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a t t i d e l co n v e gn o i n t e r n a z i on a l e
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a cu ra d i ma n u e l a ma r i e j ohn t h or n t on

PISA ROMA
FABRIZIO SERRA EDITORE
MMXIII

studi ellenistici
xxvii 2013

PISA ROMA
FABRIZIO SERRA EDITORE
MMXIII

Rivista annuale A Yearly Journal


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SOMMARIO
9

Manuela Mari, Introduzione : Parole in movimento

dynasteiai . dal riemergere della regalit


nella grecia del iv sec. a.c. alle percezioni
dell imperium Romanum
Mario Mazza, Latto di nascita dellEllenismo ? Qualche considerazione sulla
c.d. Lettera di Aristotele ad Alessandro sulla politica verso le citt
Stefania De Vido, Tuvranno~, strathgo;~ aujtokravtwr, dunavsth~. Le ambi gue parole del potere nella Sicilia di iv secolo
Miltiades B. Hatzopoulos, Le vocabulaire de la prise de dcision dans les
sources littraires et pigraphiques de la Macdoine antique
Paolo Desideri, Terminologia imperiale in Polibio
Andrew Erskine, Expressions of Power in Polybius Histories
Giuseppe Zecchini, Adhvrito~ in Polibio
Laura Mecella, Umberto Roberto, Isotimiva tra Roma e la Persia : una te stimonianza dellet di Severo Alessandro

29
45
61
71
81
93

99

dentro la citt, oltre la citt.


le dinamiche politiche interne alle poleis

Stefano Ferrucci, Lambigua virt. Filotimiva nellAtene degli oratori


Benjamin D. Gray, The Polis becomes Humane ? Filanqrwpiva as a Cardinal
Civic Virtue in later Hellenistic Honorific Epigraphy and Historiography
Andrea Raggi, Il lessico dei privilegi fiscali nellOriente greco tra et ellenistica
e romana
Cinzia Bearzot, Il lessico dellopposizione politica in Polibio
Paolo A. Tuci, Il lessico della collaborazione politica in Polibio
Adolfo La Rocca, Apuleio e gli ejkklhsiastaiv

123

137
163
175
185
207

difetti di traduzione.
il linguaggio dei rapporti interstatali
e della comunicazione tra poleis e regni ellenistici

Anna Magnetto, Ambasciatori plenipotenziari delle citt greche in et classi ca ed ellenistica : terminologia e prerogative
Biagio Virgilio, Forme e linguaggi della comunicazione fra re ellenistici e citt
Paola Lombardi, Parole nuove per nuovi equilibri. Su alcuni termini del lessico
epigrafico politico di et ellenistica
Paschalis Paschidis, Fivloi and filiva between Poleis and Kings in the Helle nistic Period

223
243
263
283

sommario

Alice Bencivenni, Il giuramento civico di Mileto, il figlio di Tolemeo II e il potere


del linguaggio in I. Milet i 3, 139
Daniela Motta, I soldati nelle citt : osservazioni sul lessico epigrafico di et
ellenistico-romana

299

317

lessico, narrazione e (ri)scrittura degli eventi


nella storiografia ellenistica: oltre polibio

Angelos Chaniotis, Emotional Language in Hellenistic Decrees and Helleni stic Histories
John Thornton, Tragedia e retorica nella polemica sulla presa di Mantinea
(Polibio ii , 56-58)
Leone Porciani, Aspetti della nozione di comune , collettivo e generale
tra politica, societ e storiografia : un profilo di koinov~
Guido Schepens, Lo sfruttamento militare e politico della memoria e della
storia : a proposito del frammento di Sosilo sulla battaglia dellEbro (217 a.C.)

339
353

375
385

conclusioni

John K. Davies, Words, Acts, and Facts

413

Recapiti dei collaboratori del fascicolo

421

EXPRESSIONS OF POWER
IN POLYBIUS HISTORIES *
Andrew Erskine
1. Introduction

f all the Greek historians active between the death of Alexander and the
later part of the first century bc Polybius of Megalopolis is the only one
whose work survives in any quantity. He thus gives us a snapshot of political language use in the middle of a period of enormous transformation. His subject is
power, the rise of the power of Rome and the decline of the power of the Hellenistic monarchies or, more precisely, how Rome in less than 53 years came to world
power, something which he observes had never happened before. Rome, then,
was a new phenomenon, one that challenged existing ways of expressing power.

Polybius had grown up in a world where kings dominated and cities could only
exercise significant power by combining together in federations such as his own
Achaean League. Now, however, there was a city-state that not only challenged
the authority of the kings but forced them into a subordinate position. So a city
replaced kings as the dominant power and, further turning the Greek conception
of the world upside down, it was not even a Greek city. In this paper I want to
examine the language Polybius employs to describe Rome, paying particular attention to the terminology used to express Roman power and its manifestations.
I will suggest that Rome occupies an ambiguous space between king and city.
Polybius uses a variety of phrases to express Romes world power or aspirations
to it. There is the famous question of the opening chapter : who is so worthless
or so lazy as not to want to know how and by what sort of government in less
than fifty-three years almost the whole inhabited world (scedo;n a{panta ta; kata;
th;n oijkoumevnhn) was subjugated and brought under one rule (uJpo; mivan ajrch;n),
that of the Romans, something unique in history ? 1 Shortly afterwards Polybius
uses a combination of ajrchv and dunasteiva. The first two introductory books will
show, he says, how Rome had both adequate grounds for conceiving the ambition of the rule and dominion over everything (hJ tw`n o{lwn ajrch; kai; dunasteiva)
and adequate means for achieving it . 2 Later in the first book dunasteiva is used

* I benefitted greatly from the discussion at the conference and I am particularly grateful to Manuela
Mari, Guido Schepens and Giuseppe Zecchini.
1 Polybius i, 1.5-6, repeated at xxxix, 8.7 ; cf. xxx, 6.6 (th;n th`~ oijkoumevnh ejxousivan uJpo; mivan ajrch;n
pivptousan).
2 Polybius i, 3.10 ; cf. viii, 2.4-6 on how fortune has brought all parts of the world uJpo; mivan ajrch;n kai;
dunasteivan ; xv, 9.2 where the Romans at Zama are fighting peri; th`~ tw`n o{lwn ajrch`~ kai; dunasteiva~ ; xxi,
16.8 where Seleucid ambassadors after Magnesia tell the Romans that fortune has handed Rome th;n th`~
oijkoumevnh~ ajrch;n kai; dunasteivan. It has been suggested that when Polybius uses this phrase in his rendering

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in a partnership with hJgemoniva ; it is through such great undertakings as the First


Punic War that the Romans gain the confidence to aspire to the leadership and
dominion of everything (hJ tw`n o{lwn hJgemoniva kai; dunasteiva). 3 These aspirations
are voiced by Scipio Africanus when addressing his troops before the battle of
Zama in 202 : victory will bring Rome undisputed leadership and dominion over
the rest of the world (th`~ a[llh~ oijkoumevnh~ th;n hJgemonivan kai; dunasteivan ajdhv-
riton). 4 Phrases such as these are often translated quite loosely in English as universal empire or world empire ; in other words the two nouns are merged into
a single concept. 5
Polybius also uses verbs as well as abstract nouns to express Roman world
power, for instance, when he writes that the Romans made the whole world subject
to themselves : Rwmai`oi pa`san ejpoihvsanto th;n oijkoumevnhn uJphvkoon auJtoi`~. 6 But in
this paper my attention will be focused on three abstract nouns, ajrchv, dunasteiva
and hJgemoniva. Their meaning has often puzzled me. Their use can suggest that
they are interchangeable : compare hJ tw`n o{lwn ajrch; kai; dunasteiva in Polybius i,
3.10 with hJ tw`n o{lwn hJgemoniva kai; dunasteiva in i, 63.9. But what would these phrases
have conveyed to a contemporary ? What are the connotations of each word ?

2. The Classical Background

Of these three words it is ajrchv and hJgemoniva that are most familiar from the classical period, at least when used in the sense of imperial power. Archv in particular
is widespread, referring equally to the power wielded over others by a monarchic
state such as Persia or by a polis such as Athens as in the case of the fifth-century
Athenian empire. Thus, in Herodotus, when Croesus is told by the oracles that if
he invades the territory of the Persians a great empire will fall, the word used is
ajrchv. 7 It is, of course, his own empire that falls, but the term is clearly meant to
be appropriate to either empire. Archv continues to be used of the Persian empire
through the fifth century and into the fourth, for instance in writings as varied as
Thucydides history, Isocrates Panegyricus, Xenophons Cyropaedia and Aristotles
Politics. 8 But it is not only monarchic states that can have an ajrchv. Thucydides

of the Romano-Aetolian treaty of 189 bc (xxi, 32.2), he is translating the Latin imperium maiestasque, so H.
G. Gundel, Der Begriff Maiestas im politischen Denken der rmischen Republik, Historia , 12 (1963), pp. 283320, esp. 289-290. The argument is based on Livys Latin version of the treaty where the relevant words are
given as imperium maiestasque (xxxviii, 11.2), but Livy is translating Polybius so no guide to the original text
of the treaty ; Gundels position is effectively refuted by M. Dubuisson, Le latine de Polybe : les implications
historiques dun cas de bilinguisme, Paris, 1985, pp. 91-93, in a useful discussion of dunasteiva in Polybius.
3 Polybius i, 63.9. For hJgemoniva alone in the phrase, hJ aJpavntwn hJgemoniva, Polybius viii, 2.6.
4 Polybius xv, 10.2 ; on the significance and meaning of ajdhvrito~ in Polybius, see G. Zecchini in this
volume, pp. 93-98.
5 Consider various translations of Polybius i, 3.10 (hJ tw`n o{lwn ajrch; kai; dunasteiva) : world empire
(Paton/Habicht/Walbank Loeb editions and Scott-Kilvert) ; Waterfield tries to capture both terms with
imperial rulership over the whole world ; Shuckburgh takes a more literal approach, universal empire
and dominion , as does Maris Italian translation, impero e dominio universali .
6 Polybius iii, 3.9 ; cf. i, 64.1.
7 Herodotus i, 53.3 ; 86.1 ; 91.4 (cf. Aristotle, Rhet. iii, 5.3).
8 Thucydides viii, 48.4 ; Isocrates, Paneg. (iv) 178 ; Xenophon, Cyrop. viii, 1.45 ; Aristotle, Pol. v,
1313a38.

expressions of power in polybius histories

83

regularly uses the word of the Athenian empire ; for example, when he introduces
the Pentekontaetia, he says that he will now explain the growth of the ajrchv of the
Athenians (Thucydides i, 97.2). Nor does he limit its use to Athens ; on occasion
it is found referring to power exercised by Sparta and Carthage. 9

Hgemoniva, on the other hand, is often distinguished from ajrchv by scholars, espe-

cially in the context of the history of the fifth century bc. It tends to be seen as a
term, when used in international relations, that is more appropriate to the rule of
a polis and even as one that suggests the relationship is in some way consensual. 10
There is, I am sure, something in this but it can be pushed too far. 11 Herodotus,
like Thucydides, does use hJgemoniva for the leadership of the Greek military alliance against Persia but he also uses it to refer to Cyrus seizure of power from
the Medes. 12 Nor is the word hJgemoniva itself as common in Herodotus and Thucydides as scholarly discussion might sometimes lead us to think and many of the
examples are strictly military in character, referring to leadership in a military alliance. Often it is cognate terms such the noun hJgemwvn or the verb hJgevomai that
are pressed into service to fill the gap. 13 Underpinning the distinction is the idea
that the Athenian empire reflects a change from hJgemoniva to ajrchv, from hegemony to empire. 14 This idea, although frequently attributed to Thucydides, is not
one that is ever explicitly stated by him. 15 Our evidence becomes more plentiful
in the fourth century. Isocrates uses hJgemoniva more broadly for him it expresses
not only the formal leadership of a military alliance but also a position of political ascendency within Greece. 16 Looking back to the Athenian supremacy of the

9 Thucydides i, 97.2 (Athens, cf. also i, 67.4 ; vii, 66.2) ; vi, 82.3 (Sparta) ; 90.2 (Carthage) ; cf. the illuminating remarks of G. E. M. De Ste. Croix, The Origins of the Peloponnesian War, London, 1972, p. 287.
10 Cf. L. Kallet-Marx, Money, Expenses and Naval Power in Thucydides History 1-5.24, Berkeley-Los
Angeles-Oxford, 1993, p. 6: ajrchv clearly implied to contemporaries, including Thucydides, considerably
greater impact on the autonomy of its constituent members than hegemonia; R. N. Lebow, The Tragic
Vision of Politics: ethics, interests and orders, Cambridge, 2003, p. 122: hegemonia was a form of legitimate
authority, arche meant control, and applied to rule or influence over other city states; J. M.
Wickersham, Hegemony and Greek Historians, Lanham, md, 1994, p. 23: hegemonys capacity for changing
into other things, especially arkhe, hegemonys evil twin.
11 Note the wariness of H. van Wees, Greek Warfare : Myths and realities, London, 2004, p. 7, and P.
Low, Interstate Relations in Classical Greece, Cambridge, 2007, p. 201 n. 67. R. I. Winton, Thucydides 1, 97, 2 :
the arche of the Athenians and the Athenian Empire, mh , 38 (1981), pp. 147-152, sees the two terms as virtually synonymous, especially at Thucydides i, 97.
12 Military leadership : Herodotus vii, 161.3 ; viii, 3.1 ; Persians : iii, 65.6 ; vii, 8a.1 ; ix, 122.2.
13 Cf. Wickersham, Hegemony and Greek Historians.
14 For instance, the classic study of R. Meiggs, The Athenian Empire, Oxford, 1972, p. 1 (and underpinning account), or De Ste. Croix, Origins of the Peloponnesian War, p. 51. In contrast the Second Athenian
Confederacy is often considered to be a hegemony but not an empire, J. Cargill, Hegemony, not Empire :
The Second Athenian League, AncW , 5 (1982), pp. 91-102 ; J. G. Griffith, Athens in the Fourth Century, in P.
Garnsey, C. R. Whittaker (eds.), Imperialism in the Ancient World, Cambridge, 1978, pp. 127-144.
15 A key text here is Thucydides i, 96.1, where Thucydides writes that the Athenians took over the hJgemoniva from the Spartans with the agreement of the allies due to the latters hatred of Pausanias and then in
the next chapter begins his account of the development of the Athenian ajrchv. For Kallet-Marx, Money,
Expenses and Naval Power, p. 48, Thucydides considered it to be an empire, an ajrchv, from the beginning.
16 J. Buckler and H. Beck, Central Greece and the politics of power in the fourth century bc, Cambridge, 2008,
pp. 129-130.

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fifth century, he sees hJgemoniva as something granted to the Athenians and something to be viewed positively. Archv, on the other hand, need not have this positive
character for Isocrates ; the Panegyricus, for example, can be contrasted with more
negative approach displayed in his On the Peace. 17 The use of hJgemoniva to describe
the relationship of one Greek city ruling others may have its roots in that moment when the Athenians took on the hJgemoniva of the Greeks after the Persian
Wars or at least in a widespread presentation of that moment in writers ranging
from Thucydides and Herodotus through to Isocrates and Philochorus. 18

So ajrchv and hJgemoniva are used in the classical period to express the various forms
of authority that one state may have over others, although hJgemoniva was more
likely to be restricted to relations of power between cities than states in general.
Polybius third term, dunasteiva, on the other hand, is much less often used in this
way. Indeed the word itself shows up very rarely in surviving fifth-century literature. Its earliest appearance is in Sophocles Oedipus Rex, where it is used in the
very general sense of power or influence . 19 It does not appear in Herodotus
and occurs only four times in Thucydides. On each occasion it refers not to international relations but to the way power is exercised within a city, when it is in the
hands of a small group whose position is based more on strength than law. 20 Nor
does it become any more popular in fourth-century historiography admittedly
there is only one surviving representative, Xenophon, who can manage but one
use of it, again with reference to the internal affairs of cities. 21
Nonetheless, the fourth century sees a considerable increase in the number of
examples of dunasteiva, but it is unclear whether we should explain this by the
increasing popularity of the term or merely as an accident of survival. Many of
these examples come from Athenian oratory, from Lysias and Andocides early
in the century through to Demosthenes and Aeschines ; Isocrates in particular
makes extensive use of the word. 22 It is possible that it was a term more readily
used in speeches than historiography, but I am inclined to think that it is Xenophon who is the anomaly. Living in the Peloponnese and exiled from the world of
political debate in Athens, he may have looked back to the political language of
Thucydides and his youth rather than the discourse of contemporary Athens.

17 Y. Lee Too, The Rhetoric of Identity in Isocrates. text, power, pedagogy, Cambridge, 1995, pp. 62-64. For a
detailed discussion of On Peace, J. Davidson, Isocrates against Imperialism : an analysis of the De Pace, Historia , 39 (1990), pp. 20-36. Even hegemonia, however, need not always be positive, cf. Xenophon, Hell. vii,
1.33 on Theban desire for hegemony with the aid of the Persian king.
18 Herodotus viii, 3 ; Thucydides i, 96.1 ; Isocrates, De Pace (viii), 42 ; Philochorus, FGrHist 328 F
117.
19 Sophocles, ot 593 (in combination with ajrchv).
20 Thucydides iii, 62.3 ; vi, 78.3 ; 126.2, vii, 38.3 ; S. Hornblower, A Commentary on Thucydides Vol. 1 :
books i-iii, Oxford, 1997, p. 457 suggests family clique , which seems overly restrictive.
21 Hell. v, 4.46.
22 Lysias ii, 18 ; Andocides ii, 27 ; Demosthenes, Phil. iii (ix), 24 ; Demosthenes, Epitaph. (lx), 25 ;
Aeschines iii, 145 ; Isocrates, Archidamus (vi), 45 ; see S. C. Todd, A commentary on Lysias, speeches 1-11,
Oxford, 2007, pp. 228 (on Lysias ii, 18) and 618-619 (in general) and C. Bearzot, Il concetto di dynasteia e lo
stato ellenistico, in C. Bearzot, F. Landucci Gattinoni, G. Zecchini (eds.), Gli Stati territoriali nel mondo antico
( Contributi di storia antica , 1), Milan, 2003, pp. 21-44.

expressions of power in polybius histories

85

It is here in fourth-century Athens that dunasteiva seems to emerge and flourish,


not only in the speeches of the orators but also in the political writings of Plato
and Aristotle. 23 It continues to be employed of small ruling groups within cities,
groups that we might label extreme oligarchies or even collective tyrannies. 24 But
it is also found used in two other significant ways. Firstly, it expresses the power of
an individual, whether someone influential within a city, a minor ruler or a king. 25
Secondly, it comes to be used of the authority that one state wields over others,
as for instance Athens at the time of her empire. 26 It is these latter two senses that
are of most importance in understanding Polybius use of dunasteiva.

3. Polybius and Empire

These, then, are the three key terms that Polybius uses of Roman rule, ajrchv,
hJgemoniva and dunasteiva. They are not the only ones. For instance, at the very beginning of his history he writes of the uJperochv of the Romans but this is a term
that tends to express preeminence rather than power. 27 Of the three key terms
it is dunasteiva that Polybius most often uses to convey Roman power. 28 For him
this seems to be the essential element which is paired on occasion with one of
the other two terms, thus ajrch; kai; dunasteiva or hJgemoniva kai; dunasteiva, as was
observed in the opening section of this article. The other two terms, however, are
never paired with each other by Polybius, so there are no occurrences of ajrch; kai;
hJgemoniva. 29 The addition of ajrchv and hJgemoniva give extra rhetorical force and it
is noticeable these phrases tend to occur in more rhetorical passages rather than
straightforward narrative, for instance in speeches, introductions or breaks from
the narrative. 30 The rhetorical character may also come out in the rising register,
from the milder hJgemoniva or ajrchv to the more forceful dunasteiva.

23 Cf. J. Martin, Dynasteia. Eine begriffs-, verfassungs- und sozialgeschichtliche Skizze, in R. Koselleck (ed.),
Historische Semantik und Begriffsgeschichte, Stuttgart, 1979, pp. 228-241 ; I. Jordovic , Did the ancient Greeks
know of collective tyranny ?, Balcanica , 36 (2006), pp. 17-34 ; Bearzot, Il concetto di dynasteia.
24 Aristotle, Pol. vi, 1292b4-10 ; Lysias ii, 18 ; Demosthenes, Epitaph. (lx), 25 ; cf. Jordovic, Did the
ancient Greeks know of collective tyranny ?
25 Demosthenes, De Cor. (xviii), 270 (of Philip and Alexander) ; Isocrates, Timoth. (Ep. viii), 8 (of
Cleommis of Methymna) ; Archidamus (vi), 45 (of Dionysius of Syracuse).
26 Cf. Isocrates, Antidosis (xv), 307 on Themistocles and Athenian empire, or Demosthenes Phil. iii
(ix), 24 on Sparta.
27 Polybius i, 2.2 ; cf. i, 64.1 ; iii, 59.5 ; xxiv, 11.3 ; also occasionally used of the Romans is ejxousiva which
does refer to power (iii, 4.12).
28 For the use of all three see A. Mauersberger, Polybios-Lexicon, Berlin, 1956-1975, s.v. ajrchv, dunasteiva
and hJgemoniva. On relative uses of ajrchv (20 times) and dunasteiva (25 times), J. S. Richardson, Polybius view
of the Roman empire, pbsr , 47 (1979), pp. 1-11.
29 All three combinations are found earlier, albeit rarely, even ajrch; kai; hJgemoniva. H hJgemoniva kai; hJ duna-
steiva : Isocrates, Antid. (xv), 307 (achieved by Themistocles for Athens) ; ajrch; kai; dunasteiva : Demosthenes, De Cor. (xviii), 67 (Philips pursuit of ) ; ajrch; kai; hJgemoniva : Thucydides vi, 82.3 (of the Spartans).
30 Introductory material : Polybius i, 3.10 ; viii, 2.4-6 ; break in narrative : i, 63.9 ; speeches : xv, 10.2 (cf.
xv, 9.3) ; xxi, 16.8. The rhetorical character is sometimes enhanced by reference to tuvch, e.g. i, 3.10-4.1 ; viii,
2.4-6 ; xxi, 16.8 ; cf. L. Hau, Tych in Polybios : Narrative answers to a philosophical question, Histos , 5 (2011),
pp. 183-207 (online journal at http ://research.ncl.ac.uk/histos).

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The central role played by dunasteiva in Polybius conception of empire is evident


in the second chapter of his history. He neatly demonstrates the unprecedented
scale of Romes empire and by extension the importance of his own work. In this
chapter he outlines the most celebrated empires of the past, those of the Persians, the Spartans and the Macedonians ; the word he uses to encompass them
all as a group is dunastei`ai. The first of these empires belonged to the Persians,
whom he describes as possessing a great ajrchv and dunasteiva. He is less explicit
about the other two empires. He follows the Persian empire with the Spartans.
For many years, he says, the Spartans competed for the hJgemoniva of the Greeks
but once they had attained it they held it undisputed (ajdhvriton) for barely twelve
years. There is no mention of ajrchv and dunasteiva. Polybius concludes with the
Macedonians who acquired the rule (ajrchv) of Asia when they overthrew the du-
nasteiva of the Persians. None, however, are equal to the Romans, who have
made subject to themselves not parts of the world but the whole of it. Rome
thus is the latest and greatest in a series of ruling powers and, as the world power,
heir to all three. The inclusion of the Spartans is a little odd ; not only because
their rule was short-lived but also because the transition from the Persian empire
to Macedonian seems to bypass it. When Polybius later, in book xxix, quotes
Demetrius of Phalerons premonition of the failure of Macedon, there is no
room for Sparta its twelve-year hegemony is hardly significant. 31 But its inclusion here in the list of empires enables Polybius to compare Rome both to the
monarchic states of Persia and Macedon and to a Greek polis.
At this point it is necessary to consider how Polybius uses dunasteiva, the more
central of these three terms. The questions to ask are these : who possesses du-
nasteiva and what is it they possess ? In the classical period we observed that it was
often used to refer to a small clique who ruled a city. This sense, although not absent from Polybius, is much less common in his history. 32 Instead dunasteiva often
expresses the power of individual rulers, both major Hellenistic kings and lesser
figures. Alexander, Lysimachus, various Antigonids, Ptolemies and Seleucids are
all holders of dunasteiva. 33 Among the lesser rulers, who may or may not have
taken the title of king, we can note especially those of Sicily, such as Dionysius,
Agathocles and Hiero, but also Demetrius of Pharos, the Thracian Abrupolis and
the Spartan kings who had abandoned the traditional constitution, Cleomenes

31 Polybius xxix, 21 (cf. also Scipios thoughts at xxxviii, 22), on which F. W. Walbank, Supernatural
paraphernalia in Polybius Histories, in I. Worthington (ed.), Ventures into Greek History, Oxford, 1994, pp. 2842 (reprinted in F. W. Walbank, Polybius, Rome and the Hellenistic World : Essays and Reflections, Cambridge,
2002, pp. 245-257). Nor does Sparta appear in the traditional (but varying) lists of four great empires, such
as Dionysius Halicarnassensis, Ant. Rom. i, 2, where Sparta is specifically excluded (i, 3) ; cf. D. W.
Baronowski, Polybius and Roman Imperialism, London, 2011, pp. 34-39. J.-L. Ferrary, Lempire de Rome et les
hgmonies des cits grecques chez Polybe, bch , 100 (1976), pp. 283-289, argues that the key to Spartas appearance in Polybius list is that its hegemony (in contrast to that of Athens) extended over both land and sea,
albeit only for twelve years. This surely explains the ajdhvriton but only goes a little way towards explaining
why Sparta appears at all.
32 Polybius iii, 18.1 ; vi, 9.4.
33 Alexander : Polybius iii, 59.5 ; Lysimachus : xviii, 51.4 ; Antigonids : v, 104.6-7 ; ix, 29.10 ; Ptolemies : v,
34.1 ; 34.5 ; Seleucids : iv, 48.7 ; v, 67.5 ; xxi, 14.8 ; in general : iv, 2.10.

expressions of power in polybius histories

87

and Nabis. 34 It might be thought that there would be a close link between duna-
steiva and dunavsth~. Yet, while there is an overlap, this connection is rarely made
by Polybius. 35 For the most part, when he employs the term dunavsth~ he has in
mind the more insignificant rulers, often tribal leaders and frequently anonymous, for example Spanish, Celtic and Thracian chieftains. 36 Several times he even
distinguishes dunavstai from basilei`~, although there are occasions when he does
include kings among the ranks of dunavstai. 37
Furthermore, dunasteiva is not limited to individual rulers. It is also used of the
power wielded by cities, in particular Rome and Carthage, but rarely Greek cities
with the exception of Sparta, which features in the list of empires in Polybius second chapter. 38 It is possible to try too hard to give dunasteiva a definition. It clearly
refers to the exercise of power but whether that power is, for example, royal, inheritable or territorial depends on context. Thus P. Cornelius Scipio Africanus refrains from taking basilikh; dunasteiva for himself when offered it in Spain (x, 40.7 ;
cf. 40.2-5), Philip V succeeds to the dunasteiva of the Macedonians while still young
(vii, 11.4), Seleucus III learns that Attalus has seized all his dunasteiva that side of
the Taurus mountains (iv, 48.6) and the Romans recover their dunasteiva of Italy
during the Second Punic War (iii, 118.9). In the case of the last two examples territorial qualifications are added, that side of the Taurus mountains and of Italy . 39
The virtual absence of Greek cities from the holders of dunasteiva is interesting.
One explanation would be to say that Greek cities rarely held power over others
so their absence should be no surprise. But Polybius does consider Greek cities to
have held power over others ; it is simply that he does not choose to employ the
word dunasteiva to describe it. Even in that list of dunastei`ai in book i chapter 2,
when it comes to Spartas short-lived empire, the word employed by Polybius is
hJgemoniva. Similarly Athens contended with Sparta for the hJgemoniva of the Greeks ;
the Thebans also briefly and unexpectedly laid hold of it as well. 40 For the most
part, however, it is the hJgemoniva of the Spartans that Polybius repeatedly refers to,
an emphasis that is a consequence of his own Peloponnesian perspective. 41 Only
on one other occasion does he directly describe Spartan power as dunasteiva. 42 Re

34 Sicilian rulers : Polybius ii, 39.7 ; vii, 4.6 ; 8.5 ; ix, 23.2 ; Demetrius of Pharos : v, 108.7 ; Abrupolis : xxii,
18.2 ; Spartan kings : viii, 35.5 ; xiii, 6.5.
35 An exception is Polybius xxi, 11.6, where Scipio tells Prusias that Rome has deprived no kings of
their dunasteiva but has even made some men into dunavstai.
36 Spanish : Polybius ii, 36.2 ; x, 18.13 ; 35.6 (named) ; Celtic : iii, 34.4 ; Thracian : iv, 45.2-3 ; xxii, 14.12 ;
barbarian leaders to east of Seleucid kingdom : v, 55.1 ; on the use of dunavsth~ in Polybius, see E. Lvy, La
tyrannie et son vocabulaire chez Polybe, Ktema , 21 (1996), pp. 43-54, esp. 52-54.
37 Distinguished at Polybius ix, 23.5 (ouj movnon hJgemovsi kai; dunavstai~ kai; basileu`sin, ajlla; kai; povlesin)
and xxvii, 7.12 (ejk tw`n dunastw`n kai; basilevwn), but kings are included among dunavstai at ix, 1.4 (tw`n ejqnw`n
kai; povlewn kai; dunastw`n) and at ii, 71.10 the three recently deceased heads of the Hellenistic royal houses
are together called dunavstai.
38 Rome : Polybius i, 3.10 ; ii, 14.2 ; iii, 2.2 ; xv, 9.3 and many others ; Carthage : iii, 23.5 ; 33.6 ; x, 36.5 ; Sparta :
i, 2 ; vi, 49.6.
39 Cf. also Polybius v, 40.7 ; 43.2 ; 67.6 ; xxi, 14.8.
40 Athens : Polybius xxxviii, 2.5 ; Thebes : ii, 39.8, cf. xxxviii, 2.8.
41 Polybius ii, 49.4-6 ; vi, 48.6 ; 49.10 ; 50.5 ; ix, 30.4 ; xxiii, 11.4 ; xxxviii, 2.8.
42 Polybius vi, 49.6.

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vealingly it is during a very negative presentation of the Spartans as a people who


betrayed the Greeks to the Persians in order to get the money to finance their rule
over Greeks. The choice of dunasteiva here seems to add to the negative force of
what is being said. An awareness of a pejorative edge to the term may be one reason why, although featuring widely in literature and rhetoric, it rarely appears in
public inscriptions, whether in speaking of cities or kings. 43 So, although in general
Polybius use of dunasteiva may be seen as descriptive rather than judgmental, it
is far from being neutral ; the audiences understanding is shaped by knowledge
of context and whatever it refers to. 44 Dunasteiva may be appropriate, in literature
at least, for kings and non-Greeks but for Greek cities it is somehow unsuitable.
Hgemoniva with its suggestion of leadership and even consent (at least in an idealized world) is more appropriate for how Greeks deal with one another. Kings, on
the other hand, do not appear among the holders of hJgemoniva. 45
So to put it in an over-simplified way Greek cities tend to be the holders of hJgemoniva but not dunasteiva whereas kings tend to be the holders of dunasteiva but not
hJgemoniva. Rome falls somewhere in the middle. For the most part Polybius talks
of it in terms of dunasteiva, but occasionally this is combined with hJgemoniva and
there are times, even, when hJgemoniva is used alone. 46 It would be wrong, however,
to search too hard for very precise meanings of these terms, especially when used
in combination, something which often occurs in the more rhetorical passages
of the history, for instance introductory passages rather than narrative. 47 What is
important, however, is what associations the terms would have carried for Polybius and his readers. Surely dunasteiva would have put the reader in mind of monarchic power while hJgemoniva would have aligned Rome with the polis. 48 Polybius
then seems to be interpreting Rome on the model of kings rather than cities, even
if the occasional use of hJgemoniva is some form of acknowledgement that Rome
is indeed a city. In other words Roman power is different from that wielded by a
Greek city and has more in common with that of a king. A comparison with ruler
cult might be made. Cults of Roman power, such as the widespread cult of the
goddess Roma which developed during the course of the second century bc, were
very like the cults of Hellenistic kings. In establishing these cults Greeks were
dealing with Rome in same way that they dealt with other forms of extraordinary

43 Apart from one questionable restoration a search of the PHI epigraphic database reveals only four
occurrences of dunasteiva, all dating from the Roman Imperial period. Archv, on the other hand, is quite
an acceptable term to use of a king : cf. OGIS 219, a decree of Ilion, honouring Antiochus for recovering
his patrwvia ajrchv.
44 Thus qualifying to some extent Lvy, La tyrannie et son vocabulaire, pp. 52-53, who argues that in Polybius dunasteiva appears to have lost its pejorative character.
45 On two occasions the Macedonians are represented in speeches as competing with Greeks for hJgemoniva, Polybius ii, 49.6 ; ix, 37.7, but the emphasis is on Macedonians rather than the king and in both
instances the Macedonians and Greeks (or at least certain Greeks) are seen as having common interests (in
the latter example the alternative is Roman douleiva).
46 Combined : Polybius i, 63.9 ; ii, 21.9 ; xv, 10.2 ; alone : ii, 23.12 ; viii, 2.6 ; xxi, 31.7 ; xxxvi, 9.4-5.
47 E.g. Polybius viii, 2.4-6 ; xv, 10.2, see n. 30 above.
48 Cf. the similar conclusions of Richardson, Polybius view of the Roman empire, pp. 9-10, focusing on
Polybius use of dunasteiva and ajrchv.

expressions of power in polybius histories

89

power, but some states in formulating these honours also signalled Romes polischaracter. Thus Miletus set up a cult of Roma and the demos of the Romans. 49
But there is more than this to Polybius emphasis on the dunasteiva of the Romans. Reading Cinzia Bearzots illuminating article on dunasteiva in the Hellenistic period I was struck especially by her conclusion. 50 Here she asks what the
various meanings of dunasteiva might have in common. To explain it, she turns to
Aristotle, for whom dunasteiva is a type of oligarchy closest to monarchy where
men rather than law are sovereign. 51 This seems to me to be the essential characteristic of dunasteiva in whatever form it may be ; it is power exercised without
the constraints of law. In many ways this sums up the Hellenistic period. Power
is exercised outside the traditional channels of law, which are so much part of
polis-society. This applies to so many of the key features of Hellenistic political
life : kings issuing orders, cities obeying, the importance of euergetism, ruler cult,
the influence of the kings philoi. All these are about the exercise of power and
all are outside the realm of law. Cities may try to legislate with honorific decrees,
sacred laws and the inscription of royal letters, but the relationships themselves
are extra-legal. This is in marked contrast to the careful regulation of relations
between cities, with all the agreements about symmachia, isopoliteia, asylia and
arbitration. 52 This latter is the world of hJgemoniva rather than dunasteiva. We might
think that this is hardly how things operated at the time of the Athenian empire,
when ajrchv and Thucydidean tyranny were one and the same. But for Polybius
the Athenian empire would have been in the distant, ill-defined past and so not
especially relevant. 53 Indeed, unlike the short-lived Spartan empire, the Athenian
empire does not even merit inclusion in his list of empires. 54 What is relevant is his
concept of inter-city relations in his own day.
The absence of law that is so important a part of dunasteiva applies as much
to Rome as to kings. Rome may be a constitutional state but its relationship with
others, whether kings or states, is not regulated by law so much as by its capacity
to enforce obedience and this, for Polybius, was the fundamental feature of Roman rule. Polybius puts it very clearly after the end of the Macedonian kingdom

49 On cult of Roma, R. Mellor, QEA RWMH : the worship of the goddess Roma in the Greek world, Gttingen, 1975 ; S. R. F. Price, Rituals and Power : the Roman imperial cult in Asia Minor, Cambridge, 1984, pp.
40-43 ; on cults of the Demos of the Romans, C. Fayer, Il culto del Demos dei Romani : un aspetto del culto
tributato al potere romano nel mondo greco dOriente, Studi Romani , 26 (1978), pp. 461-477 and J. R. Fears,
O Dh`mo~ oJ Rwmaivwn : Genius Populi Romani. A note on the origin of Dea Roma, Mnemosyne , 31 (1978), pp. 274286 ; for Miletus, Milet i.7, n 203.
50 Bearzot, Il concetto di dynasteia, p. 44.
51 Aristotle, Pol. iv, 1292b5-10 with 1293a30-34 ; cf. Thucydides iv, 78.3, where dunasteiva is contrasted
with ijsonomiva, or Isocrates, Paneg. (iv), 39, where lawlessness (ajnovmw~ zw`nta~) and dunasteiva are opposed
to and remedied by novmoi and politeiva.
52 Symmachia : H. H. Schmitt, Die Staatsvertrge des Altertums, iii. Die Vertrge der griechisch-rmischen
Welt von 338 bis 200 v. Chr., Munich, 1969 ; isopoliteia : W. Gawantka, Isopoliteia : ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der
zwischenstaatlichen Beziehungen in der griechischen Antike, Munich, 1975 ; asylia : K. Rigsby, Asylia. Territorial
Inviolability in the Hellenistic World, Berkeley-Los Angeles-London, 1996 ; arbitration : S. Ager, Interstate
Arbitrations in the Greek World, 337-90 bc, Berkeley-Los Angeles-London, 1996.
53 See, for instance, his dismissive remarks about Athens at Polybius vi, 44.
54 Ferrary, Lempire de Rome et les hgmonies des cits grecques.

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in 168. At the beginning of the third book he writes : The period of fifty-three
years came to an end at this point, and the growth and advance of the dunasteiva
of the Romans was complete. In addition everyone now recognized that it was
inevitable that in future they would have to pay heed to the Romans and obey
their orders . 55
Rome ruled not through law or institutions such as, for example, might operate in the Achaean League but through the exercise of pure power. Indeed Polybius stresses how the Greeks found themselves forced to decide whether to obey
Roman orders and ignore their own laws or to stand by their laws and risk Roman anger. Unsurprisingly his attention is especially focused on his own Achaean
League. Callicrates was an example of someone who advocated obedience to
Roman orders while Philopoemen encouraged his countrymen to do nothing
contrary to Achaean laws. 56 As Peter Derow pointed out in an important article
some thirty years ago, Polybius repeatedly represents the Romans as issuing orders. 57 The final part of this paper, therefore, will examine how Polybius shows
the exercise of Roman power in practice.

4. Power and Orders

Importantly the Romans issue orders not only to cities but also to kings. This
comes out starkly in the negotiations between T. Quinctius Flamininus and Philip
V of Macedon at Nicaea in the middle of the Second Macedonian War. It begins
with Flamininus ordering Philip to disembark from the ship and Philip refusing.
The word used is keleuvw. 58 Nor should we to imagine that this is merely Polybius using keleuvw as a verb to describe Roman actions. At one point he clearly
intends the reader to understand that the phrase I order you , keleuvw, was addressed by Flamininus to Philip : oJ de; tw`n Rwmaivwn strathgo;~ auJtw`/ me;n aJplou`n

tina lovgon e[fh kaqhvkein kai; fainovmenon. keleuvein ga;r aujto;n ejk me;n th`~ Ellavdo~
aJpavsh~ ejkcwrei`n ( The Roman general said that his duty dictated an answer

that was both simple and clear ; that he ordered him to withdraw from the whole
of Greece ). The use of the infinitive keleuvein in the oratio obliqua here suggests that this was part of what was said, not merely how it was said. Later in
the exchange between the Roman commander and the king, Philip becomes indignant with the Aetolians for interfering and says : But, worst of all, they make
themselves the equals of the Romans and order (keleuvonte~) the Macedonians
to withdraw from the whole of Greece. To talk like this at all is arrogant enough
in the first place, and while it might be tolerable coming from the Romans, it is

55 Polybius iii, 4.2-4 : o{ te ga;r crovno~ oJ penthkontakaitrieth;~ eij~ tau`t e[lhgen, h{ t au[xhsi~ kai; prokoph;
th`~ Rwmaivwn dunasteiva~ ejteteleivwto: pro;~ de; touvtoi~ oJmologouvmenon ejdovkei tou`t ei\nai kai; kathnagkasmevnon
a{pasin o{ti loipovn ejsti Rwmaivwn ajkouvein kai; touvtoi~ peiqarcei`n uJpe;r tw`n paraggellomevnwn.

56 The theme of the opposition between law and obedience to Roman orders runs throughout Polybius
xxiv, 8-13 (note especially Callicrates at xxiv, 9 and Philopoemen at xxiv, 13) ; Roman displeasure is evident
at xxii, 10.13 and xxiii, 17.4.
57 P. S. Derow, Polybius, Rome and the East, jrs , 69 (1979), pp. 1-15, esp. 4-6.
58 Polybius xviii, 1.6 : tou` de; Tivtou keleuvonto~ aujto;n ajpobaivnein.

expressions of power in polybius histories

91

quite intolerable when it is spoken by the Aetolians . 59 The judgment that Roman
orders are arrogant (uJperhvfano~) is attributed to Philip rather than Polybius but
it is not the only occasion on which Polybius makes the association between the
issuing of orders and arrogance. 60

Kings, of course, issue orders as well, but Polybius seems to have thought that the
Romans were peculiarly preoccupied with orders and ordering. Derow lists numerous examples from 200 bc onwards, both of Roman orders and the necessary
corollary, the expectation of obedience. 61 One of the most notorious incidents
is the meeting of the Roman legate C. Popillius Laenas with the Seleucid king
Antiochus IV outside Alexandria in 168 shortly after the Roman victory at Pydna,
the victory which for Polybius marked the point at which everyone obeyed Roman orders. 62 Here as elsewhere it is the manner of Romes orders that is so striking. The Senate had passed a decree instructing Antiochus to end his war with
Ptolemy. Popillius now gave Antiochus this decree and ordered (ejkevleuse) him
to read it. When the king replied that he wanted to discuss the contents with his
philoi, Popillius drew a circle around him and ordered (ejkevleuse again) him to
remain there until he gave his answer, behaviour that Polybius says seemed bullying and completely arrogant (baru; me;n dokou`n ei\nai kai; televw~ uJperhvfanon) . 63
Again there is the combination of Roman orders and Roman arrogance and again
Polybius keeps his distance a little : he does not say that it was bullying and arrogant, but that it seemed (dokou`n) so. What is interesting too is Antiochus
response ; the surprised king answered that he would do everything that was
asked, to; parakalouvmenon . The term used here, parakalevw, seems to be rather
softer and more polite. It is the kind of word that kings might use to disguise their
commands and authority ; thus Philip V, writing his second letter to the people
of Larisa, in spite of his annoyance that they have taken insufficient notice of his
earlier letter, merely says even now I ask (parakalw`) you to get on with the matter without rivalry . 64 In the exchange with Popillius, then, Antiochus responds by
re-writing the Roman command in language more appropriate to the Hellenistic

59 Polybius xviii, 5.5-6.


60 Cf. Polybius xxix, 27.4 ; xxxii, 2.7, on which A. Erskine, Spanish Lessons : Polybius and the Maintenance
of Imperial Power, in J. Santos Yanguas, E. Torregaray Pagola (eds.), Polibio y la peninsula Ibrica, Vitoria,
2003, pp. 229-243, esp. 240-241 ; on arrogant orders, see also J. Thornton, Lo storico, il grammatico, il bandito.
Momenti della resistenza greca allimperium Romanum, Catania, 2001, pp. 175-214.
61 Derow, Polybius, Rome and the East, p. 5 n. 16.
62 Meeting : Polybius xxix, 27 ; significance of Pydna : iii, 4.2-3.
63 See P. Kln 6.247, col. ii, lines 30-34 and Plutarchus, Demetr. 10.2 for similarly negative uses of baruv~,
this time in connection with Antigonus I and Demetrius I, pointed out to me by Paschalis Paschidis, who
translates it as oppressive , see his forthcoming paper, P. Paschidis, Agora XVI 107 and the royal title of
Demetrius Poliorcetes, in V. Alonso Troncoso, E. Anson (eds.), The Time of the Diadochi (323-281 B.C.), Oxford,
section 3.
64 Sylloge3 543, lines 34-35 : e[ti ge kai; nu`n parakalw` uJma`~ ajfilotivmw~ proselqei`n pro;~ to; pra`gma ; cf. also
seg 36 (1986), 1218, line 25 (Ptolemy III to Xanthos) ; for other examples, see C. B. Welles, Royal Correspondence in the Hellenistic Period, New Haven-London-Prague, 1934, nos. 14, line 12 ; 15, line 30 ; 34, line 21. Keleuvw
is not absent from Welles collection, but it makes only one appearance (n 68, line 11).

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chancellery. 65 Kings have power but there are rituals of concealment ; the power
relationship between city and king, for instance, is often dressed up in the language of euergetism. 66
On another occasion, in 191 during Romes war with Antiochus III, it is the Aetolians who are surprised by Romans orders. In this case they have unconditionally surrendered to the Romans and are taken aback by what they are told they
must do. Their reply is to say that this is neither just nor Greek . 67 Roman behaviour is, thus, very clearly marked out as different from the more usual Greek
diplomatic practice. Indeed the Aetolians would soon find out how different it
was when the Roman consul threatened to put them in chains. Nor is it only
Roman magistrates that are presented in this way. The decrees of the Senate are
several times said by Polybius to give instructions to cities and kings as to how
they should act. 68
In their dealings with the political institutions of the Greek East the Romans
fail to conform to what were established modes of conduct for either kings or
cities. Perhaps the Aetolians do get it right when they say that the behaviour of
the Romans is simply not Greek. Polybius fluctuating terminology captures the
problem of defining Romes position in the Greek world. As a city-state we might
expect hJgemoniva to be a suitable word to express its position but the Romans are
so evidently not like most cities and certainly not like Greek cities in their relationships with others. In so often preferring dunasteiva Polybius is using language that
is more appropriate to autocratic power unconstrained by law or even custom.
Rome may have been a constitutional state that after all is the point of book vi
that compares Rome with the Greek polis but in its relations with other states it
had more in common with monarchy than any city Polybius knew.

65 Derow, Polybius, Rome and the East, p. 5 n. 16, sees parakalevw and keleuvw (along with ejpitavttw and
prostavttw) as used interchangeably but if the examples he gives are examined it can be seen that parakalevw is often used to represent the viewpoint of the ordered (cf. Polybius xviii, 9.2 ; xx, 10. 6 ; xxii,
4.12 ; xxiv, 8.3 ; 11.6 ; 15.1 ; xxix, 27. 6) ; keleuvw in contrast is not used in this way, apart from once when the
Achaean Philopoemen uses to; keleuovmenon, but then it is to compare the relationship with Rome to slavery,

an example that only serves to accentuate the difference in use between the two words (xxiv, 13.4).
66 Cf. J. Ma, Antiochos III and the Cities of Western Asia Minor, Oxford, 1999, pp. 182-206.
67 Polybius xx, 10.6, where again the Roman command is re-formulated by the Aetolians as to; parakalouvmenon.
68 Polybius xxviii, 13.11 ; xxix, 27 ; xxx, 5.12 ; 30.2 ; 31.20.

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