than a century, succumb to the new Christian world of bishops, churches, shrines of martyrs, and a new calendar of feasts is of course certain. Julian's short-lived attempt to revive it met with only a limited response. His last letter, written as his army marched east from Antioch in 363, might be taken as the epitaph of the pagan city:

From Litarbae I proceeded to Beroea, and there Zeus by showing a manifest sign from heaven declared all things to be auspicious. I stayed there for a day and saw the Acropolis and sacrificed to Zeus in imperial fashion a white bull. Also I conversed briefly with the senate about the worship of the gods. But though they all applauded my arguments very few were converted by them, and these few were men who even before I spoke seemed to me to hold sound views. But they were cautious and would not strip off and lay aside their modest reserve, as though afraid of too frank speech.86

Looking at the pagan Graeco-Roman city of the fourth century, we might, as Oswyn Murray has suggested to me, wish to emphasise the extraordinary stability, or ossification, of culture and values which bound it to the classical Greek city of some seven centuries earlier. On this view it succumbed because it did not change, and could not. On the other hand, we might rather (p.134) emphasise its vast progressive diffusion since then, with the effect that the Greekspeaking city now provided the primary form of identity for perhaps 30 million people; the growth in size, architectural adornment, and urban facilities, such as aqueducts, characteristic of very many of them; the wider unity symbolised by the cycle of athletic and “musical” festivals; and their involvement, in many different ways, practical and symbolic, in the Roman Empire. It is no accident that the “Greek city” whose ruins we can still see was the “Graeco-Roman city” of the imperial period. But Christianity was to triumph all the same.

The preaching of Christianity was not of course the only crisis which steadily transformed the Greek city in the later imperial period. Invasions touched much of the Balkans, Macedonia, Greece, Asia Minor, and Syria; the depreciation of the imperial coinage seems (see above) to have been the factor which brought about the ending of city coinage; the sub-division of provinces tended to bring the governors closer to the individual city, and it is in any case noticeable that building in the cities of the later Empire depended more on the initiative of governors than it did on local benefactors. Equally, the tradition of euergetism seems to have been profoundly damaged by a change which the emperors themselves introduced, as a way of rewarding those who served under them. That is to say that from around A.D. 300, various civilian and military ranks in the imperial service started to be conceived of as conferring a permanent named status on their holders; and these statuses in their turn came to confer a life-long immunity from magistracies (archai), liturgies (leitourgiai), and membership of the council (boulē) in a man's city. The “flight of the councillors” into imperial office, so characteristic of the fourth century, was in fact an artificial creation by the emperors themselves, whose consequences they tried in vain to limit.87

After the conversion of Constantine and his subsequent defeat of Licinius, the new freedom and imperial backing given to Christian communities could be followed, at first slowly and erratically, by Christian attacks on temples, leading sometimes to their destruction and replacement by churches.88 None of this meant of course that what we call “the Greek city” simply vanished. On the contrary, work at, for instance, Athens, at Aphrodisias in Caria, and at Scythopolis in Syria Palaestina has demonstrated how (p.135) complex a story of communal life, and even of extensive new construction in the fourth to sixth and seventh centuries, remains to be written.89 In the Syrian region, however, major changes in the pattern of urbanism may have been under way even before the Islamic conquests of the seventh century;90 in Asia Minor, as the work of Clive Foss has suggested, the Persian invasions of the early seventh century may have marked a decisive change.91 But these are as yet mere pointers. It remains the case that the “Greek city” which we can know best is the Romanised Greek city of the high imperial period, whose physical remains, inscriptions, and coins offer us a uniquely rich public “image,” which still leaves fundamental questions of social and economic history unanswered. But a very different history, whose framework would be a changed relationship to the now Christian emperors, could now be written, on the basis of changing types of evidence, to do justice to the complex evolution of the “Greek,” or “Graeco-Roman,” city of the fourth to seventh centuries.92 (p.136)

Notes:

(*) First published in M. H. Hansen, ed., The Ancient Greek City-State (Copenhagen, 1993), 232–60. This paper owes a great deal to the comments of the participants in the colloquium, above all those of Ph. Gautier.

(1) . G. Alföldy, “Augustus und die Inschriften: Tradition und Innovation,” Gymnasium 98 (1991): 289.

(2) . For a brief sketch of some aspects of this transformation, see F. Millar, “State and Subject: The Impact of Monarchy,” in F. Millar and E. Segal, eds., Caesar Augustus: Seven Aspects (1984), 37–60(= chapter 12 of F. Millar, Rome, the Greek World, and the East I: The Roman Republic and the Augustan Revolution), which owes much to S. R. F. Price, Rituals and Power: The Roman Imperial Cult in Asia Minor (1984).

(3) . Herodotus 1, 167.

(4) . Dionysius, Ant. Rom. 7, 3–10.

(5) . Plutarch, Camillus 8; Justin 43, 5, 10.

(6) . Syll.3 no. 591. English translation in M. M. Austin, The Hellenistic World from Alexander to the Roman Conquest (1981), no. 155.

(7) . See P. S. Derow and W. G. Forrest, “An Inscription from Chios,” ABSA 77 (1982): 79 = SEG XXXI, no. 777. See O. Hansen, Eranos 85 (1987): 101.

(8) . For a general account of Posidonia/Paestum, as revealed by excavation, see J. G. Pedley, Paestum: Greeks and Romans in Southern Italy (1990); for Dicaearchia/Puteoli. M. Frederiksen, Campania (1984), chap. 14.

(9) . D. Roussel, Les Siciliens entre les Remains et les Carthaginois à l'époque de ia premiere guerre punique (1970).

(10) . For a survey of later Republican Sicily, see , Sicily under the Roman Empire: The Archaeology of a Roman Province, 36 B.C.–A.D. 535 (1990), chap. 1: “Background.”

(11) . Livy 31, 29–30.

(12) . See K. S. Sacks, Diodorus Siculus and the First Century (1990), esp. 191–92.

(13) . See J. M. Alonso-Nunez, “An Augustan World History: The Historiae Philippicae of Pompeius Tragus,” Greece and Rome 34 (1987): 56.

(14) L. Robert and J. Robert, Claros I: décrets hellénistiques (1989). The passage quoted is from the decree for Polemaios, col. II, lines 24–33. See also J. Touloumakos, “Zum römischen Gemeindepatronat im griechischen Osten,” Hermes 116 (1988): 304, and esp. the important paper by J.-L. Ferrary, “Le statut des cités libres dans l'Empire Romain à la lumière des inscriptions de Claros,” CRAI (1991): 557.

(15) . See R. K. Sherk, Roman Documents from the Greek East: Senatus Consulta and Epistulae to the Age of Augustus (1969), no. 24.

(16) . Edited by J. M. Reynolds in J. A. Lloyd, Excavations at Sidi Khrebish, Benghazi (Berenice) I (supp. to Libya Antiqua 5, 1982), 233, no. 1. See A. Laronde, Cyrène et la Libye hellénistique (1987), 463–64(photograph, text, translation, and discussion).

(17) . Syll.3, no. 762 = IGR I, no. 662 = G. Mihailov, IG Bulg. I2 (1990), no. 13. English translation in R. K. Sherk, Rome and the Greek East to the Death of Augustus (1984), no. 78.

(18) . Strabo, Geog. 12, 3, 11 (546), Loeb trans, (with minor emendations).

(19) . For the political history of the Greek cities of both Phoenicia and Syria proper, see the very useful studies by J. G. Grainger, The Cities of Seleukid Syria (1990), and Hellenistic Phoenicia (1992).

(20) . Strabo, Geog. 16, 2,19 (756). On Berytus as a colonia, see F. Millar, “The Roman Coloniae of the Near East: A Study of Cultural Relations,” in H. Solin and M. Kajava, eds., Roman Eastern Policy and Other Studies in Roman History (1990), 10–23 (= chapter 8 of the present volume).

(21) . E. Bowie, “Greeks and Their Past in the Second Sophistic,” Past and Present 46 (1970): 3 = M. I. Finley, ed., Studies in Ancient Society (1974), 166.

(22) . Strabo, Geog. 12, 8, 13 (576); 13, 4, 15 (630).

(23) . J. M. Reynolds, Aphrodisias and Rome (1982), nos. 2–3 (Oppius); 6–13 (Triumviral period). The phrase quoted is from no. 13.

(24) . A. Plassart, “Une levée de volontaires thespiens sous Marc-Aurèle,” Mélanges G. Glotz II (1932), 231; the correct context was established by C. P. Jones, “The Levy at Thespiae under Marcus Aurelius,” GRBS 12 (1971): 45.

(25) . See F. Millar, “P. Herennius Dexippus: The Greek World and the Third-Century Invasions,” JRS 59 (1969): 12 (= chapter 13 of F. Millar, Rome, the Greek World, and the East II: Government, Society, and Culture in the Roman Empire).

(26) . Dig. 50, 15, 1.

(27) . Reynolds, Aphrodisias and Rome, no. 15 (Hadrian); 48 (legal prevention of visits by proconsul). For discussions of these complex questions, see R. Bernhardt, Imperium und Elutheria: Die römische Politik gegenüber denfreien Städten des griechischen Ostens (1971); Polis und rötnische Herrschaft in der späten Republik, 149–31 vor Chr. (1985); and Ferrary (n. 14).

(28) . So Diodorus 16, 7, 1. See Wilson (n. 10), 33–34 (suggesting that the actual colonisation took place in 21 B.C.).

(29) . See still B. M. Levick, Roman Colonies in Southern Asia Minor (1967): Antiochia in Pisidia, Cremna, Olbasa, Comama, Lystra, Parlais. For the background, see S. Mitchell, “The Hellenization of Pisidia,” Mediterranean Archaeology 4 (1991): 119.

(30) . Text to nn. 31–33 below.

(31) . AE 1973, no. 501 = I. K. Alexandria Troas, no. 34.

(32) . G. H. R.Horsley, “The Inscriptions from the Socalled ‘Library’ at Cremna,” Anat. Stud. 37 (1987): 49 = SEG XXXVII, nos. 1175–85. The example given is no. 1176; see now I. K. Central Pisidia, no. 34.

(33) . See E. Chrysos, ed., Nicopolis I: Proceedings of the First International Symposium on Nicopolis (1987). For the inscription from Pergamon, see L. Moretti, Iscriziotii agonistiche greche (1953), no. 58.

(34) . For this view see N. Purcell, “The Nicopolitan Synoicism and Roman Urban Policy,” in Chrysos (n. 33), 71.

(35) . A. H. M. Jones, The Cities of the Eastern Roman Provinces2 (1971).

(36) . See esp. S. Mitchell, “Imperial Building in the Eastern Roman Provinces,” HSCPh 91 (1987): 333, with a shorter version in S. Macready and F. H. Thompson, eds., Roman Architecture in the Greek World (1987), 18, a valuable series of studies on the influence of Rome on the physical character of imperial Greek cities.

(37) . MAMA I-V, no. 236.

(38) . MAMA VII, no. 305.

(39) . See now the new inscription from Heraclea Sintica in Macedonia: G. Mitrev, “Civitas Heracleotarum: Heracleia Sintica or the Ancient Village of Rupite,” ZPE 145 (2003): 263–72, with C. Lepelley, “Une inscription d'Heraclea Sintica (Macédoine) récemment dé-couverte, révélant un rescrit de l'empereur Galère restituant ses droits à la cité,” ZPE 146 (2004): 221–31.

(40) . For the most penetrating study of urban architecture, drawing equally on Greek East and Latin West, see W. L. MacDonald, The Architecture of the Roman Empire II: An Urban Appraisal (1986). For the widespread adoption in the Greek East of what are categorised as “Roman” architectural techniques, see H. Dodge, “The Architectural Impact of Rome in the East,” in M. Henig, ed., Architecture and Architectural Sculpture in the Roman Empire (1990), 108.

(41) . Suetonius, Diu. Claud. 25; Dio 60, 17, 3–4. The fullest account so far available is RE, s.v. “Lykia,” supp. XIII (1973), cols. 265–308 (S.Jameson). Subsequent discoveries will allow a major new account. For the formation of the province, see D. Magie, Roman Rule in Asia Minor (1950), 529.

(42) . J. Deininger, Die Provinziallandtage der römischen Kaiserzeit (1965). For the Lycian koinon, 69ff.

(43) . For a very careful collection of the evidence, see G. E. M. de Ste Croix, The Class Struggle in the Ancient Greek World (1981), app. I-V: “The Destruction of Greek Democracy in the Roman Period.”

(44) . J.-M. Ch.Baity, Curia Ordinis: recherches d'architecture et d'urbanisme antiques sur les curies provinciales du monde remain (1991).

(45) . A. H. M. Jones, The Greek City from Alexander to Justinian (1940); M. Sartre, L'Orient remain: provinces et sociétés provinciales en Méditerranée orientale d'Auguste aux Sévères (31 avant J.-C.-235 après J-C.) (1991).

(46) . V. V. Struve, Corpus Inscriptionum Regni Bosporani (CIRB) (1965); see V. F. Gajdukevi, Des bosporanische Reich (1971).

(47) . For the five Cyrene Edicts, see still the discussion by F. de Visscher, Les edits d'Auguste découverts à Cyrène (1940). For the letters of Hadrian and Antoninus Pius, see J. M. Reynolds, “Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and the Cyrenaican Cities” JRS 68 (1978): ill. The Jewish inscriptions are collected by G. Lüderitz, Corpus jüdischer Zeugnisse aus der Cyrenaika (1983). A corpus of the inscriptions of Cyrenaica is being prepared by J. M. Reynolds.

(48) . See still, for some of them, N. Pigulevskaya, Les villes de l'état iranien aux époques parthe et sassanide (1963). See also S. A. Nodelman, “A Preliminary History of Characene,” Berytus 13 (1960): 83.

(49) . See F. Millar, “Dura-Europos under Parthian Rule,” in J. Wiesehöfer, ed., Das Partherreich und seine Zeugnisse (Historia-Einzelschrift 122, 1998), 473–92(= chapter 16 of the present volume).

(50) . For these places as coloniae, see F. Millar (n. 20).

(51) . See Jones (η. 35), chap. 11; F. Millar, The Roman Near East (31 〈b.c〉.-〈a.d.〉) (1993), part. II, chap. 7.

(52) . See D. Feissel and J. Gascou, “Documents d'archives remains inédits du Moyen Euphrate (IIIe s. après J.-C.) I. Les petitions (P.Euphr. 1 à 5),” JS 1995: 65–119; “II. Les actes de ventesachat (P.Euphr. 6 à 10),” JS 1997: 3–57; “III. Actes divers et letters (P.Euphr. 11 à 17)” JS 2000: 157–208.

(53) . For central Asia Minor, note S. Mitchell, Anatolia: Land, Men and Gods in Central Asia Minor, 280 〈b.c〉.-〈a.d〉. 620 I—II (1993), and for the Near East, Millar (n. Si)·

(54) . R. Mac-Mullen, “The Epigraphic Habit in the Roman Empire,” AJPh 103 (1982): 233.

(55) . T. B. Jones, “Greek Imperial Coins,” North American Journal of Numismatics 4 (1965): 295; see A. Johnston, “Greek Imperial Statistics: A Commentary,” RN 26 (1984): 240.

(56) . K. Kraft, Das System der kaiserzeitlichen Münzprägung in Kleinasien (1972).

(57) . For these misleading presumptions, see, e.g., A. Bellinger, The Syrian Tetradrachms of Caracalla and Macrinus (1940).

(58) . K. Harl, Civic Coins and Civic Politics in the Roman East, A.D. 180–275 (1987).

(59) . A. Burnett, M. Amandry, and P. P. Ripollès, The Roman Provincial Coinage I.1–2–II (1992–).

(60) . See A.Johnston, “The So-Called ‘Pseudo-Autonomous’ Greek Imperials,” Am. Num. Soe., Mus. Notes 30 (1985): 89. There is no complete study of the coinage of Tyre; for the essentials, see BMC Phoenicia cxxiii–cxxiv, and 227–28; for these three cases, see RPC I, 41.

(61) . See Feissel and Gascou (n. 52) I (1995), no. 1.

(62) . This traffic in embassies is a central theme of my The Emperor in the Roman World, 31 B.C.-A.D. 337 (1977; reissued with afterword, 1992). For imperial letters, see the posthumously published corpus by J. H. Oliver, Greek Constitutions of the Early Roman Emperors from Inscriptions and Papyri (1989).

(63) . IGR I, no. 1619; Dittenberger, Syll.3, no. 883; Abbott and Johnson, Municipal Administration, no. 134.

(64) . Tacitus, Hist. 2, 80.

(65) . Acts 19:29. It is worth noting the valuable survey by G. H. R. Horsley, “The Inscriptions of Ephesos and the New Testament,” Novum Testamentum 34 (1992): 105.

(66) . J. Reynolds, “Cities,” in D. C. Braund, ed., The Administration of the Roman Empire (Exeter Studies in History 18, 1988), 15: “They were, strictly speaking, ‘peoples’ (populi, demoi), properly designated by an ethnic rather than a place name (Carthaginienses rather than Carthago, Pergamenoi rather than Pergamon).”

(67) .R. Mac-Mullen, Paganism in the Roman Empire (1984); R. Lane Fox, Pagans and Christians (1986), esp. 27–28, “Pagans and Their Cities.”

(68) . Edited by K. L. Sismanides in Ἀρχαιολογικόν δϵλτίov Mϵλέτϵς‎ 1983 [1985]: 75; see BE 1987: no. 688, and SEG XXXV, no. 744.

(69) . R. Hodot, “Décret de Cymè en l'honneur du Prytane Kléanax,” J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 10 (1982): 165, with the long discussion by L. Robert, Bull. Épig. 1983, 323; R. Merkelbach, “Ehrenbeschluss der Kymäer für den Prytanis Kleanax,” Epigr. Anat. 1 (1983): 33; SEG XXXII, no. 1243.

(70) . A detailed study of the equestrian roles of men from the Greek cities is lacking. See the classic sketch by A. Stein, “Zur sozialen Stellung der provinzialen Oberpriester,” Epitumbion Swoboda (1927), 300; note also F. Quass, “Zur politischen Tätigkeit der munizipalen Aristokratie des griechischen Ostens in der Kaiserzeit,” Historia 31 (1982): 188, esp. 198–99, for holders of equestrian posts. For senators, H. Halfmann, Die Senatoren aus dem östlichen Teil des Imperium Romanum bis zum Ende des z. Jahrhunderts n. Chr. (1979); S. Panciera, ed., Epigrafia e ordine senatorio II (1982), 583–684. See above all, however, for the local activity of senators, W. Eck, “Die Präsenz senatorischer Familien in der Städten des Imperium Romanum bis zum späten 3. Jahrhundert,” inW. Eck, H. Galsterer, and H.Wolff, eds., Studien zur antiken Sozialgeschichte: Festschrift F. Vittinghoff (1980), 283.

(71) . For a sketch of the problem, see H. Galsterer, “Roman Law in the Provinces: Some Problems of Transmission,” in M. Crawford, ed., L'impero romano e le strutture economiche e sociali delle province (1986), 13.

(72) . Constantine, Oratio ad Coetum Sanctorum 19–21.

(73) . See Millar (n. 20), 16–17.

(74) . E. Gabba, Dionysius and the History of Archaic Rome (1991); C. P. Jones, Plutarch and Rome (1971); F. Millar, A Study of Cassius Dio (1964). See in general E. Gabba, “The Historians and Augustus,” in Millar and Segal (n. 2), 61.

(75) . See A. J. Spawforth and S. Walker, “The World of the Panhellenion I. Athens and Eleusis,” JRS 75 (1985): 78; “II. Three Dorian Cities,” JRS 76 (1986): 88.

(76) . See G. M. Woloch, Roman Citizenship and the Athenian Elite, A.D. 96–161 (1973); E Millar (n. 25), 12.

(77) . IG I-V.1, no. 544. See Spawforth in P. Cartledge and, Hellenistic and Roman Sparta: A Tale of Two Cities (1989), 201–2.

(78) . G. M. Rogers, The Sacred Identity of Ephesos: Foundation Myths of a Roman City (1991).

(79) . M. Wörrle, Stadt und Fest im kaiserzeitlichen Kleinasien: Studien zu einer agonistischen Stiftung aus Oinoanda (1988).

(80) . L. Moretti, Iscrizioni agonistiche greche (1953); L. Robert, “Deux concours grecs à Rome,” CRAI (1970): 6; L. Robert, “Discours d'ouverture,” VIIIth International Congress of Greek and Latin Epigraphy 1982 (1984), 35; S. Mitchell, “Festivals, Games and Civic Life in Roman Asia Minor,” JRS 80 (1990): 183; A. W. Pickard-Cambridge, The Dramatic Festivals of Athens2, revised by J. Gould and D. M. Lewis (1968; reissued with corrections and supp., 1–988), 306–7 (the inscriptions relating to artists of Dionysus).

(81) . Reynolds, Aphrodisias and Rome (n. 23), no. 59, 1. 5; no. 57,11. 22–23.

(82) . Lines 52–53 (trans. Mitchell, above, n. 80).

(83) . For a photograph and brief account of one of them, see K. T. Erim, Aphrodisias: City of Venus Aphrodite (1986), 65.

(84) . Acts of Paul and Thecla 26–39 (Syriac text) quoted from Price (n. 2), 170.

(85) . Gregory of Nyssa, Vita Gregorii Thaumaturgi, PG XLVI, cols. 893–957. For μϵταρρυθμίζων‎, see col. 953. See R. Van Dam, “Hagiography and History: The Life of Gregory Thaumaturgus,” Classical Antiquity 1 (1982): 272.

(86) . Julian, Ep. 58, Loeb trans.; Bidez-Cumont, Ep. 98.

(87) . These points briefly summarise the conclusions of F. Millar, “Empire and City, Augustus to Julian: Obligations, Excuses and Status,” JRS 73 (1983): 76 (= chapter 16 of F. Millar, Rome, the Greek World, and the East II: Government, Society, and Culture in the Roman Empire).

(88) . See G. Fowden, “Bishops and Temples in the Eastern Roman Empire, 〈a.d.〉 320–435,” JThSt 29 (1978): 53.

(89) . For late Roman Athens, see esp.A. Frantz, The Athenian Agora XXI-V: Late Antiquity, A.D.; 267–700 (1988); for Aphrodisias, see esp.C. Roueché, Aphrodisias in Late Antiquity (1989), and Performers and Partisans in Aphrodisias in the Roman and Late Roman Periods (1992). For the excavations at Scythopolis, see esp. Excavations and Surveys in Israel 7–8 (1988–89): 15–32. Note (27) the mosaic inscription of building work carried out under the governorship of Palladius Porphyrius, probably in the fourth century.

(90) . See H. Kennedy, “From Polis to Madina: Urban Change in Late Antique and Early Islamic Syria,” Past and Present 106 (1985): 3.

(91) . C. Foss, “The Persians in Asia Minor and the End of Antiquity,” EHR 90 (1975): 721, reprinted along with other papers in his History and Archaeology of Byzantine Asia Minor (1990), no. I. Note also his studies of individual cities: Byzantine and Turkish Sardis (1976); and Ephesus after Antiquity (1979).

(92) . See for instance M. Whittow, “Ruling the Late Roman and Early Byzantine City: A Continuous History,” Past and Present 129 (1990): 3.