ti trovi in:  Home > Reimpiego e riutilizzo del materiale antico


Michela Nocita, Dedications of Italiotai from Sarapieion C on Delos



Un aspetto importante delle relazioni tra le diverse comunità presenti a Delo nel corso del II secolo d.C. emerge dagli archivi dei santuari dell’isola. In questi sono registrate offerte che, ad una prima lettura, sembrerebbero legare Oriente ed Occidente in un sincretismo religioso eccezionale, nel luogo che era il crocevia dei traffici mediterranei; ma l’insistenza con la quale gli Italiotai omaggiano le divinità orientali, frequentando in modo particolare il tempio egizio Sarapieion C, mal cela l’interesse economico e politico sotteso a queste offerte. Le iscrizioni votive oggetto di questo studio sono state scelte in base a un criterio di uniformità: sono state considerate utili le attestazioni in greco nelle quali è indicata esplicitamente l’origine dell’individuo grazie alla presenza dell’etnico nella formula onomastica o tramite la menzione del luogo di provenienza; è proprio l’etnico, infatti, che distingue per più secoli i Magnogreci lontani dalla patria e caratterizza la loro identità culturale. Questa tipologia d’iscrizioni è quella prescelta anche per l’indagine prosopografica da me condotta nel volume “Italiotai e Italikoi. Le testimonianze greche nel Mediterraneo orientale” (Roma 2012), lavoro rispetto al quale quest’articolo rappresenta un breve approfondimento già discusso allo “Spring Colloquium of British Epigraphy Society” presso l’Università di Durham nel maggio 2008.

The main concern of this short paper are the votive offerings of people from Magna Graecia (Italiotai) found in the Egyptian sanctuary on Delos called Sarapieion C and the political and religious connections between these Italiote mercatores and the Oriental people living on the island.

Most of the works on emigration from Southern Italy focus on the presence of Romans, Italiotai and Italikoi on Delos within a fairly short chronological range (from IIIrd-to Ist century B.C.); the main evidence for such studies are the gentilicia recorded in inscriptions, listed in Hatzfeld’s indices ("Les Italiens résidants à Délos mentionnés dans les inscriptions de l'île", BCH 36, 1912; Les trafiquants italiens dans l'Orient hellénique, BEFAR 115, 1919). Yet this approach is problematic, for the simple reason that gentilicia found in the East (I mean Greece and the Aegean islands) are often unreliable. An analysis solely based on them is unable to yield conclusive proof of where the Western immigrants came from. The present study therefore opts for a different approach. It aims to examine the provenance of settlers in light of the ethnic element that can be found in their onomastic formulae. This element is well attested in the literary and epigraphic evidence from the sixth to the first century B.C. It is only after 88 B.C., the year, that is, when Rome's socii acquired Roman citizenship that the ethnic element in the Italian names attested in the Eastern Mediterranean begins slowly to disappear (after lex Plautia Papiria). The Greek inscriptions found in Delos, which are numerous (145) give us a good picture of the pattern of settlement: interesting details of the activities of settlers emerge, enabling us to follow the story of their relations with the native and the foreign communities from the IV century B.C. to the I century B.C.

List of the inscriptions

Short history of Delos - As it is well known, the history of the commercial community on Delos begins in the IV century BC: from 394 B.C. to 314 B.C. Delos was Athenian property and it ruled as one of the most important Greek markets in the Mediterranean. From 314 B.C. to 166 B.C. the island became independent; from 166 B.C. to 146 B.C. Delos was assigned by Rome to Athens; the Athenians made the “free port” conferring on the island its well-known ateleia. The increasing weakness of Rhodes produced an increase in piracy in the eastern Mediterranean, hence also in the number of slaves offered on the Delian slave market. After the destruction of Corinth in 146 B.C. there was a sharp increase in Rhomaioi coming to Delos for trade; the island appears to have been prosperous until 88 B.C., when the first Mithridatic war began. As A.J.N. Wilson said, “The Mithridatic sack of Delos in 88 B.C. and the massacre of the negotiatores was a dividing line in the history of the island; the commercial community never flourished again quite as before the war” (Emigration from Italy in the Republican Age of Rome, Manchester 1955, 99). Delos was sacked by Mithridates’general Archelaos and over 20.000 Rhomaioi were killed all over the Aegean islands. A new movement of Italian mercatores to Delos took place in the first half of the I century B.C., later, in 69 B.C. the second sack of Delos was made by a pirate fleet under Athanodoros, acting for Mithridates. Probably, shortly after the status of portorium was restored by Silla and a restoration of the port and town begun thanks to the Lex Calpurnia, according to Nicolet (contra Etienne). By 55 B.C. the foreign community on the island and the importance of Delian trade-market are collapsed.

Italian offerings in Sarapieion - Some aspects of religious life are connected with the citizenships of Orientals and Italians on Delos before the Social War. We don’t have any specific evidence of any important or enduring Italian strain in the religious life of the Western Greek community on Delos, but in the second century the Italian cult of eastern deities seems to increase, not because of the craving for new and exotic religions but because the practice of the Delian votaries could ease the dealings with Eastern foreigners on the island. The foreign deities honoured are especially Egyptian and Syrian.

In 158/157-157/6 BC Eutychos Dazou Termentinos (Baslez reads Tarantinos) dedicates an inscription in the Sarapieion C to Sarapis, Isis ed Anubi (ID 2136) and he donates a silver phialion to the Egyptian Gods (ID 1416 A, I, 74; 1417 B, I, 79; 1442 A 31; 1452 A 51)[evidences nn.1-4 on the Table]. In the catalogues of the Sarapieion the offering of a golden crown from Nikomenes Eleates is recorded four times in 157/6 BC; in the same year Sosis Eleates borrows an oikidion from the Sarapieion (ID 1416, b, I , 106-107)[ nn.5-9]. From the II half of the second century BC we know of some people from Tarentum who offer money, statues and dedications to the Egyptian Gods: Sokrates Tarantinos dedicates a little statue of Apollon in the Sarapieion (*Apollwnivskon ejpiV kionivon) in 145/140 BC (ID 1442, A, ll.71, 73, n.11); Tarantine, a slave, offers to the Egytian Gods a phialion six inches high (ID 1442, A, l.72, n.12); Eirene daughter of the famous banker Simalos Timarchou gives a great account of money to the temple after 166 BC (ID 2619, b, II, 10: n.20). Simalos Timarchou was both a citizen of Tarentum and also a citizen of Salamis of Cyprus. He is known from a dedication of the Hermaistai, Apolloniastai and Posedoniastai in 105-100 BC: in this inscription he is called Salaminios. In 88-80 BC he was honoured with an epigram and a statue by Stolos, a general of the Egyptian king Tolemaeus IX Soter II (ID 1534), who was granted with a statue and an epigram by him as well (ID 1533). We know Simalos’s father, Timarchos Timarchou recorded by an Athenian proxeny decree in 160/150 BC (IG II2, 909), and his sons Simalos, registered in a list of ephebes of non-Athenian origin in 101/100 BC, and Timarchos Phlyeus who became Athenian (IG II2, 1011). Benefactions to the Delian community or dedications in the sanctuaries of the island seem to have been a well-developed form of euergetism among Western families with connections and interests in Greece. In the second century a number of Italiote families can be traced through several generations, together with their slaves and freedmen, because they were permanent residents on Delos. Three generations of the family of Herakleides Aristionos have been traced by Hatzfeld: Herakleides was a wealthy banker from Tarentum who used to lend money to sanctuaries in partnership with Nymphodoros Syrakosios. His activity is well recorded in the lists of naopoioi from 188 BC to 169 BC.: we know of his nephew Eukles, his wife Myrallis Menekratou Syrakosia and his seven children; two of them, Aristakos and Menekrates, are the only Italiotes ever honoured with the Athenian citizenship (Hatzfeld 1912, 42; IG II2 979 + Addendum 670; ID 1716, l.5). In 110/109 BC Menekrates Tarantinos the “Athenian son” of the banker Herakleides, dedicates an inscription to Anoubi (ID 1417, n.13). Three generations of a family from Elea are well known: Hermon Thrasydeios Eleates, nephew of Herakleides, father of the elaiopolai Zenon and Theon (ID 1713) was gymnasiarch and won the lampadedromic competition in 125 BC (ID 2595, l.32; ID 2602, ll.8-9). He offered money to the temple of the Egyptian gods at the very end of the II century "Hermon kai yper tes gynaikos” (ID 2619, b II 12, n.21). We know another Italiote from Elea, a certain [- - -ous] Eleates, who puts a dedication to Zeus Ourios in the Sarapieion in 107/6 or in 104/3 BC. (ID 2415, l.2, n.15). From Neaples, Apollonios Dioskouridou dedicates an inscription for himself and his family to Anoubis in 110/109 BC (ID 2126, 1, nn.14, 24); one of the sons of  the banker Philostratos called Theodoros Neapolites appears as donator in two catalogues of Sarapieion in the first century too (ID 2616, III, l.72; 2619, a, 18, b, 21, nn.22-23). The banker Philostratos Philostratou is said to be a citizen Ascalon in the earliest texts in which he appears, from 140 BC until 106 BC, but in later documents, from 106 BC to 97 BC, he is referred to as being a citizen of Neaples. Eighteen inscriptions found on Delos refer to him and his family; four of them are dedications to him and they are inscribed on bases which are supposed to have held his portrait-statues. His wife was Neapolis (ID 1720), his children were Theophilos Philostratou Neapolites (ID 1934, l.1) and Theodoros Philostratou Neapolites (ID 2616, III, l.72; 2619, a, l.18, b, l.21), his slave Chaireas is known from a Delian Kompetaliastai list (ID 1769, l.3). The Italian community honoured the banker with two epigrams composed by the poets Antipatres Sidonios and Antisthenes Paphios (ID 2549): he financed the construction of a double porticus in the northern long side of the Agora and of one of the two exedras. Thanks to the long inscription engraved on the northern architrave of the porticus we may suppose that Philostratos invested a considerable amount of money on his own “Philostratus of Askalon, son of Philostratos, banker on Delos, on behalf of himself and his town to Apollo and the Italikoi ”(ID 1717). According to Coarelli, the construction of the Agora is related to the slaves’revolt in 130 BC recorded by Orosius; the Agora was built to contain and to keep quiet the slaves who were sold here in the square, a slave market. The slave trade was mainly directed at Italy and it was taken care of by Italikoi and Italiotai even if they don’t mention it clearly; Philostratos could probably be involved in this human-trade as well. But Philostratos donated money to several other projects, as well as making dedications to Zeus, Apollo, Artemis and the Oriental deities on the Kynthion Hill (ID 1719; 1720; 1721; 1723; 2628, a, I, 29; 1724). He is the only Italiote who was honored by the Romans: in 98/7 BC (ID 1724) Poplios, Gaios and Gnaios Egnatii Kointou call him their euerghetes and dedicate to him a statue made by the artist Lisippos Heakleios. The Egnatii could gain a great deal from Philostratos because he was a rich banker, lent money and worked in the slave-business. Among Philostratos’ friends was Midas Zenonos Herakleios who is well attested on Delos especially in the Syrian sanctuary (ID 2234, 2253, 2254, 2288). He built an exedra in the temple in 106/5 BC (ID 2253, l.1; 2254, l.1) and one year later he paved it with a mosaic (ejyhfolovghsen, ID 2288)[nn.17-19].He also built a bench in the Italian Agora (ID 1689). According to Baslez, Midas was a man from the Near East, and it seems that he had also changed his citizenship to that of Heraclea in South Italy. But what, then, would be the reason for the change of citizenship? These cases I have mentioned (Philostratos, Midas, Simalos) seem to imply that the individuals concerned must have worked for a long time with the cities which granted them citizenship, and it doesn’t, however, imply an absence from Delos. Before the Lex Plautia Papiria in 89 BC, which granted all the Italians who lived in Italy the Roman citizenship, “the foederati had some possibilities to gain Roman franchise, and an individual could become a civis Romanus through the special rights which were given to some imperatores. [---] But the Italian civitates foederatae had some privileges, e.g. Naples, Nuceria and Tarquinii had exile rights. Naples and Heraclea among others  also mantained the right to exchange citizenships with other city-states which can also be seen in the inscriptions of Delos” (Leiwo 1989, 575).

Concerning the Syrian Gods, the last offeringin the II century BC is the one of Apollonios Dioskouridou, the Neapolites I have just mentioned regarding a dedication in the Serapieion, who offered two statues of the daughters Artemo and Apollonia in the Syrian Temple in 98-96 BC (ID 2265, 3, n.14).

Conclusions - What is the political and economic reason of the Italian interest in foreign deities? A reasonable answer could be found in the famous description of Strabo of the Cilician coast and its well known pirates (XIV 5, 2). According to the Greek geographer, Diodotos Tryphon was the leader of pirates who used to collaborate with the king of Antiochia, the great Syrian city. From Korakesion, the stronghold of Diodotos on the coast, he could take care of the exportation of the slaves, people captured on the coast. The slave exportation was so easy that the island of Delos became the first slave market in the world; everyday myriads of people were transferred from Cylicia to Delos to be sold. Strabo writes that Egyptian kings took part of the business; from the Geography we know that the kings of Cyprus, Syria and Egypt as well created a joint trade to sell slaves on Delos “because they were bad people”. Professor Domenico Musti underlined that these kings are the same ones receorded in the Lex de provinciis praetoriis (101/100/99 BC); in the lex they are forbidden from giving help and moorings on the coasts to pirates. This is clearly in strict relation to what we read in Strabo. About six years ago, T. Mavroyannis in the Table Ronde “Les Italiens dans Le Mond Grec” in Paris (Actes de la Table, BCH Suppl.41, 2002) highlighted (or illuminated?) the economic and political relations between Romans and Egytians on Delos. He studied, in particular, three dedications from Roman people to leaders of the Ptolemaic army and Simalos‘s epigram to Stolos, captain of the fleet of Tolemeus IX Soter II. Epigraphic evidence shows that the Egyptians used their fleet on the Cyprian coast at Paphos, as a calling point on the slave-route from Syria to the West. I think that the Italiotes like Philostratos, Simalos, Midas could have been partners in this roman-oriental business even if they never mention their activity publicly. The Southern Italian merchants and bankers were involved in transhipment (transport or shipment) from the Levant to Italy, also because they had the privilege of the Western citizenship, which meant facilities in trade and exportations to Italy. They probably made their fortunes in this trade; the many Italiote dedications found in the Egyptian and Syrian temples on Delos could be a sort of “thanksgiving” to the Syrian and Egyptian community from the Italian one for involvement in the slave business.

Michela Nocita

Inizio paginaChi siamoEdizioni SpoliaCollabora con noiRassegna stampaPartnerIn English