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Sylloge Inscriptionum Graecarum: 764


LETTERS AND DECREES ABOUT POTAMON OF MYTILENE

Greek text:   (A-E) IG_12.2.35 ,   (F) IG_12.sup.7
Date:     (A) 48 B.C. ,   (B) 46/5 B.C. ,   (C-E) 25 B.C. ,   (F) late 1st century B.C.
Tags:     Roman_letters ,   treaties-rome
Format:   see key to translations

Potamon of Mytilene enjoyed a long and successful career as a statesman and orator. He first appears as an envoy to Julius Caesar in 48 B.C., and the brief biography in the Suda ( P.2127 ) implies that he survived until the start of the reign of Tiberius in 14 A.D.   The "Macrobii" attributed to Lucian ( ch. 23 ) states that he lived to be ninety years old.

Potamon helped his homeland to gain the favour of Julius Caesar and Augustus, despite its earlier support of Pompeius ( see, for example, Syll_752 ). His grateful fellow-citizens erected a grand monument, a 'Potamoneion', in his honour. The inscriptions on this monument contained not only decrees in honour of Potamon, but also documentary evidence of the benefits that he achieved for his homeland.

The best-preserved of the inscriptions are translated here. The translation of B-E is adapted from A.Johnson, P.Coleman-Norton & F.Bourne, "Ancient Roman Statutes", nos. 111 & 135 ( Google Books ). The translation of F is adapted from A.Ellis-Evans, "The Kingdom of Priam", p. 266 ( Google Books ). There is another English translation of B-E by R.Sherk, "Rome and the Greek East to the Death of Augustus", nos. 83 & 97 ( Google Books ). B was the only section that was included in Sylloge³.

A synopsis of the evidence for the career of Potamon has been provided by R.Parker, "Potamon of Mytilene and His Family" ( PDF ).   The treaty between Rome and Mytilene (E) was ostensibly a treaty between two equal partners, a 'foedus aequum', agreed while Augustus was absent from Rome during the Cantabrian war; see I. Arrayás Morales, in "Classica et Mediaevalia", vol. 61, pp.138-140 ( Google Books ).


[A]   [Letter of the deified Caesar.]

[Imperator Gaius Julius Caesar, (?) consul for the] second [time, to the magistrates, council, and people of] Mytilene, [greetings. If you are well,] it would be [as I wish]; I too and my and army [are well.   Potamon son of Lesbonax], . . . son of ...kaphenes, Krinagoras son of Kallippos, Zoïlos [son of Epigenes], . . . , . . . son of Dikaios, Hybrias son of Diophantos, Histiaios . . ., . . ., [and] Demetrios son of Timaios, your envoys, met [with me] . . . and handed over [your decree] and spoke concerning the honours . . . [because] we have been successful, and with congratulations . . . they appealed to me in a very honourable manner . . . I praised the men 10 [on account of their zeal, and] I received them with [kindness]; I will gladly [try to be a benefactor of your] city, [both at] the present time and in the future . . . knowing what goodwill you have . . . Potamon . . . 

{ About 14 lines are missing at this point. }

(b) . . . wanting to give you a secure [outcome] from your friendship, and in the future . . . I wish always [to be] the cause of some good for you. [Therefore, take courage and] appeal to us on all matters.   [Farewell.]  

[B]   [Letter] of the deified Caesar.

Imperator [Gaius Julius Caesar], dictator for the third time, dictator-designate [for the fourth time, to the magistrates], council, and people [of Mytilene], greetings and prosperity and [health].    . . . to show kindness to the city and not only . . . 10 [to safeguard the privileges that you have obtained] for yourselves through us, but also to assist in increasing [these] . . . the leadership, I transmit to you the copy of a favourable decree [granted to you] . . .

[Whereas] the envoys of the Mytileneans, Potamon son of Lesbonax, Phainias son of Phainias and grandson of Kallippos, Terphēos son of Diēs, Herodes son of Kleon, Diēs son of Matroklcs, Demetrios son of Kleonymos, Krinagoras son of Kallippos, and Zoïlos son of Epigenes, spoke and renewed favour, friendship, and alliance, both that they might be permitted to sacrifice on the Capitol and that they might be permitted to affix a bronze tablet, on which are written the privileges formerly granted to them by the senate, the senators proposed as follows in regard to the said matter:

20 To renew favour, friendship, and alliance, to address them as honourable men and friends, to permit them to sacrifice on the Capitol, to permit them to affix a bronze tablet, whenever they wish, on which are written the privileges formerly granted to them by the senate; that, if it appears best to him, Gaius Caesar, imperator, shall instruct the quaestor to contract for lodgings and supplies for them in accordance with ancient custom, in such manner as it may appear to him in the public interest and in accordance with his own good faith.   Decreed.

And since you also have appealed to me before and I have written to you about this, [your envoys] once again have maintained that no one among you should claim immunity from taxation, in accordance with [the treaties and the] privileges which you [formerly] had from us 30 and those granted [by this] decree [of the senate], that it shall be permitted to you . . . [to enjoy] the revenues of the city and its territory undisturbed. [Accordingly, I wish] to make clear to you that I allow and [shall] allow no one [among you to be immune from taxation]. Thus confidently and courageously make use [of your privileges] without restriction, for I am glad to do this service [for you and I hope that in] the future I always [may be] able to aid in bringing some good to you.  

[C]   Decrees of the Senate about the treaty.

In the consulship of [imperator Caesar] Augustus for the ninth time and of Marcus Silanus . . . at the command of Marcus Silanus in accordance with the decree of the senate . . . on June . . .  in the Curia Julia. 40 [Paulus Aemilius] Lepidus, son of Lucius, of the tribe Palatina, Gaius Asinius Pollio, [son of Gnaeus], . . . Lucius Sempronius [Atratinus], son of Lucius, of the tribe Falerna, [Marcus] Terentius Varro, son of Marcus, of the tribe Papiria, Gaius [Junius] Silanus, . . . Quintus Acutius, son of Quintus, . . . assisted in drafting the decree.

(c) Whereas Marcus Silanus said that a letter [should be sent to imperator Caesar] Augustus, his colleague . . . if it  pleases the senate . . . [what may appear best to] it [concerning] the said matter . . . [the senators proposed] as follows in regard to the said matter:   [That Marcus Silanus], . . . the consul, if it appears best to him, [shall provide that the] treaty [be made . . .] and anything else whatever appears to him in the [public interest and in accordance with] his own [good faith].    Decreed.

[D]   June 29. 10 Gaius Norbanus [Flaccus, son of Gaius], . . . son of Appius, of the tribe Palatina, . . . [Marcus] Censorinus, . . . Marcus Valerius, . . . son of Marcus, . . . of the tribe Clustumina, [Marcus Terentius] Varro, [son of Marcus], of the tribe Papiria, Gaius . . . assisted [in drafting the decree].

Whereas [the consul] Marcus [Silanus spoke] . . . [as] to the decree given to him . . . [that he] should provide that it should be done for the Mytileneans, [in such manner as it appears to him in the] public interest and [in accordance with his own] good faith . . . [the senators proposed as follows] in regard to the said matter:   [That] the consul [Marcus Silanus], if it appears best to him, [shall provide that the treaty with the Mytileneans] shall be made as it has been settled [and that it and the decrees of the senate made] concerning the said matter shall be inscribed [on a bronze tablet] and [shall be placed] in a public place.   Decreed.

In the consulship of imperator [Caesar Augustus for the ninth time and of Marcus] Silanus . . .

{ About 30 lines are missing at this point. }

[E]   (d) The [people] of Mytilene shall safeguard [its] power . . .  in such a way as [appears best] . . .   [The people of Mytilene] shall not officially permit enemies of the [Roman] people [to pass through their] territory, to make war on the Roman [people] or the subjects [or the allies of the of the Roman people], nor [shall they aid] such enemies [with arms, supplies, or ships].    The Roman people [shall not officially permit] enemies [of the people of Mytilene to pass through their] land and their territory, [to make war] on the people of Mytilene [or the subjects or the allies] of the people of Mytilene, 10 [nor] shall they aid [such enemies] with arms, supplies, or ships.    If anyone takes the initiative in making war [on the people of Mytilene or the] Roman people and the [allies of the Roman people, the Roman people shall aid . . . the people of Mytilene and the people of Mytilene shall aid . . . the Roman people and the allies] of the Roman people . . . and shall be steadfast. [There shall be] peace [for all time] . . .   Similarly [whatever . . . the Roman people] have granted to the people of Mytilene 20 . . . shall belong to the people of Mytilene [and whatever] . . . belonged to the Mytileneans in the island [of Lesbos and whatever] . . . January 1 . . .

{ Many lines have been lost at the end of the inscription.

[F]   { This inscription was placed near the top of the monument. }   The league of the Lesbians honours [Potamon son of Lesbonax], descendant of Penthilos king of [the Aeolians], who was appointed to priesthoods of all [the gods] and goddesses of both the city { Mytilene } and of Lesbos on account of his [(?) family descent, and who became a law-maker { nomothetēs }] of the city; whose [father] was a benefactor of the city [and his] ancestors established the  . . .  , on account of all his virtue [and goodwill towards them.]

inscription 765


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