Where did the Alkmaionidai Live?

  • Published on

  • View

  • Download


  • Where did the Alkmaionidai Live?Author(s): C. W. Th. EliotSource: Historia: Zeitschrift fr Alte Geschichte, Bd. 16, H. 3 (Jul., 1967), pp. 279-286Published by: Franz Steiner VerlagStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4434989 .Accessed: 21/09/2013 16:03

    Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at .http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp


    JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range ofcontent in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.


    Franz Steiner Verlag is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Historia:Zeitschrift fr Alte Geschichte.


    This content downloaded from on Sat, 21 Sep 2013 16:03:35 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

  • WHERE DID THE ALKMAIONIDAI LIVE? In my book Coastal Demes of Attika I referred briefly to a "theory, admit-

    tedly speculative, that one of the aristocratic families that lived at Aigilia was the Alkmaionidai."' Two reviewers have reacted adversely to this suggestion," and to them, as well as to others who may share their doubts, I owe an expla- nation of my proposal, one that I still hold but would rephrase thus: "a theory, admittedly speculative, that the Alkmaionidai in the sixth century lived in the district of Anavyssos, probably at Aigilia."

    The amended theory is very simply the product of three assumptions: i) the inscribed block from the base of an archaic grave-monument in

    memory of Kroisos came from Aigilia or nearby; ii) this Kroisos was a member of the Alkmaionid family; iii) a study of the politics of the mid-sixth century confirms the appropriate-

    ness of an Alkmaionid residence in the Paralia. i

    The exact finding place of the Kroisos base will never be known with cer- tainty, as is so often the case with marbles exploited by dealers in antiquities. The general location, however, can be easily defined, notwithstanding a welter of unreliable evidence. The New York kouros, the Munich kouros, the New York-Berlin stele, the Anavyssos kouros, the Kroisos base, and the kouros named Aristodikos, as well as other archaic material, were all found in the district of Anavyssos.3 More detailed proveniences have been published for some of these pieces: the Munich kouros is said to have been found "in der Deme Anaphlystos, an dem heute Vlachika-Mandria genannten Ort ;"4 according to one source the Berlin fragments of the New York-Berlin stele were discovered "in der Gegend des Olympos in Suidattika;"5 and the statue of Aristodikos is definitely known to have come from Olympos.6 Of the remaining three, the

    1 C. W. Th. Eliot, Coastal Demes of Attika (Toronto 1962) 74 n. 21. 3 D. M. Lewis, Gnomon 35 (I963) 724, and L. F. Janssen, Mnemosyne SER. IV, i8 (1965)

    446. Despite their gentlemanly warnings, I persist, in part encouraged by Miss L. H. Jeffery's independent "guess" that Kroisos was an Alkmaionid ("The Inscribed Gravestones of Archaic Attica," BSA 57 [1962] 144).

    * Jeffery, ibid. 143-146, under the rubric "Anavyssos, Phoiniki, Olympos," the same area that I refer to by the less detailed title of "the district of Anavyssos."

    4 Ibid. 145, from a note supplied by Dr. Diepolder. ' C. Blumel, Slaatliche Museen zu Berlin, Katalog der Sammlung antiher Skulpturen II, x

    (Berlin-Leipzig 1940) 8. I Ch. I. Karouzos, 'ApLtc68txoq (Athens I961) 5.

    This content downloaded from on Sat, 21 Sep 2013 16:03:35 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

  • 280 C. W. TH. ELIOT

    finding place of the Anavyssos kouros only can be determined with any degree of confidence. "Today, there is a remarkably consistent tradition held by those who live near Olympos and Anavyssos that the Anavyssos kouros was unearthed near Olympos ... probably a little east and south of the village."7

    The Anavyssos kouros is now handsomely mounted on the Kroisos base, an association denied by the original owners of the stone. They claimed the base for the New York kouros, near which, they declared, it had been found, although earlier they had merely said that it belonged to one of the two kouroi discovered about the same time, that is, to either the Anavyssos or the New York kouros. But their various statements were conditioned more by a desire to sell the base than by a respect for archaeological fact. That the Kroisos base ever supported the New York kouros was deemed most unlikely as soon as the inscription was seen.8 On the other hand, a consideration of "the marble, the proportions, and the date,"9 and of the circumstances of finding make the display of the Anavyssos kouros upon the Kroisos base "most likely.""0 There is therefore a correspondingly equal likelihood that the Kroisos base came from near Olympos within the deme of Aigilia.

    To summarize the argument so far: the Kroisos base came from the district of Anavyssos, probably, though not certainly, from near Olympos.

    ii The Kroisos base carries the following inscription:

    xxr-& xoc? &xrtpov Kpo(aou 7racp& "- Ia &v6v'oq, h6v 7to'-'&vl 7cpoCaXoL xeae &oiUpoq "Apij.

    Who was this Kroisos who fought and died in the front line of battle, and was buried in the district of Anavyssos, probably at Olympos? His sudden death (or, more accurately, the inscribing of the base"1) occurred in the second half of the sixth century, probably within the third quarter,12 when Kroisos, to judge

    7 Eliot, ibid. (n. i) 71. 8 This summary of the problem is based on two fundamental articles: A. S. Arvanito-

    poulos, "'Ar'Lxcdt 17rLypocoal 14," flo)UIOV 2 (1934-I938) 8i-88, and G. P. Stevens, E. Vanderpool, and D. M. Robinson, "An Inscribed Kouros Base," Hesperia Supplement 8 (I949) 361-364; see also Jeffery, ibid. (n. 2) I44.

    9 Jeffery, ibid. (n. 2) 144. 10 Karouzos, ibid. (n. 6) 68: "Tnvcv&rcxro." 'I The appearance of the word 7ro'ri in the epigram should warn us that there may have

    been a lapse of time between the circumstances of the death of Kroisos and the erection of the grave-monument, at least in the mind of the author of the epigram. For a discussion of the use of 7to't* in some inscriptions of later date, see H. T. Wade-Gery, "Classical Epigrams and Epitaphs," JHS 53 (I933) 7I-82, particularly 76-77. But see also G. M. A. Richter (Kouroi2 [London I960] iI6), who feels that in the case of Kroisos an assumption of "an interval between death and monument" based on Wade-Gery's interpretation of nrOT is "incapable of proof."

    1a Jeffery, ibid. (n. 2) 144 and iIi. She has assigned the Kroisos base and several other bases and stelai to a Mason C, none of whose works she dates later than "c. 525 ?".

    This content downloaded from on Sat, 21 Sep 2013 16:03:35 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

  • Where did the Alkmaionidai live ? 281

    from his military post, was neither a child nor an aged man. His birth is thus placed as early as the first quarter of the sixth century, as late as the middle. That he was from a wealthy family the base makes clear, for, even if it did not sup- port the Anavyssos kouros, it must have carried another monument of like scale.

    The name Kroisos naturally makes one think of Asia Minor, and various speculations have been offered regarding the origin of a man of this name buried in Attika: someone born in Ionia where the name may have been common; someone from Ionia named after the king of Lydia; one of the soldiers supplied to Peisistratos by Lygdamis of Naxos and therefore an easterner.)- None of these explanations is satisfactory, for they leave unanswered why Kroisos' remains should have been taken up from some battlefield1' and brought to the district of Anavyssos for a costly burial in a local cemetery. This fact above all dictates that Kroisos must have had a close and natural association with this particular district, in other words, that he belonged there. Kroisos, despite his name, must have been an Athenian, a member of a wealthy family that had deep personal ties with the district of Anavyssos.15 That these ties centred about a residence for the living as well as a cemetery for the dead is the most reason- able conclusion.

    So much can be learned from the base alone without invoking its "most likely" association with the Anavyssos kouros. If that connection be admitted, the following additional conclusions can be reached. Within the district of Anavyssos the interests of Kroisos and his family were localized probably near Olympos. The form, scale, and expense of the monument do not have to be surmised; they are for all to see. The representation of a vigorous youth in the prime of life, probably between twenty and thirty years of age, suggests that the deceased had reached a similar stage in his development. Finally, the monument can be more closely dated to the years immediately around 530 B.c.,1

    1 Richter, ibid. (n. II) I15-1i6. 4 It has been assumed by all commentators that Kroisos was killed somewhere other

    than in the district of Anavyssos, there being no reference to a battle in that neighbourhood. I too make this assumption.

    13 S. Karouzou (The Amasis Painter [Oxford 1956] 42) has come to the same conclusion. Of Kroisos she writes: "A member of a wealthy family in the Mesogaia of Attica was named after the Lydian king." Kroisos, for her, is an Athenian. P. Friedlander and H. B. Hoffleit (Epigrammata, Greek Inscriptions in Verse from the Beginnings to the Persian Wars [Ber- keley and Los Angeles 1948] 86) would probably agree with this last statement, although their words are ambiguous: "It is suprising to find the name Croesus so early among the Attic farmers."

    16 The date is that given by Miss E. B. Harrison, The Athenian Agora II: Archaic and Archaistic Sculpture (Princeton I965) 12, where the Anavyssos kouros is placed late in the decade 540-530 B.C. Miss Harrison would also accept a date early in the twenties, as long as it is recognized that the kouros stylistically comes before the Siphnian Treasury. This last observation makes Lullies' dating ca. 520 B.C. seem to low (R. Lullies and M. Hirmer, Greek Sculptures [New York I960] 65).

    This content downloaded from on Sat, 21 Sep 2013 16:03:35 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

  • 282 C. W. TH. ELIOT

    a fact that confirms, but does not further define, the period already proposed within which Kroisos was born. The information that can be derived from the Kroisos base with or without the Anavyssos kouros is thus fundamentally similar, the difference being one of precision alone.

    It is now time to ask the question that neither the base nor the statue, together or singly, directly answers: to what wealthy Athenian family did Kroisos belong? In this form the question cannot in truth be answered. It needs to be restated: what wealthy family in the first half, or near the middle, of the sixth century had reason to name a son by the non-Athenian name of Kroisos? Given the available historical evidence, the answer is the Alkmaionidai.7 Even though Herodotos' account of the relations between this family and the kings of Lydia is not free of problems, at least one fact emerges unambiguously: during the first half of the sixth century those relations were so amicable that the Alkmaionidai had their fortunes greatly augmented by the Lydian monarchs and acted as their agents at Delphi. To honour Kroisos, the Lydian, by naming one of the Alkmaionidai after him would have been a happy compliment, especi- ally apposite any time after he had assumed an active role in public affairs, perhaps as early as 575 B.C.1

    The two most eminent Alkmaionidai during this period were Alkmaion and his son Megakles, the former the victor of the Sacred War and head of the family as long as he lived, the latter the winner of Agariste's hand and the family's champion in the political struggles with Peisistratos. While in theory either could have been father of a child in the second quarter of the sixth cen- tury, two considerations make Megakles appear the more likely parent."' Not

    17 A case might be made for the Philaidai, since Kroisos secured the release of Miltiades when the latter had been taken prisoner by the people of Lampsakos (Herodotos 6. 37). Herodotos seems to place the intervention of Kroisos on Miltiades' behalf between the battle of Pallene and the fall of Sardis, that is, ca. 545 B.C. A Philaid child named Kroisos in honour of the protector of one of the family would have had to be born after that date. He would not, however, have been the son of Miltiades himself, who died childless shortly after this event, but presumably of Kimon, Miltiades' half-brother. Furthermore, unless born immediately after his uncle's escape, Kimon's son Kroisos would have been named after a defeated monarch. It may seem to some that under these circumstances it is unlikely that Kimon would have felt the need to compliment his half-brother's saviour. But if Kimon did feel so moved, it is much more unlikely that the Kroisos from the district of Anavyssos was that son because the date of his birth as deduced from the base (with or without the statue) should fall in the second quarter of the sixth century, not after 545 B.C.

    18 There would be no need to wait for Kroisos to become king before paying him the compliment. He was Alyattes' eldest son, his father's choice as successor, and held positions of importance before his father's death. The relationship that existed between himself and the Alkmaionidai, which both found mutually advantageous, could thus have begun when Kroisos was a strong and trusted prince.

    19 Miss Jeffery, ibid. (n. 2) I44, writes: "I should prefer to guess that this young man was an Alkmeonid, a son of Alkmeon, called Kroisos after the name of his father's great Lydian benefactor." Her "guess" is an attractive one, and I cannot deny that it may be

    This content downloaded from on Sat, 21 Sep 2013 16:03:35 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

  • Where did the Alkmaionidai live? 283

    only was he fathering children at this precise moment, while his mother may have been past child-bearing, but also this type of flattery came naturally to him, not that it was beyond the wit of his father to devise such a compliment. Megakles had named one, perhaps, two, of his sons after his wife's distinguished relatives Kleisthenes and Aristonymos.20 A third bore the name Hippokrates, the same name as the father of Peisistratos. Its use by Megakles a little before the middle of the sixth century2l would have been widely interpreted as a friendly gesture on his part towards an opponent, whether or not the name was commonly applied to an Alkmaionid.22 Moreover, there is an evident similarity in purpose with another of Megakles' gestures, the giving of his d...


View more >