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Atti del Convegno
Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore
Milano 2015

a cura di

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Moncerdac, 39
Alexander’s Legacy
Atti del Convegno
Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore
Milano 2015

© Copyright 2016 «L’ERMA» di BRETSCHNEIDER

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Storia, Archeologia e Storia dell’arte dell’Università Cattolica di Milano
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Preface .................................................................................................... VII


Alexander’s Presence (and Absence) in Hellenistic Poetry .................... 1

Plutarch, Arrian and the Hydaspes: An Historiographical Approach.... 25

Classical sources and proskynesis. History of a Misunderstanding ...... 41


Alexander the Great at Susa (324 B.C.) .................................................. 61

Darius versus Darius: Portrayal of the Enemy in Alexander’s Propa-
ganda ...................................................................................................... 73


Fortress Egypt: The Abortive Invasions of 320 and 306 BC .................. 85


Antigonus Monophthalmus and Alexander’s Memory ............................ 97

Visualizing Political Friendship, Family Ties, and Links to the Argead
Past in the Time of the Successors .......................................................... 121

Seleucus, his Signet Ring and his Diadem .............................................. 141
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A «Lawless Piety» in an Age of Transition. Demetrius the Besieger and
the Political Uses of Greek Religion ...................................................... 157

Alexander’s Political Legacy in the West: Duris on Agathocles ............ 181

Philodemus of Gadara on Callisthenes and Alexander (New Light from
PHerc 1675 and 1050) ............................................................................ 203

JOSEPH ROISMAN ...................................................................................... 215


Alexander in Asia Minor. Reconsidering a Greek-Carian Inscription
from Kaunos ............................................................................................ 219

The kathodos of Tegea’s Exiles: Civic Laws and Royal diagrammata .... 237

Anti-Macedonian Feelings on Trial: the Lawsuits against Lycurgus .... 257


In summer 290 B.C. the Macedonian king Demetrius Poliorcetes («the

Besieger») held in Athens the Pythian festival, which was usually cele-
brated in Delphi. At that time the Delphic sanctuary of Apollo was in the
hands of the Aetolians, just as it had been in the hands of the Phocians
when Philip II first intervened in Greek affairs, about sixty years earlier.
Philip chose to cooperate in a (relatively) traditional way with the Delphic
amphictyony, participating in the ‘sacred war’ which finally expelled the
Phocians from the sanctuary. At the end of the war, in 346 B.C., Philip
took the Phocian amphictyonic votes for himself and presided over the
Pythian games, which were obviously held in Delphi.
What Demetrius did in 290, according to the ‘pious’ Plutarch, was a
shocking and unprecedented action1, which Robert Parker considered a
typical example of the king’s «lawless piety»2. I have borrowed Parker’s
definition of Demetrius’ approach to Greek religion as a stimulating start-
ing point for further reflection. Can Demetrius’ «impiety» (ἀσέβεια) be
described instead as a new and shocking kind of «piety» (εὐσέβεια)? In
my view, such a hypothesis deserves to be fully examined, since in the age
of Alexander and of his Successors the concepts of ἀσέβεια and εὐσέβεια
were rapidly undergoing a profound transformation, while keeping all of
their relevance in the public discourse in the Greek cities3.

* I wrote a first draft of this paper (in Italian) many years ago, but I never published it. I thank Franca
Landucci for inviting me in the Milan colloquium and thus offering me the possibility to update and finish
my work. I am grateful to Kevin Clinton, Christian Habicht, Ralf von den Hoff, Paschalis Paschidis,
Patrick Wheatley, and to the late Domenico Musti, for discussing over the years with me the different top-
ics I deal with in this paper. The responsibility for the views here expressed is of course only mine.
PLU., Demetr., 40, 7-8 described it as a πρᾶγμα ĸαινότατον: indeed, some precedents were recorded
in the literary tradition on archaic tyrants, like Cleisthenes, who held Pythia in Sicyon, and Polycrates, who
planned Pythia and Delia in Samos (SCH. PIND., Nem. 9, hyp. 20 Drachmann; SUID. and PHOT., s.v. Πύθια
ĸαὶ Δήλια); in the sixth century B.C., according to some late sources, local ‘imitations’ of the Olympia
were celebrated in Sybaris and in Croton (ATH. 12. 521 E – 522 A, from HERACL. PONT., fr. 49 Wehrli; 22,
522 A, C-D = TIMAE., FGrHist 566 F 44-45; SCHOL. DIONYS. PERIEG. 373; PLU., Demetr., 40, 7-8) On the
chronology of this period of Demetrius’ career see TRACY 2004, 43-45. On Philip II’s intervention in the
fourth-century ‘sacred wars’ at Delphi and in the administration of the sanctuary see MARI 2002, 83-157.
PARKER 1996, 268.
See MARI 2003, with the most relevant references.

As much of the available evidence (both literary and epigraphic) either

is of Athenian origin or refers to the roughly twenty years of troubled rela-
tionship between the king and the Athenians (307-286 B.C.), my paper
will largely focus on literary narratives and epigraphic material dealing
with Athenian cults, sanctuaries and religious practices. Nevertheless, the
local dimension of Greek history and the local peculiarities of Greek insti-
tutions, cults, and political language should not be forgotten. Whenever
possible, I will include non-Athenian events and contexts in the discus-
sion, emphasizing the peculiar character of some local initiatives; in par-
ticular, in the last paragraph of the paper the non-Attic evidence will allow
drawing some general conclusions concerning Demetrius’ (and, until 301,
Antigonus’) general policy towards the Greek sanctuaries, their different
uses of the ruler cult, and their strong tendency towards manipulation of
Greek religious traditions4.


In late classical and early Hellenistic Athens, the growing pressure of

foreign kings deeply conditioned the inner political debate. In such a con-
text, the archaic concept of ἀσέβεια came into fashion again and proved
to be a still valid and extremely flexible tool to be employed in public life.
The word itself bears a relatively broad meaning and it can be of some use
in both ethical and juridical contexts.
At its worst, ἀσέβεια is the violation of any basic or previously accept-
ed ethical and religious values: this is exactly the way Hypereides portrays
the new lords of the world, the Macedonians, in a famous passage of the
Epitaph over the Athenians dead in the Lamian war, not long after Alexan-
der’s death. Inspired by the recent debate on the deification of Alexander
while still alive, and by the posthumous heroic honours paid to the king’s
friend Hephaestion5, Hypereides protests against the arrogance of the
Macedonians and depicts a situation in which the Greeks are forced «to
see sacrifices made to men, images, altars and temples carefully perfected
in their honour, while those in honour of gods are neglected; and to honour

I will use the terms «religion», «religious», and the like in a very wide sense, as this paper covers a
wide range of different topics related to the history of Greek cults and sanctuaries. In many cases, the very
idea of a separate existence of the «religious» sphere is highly questionable as eminently modern (see in
part. § 2, on the implications of the ἀσέβεια), but this is not the right place to address such a complex the-
oretical (and methodological) issue.
For the sources on the cult of Hephaestion and the modern debate see HABICHT 19702, 29-36; MARI
2008a, 230-231.

as heroes the servants of these people», an «insolent behaviour» which

threatens the very existence of the basic human rules of conduct6.
A few years later, the Athenian democratic leaders who inherited Hy-
pereides’ views experienced a situation very similar to the nightmare de-
scribed in the Epitaph. One of them, Demochares, who was also an histo-
rian and one of the sources of Plutarch’s Life of Demetrius, is heavily re-
sponsible for the most negative shades of the king’s portrayal in the sur-
viving literary tradition. Such a portrayal is heavily determined by the cult
paid by the Athenians to Antigonus and Demetrius, or to Demetrius alone,
from 307 onwards, due to the initiative of the pro-Antigonid party7, and by
the more and more disrespectful behaviour of Demetrius himself against
the religious and political traditions of the city8.
When discussing Demetrius’ behaviour and his supporters’ initiatives
in those crucial twenty years, modern scholars are often inclined to distin-
guish the offences against religion from those against the Athenian civic
traditions. In such a perspective, the king’s irregular initiation in Eleusin-
ian Mysteries in 303 would be an example of the former9, while the grant-
ing of statues to the two theoi Soteres in the agora, near those of the

HYP., Epit., 21-22.
For a complete collection of the available sources and a sharp discussion, which includes an attempt
at reconstructing the chronological distribution of the episodes, see HABICHT 19702 44-79. In many cases
Plutarch refers to the events regardless of their actual historical and chronological frame (on this cf. also
PASCHIDIS 2013, 125-126).
On Demochares’ life and career and the relevant sources see MARASCO 1984; PASCHIDIS 2008, 153-
159; in JACOBY’s collection see FGrHist 75. On Demochares’ employment of ‘religious’ overtones in the
political struggle see MARI 2003. His commitment against the ĸατάλυσις τοῦ δήμου is specially praised
in a honorary decree quoted by [Plu.], X orat., 851 C-F.
The most detailed description of the episode is that of PLU., Demetr., 26, 1-5: «(...) (Demetrius) wrote
letters to the (Athenian) people saying that he wished to be initiated into the mysteries as soon as he arrived,
and to pass through all the grades in the ceremony, from the lowest to the highest, the epoptica. Now, this was
not lawful, and had not been done before (τοῦτο δὲ οὐ θεμιτὸν ἦν οὐδὲ γεγονὸς πρότερον), but the lesser
rites were performed in the month Anthesterion, the great rites in Boëdromion; and the supreme rites (the
epoptica) were celebrated after an interval of at least one year from the great rites. (...) On motion of Strato-
cles, it was voted to call the current month, which was Munychion, Anthesterion, and so to regard it, and the
lesser rites at Agra were performed for Demetrius; after which Munychion was again changed and became
Boëdromion instead of Anthesterion, Demetrius received the remaining rites of initiation, and at the same
time was also admitted to the highest grade of epoptos». Cf. PHILOCH., FGrHist 328 F 69-70, and PHILIPPID. fr.
25 Kassel-Austin (quoted by PLU., ibid.); D.S. 20, 110, 1 is more favourable to Demetrius. The addition of a
‘second’ Anthesterion in the Athenian calendar is confirmed by the honorary decree for Medon and his father
(SEG 36, 1986, 165, l. 4, with the restoration by MATTHAIOU 1986), which imposes to re-date Demetrius’ ini-
tiation in 303, one year earlier than previously assumed (PASCHIDIS 2008, 91-95). An alteration of the civic
calendar and of the cycle of the prytanies is instead testified in the year 296/5 by IG II2 644, a fragmentary de-
cree of which only the prescript survives (THONEMANN 2005, 66-74; OSBORNE 2009, 85). THONEMANN puts
this striking event in connection with Demetrius’ return to Athens after the tyranny of Lachares and remarks
that the two reforms (the one altering the lunar and festival calendar, the other modifying the civic calendar)
«complement one another (...). Both divine and civic times are under Demetrios’ control and can be deter-
mined by him at will» (2005, 75). On this see also PASCHIDIS 2013, 123, with reference to the events of 307/6.

Tyrannicides10, or the naming of two new civic tribes after Antigonus and
Demetrius11 would belong to the latter. Such a distinction is of course con-
venient for practical purposes, but it would likely have made little to no
sense to the contemporaries of the events. One example will suffice to elu-
cidate such a point. In winter 304/3, Demetrius received from the Atheni-
ans the unprecedented honour to hold his quarters in the Parthenon’s
opisthodome. The tradition on this episode is rich in scandalous details,
apparently inspired by the topoi of the Greek literary depictions of the
tyrants12. What remains as a historical fact is the grant of an illustrious
head-quarter to an ambitious king13. Since the Parthenon was the symbol
itself of Athens and of all of the Athenians, the fact that a political party
used it as its own property and granted it to a foreign king was an intolera-
ble offence to the Athenian identity as a whole, political no less than reli-
gious. It was, moreover, an «impious act» (ἀσέβημα) in strictly technical
terms, since the profane use of a sacred building was susceptible under the
Athenian law to the charge of «impiety» (γραfὴ ἀσεβείας).
Other shocking events which marked Demetrius’ relationship with
Athens and his Athenian supporters’ initiatives in his honour can also be
described as crimes of ἀσέβεια in technical terms, starting from the offer-
ing itself of a cult to a living human being14. Well known events of Athen-
ian past history, such as the charges against Pheidias and Alcibiades, the
condemnation of Socrates, or, more recently, the attacks against Aristote-

D.S. 20, 46, 2; see also IG II2, 646, l. 40. This grant, among the others, was bestowed upon the new
theoi Soteres in 307 B.C., and, by itself, does not have a specifically ‘religious’ meaning. The exceptional
location of the statues, however, puts the two kings on the same level as the heroes who were the symbol of
the Athenian freedom and democracy (BROGAN 2003, 195-197; MA 2013, 104, 279). LIV. 31, 44, 2-9 in-
forms on the destruction of monuments and the abolition of dies ... festi, sacra, sacerdotes in honour of all
the Antigonids in 200 B.C., when the Athenians broke away from Philip V.
Again in 307 (Δημητριάς and Ἀντιγονίς). As a consequence the members of the boulé became 600
instead of the traditional 500, and Antigonus and Demetrius received a cult also as eponymous heroes of
the two tribes (PLU., Demetr., 10. 6; D.S. 20, 46, 2; PAUS. 10, 10, 2; POLL. 8, 110; ST. BYZ., s.v. Ἀντιγονίς).
Among the honours bestowed upon the two kings, this one was particularly long lasting, as the two tribes
and the connected cult of the eponymous heroes survived until the end of the third century B.C. Between
Cleisthenes’ reforms and 307 B.C. the number of the Attic tribes had never been altered. On this reform see
TRAILL 1975, 25-33, 58, 61; PARKER 1996, 264-265; MIKALSON 1998, 81, 135.
On the Parthenon as the theatre of Demetrius’ dissolute life see PLU., Demetr., 23, 5 – 24,1; 26, 5 (=
PHILIPPID., fr. 25 Kassel – Austin); Ant. 91 (= synkr. 4), 3-4; CLEM. AL., Protr., 4, 54, 6. The sexual excesses
attributed to Demetrius and usually condemned by the ancient sources can also be interpreted as the mark
of an exceptional nature, legitimazing his royal power; his implicit identification with Eros, son of Posei-
don and Aphrodite, in the ithyphallic hymn (below, n. 17), goes in the same direction: see Müller 2010.
The interpretation of the episode as the official grant to Demetrius of a condition of synnaos theos of
Athena in the Parthenon must be rejected, following NOCK 1930, 204.
See also the portrayals of Demetrius and Antigonus in the peplos for the Panathenaic procession, in
the first phase of the Antigonid presence in the city (D.S. 20, 46, 2; PLU., Demetr., 10. 5; and again, ibid., 12,
3, quoting PHILIPPID., fr. 25 Kassel – Austin), and the violation of the rules of initiation at the Eleusynian
Mysteries in 303 (above, n. 9). Both initiatives were definitely perceived as ἀσεβήματα in technical terms.

les, clearly show that a charge of ἀσέβεια always brought strong political
implications; not by chance, most of the ἀσέβεια trials we know of in the
late classical and early Hellenistic age involve pro-Macedonians politi-
cians or intellectuals15. The charge of ἀσέβεια usually came with that of
«conspiracy to overthrow the democracy» (ĸατάλυσις τοῦ δήμου): a
fragment of the comic poet Philippides, harshly criticizing the divine hon-
ours bestowed on Demetrius by the pro-Macedonian party led by Stratok-
les, confirms that this was still the case in Demetrius’ age16.



Interestingly, and in spite of its strongly biased character, the literary

tradition on Demetrius’ and his supporters’ behaviours vs. the Athenian re-
ligious traditions also preserves genuine traces of an emerging and innova-
tive political language and of a new religious sensibility.
In 291, not long before the already mentioned relocation of the Pythian
festival to Athens, an ithyphallos (a hymn which was usually devoted to
Dionysus) celebrated the return of Demetrius and of his wife Lanassa from
Corcyra to Athens. A full description of the facts and the almost entire text
of the hymn are provided by Athenaeus, whose sources (Demochares, the
comic poet Alexis, the historian Duris of Samos) were all strongly hostile
to Demetrius and contemporary to the events17. Going beyond Athenaeus’

The most meaningful cases are discussed by MARI 2003.
Above, n. 9. The contribution in restoring freedom and democracy and the commitment against any
attempt at «overthrowing the democracy» are usually mentioned in the honorary decrees for the ‘liberators’
of Athens in 286: cf. above, n. 8, for Demochares; for the poet Philippides of Kephale, IG II2, 657, ll. 43-
50, voted in 283/2; for Kallias of Sphettos, SHEAR 1978 = SEG 28, 1978, 60, ll. 30-32, 81-83, voted in
270/69 B.C., on which see SHEAR 2010, 148-150, who re-dated the anti-Macedonian revolution and the fi-
nal liberation of Athens from Demetrius’ control to 286.
ATH. 6, 253 B-254 A, within the context of a wider treatment of the Athenian ĸολαĸεία, quoting DE-
MOCH., FGrHist 75 F 2; DURIS, FGrHist 76 F 13; ALEXIS, fr. 116 Kassel-Austin. The text of the hymn is
quoted from the twenty-second book of Duris’ Histories: «How the greatest and dearest of the gods are
present in our city! For the circumstances have brought together Demeter and Demetrius; she comes to cel-
ebrate the solemn mysteries of the Kore, while he is here full of joy, as befits the god, fair and laughing. His
appearance is solemn, his friends all around him and he in their midst, as though they were stars and he the
sun. Hail boy of the most powerful god Poseidon and Aphrodite! For other gods are either far away, or they
do not have ears, or they do not exist, or do not take any notice of us, but you we can see present here, not
made of wood or stone, but real. So we pray to you: first make peace, dearest; for you have the power. And
then, the Sphinx that rules not only over Thebes but over the whole of Greece, the Aetolian Sphinx sitting
on a rock like the ancient one, who seizes and carries away all our people, and I cannot fight against her –
for it is an Aetolian custom to seize the property of neighbors and now even what is afar; most of all punish
her yourself; if not, find an Œdipus who will either hurl down that sphinx from the rocks or reduce her to
ashes» (transl. by CHANIOTIS 2011, 160).

and his sources’ judgment, who condemn this episode as one of the most
humiliating examples of Athenian «flattery» (ĸολαĸεία) towards the pow-
erful king, Victor Ehrenberg firstly saw in this famous episode the faithful
reflections of a new age and of a new religious sensibility18. No doubt that
Athenaeus preserves some interesting and surely genuine data: first of all,
the text of the hymn itself, an almost unique example of this peculiar fea-
ture of the Hellenistic ruler cult; secondly, the wider sequence of events in-
to which the hymn must be placed and understood (offering of incense and
libations, music and dance performances, and so on)19. Such an elaborated
set of ritual events resembles other festivals of the Hellenistic period, or-
ganized by kings or dedicated to them in civic contexts, all of which ex-
plored new ways to conciliate the traditional polis religion with the cities’
need to establish good relationships with the kings, and come to terms
with their overwhelming authority20. In spite of the negative comments of
the ancient authors, which are specifically focused on the moral degenera-
tion of the Athenians, the episode reveals a lot about the general evolution
of Greek religion and political language after Alexander’s death.
The ceremony and the choice of the ithyphallos comply both with
Demetrius’ taste for ‘theatrical’ public performances and with his personal
devotion to Dionysus, two recurrent topics in the literary tradition on the
king which should not be dismissed as mere ‘fakes’ due to Duris’ ‘tragic’
taste: the king’s special relationship with Dionysus, in particular, has been
largely confirmed by the epigraphic evidence21.
Athenaeus also calls our attention to the fact that the hymn was per-
formed not only in public ceremonies, «but also in every Athenian

EHRENBERG 1931; see also PARKER 1996, 258-261, and CHANIOTIS 2011; on the historical context
FLACELIÈRE 1937, 72-80, and TRACY 2004, 43-45, who refers to the same period SEG 24, 1974, 156 (38-45;
contra, THONEMANN 2005, 86). On the formal character of the hymn and on the possible identity of the au-
thor see PALUMBO STRACCA 2000, 509-510; CHANIOTIS 2011, 158 n. 5, 161, 169.
Cf. more particularly 253 C, from Demochares. The ritual context is fully analysed by CHANIOTIS
2011, 166-171, who appropriately describes it as an ἀπάντησις, «the celebration of the arrival of a god or
a deified king», quoting interesting parallels.
See CHANIOTIS 1997; MARI forthcoming (a) and (b).
According to PLU., Demetr., 12, 2 the Athenian festival of the Dionysia was renamed Demetria (cf.
also ibid., 12, 5; DURIS., FGrHist 76 F 14, from ATH. 12, 50, 536 A; EUSTATH., ad Iliad., 5, 449). The in-
scriptions confirm the reform, and show that the Dionysia and the Demetrieia actually coexisted (IG II2 649
+ DINSMOOR 1931, 8 = SEG 45, 1995, 101, ll. 41-43). The reform belongs to the last period of Demetrius’
control over Athens, after the expulsion of Lachares (DEUBNER 1932, 235; FERGUSON 1948, 131-136;
HABICHT 19702, 45, 52-55), that is, from 295 (THONEMANN 2005, 71 and n. 34). On the king meeting the
Athenian people in the theatre of Dionysus at that time see again PLU., Demetr., 34, with THONEMANN 2005,
78-82. In Euboea too a festival called Demetrieia was alternatively celebrated by different cities in honour
of Demetrius, again in direct connection with the Dionysia; the technitai of Dionysus played a major role
in the organization of both (IG XII, 9, 207, with the add., 176, and IG XII, Suppl., 178 = SEG 34, 1984,
896: HABICHT 19702, 76-78, 85; TRÜMPY 1997, 40-41).

house»22, thus suggesting a genuine and long lasting popularity for the
king among the Athenians (or at least among some of them), in spite of all
his alleged offences to civic traditions and religion. Many Athenians, ap-
parently, up until 291 genuinely looked at the powerful king as – literally
– a «benefactor» and a «saviour» and did not distaste his revolutionary ap-
proach to religious matters.
Be that as it may, the text of the hymn definitely reflects the changes of
Greek religious sensibility during an age which turned the ruler cult into a
relatively common feature of the polis religion. In its words, the king’s
physical presence and capacity to secure protection and security distin-
guish him, the ‘living god’, from the remote Olympian ones23. The ithy-
phallos hesitates between blasphemy and a new kind of ‘piety’, and in do-
ing so it faithfully records a changing spiritual climate. While it sets
Demetrius against the traditional gods, the hymn does not end up in deny-
ing the latters’ existence: the highest praise of the new god is in fact equat-
ing and associating him to the ancient ones24.
In 291 the ruler cult was still in the making in the Greek world, but one
of its most important features had already been firmly established. Instead
of creating wholly new sacrifices, rites, or outer images for the new living
gods, the Greeks preferred the imitation and reshaping of the rites and
practices of the traditional Greek religion25. Polytheism, one more time,
proved its great flexibility and ability in adapting itself to the historical

ATH. 6, 253 F: οὐ δημοσίᾳ μόνον, ἀλλὰ ĸαὶ ĸατ᾿ οἰĸίαν. This sentence, as the entire passage, def-
initely contains some rhetorical exaggeration, but the information is probably genuine: CHANIOTIS 2011,
171 suggests that this element too might have been inspired by the Dionysiac festivals, where «the public
celebration continued in private houses until late in the night».
See, more particularly, the following passage, comparing Demetrius with «the other gods»: ἄλλοι
μὲν ἢ μαĸρὰν γὰρ ἀπέχουσιν θεοί, ἢ οὐĸ ἔχουσιν ὦτα, ἢ οὐĸ εἰσὶν, ἢ οὐ προσέχουσιν ἡμῖν οὐδὲ ἕν,
σὲ δὲ παρόνθ᾽ ὁρω ͂ μεν, οὐ ξύλινον οὐδὲ λίθινον, ἀλλ᾽ ἀληθινόν. εὐχόμεσθα δή σοι· πρω ͂ τον μὲν
εἰρήνην ποίησον, fίλτατε· ĸύριος γὰρ εἶ σύ. In some way, like in many other examples of Hellenistic
ruler cult, the ‘living presence’ and effectiveness had already been the base of the cult bestowed on
Antigonus and Demetrius as Soteres («Saviours») in 307, after freeing the city from Cassander’s control
(CHANIOTIS 2003, 436-437); more recently, while Athena proved to be unable to rescue the Parthenon from
the pillages of the ‘tyrant’ Lachares, it was again Demetrius who put Lachares’ government and robberies
to an end (in 296/5: on the chronology see THONEMANN 2005, 71 and n. 34; PASCHIDIS 2008, 125-126 n. 2;
on Lachares robbing the removable ornaments of Athena Parthenos’ statue see PAUS. 1, 25, 7-8 and 29, 16;
POxy 17, 2082 = FGrHist 257a; DEMETR. II, fr. 1 Kassel-Austin; PLU., De Is., 71, 379 D).
CHANIOTIS 2003, 431-432; ID. 2011, 179-181.
CHANIOTIS 2003, 438; on the structure and contents of the hymn as following the traditional elements
of the genre cf. ID. 2011, 171-173.



Also in other details the Athenian cult of Antigonus and Demetrius, and
later of Demetrius alone, anticipates the standard features of the ruler cult
in the Hellenistic Greek cities. A good case in point is the creation (or re-
naming) of civic festivals after the kings’ name, attested at least since 314
for Demetrius and his father. According to Plutarch, in Demetrius’ honour
the Athenian ‘flatterers’ renamed the Dionysia as Demetria. Indeed, ac-
cording to the epigraphic sources, the Dionysia did not disappear, but
rather coexisted with the new festival, whose actual Athenian name was
Demetrieia; something similar occurred outside Attica, in the cities of Eu-
boea26. From inscriptions we also learn that festivals called Ἀντιγόνεια
ĸαὶ Δημητρίεια were created ex nihilo in Delos, as an initiative of the
‘league of the Islanders’27, and in Samos28.
These few examples suggest that the rivalry and interconnection be-
tween different local initiatives probably was a meaningful element of the
ruler cult in Hellenistic Greece. In some favourable cases, the peculiar
framework and local flavour of these initiatives can be discerned, at least in
part. At Samos, the Athenian pattern possibly influences some features of
the cult paid to Antigonus and Demetrius (the creation of new civic tribes
named after the two kings, the reform of local festivals)29, but purely local
habits definitely were a no-less important source of inspiration: according
to the Samian historian Duris, at the end of the fifth century Samos had
been the first Greek city to pay a cult to a living man, the Spartan general
Lysander. We also know that Lysander’s cult in Samos included a festival
called Lysandreia, interestingly anticipating later developments in Greek
‘personality cult’30. Moreover, before honouring Demetrius and his father

All references above, n. 21. The annual festival instituted in 307 B.C. in honour of the theoi Soteres
(D.S. 20, 46, 2) must be considered something different.
The Antigoneia were probably instituted soon after the foundation of the league in 314/3; some years
later (307 or, more probably, 306) the Demetrieia were added; the celebration of the two festivals alternat-
ed, so that every year a festival named after one of the two kings was held in Delos. Our main source of in-
formation is the decree introducing the Demetrieia, ID 1036. On the date of institution of both festivals and
on the role of the Nesiotai see DURRBACH 1907; KÖNIG 1910, 11-18; HABICHT 19702, 58-59, 152;
BURASELIS 1982, 60-75. The artificial combination of two festivals in order to obtain a new one to be held
more frequently is not unparalleled, especially in the Hellenistic period: on the Nikephoria of Pergamon see
MUSTI 2005.
Cf. the honorary decree for the famous actor Polus of Aigina, IG XII, 6, 1, 56. The festival has defi-
nitely a character of εὐαγγέλια (cf. ibid., ll. 6-8), that is, is connected to an «announcement of good news»,
probably Demetrius’ naval victory at Cyprus in 306. Unlike Delian festivals, at Samos the Antigoneia kai
Demetrieia were celebrated simultaneously (HABICHT 19702, 62-64; BURASELIS 1982, 78).
For Samos, the sources are quoted in n. 31.
On Samian honours to Lysander, introduced in 404 B.C. after the ‘liberation’ of the island from the

in the same way, the Samians also introduced a festival and «games in hon-
our of the kings» Philip III and Alexander IV, which is epigraphically at-
tested, like the Lysandreia31. The well documented case of Samos suggests
that, in some cases at least, the cult for the Antigonid kings was a chapter of
a much longer (and purely local) history.
In other respects the stormy relationship between Demetrius and the
Athenian religious practices was a momentous step in the making of the
ruler cult and of the Hellenistic religion as a whole in an opposite way,
that is, showing blind alleys for the future development of both. For ex-
ample, the extension of the Athenian cult honours to Demetrius’ friends
and assistants really seems to have been nothing more than a failed ex-
periment32. While the enlarging of cult honours to the king’s wives and
lovers, also testified by our sources in the same context, is all but bizarre
in the Hellenistic world33, the deification of the philoi, which had already
met an unlucky fate in the case of Hephaestion, at the end of Alexander’s
life34, is more or less unattested after the age of Demetrius35. The uneven

Athenian control, see PLU., Lys., 18, quoting DURIS, FGrHist 76 F 71; see also FGrHist 76 F 26, from ATH.
15, 696 E. Such honours included a festival called Lysandreia (HSCH. and PHOT., s.v.; IG XII 6, 1, 334.
The festival and games in honour of Philip III and Alexander IV were introduced after the expulsion
of the Athenian cleruchs and the restitution of the island to the Samians (321 or soon after: cf. the honorary
decree for Antileon of Chalkis, IG XII 6, 1, 42, ll. 64-65). In the case of the Samian honours for the Antigo-
nid kings, along with the festival above mentioned, we also know of the existence of a tribe named after
Demetrius (IG XII, 6, 1, 24, l. 36) and of a temenos of Phila, possibly Demetrius’ wife (IG XII, 6, 1, 150, l.
24). Later than the honours for the Antigonid kings, but also explainable in terms of ‘local habits’, are those
bestowed by the Samians to the Ptolemies (IG XII, 6, 1, 11, ll. 32-34; XII, 6, 1, 348: cf. HALLOF-MILETA
1997, in part. 259). CROWTHER 1996, 224-225 and n. 112 also considers the possibility (quite uncertain in
my view) of a cult paid by the Samians to Lysimachos in the years 280s. On the historical context of all
these events see MARI 2004.
Testified in some detail by ATH. 6, 252 F – 253 B = DEMOCH., FGrHist 75 F 1 (immediately before
the passage, already quoted, on the ithyphallic hymn; the hymn itself describes Demetrius’ friends as «stars
around the sun»: cf. n. 17, with PARKER 1996, 259). Demochares mentions sanctuaries consecrated to
Demetrius’ lovers Leaena and Lamia (both identified with Aphrodite), and heroic honours for Bourichus,
Adeimantus and Oxythemis, three relevant figures of the king’s circle (see PASCHIDIS 2008, 89 n. 2, 96 n. 1,
107 n. 3, 111, 112 n. 4, 140, 450-451, 491 n. 1; on Adeimantus see also below, n. 66; an Athenian decree
from the agora honours him for his deeds when acting as the proedros, or one of the proedroi, of the re-
founded Hellenic league: see ISE 9, with MORETTI’s remarks, and WALLACE 2013).
On the cult of Phila, Demetrius’ wife, in Samos see n. 31; some scholars, however, identify her with the
wife of Antigonus Gonatas bearing the same name (HABICHT 19702, 62-63). An Athenian cult of Demetrius’
wife is testified by ATH. 6, 254 A (= ALEXIS, fr. 116 Kassel-Austin) and 255 C (quoting Dionysius’ Περὶ
ὀνομάτων): apart from the erroneous description of Phila as Demetrius’ mother, the information seems valu-
able. According to ATH. 6, 253 B, Lamia received a cult as Aphrodite also in Thebes. A temenos of Stratonike,
either the mother or the daughter of Demetrius, did exist in Delos; donations by the younger Stratonike to
Delian temples are known from the inventories (CARNEY 2000, 32; KOSMETATOU 2010, 216-219). On
Demetrius’ wives and lovers, their lives, the cultic honours offered to them see WEHRLI 1964; CARNEY 2000,
31-32; WHEATLEY 2003. Outside Macedonia proper the cult paid to Hellenistic ‘queens’ is more largely attest-
ed: see KUNST 2007; on Macedonia see CARNEY 2000 and MARI 2008a, 250-251.
See above, § 2, for Hypereides’ protest against Alexander’s initiative.
The imposing collection of data on the careers of Hellenistic philoi by PASCHIDIS 2008 supports such

dialogue between kings and cities was built upon the balance between
the acts of exceptional benefactors (the kings) and the exceptional hon-
ours (the cult) bestowed on them as a reward or solicitation36. Enlarging
such honours to too many members of the kings’ circle might have un-
dermined the foundations and the meaning itself of such an exclusive re-



Other aspects of Demetrius’ approach to Greek religion, or – again

and more precisely – to Athenian traditions and identity can also be de-
scribed as failed experiments, if we are correct in interpreting some later
events as reactions to the king’s and his supporters’ ‘impieties’. Possibly,
therefore, it was the ‘bad behaviour’ against Athena (more particularly,
Demetrius’ stay in the Parthenon and his and Antigonus’ portraiture
among the gods woven in the peplos for the Panathenaic procession37)
which inspired some rival kings’ opposite gestures before and after
Demetrius’ final expulsion from Athens, in 28638. As a matter of fact,
both Lysimachus and Pyrrhus, and later Ptolemy II, paid homage to
Athena and the acropolis in remarkable ways39. In doing so, all the three
kings were definitely following the precedent set by Alexander, who
dedicated the spoils of the battle on the river Granicus in 334 to the
Athenian patron deity in a conscious effort to improve his own relations
with Athens and to pay homage to the Athenian contribution in the past
wars against the Persians40. But at the same time the behaviour of the

a conclusion; see also PARKER 1996, 257-263, 276. A later parallel to the Athenian cult for Demetrius’
philoi can be found in an inscription from Laodikeia on the Lykos, testifying cultic honours for Achaios,
the well known pretender to the Seleukid throne (around 267 B.C.), and for two officials of his (IK
Laodikeia am Lykos, ll. 24-29: CHANIOTIS 2003, 442).
On this central feature of the Hellenistic ruler cult see NOCK 1928 and 1951; HABICHT 19702, 156-
171; GAUTHIER 1985, 39-52; MA 1999, 201-234.
References above, notes 12 and 14.
On the chronology of the events I follow SHEAR 2010.
The honorary decree for Philippides of Kephale testifies that Lysimachus presented the city with a
mast and yard for the sacred ship which carried the peplos in the last day of the Panathenaia (IG II2 657, ll.
14-16), probably in 298. The decree in honour of Kallias of Sphettos, in its turn, testifies that Ptolemy II
presented the Athenians with the ὅπλα for the peplos, when they first celebrated the Panathenaia after the
liberation of the city (SHEAR 1978 = SEG 28, 1978, 60, ll. 64-70; on the chronology see SHEAR 2010). After
this same event Pyrrhus offered a sacrifice to Athena Polias on the acropolis (PLU., Pyrrh., 12, 6-7).
ARR. 1, 16, 7; PLU., Alex., 16, 17-18; PS. CALLISTH. 1, 28, 4: cf. WILL 1983, 56-57; BRINGMANN – VON
STEUBEN – AMELING – SCHMIDT-DOUNAS 1995, I, nr. 2. The panoply dedicated by Alexander, son of
Polyperchon, in 318 B.C., is another meaningful precedent (IG II2 1473, ll. 6-11).

three kings can be fully understood only under the light of (and as a re-
action against) the recent offences by Demetrius and Lachares to the
Athenian patron deity41.
Not any less revealing is the use the Athenians themselves made of the
acropolis from the last years of the fourth until the end of the third century
B.C.: during that period the honorary monuments and the portrait statues
there were extremely rare and were reserved for Athenian religious offi-
cials and priests alone. Ralf von den Hoff has persuasively interpreted this
and other features of the landscape of the early Hellenistic acropolis as a
conscious effort to keep the foreigners away from the holiest cult space of
their city; the Hellenistic kings, at least until the end of the third century
B.C., were especially affected by such a policy42. Demetrius’ and his sup-
porters’ excesses were not the only cause of such a historical development,
but they were definitely influential to a large extent.
The way the Athenians looked at the sanctuary of Demeter and Kore
at Eleusis after 286 is also revealing. Demetrius, who disrespected the
rules for the initiation to the Mysteries in 30343, in his last period of con-
trol over the city, from 295 onwards, offended Eleusis in a different way,
by garrisoning it. Not by chance, both literary and epigraphic sources in-
sist on the importance of the recovering of Eleusis in their references to
the ‘liberation’ of Athens in 286 (particularly explicit examples are the
honorary decrees or monuments for Demochares, Olympiodorus and
Philippides)44. From the Athenian point of view, the liberation of the city
was really accomplished only after the recapture and renaissance of
Eleusis45. The symbolic value of the sanctuary was in this way strongly
reaffirmed, even though the Macedonian occupation of the fort did not

See MARI 2003, 91-92. Modern scholars do not agree on the later fate and prestige of the cult of
Athena on the acropolis: MIKALSON insists on the decreased popularity of the goddess (with the only excep-
tion of the Panathenaia) and attributes it also to the fact that under Demetrius’ and Lachares’ rule the god-
dess proved to be unable to defend her own properties and the city itself (1998, 91-92, 104-106), while oth-
er scholars are more cautious (PARKER 1996, 263, 271).
See VON DEN HOFF 2003, in part. 185. Cf. now also MA 2013, 8, 103-107, 276-279.
§ 2, in part. n. 9.
The recapture of Eleusis is particularly praised in the honorary decree for Demochares, of 271/0,
quoted by [PLU.]., X orat., 851 D-F; in his turn Philippides was honoured also for having «established an
additional festival for Demeter and Kore as a memorial of the liberation of the Demos» (IG II2 657, ll.
38-45); in the case of Olympiodorus, whose greatest merit towards the Athenians was the liberation of
Munychia and Pyraeus in the final period of Demetrius’ control of the city, his earlier intervention at
Eleusis against a Macedonian raid is also mentioned by PAUS. 1, 26, 3, who maybe derived the reference
from the dedicatory inscription of the official’s honorary monument on the acropolis. On the careers of
these three leading figures see, along with the bibliography quoted above, PASCHIDIS 2008, 116-125,
133-139, 153-159; on the nature of the literary tradition on the ‘liberators’ of Athens cf. MA 2013, 274-
The recovery of Eleusis can be dated between September 285 and May 284 (SHEAR 1978, 84-86).

have among its tangible effects any damage to the sanctuary and its



In some way, Demetrius’ reign over Macedonia as a whole (294-287

B.C.) can be labelled as a ‘failed experiment’, but religion does not seem
to have played a peculiar role in what Plutarch describes as an unsuccess-
ful attempt at introducing a new and more autocratic conception of king-
ship in Macedonia47. As the Makedones were, along with the king himself,
one of the two constituent parts of the state48, when they finally deserted
Demetrius, he had to leave the throne49. The archaeological evidence adds
something to this general picture, clearly showing that the Pharaonic
‘building III’ in the royal palace of Pella remained unfinished. If, as it
seems plausible, the ‘building III’ was started during Demetrius’ reign,
this is a further indication that Demetrius’ interpretation of kingship was
rapidly abandoned by his successors50.
As far as the possible ‘religious’ implications of Demetrius’ behaviour
in Macedonia go, our information is instead rather poor. On the one hand,
in a quite traditional manner, the king looked at the sanctuary of Zeus and
the Muses at Dion as a privileged place for royal dedications after war vic-
tories51. On the other hand, nothing can be firmly stated about a possible
extension to Macedonia of the ruler cult that Demetrius enjoyed in other
parts of the Greek world. No evidence of that kind is known so far from

Cf. CLINTON 2003, for a persuasive interpretation of IG II2 1682 = I. Eleusis 141 and relevant topo-
graphic and archaeological remarks, in contrast to other scholars’ assumptions.
PLU., Demetr., 42: according to Plutarch and his sources, Demetrius became inaccessible and regu-
larly avoided the dialogue with the Macedonians, who therefore felt like ὑβρίζεσθαι ... οὐ βασιλεύεσθαι.
The Macedonian tradition, followed also by the later Antigonid kings, was rather focused on the king’s ac-
cessibility and respect towards the parrhesia enjoyed by the Macedonians of every rank, as even Polybius
admits (5, 27, 6: cf. HATZOPOULOS 2001, 194, 197 n. 95). On Demetrius’ reign over Macedonia see HAM-
MOND – WALBANK 1988, 219-229.
See at least PAPAZOGLOU 1983; HAMMOND 1988; HATZOPOULOS 1996, I, 261-322.
PLU., Pyrrh., 11, 3-6. It was the Macedonian soldiers who proclaimed Demetrius as new βασιλεὺς
Μακεδόνων in 294 in Thessaly, after the killing of Cassander’s son Alexander; apparently, their decision
was later confirmed by the rest of the Macedonians (PLU., Demetr., 37, 2; IUST. 16, 1, 9 and 18: HATZOPOU-
LOS 1996, I, 277, 290-291).
HATZOPOULOS 2001, 192, 194, with the archaeological references.
Shields were dedicated in the sanctuary of Dion by a «king Demetrius» and a «king Antigonus», to
be probably identified with Poliorcetes and Gonatas respectively (PANDERMALIS 2000 and 2002, 100-101;
see also SEG 49, 1999, 702; BE 2000, 454). On the sanctuary of Dion as ‘Pan-Macedonian’ sanctuary and
on its particular relevance to the kings see HATZOPOULOS – MARI 2004; HATZOPOULOS 2013.

within the borders of the kingdom52, and the oikist cult he received in
Demetrias, where he was also buried, is a different and quite peculiar
case53 (not to stress the fact that the city, although specially important for
the Antigonid dynasty, is outside the borders of Macedonia proper54). In
later times the only form of ruler cult definitely attested from Macedonia
stricto sensu is the one paid by individual poleis: this cult in some cases is
addressed to living kings, and thus looks quite similar to those introduced
in the cities of mainland Greece, Asia Minor and in the Aegean islands in
order to gain useful benefits from their relationships with Hellenistic king.
Interestingly, all of the relevant pieces of evidence come from (or can be
referred to) cities which did not belong to the Macedonian ‘Old King-
dom’, but were firmly annexed to it only from the age of Philip II on-
wards. Unlike Ptolemaic Egypt or Seleucid Syria, Macedonia apparently
never experienced any official state cult of the kings, living or dead, either
before or after Alexander55. It is impossible to say whether Demetrius ever
attempted to introduce one; if he did, this was another aspect of his career
that mainly acted as a negative pattern for his successors.
We walk on firmer ground when moving forward to Demetrius’ (and
Antigonus’) ‘religious policy’ in other regions of the Greek world. In this
field, we are encouraged in reconstructing a general policy of the two
kings, at least as far as some important Greek sanctuaries are concerned. In
its most conservative features, such a policy explicitly followed the pattern
of Philip II, while in other respects it implied an innovating approach to
Greek religion and its political uses. At Delos the creation of the ‘league of
the Islanders’ in 314, among other things, implied the foundation of two
festivals named after the two kings and creatively intertwined. The epi-
graphic evidence testifies that, probably in 306, a festival called Demetrieia
was added to the pre-existing Antigoneia, which had been almost certainly
introduced already in 314. As a result, two twin-festivals were celebrated in
alternate years, thus a ‘federal’ festival bearing two different names was ac-
tually celebrated every year, providing a regular meeting opportunity for

MARI 2008a (see 247-248 on Demetrius).
Demetrias was founded in Magnesia in 293, through the synoecism of several preexisting communi-
ties; a few years later Demetrius was buried and received a cult there (STR. 9, 5, 15, 436 C.; PLU., Demetr.,
53, 7; ST. BYZ., s.v.). At Demetrias a sanctuary and a cult of the Ἀρχηγέται καὶ Κτίσται is epigraphically
attested; such a cult unified preexisting local cults with that of the royal founder: see IG IX, 2, 1099 B and
MCDEVITT 1030 A and B (both republished by KRAVARITOU 2013), on the cult of the «heroes founders», and
possibly IX, 2, 1129, mentioning «heroes, heroines and founders» in the genitive. On the character of the
cult received by Demetrius in Demetrias see HABICHT 19702, 75-76; KRAVARITOU 2011, 120-122, and 2013,
with the archaeological references.
Demetrias always kept a special relationship with the Antigonid kings: see BACKHUIZEN 1987;
KRAVARITOU 2011 and 2013; STAMATOPOULOU forthcoming.
MARI 2008a, with references and previous bibliography.

the synedroi56. Moreover, in this same period the archaic Delian sanctuary
of the Twelve Gods (Dodekatheon) was largely renovated and provided
with a temple. It has been suggested (but remains highly controversial) that
the Dodekatheon hosted the cult of Antigonus and Demetrius as synnaoi
theoi57, thus acting in some way as the ‘federal’ sancuary for the Islanders.
It is anyhow tempting to see in the cult of the Twelve Gods an ideal point of
contact between the Delian religious traditions and two Macedonian rulers.
Philip’ and Alexander’s special devotion to the Twelve Gods is well known
from the literary sources58, and the calendar ‘of the Twelve Gods’ was
among the peculiar institutions of the Macedonian cities founded by (and
named after) the kings, including Demetrias itself59. We cannot exclude that
also in Delos the cult of the Twelve Gods was meant (also) to mark the
‘special relationship’ of the island, after its liberation from the Athenian
control, with the two Macedonian ambitious warlords.
The annual meetings of the delegates of the Islanders at the Delian
Antigoneia-Demetrieia and the ‘federal’ cult of Antigonus and Demetrius
(whether based in the Dodekatheon or not) are the earliest clues of a ‘Pan-
hellenic’ policy based (also) on the ruler cult and on the sharing of com-
mon sacred space and religious occasions by different cities which ac-
knowledged the two kings’ hegemony. The league of the Islanders, howev-

Above, n. 27. BURASELIS 1982, 70-75, emphasizes the anti-Athenian character of the Antigonids’ in-
tervention in the Aegean Sea in 314, which freed Delos from the Athenian control and led to the creation of
the league of the «Islanders» (Nesiotai). On the historical context and the chronology see also WEHRLI
1968, 113-116.
The temple was built in the early third century. It was completed before 282 B.C. according to the
Delian inventories. A financial support by Antigonus and Demetrius is possible. The hypothesis of a cult paid
to them there mainly rests on the interpretation of some sculptural remains; that is, the bases of two probably
equestrian statues put in the same area where altars and images of the Twelve Gods stood, a gigantic head
bearing a diadem, which some scholars interpreted as belonging to a cult statue of Demetrius, from the same
area, and a base for two statues, from the cella of the naos itself. The possible mention of an «altar of the
kings» in the inscription dealing with the festival of the Antigoneia-Demetrieia (ID 1036, ll. 45-46: παρὰ τὸν
βω[μὸν τω ͂ ν βασιλέων]) is a relevant element of this debate, for a synthetic presentation of which see
408; see now also QUEYREL 2015. The recorded donations by Demetrius, his relatives and members of his cir-
cle to the Delian sanctuaries (BRINGMANN – VON STEUBEN – AMELING – SCHMIDT-DOUNAS 1995, I, nrs. 156-
166; KOSMETATOU 2010) confirm the Antigonids’ interest in the island and its sanctuaries, which is much bet-
ter known from later periods.
According to D.S. 16, 92, 5 and 95, 1 Philip II was murdered on the very day in which his image was
displayed along with those of the Twelve Gods in a procession at Aegae; the idea of the Macedonian king as
«thirteenth god» is also present in the literary tradition on the Athenian debate on the honours for Alexander
the Great (AEL., VH, 5, 12). Alexander dedicated altars to the Twelve Gods on the river Hyphasis, a ceremo-
ny which ARR. 5, 29, 1-2 considers «customary» (ὡς νόμος; see also D.S. 17, 95, 1; PLU., Alex., 62, 8; Q.
CURT. 9, 3, 19; PLIN., nat. hist., 6, 21, 62; PHILOSTR., VA, 2, 43). On the cult of the Twelve Gods in Macedonia
see LONG 1987, 206-217, 229-231; on its Hellenistic offsprings see MARI forthcoming (a).
On the cases of Philippoi, Cassandreia and Demetrias see HATZOPOULOS 1991, 28 and n. 1, 77; ID.
1996, I, 163-165, 188-189, 201-205; TRÜMPY 1997, 262-270; KRAVARITOU 2011, 121-122.

er, was a short-lived experience, at least as an Antigonid creation and po-

litical tool. In their later ‘Panhellenic’ policy Antigonus and Demetrius ap-
parently employed festivals, sanctuaries and local religious traditions in a
more traditional and cautious way. In 303 Demetrius freed Argos from the
control of Cassander’s brother Pleistarchus and celebrated his victory by
presiding over the most important civic festival, the Heraia. With his usual
taste for ‘theatrical’ events, the king used the festival in honour of the main
Argive goddess as the ideal scenario for his own wedding with Pyrrhus’
sister Deidamia, in front of a Panhellenic audience60. Demetrius’ interest
in Argive sanctuaries and festivals was probably not new: an earlier con-
nection with the sanctuary of Zeus at Nemea has also been suggested on
epigraphic grounds61, and possibly Demetrius and Cassander competed –
among many other things – also in financing the rebuilding of this same
sanctuary, destroyed and partly abandoned since the last quarter of the
fifth century. In doing so, Demetrius, or Cassander, or both, completed a
project started by Philip II and apparently abandoned by Alexander the
Great. As a consequence of the rebuilding of the sanctuary, in the early
Hellenistic period the Nemean festival returned from Argos back to its tra-
ditional seat, even if both the sanctuary and the festival fully remained in
the Argive sphere of influence.62 Since Argos was the mythical homeland
of the Temenid kings, all the Successors tried in different ways to create
some kind of Temenid connection or ancestry for themselves. They at-
tempted to establish good relationships with the city and its sanctuaries
and paid homage to its religious traditions, in order to legitimize their am-
bition to reign over Macedonia.63 Demetrius’ actions and possible benefac-
tions at Argos and Nemea should be seen (also)in this perspective.
The Heraia held in 303, a truly Panhellenic event in Plutarch’s eyes,

PLU., Demetr., 25, 2: ἐν Ἄργει μὲν οὖν τῆς τω ͂ ν Ἡραίων ἑορτῆς ĸαθηĸούσης, ἀγωνοθετω ͂ ν ĸαὶ
συμπανηγυρίζων τοῖς Ἕλλησιν, ἔγημε τὴν Αἰαĸίδου θυγατέρα, τοῦ Μολοττω ͂ ν βασιλέως,
ἀδελfὴν δὲ Πύρρου, Δηϊδάμειαν.
A list of troops from Nemea, of the late fourth century (SEG 25, 1971, 357), has been tentatively re-
lated to Demetrius’ activities in the Peloponnese between 312 and 311 B.C.: see GEAGAN 1968 and PERL-
MAN 2000, 114, with the cautious remarks by J. and L. ROBERT, BE 1969, 236. In the same period (most
probably spring or summer 312) the Antigonid general Polemaeus freed Elis from the garrison introduced
by his former colleague Telesphorus, now in revolt; Polemaeus also gave the money pillaged by Telespho-
rus back to Olympia (D.S. 19, 87). Antigonus’ propaganda in these years was strongly focused on the liber-
ation of the Greeks, and Polemaeus’ intervention at Elis and Olympia was of crucial importance (WALLACE
On these crucial events in the history of the sanctuary of Nemea and on the evolution of its relation-
ships with the Macedonian kings see MARI 2008b, 112-128; EAD. 2013, 11-34, with references.
Claiming a genealogical link with the Temenid kings, vindicating Philip’ and Alexander’s legacy,
and showing «piety» (εὐσέβεια) towards Greek sanctuaries were important features in the legitimacy of
later Macedonian kings. A meaningful connection between these different aspects is established by PLB. 5,
10, when harshly criticizing Philip V’s pillage and destruction of the Etolian sanctuary at Thermon.

anticipated in some way the next step of Antigonus’ and Demetrius’ policy
in the Greek mainland, that is, the refoundation of Philip’s ‘league of
Corinth’ in 302. This time the perfect scenery was conveniently provided
by the Isthmia64, one of the four Panhellenic festivals which formed the
four-year cycle called περίοδος (the others being the games held at
Olympia, Delphi and Nemea-Argos). The pattern of the league founded by
Philip in 338/7 and inherited by Alexander is explicitly mentioned by
Plutarch when describing the events of 30265, and two epigraphic docu-
ments add some decisive information. The first is a letter sent to
Demetrius by his philos Adeimantus of Lampsachus, at the time acting as
one of the proedroi of the league. According to the letter the Delphic am-
phictyony legitimized the birth of the league through a decree (ψήfισμα);
the decree was first submitted to the Greek delegates at Isthmia and then
ratified in Delphi66. The second document is the copy of the foundation act
of the league preserved in the sanctuary of Asklepius at Epidaurus, accord-
ing to which the Greek delegates were to meet on the occasions of the fes-
tivals of the περίοδος67. The choice of the Isthmian festival of 302, there-
fore, was not purely determined by chance, but it naturally and deliberate-
ly followed the regular calendar of the Panhellenic festivals. Such a calen-
dar, through the alternation of the four crown games, usefully provided
seven occasions for political and diplomatic meeting during the Olympiad
(the period of four years between two Olympic festivals68).

On the chronology of the events leading to the refoundation of the ‘league of Corinth’ and of
Demetrius’ irregular initiation in the Eleusinian Mysteries see PASCHIDIS 2008, 91-95.
Demetr., 25, 4: ἐν δὲ Ἰσθμῳ ͂ ĸοινοῦ συνεδρίου γενομένου ĸαὶ πολλω ͂ ν ἀνθρώπων συνελθόντων,
ἡγεμὼν ἀνηγορεύθη τῆς Ἑλλάδος, ὡς πρότερον οἱ περὶ Φίλιππον ĸαὶ Ἀλέξανδρον. Diodorus does not
mention this important event; he, however, stresses the ‘Panhellenic’ ambitions of Demetrius’ campaign in
303/2 (20, 102, 1: ἐπὶ δὲ τούτων Δημήτριος εἶχε πρόθεσιν πρὸς μὲν τοὺς περὶ Κάσανδρον
διαπολεμεῖν, τοὺς δ᾿ Ἕλληνας ἐλευθεροῦν ĸαὶ πρω ͂ τον τὰ ĸατὰ τὴν Ἑλλάδα διοιĸεῖ͂ν).
ISE 72 = CID IV, 11 (ll. 1-2: Ἀδείμαντος βασιλεῖ Δημητρίωι χαίρ[ειν]. τό τε ψήfισμα ὃ
ἐπεποίηντο οἱ Ἀμfιĸτίονες πέ̣[ρυ]σι̣, προθέντες μὲν ἐν Ἰσθμίοις, ἐπιĸυρώσα[ντες] δὲ ἐν Δελfοῖς,
ἀπ[έστ]αλĸα ĸαθάπερ ὤιου δεῖν [...]). On the Athenian honours for Adeimantus and other officers of
Demetrius’ circle see above, n. 32. The connection of Adeimantus’ letter with the refoundation of the
league was established by ROBERT 1946.
IG IV 12, 68 = ISE 44 = SCHMITT 1969, nr. 446 = AGER 1996, nr. 14. On the meeting places of the del-
egates in peace time see III, ll. 11-18; the reference to regular meetings of the council to be held in peace-
time «wherever the crown games are celebrated» is sure (ll. 17-18: ὅταν δ᾿ ἡ εἰρήνη γέν[ηται], οὗ ἂν
στεfανῖται ἀγω ͂ νες [τιθ]ω
͂ νται). The text was rightly referred to the league of 302 (rather than to the orig-
inal ‘league of Corinth’ founded by Philip II in 338/7, or to the Hellenic league created by Antigonus Doson
in 223) by P. ROUSSEL, BE 1921, 433-434.
For example, considering the games between the Olympics of 304 and those of 300 B.C.: 1. summer
304, Olympic games; 2. summer 303, Nemean games; 3. spring 302, Isthmian games; 4. late summer 302,
Pythian games; 5. summer 301, Nemean games; 6. spring 300, Isthmian games; 7. summer 300, Olympic
games. For the coincidence of the Amphictyonic meeting alluded to by Adeimantus’ letter with the Pythian
games of 302 see WALLACE 2013, 150-151; the regular meetings of the Amphictyonic delegates (pylaiai),
however, did not coincide with the games, but were held after them (MARI 1999).

Philip II and Alexander the Great already realized and exploited the
potential of the traditional sequence of the Panhellenic games69. In this
as in many other respects, Antigonus and Demetrius simply followed the
pattern of the two great kings whose political legacy they were claiming
for themselves. Like them, Antigonus and Demetrius were definitely
aware of the political convenience of great sanctuaries and religious
events, and knew that any koinon (be it a league based on an ‘ethnic’
affinity or a more flexible alliance on purely political and military
grounds) needed a shared sanctuary and common festivals70. This had
definitely been the real meaning of the Delian Antigoneia-Demetrieia
for the ‘league of the Islanders’, while the ‘league of Corinth’ (just like
the one created by Philip more than thirty years earlier) attributed a ‘fed-
eral’ role to the four sanctuaries and festivals shared by all the Greeks
(the ĸοινὰ ἱερά).
This is not, of course, the sole difference between these two phases of
the early Antigonid Greek policy. In 302 Antigonus and Demetrius cau-
tiously avoided imposing a federal ruler cult and a unique sanctuary devot-
ed to it upon the Greeks, as the Delian Dodekatheon perhaps had been71.
Moreover, the involvement of the Delphic amphictyony in the events of
302 was a particularly clear way of vindicating Philip’s ‘legalistic’ ap-
proach to the Greek sanctuaries and political institutions. In Philip’s strat-
egy, membership in the amphictyony had been a powerful political tool,
which Alexander almost neglected after his early years of reign because he
did not need it any longer72: now the stormy era of the struggles of the Suc-
cessors made it necessary once again.
The shocking episode of Demetrius’ Pythian festival of 290, from
where I started my analysis, can be better understood if we look at it from
this enlarged perspective. A bold and risky initiative in Demetrius’ style as
it was73, the Athenian Pythia can also be interpreted as a later development
of the Panhellenic strategy started in 302. In summer 290 Delphi and the
amphictyony, on the one side, and Demetrius, on the other, were in a para-
doxical condition towards each other. The sanctuary and the surrounding
areas were in the hands of the Aetolians, but the latter at the time were not
yet amphiktyones; Demetrius’ condition is exactly the opposite: as the

MARI 2002, 192-196, with references.
A rich overview can now be found in the studies collected by FUNKE – HAAKE 2013.
The idea that the foundation act of the new league of Corinth provided for a cult of Antigonus and
Demetrius was based on a wrong reading of the l. 4 of Adeimantus’ letter; a reference to ἀγω ͂ νες in honour
of the kings, here, was accepted by ROBERT 1946, 20-22 and WEHRLI 1968, 94-95, but was later excluded
MARI 2002, 99-135, 142-157, 218-230.
For Plutarch’s (or his sources’) evaluation of this episode see the passage quoted in n. 1 above.

king of Macedonia, he theoretically enjoyed two ampictyonic votes74, and

in this capacity he received the honour of presiding over the Pythian
games75, but the sanctuary was physically inaccessible by the enemies of
the Aetolians. That’s why Demetrius took the unprecedented initiative of
moving the Pythian games to Athens: it was a theatrical way to denounce
the condition of the sanctuary and to vindicate the Panhellenic scale of his
own political ambitions76, but it was also a bold alteration of the περίοδος
and of the Greek religious calendar, in space, if not in time77.
This episode, so shocking in Plutarch’s eyes, tells a lot about the most
peculiar feature of Demetrius’ attitude towards the religious habits of an-
cient Greece, which constantly appears as a mixture of traditional behav-
iours and revolutionary acts. The latter, for their own nature, deeply im-
pressed Demetrius’ contemporaries and are the best preserved by the liter-
ary sources. In many cases, what seemed outrageous to many contempo-
raries forestalled relevant historical developments of later times. The sys-
tematic employment of the ruler cult as a political tool, the authority con-
ferred on the king’s friends and on the local elites supporting his policy,
the taste for the ‘theatrical’ gestures, the ‘special relationship’ with the
newly founded cities can all be quoted as good examples of Demetrius be-
ing ahead of his time. On the contrary, his arrogance in changing local cal-
endars, in moving festivals, in using sanctuaries and civic spaces as his
own properties, like his attempt at reforming the bases of Macedonian
kingship, turned into failures and remained unparalleled. For better or
worse, and more particularly in the delicate crossroads of religion and pol-
itics, Demetrius was a pattern for future generations of rulers and con-
tributed heavily in shaping a completely new language of politics and roy-
al power in Hellenistic Greece.

The Etolians entered the amphictyonic council no earlier than about 278, after the attack by the
Gauls against Delphi and a revolutionary reform of the association. On the condition of the Aetolians and
of the Macedonian kings vis à vis the Delphic amphictyony from 290 to 278 B.C., and on the lack of com-
plete lists of amphictyonic members in the years between Alexander’s death and circa 278 B.C. see MARI
2002, 275-286. That Demetrius in 290, as any king of Macedonia after 346 B.C., had two amphictyonic
seats at his disposal (at least theoretically) was also suggested by FLACELIÈRE 1937, 75-78; for a more cau-
tious view see LEFÈVRE 1998a, 97-98, 237-238; 1998b, 138 n. 97; 1998c, 256, 260.
The parallel with the events following the third sacred war is useful and illuminating one more time.
Philip II presided over the Pythia in 346, at the end of the third sacred war, after being admitted in the am-
phictyony; he probably did the same in later occasions too (MARI 1999; EAD. 2002, 118-122, with refer-
ences). The charge of organizing the Pythian games every four years was an exclusive right of the amphi
ktyones (POUILLOUX 1977; LEFÈVRE 1998a, 164, 229, 237-239; MARI 1999).
It is disputed whether the ‘regular’ Pythia were held at the same time in Delphi. The later parallel of
the ‘double’ Nemean festival of 235 B.C. suggests such a possibility (MARI 2013, 35 n. 90).
The strict relationship between festivals and local calendars must be here kept in mind one more
time. On Demetrius’ alteration of the Athenian religious and civic calendar see above, n. 9, with references.


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