Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum: 34.758


Greek text:   SEG 34.758
Provenance:   Olbia , north coast of Black Sea
Date:   c. 250-225 B.C.
Tags:     corn_supply ,   democracy ,   exiles ,   pirates
Format:   see key to translations

  Relief above
  the inscription,
  depicting Apollo
  and an altar

This inscription was first published by J.G.Vinogradov in VDI, 1984, pp.51-80. His Russian translation has, with the help of Google Translate, been used to correct some parts of this English translation. An English summary of his article is reproduced below the translation, but much remains uncertain because of the many gaps in the Greek text.

The second paragraph of the summary refers to an impending war. This is based on a restoration of lines 13-14 to read '[When war broke out] and [there was] no little need [of the military forces] of the Mixhellenes' - which would suggest that the Mixhellenes acted as allies of Olbia in the war, although a few years later they are mentioned as enemies by the decree of Olbia in honour of Protogenes ( Austin_115 - they are called 'half-Greeks' in Austin's translation ).

It was resolved by the council and the people, on the sixteenth day, as proposed by the magistrates: since Anthesterios who served as one of the ‘seven’ [was well-disposed towards the] people during his administration and, being [always] the cause [of something good for them, he accomplished] many useful [matters] for the city; first, [when (?) he was elected to manage] the distribution of corn, [he took care that] it should be distributed [according to] these terms, [that] . . . they should distribute to one 10 just the same as [to another of the] citizens (?) receiving corn, privately [and publicly]; . . . from his personal resources . . . down the river . . .

. . . and no [little] need . . . of the Mixhellenes in a [short time, (?) he gave money], from which [(?) we sent gifts] . . . to some . . . 20 (?) being pained that the altars [were in a bad state, due to] the length of time and the [many surrounding] dangers and pre-existing . . . for this he exacted the debts [of those who owed] . . . coming [(?) to the city] . . . the ships [(?) had been in a bad condition for] many [years], and about the pre-existing . . . to take care, [fitting out] a warship [and repairing] the ships which were not seaworthy, 30 he provided [(?) adequate] supplies [for all the ships].

He introduced a good and noble [(?) proposal] to the people, and the citizens . . . who broke the law . . . hatred of evil . . . when the citizens were split into factions . . . robbing the temples . . . they brought [the city] into d[iscord] . . . [they did not] follow [(?) the laws] . . . he banished them 40 from [the city for] many [years] . . .

[Therefore, in order that the people] may increase [its] rule further [than previously and the laws], being respected, [may be] more effective in the state [for the] good repute of the magistracies . . . may penalise those [(?) who are guilty, it is resolved by the council] and the people to praise Anthesterios, who served as one of the ‘seven’, [for these matters and to crown him with a golden] crown [each] year, and the award of the crown shall be announced by [the herald] in the theatre [at the Dionysia]. 50 [This] decree shall be written on a [stone] stele [and] placed in the office of the ‘seven’, and [the ‘seven’] shall grant the [money] for it. A relief shall be set up (?) above the inscription, and another relief of white marble shall be set up in the temple; and we shall note the cost arising from this in the accounts.

  by J.G.Vinogradov

The author publishes an Olbian decree of the third quarter of the 3rd century B. C.   Despite the severely damaged surface of the middle part of the stele, the inscription provides important information on the troubled history of Olbia at this time. Anthesterios had been a member of the Olbian board of Seven { heptadeisas } and had besides performed several extraordinary services and beneficial acts, most notably his improvement of corn allotments { sitometria }. Judging by available epigraphical sources on sitometria, the author finds the Olbian variety to be one of the rarest: the distribution was long-lasting, affected only needy citizens who received it in equal portions, it was free of charge and took the form both of bread rations and of public meals. Apparently in this connection Anthesterios, at his own expense, added to or wholly constructed a public building (storehouse?) near the river.

The next lines in the inscription deal with preparations for an impending war which required the cooperation of the Mixhellenes, in whom the author is inclined to see formerly dependent soldier-farmers planted along the borders of the Olbian polis territory for its protection. At the time the decree was published the alliance with the Mixhellenes was already being contracted, thanks to gifts sent to them for which Anthesterios paid the cost; a little later, in the time of Protogenes, the enemy could simply buy these 'allies' over (IOSPE 1² 32B, 15-20). Anthesterios restored the city's altars, fallen into decay from age and alarms of war, getting money needed for repairs from debtors (to the temple?). The threat of war or the need to put down pirates caused Anthesterios to refurbish the Olbian fleet, which he did at his own expense: he built a new warship, repaired old vessels and provided equipment for all of them.

The second part of the inscription deals with a stasis which broke out in the city and with citizens guilty of law violations { paranomountes } such as robbing sanctuaries { hierosulousi }. Anthesterios put an end to the outbreak of social unrest by condemning those who promoted it (?) to long terms of exile. The condition of the stele and the context in which it was found suggest to the author that when, some time later, the exiles returned they subjected this testimonial to the benefactions of Anthesterios - whether alive or dead - to a particularly inventive damnatio memoriae by laying the decree on the pavement face up, to be trampled by his fellow-citizens.

Consideration of the words used in the hortatory formula of the decree suggests that the political structure of Olbia was at this time far from having the form of extreme democracy: the stele, with its carved relief, was to be set up in the headquarters (first mentioned here) of the board of Seven { to heptadeion }. The functions of the Seven are examined anew by the author in the light of this document, in which are focussed all the symptoms of the increasingly critical situation of the Olbian polis in the Hellenistic epoch.

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