Sylloge Inscriptionum Graecarum: 685


Greek text:   IC_3.4.9 , IC_3.4.10
Date:   112/1 B.C.
Tags:     arbitration ,   Roman_letters
Format:   see key to translations

For over a hundred years before 145 B.C., Itanos served as a base for the Ptolemaic forces in Crete, but when they were withdrawn, the city was left to fend for itself against its powerful neighbours. It soon came into dispute with Hierapytna, over ownership of the island of Leuke (usually identified with the modern island of Koufonisi). In 140 B.C. the Romans asked Magnesia to arbitrate between the two cities; however, the dispute continued and later escalated into renewed conflict.

In 112 B.C. the Romans asked Magnesia to arbitrate between the two cities for a second time. This time, the arbitrators documented their findings in meticulous detail, and decided in favour of Itanos, which duly recorded the result in two long inscriptions. Inscription A (of which another copy has been found at Magnesia) contains the decision of the arbitrators, and inscription B contains four supporting documents:
  - Report of Hierapytnian envoys to the Roman senate (lines 1-55)
  - Senatus consultum (lines 55-74)
  - Instructions from the Roman consul, L. Calpurnius Piso (lines 75 -88)
  - Letter from Piso, with a summary of a senatorial decree (lines 89-97).

For an overview of the dispute between Itanos and Hierapytna, see S.L.Ager, "Interstate Arbitrations in the Greek World, 337-90 B.C.", no. 158 ( Google Books ).   A timeline of events mentioned in the inscriptions can be found at the end of the translation.

A large part of the translation of inscription A (lines 29-105) is copied from R.C.Bosanquet, in ABSA 40 (1939), pp.74-75; some of this inscription has also been translated by A.Chaniotis, "Justifying territorial claims in Classical and Hellenistic Greece" ( PDF ). Two short sections of the translation of inscription B are adapted from A.Johnson, P.Coleman-Norton & F.Bourne, "Ancient Roman Statutes", no. 50 ( Google Books ). Both inscriptions have been fully translated into Italian by F.Camia, "Roma e le poleis" no. 10, pp.106-132 ( PDF )

[A] Good god.   When Olympichos was stephanephoros {of Magnesia}, on the 5th day of the month of Smision, decision of:

- who were elected by the people to judge between the Cretans of Itanos [and] Hierapytna, 10 [in accordance with the] decree of the senate and in accordance with the [letter] sent [by] the consul Lucius [Calpurnius] Piso, son of Lucius. It was to be hoped . . . to no rivalry and excess . . . with peace and every concord [and kinship towards each other], to maintain goodwill; and since the times often . . . [lead] the most closely related of men to disagreement with [each other] . . . all those who are in friendship to put an end as far as they can to the enmity which [they] have inherited [from ancient] times; whence the present matters also . . . of the [Itanians] and Hierapytnians.

When the senate, in line with the righteousness that it possesses towards [all] men, gave [our] people as a judge for them, 20 and the consul Lucius Calpurnius Piso, son of [Lucius], [wrote] to them about these matters, as is confirmed in the letters that each of them submitted to us, our people, wishing to comply with the written instructions of Romans, the common benefactors in all matters, and recalling the fine and glorious actions of its ancestors since ancient times towards the Cretans, as is confirmed by the oracles of the god and its reputation amongst all men, now also showed zeal and honourable conduct in selecting the panel of judges on the day agreed by each people.

When we were appointed as judges, we immediately went up to the altar of Artemis Leukophryene and after the slaughter of a sacrificial animal we took an oath upon it, in the presence of the legal representatives of the two cities and the men who had come with them. And we took our seats in the sanctuary of Artemis Leukophryene and heard the conflicting parties to the end, allowing them [for their orations] not only the daytime, 30 but also most part of the night, putting up with the utmost inconvenience in order to do the fullest justice to the claims of both parties. At the close of the pleadings we put our views in writing; but as we were unwilling that the case should be decided by a hard and fast vote, we exerted ourselves once more to bring the parties together, and restore them to their former terms of friendship, in accordance with our own traditional policy and with the relationship that we hold to be the proper one for both parties, having so completely mastered the facts that we could appeal to them to agree upon a settlement and terms of friendship. When we failed to attain our purpose owing to the bitterness with which both sides maintained their quarrel, it became necessary to decide the case for our verdict by a vote, and we have drawn up a statement in due form regarding it.

The Itanians inhabit a city beside the sea and have owned from the time of their ancestors a piece of land adjoining the sanctuary of Diktaian Zeus. They also own and occupy several islands, among them that which is called Leuke. Being harassed at diverse times by the Praisians, 40 whose territory adjoins theirs, they called in, with a view the succour and defence both of their city and their land and moreover of their islands, Ptolemaios the late king of Egypt, as documents submitted to us on this point prove, and by this means maintained their possession of the places aforesaid. After the death of king Ptolemaios Philometor and the withdrawal of the force which he sent had sent to guard the Itanians, both their land and their islands, nevertheless the Itanians, availing themselves of the support of their friends, continued to defend their own property. When however war of a serious kind broke out in Crete and after the destruction of the city of the Praisians, which lay between the Itanians and the Hierapytnians, the result was that the Hierapytnians set themselves to dispute with the Itanians the possession of both the island and the land, asserting that the land was sacred to Diktaian Zeus, and that the island had been theirs from the time of their ancestors. On the arrival in Crete of the envoys from Rome under Servius Sulpicius and the conclusion of the war, 50 the Itanians amongst others presented themselves before the senate.

On the previous occasion and also now, the city of Magnesia was nominated as arbitrator. Our terms of reference run: "whatever the manner in which either of the parties held this land and island about which the action has arisen on the day preceding the outbreak among them of the war on account of which Servius Sulpicius and the embassy was sent to Crete, in that same manner the arbitrators shall decide that they are entitled to own, possess and cultivate them."

Our decision therefore, after hearing the pleadings of both sides, is as follows:   that the land under dispute was continually possessed by the Itanians, as we have already stated, until the beginning of the war already described, and had belonged from the first to the Itanians, as was further proved by the description of the delimitations of the land [shown] to us by both parties.

1.   Delimitation between the Itanians and the Dragmians, of the territory formerly [adjoining] theirs, which contains the following: "[along the Sedamnos] to Karymai and beyond to the 'crown' 60 and from the 'crown' round about straight to Dorthanna [in the direction of] the 'hollow' up the road and beyond to Mollos."

2.   Delimitation between the Itanians and the Praisians, as follows: "The Itanians and Praisians have resolved to make peace for all [times regarding] the land which either state now owns, of which the boundaries are these: along the Sedamnos to Karymai to the 'ridge' and across [to] the 'crown' and round about along the 'crown' and in a straight line to Dorthanna to the 'hollow' and along the [road] to the south of the road that leads through Atron and to Mollos and from Mollos in a straight line to the sea."

3.   Delimitation made between the Hierapytnians and the Praisians, in the following terms: "Boundaries of the land: along the Sedamnos to the Karymai to the the 'ridge' and across to the 'crown' and round about along the 'crown' and in a straight line to Dorthanna to the hollow."

The aforesaid boundaries clearly separate the land of the Itanians from that which formerly belonged to the Dragmians and Praisians, and is now possessed by the Hierapytnians; and the sanctuary of Zeus lies outside the disputed land 70 and is encompassed by enclosures and by various other landmarks and signs as was easily seen from the plan submitted to us. Moreover the Itanians were able to show through various other documents that the land in dispute had been in regular cultivation, and was not, as the Hierapytnians asserted, sacred and untilled; and this same point was evident also from the terms of reference upon which we judged the case, which was in fact drawn up by the envoys who came to Crete with Quintus Fabius. They had seen the sanctuary and its precinct set about with its own signs, landmarks and enclosures, and had also seen the land adjoining the sanctuary; yet they wrote no word about sacred land, although the Hierapytnians had made their claim to the senate expressly in respect of sacred land, and the Itanians had made a claim about land of their own called Heleia and their island Leuke; but they decided that the land adjoining the sanctuary was not sacred nor untilled and it appeared that they had made mention only of ordinary land, since they wrote "that they may own, possess and enjoy the fruits of it," and this phrase, "to enjoy the fruits" applies to land which has been tilled and is to be tilled, 80 which was not possible in the case of sacred land; for from ancient times sacred law and curses and fines had forbidden anyone to pasture flocks or set up folds or sow or cut wood in the sanctuary of Diktaian Zeus.

Yet it is the Roman custom when they are in dispute about any piece of sacred land, to write of it expressly as sacred, as appears from decrees submitted to us on other occasions. And this is the most important and strongest proof that we have given our verdict in accordance with facts generally admitted, and already decided in matters which the Romans had already judged in their broad outlines; when the Itanians claimed of the senate that the fort built by the Hierapytnians on the land in question should be destroyed, the senate gave orders to Lucius Calpurnius [Piso, son of Lucius, their general, that] any building on it should be [destroyed], and obviously through such . . . in accordance with this, they . . . 90 were present with the Itanians; and through cities they [sent] written [documents] . . . showing that from early times the disputed territory belonged to the Itanians . . . were until the time indicated in the decree . . . evidence cited from poets and historians, which they [submitted] to us . . . in their plea of justification.

With regard to the island called [Leuke], the people of Hierapytna had admitted the contention [of the Itanians that] the island was [theirs] and owing to things that had happened in regard to it . . . [had invited] the Ptolemaic House for their protection and defence [to send troops]; they supported their contentions with letters to the king, [producing] copies of them [showing] . . . [by the terms] frequent dispatches of soldiers and letters to the island . . . 100 the garrison of the island, and in addition levies of corn, which the . . . on behalf of the island written against certain persons by the Itanians as they contended, since . . . and by tablets which contained the annual expenditure of the detachment. [In addition to] the evidence already mentioned, it was easy for us to see from letters written by the other states and by the Hierapytnians themselves [about the] aforesaid island, both that the aforesaid island of Leuke [belonged] to the Itanians and that it had always been possessed by them.

. . . and through the excellent care of their friends until the . . . and until the war that arose in Crete . . . [for we were aware] that the protection given by Ptolemaios had been [ratified] by the league {koinon} [of the Cretans, from which] the Itanians gained approval, as the ordinance that was submitted to us confirmed; and [the Gortynians] sent a letter to the Itanians, in which they revealed that [the Praisians intended to attack] their island, [called] Leuke, 110 making it clear also through such means . . . and although the Gortynians have supported the Hierapytnians in this case, the Itanians [provided] us with a letter that had previously [been sent] to them by the Gortynians, from which [it was] clear [to everyone that] the Gortynians, in their concern for the welfare of the Itanians, warned them [that] the Praisians were [approaching] their island of Leuke as if to take control of it. [Since] the letter [also was recorded with] no contradiction from anyone, we decided to set down a [copy] of it, [as follows]. "The kosmoi and the city of Gortyn to the kosmoi and the city of Itanos, greetings. Since we have been convinced [by a certain man, who] revealed that the Praisians are making arrangements about Leuke, as if to make an expedition [and conquer it], we have decided to send you [this information] with all care. You would do well to put . . . in the place . . . and to take note of whether you need any supplies for the place. [Therefore] we have written [to you], because these men are [not] friends of the king and of yourselves, 120 and in every way we take care and [always] wish . . . to the king and the friends of the king."

The Hierapytnians [still held onto] the dispute and said that the island was their ancestral possession . . . (?) beginning of the Stēlitans and saying that a boat . . . brought in, and urging the Itanians concerning these matters . . . [they sent] the following letter to the Itanians. "The [kosmoi] and city of Hierapytna to the kosmoi and city of Itanos, greetings. We supposed that it would be better to write to you that, if on account of what was happened . . . and of the Praisians the boat of Kydanor is brought in from your island of Leuke . . . paying some attention to these matters so that you may do no wrong . . . and similarly we also will [not] permit [anyone] to do any such thing to any of you in our territory. [Farewell]."

130 Therefore who would still have accepted the . . . by the Hierapytnians against the Stēlitans . . . saying that the island was their ancestral possession; when the Praisians . . . from the proofs stated above, a stronger belief of . . . men have possession of places, by either inheriting them from their ancestors [or buying them with] a payment of money or conquering them in war or [receiving them] from a superior power. But [it is] not [clear] that any [such] thing happened to the Hierapytnians; for they neither inherited it from their ancestors . . . nor subscribed (?) to the request nor as they from the [island] . . . [in] none of these ways, nor by an act of war . . . for neither did they say that they had fought against the Itanians, nor . . . they found of these, nor was anything (?) given to them by the Itanians themselves . . . 140 under the whole place; and if none of the opposite things either happened or . . .

[B] . . . of their presentation, the envoys of Hierapytna in Crete Pheidon son of Eteanor, Komon son of . . . , Mnasippos son of Dion and Eubetes son of Beidylos made a speech, renewing their gratitude, friendship and alliance, and joining with the senate in rejoicing at . . . they said also that separately they were progressing for the better, and concerning the . . . honourable conduct that occurred they gave thanks, and concerning the wrongs that have happened to us . . . because the Itanians, although they had not been wronged by us, and had at one time been wronged by the city of Knossos, without any warning made war on us, in contravention of the decrees of the senate, and inflicted wrongs [on us]; concerning which we have previously sent embassies [to the senate] to bear witness to the wrongs that have happened to us; and the senate . . . 10 when Marcus Aemilius was consul and when Manius Acilius was consul, and neither called them allies nor the Knossians allies nor . . . to the Dragmians nor . . . how it was examined, and it decreed that war and wrongs to us . . . [the men] coming concerning the war and . . . through birth, and although it was accessible it was not cultivated by anyone, but the island called Leuke was ours from the time of our ancestors. The Itanians, being unable concerning the . . . of the wrongs [done] to us to give a defence neither previously nor now . . . of the envoys to us bringing a counter-charge . . . the land being abandoned for twenty-eight years, they made speeches . . . 20 with the senate, and the senate decreed [that just as] we were in possession of [the land and the island] when [the war] began, so we should remain in possession of it; and that the consul should see that it was done; and that Laelius should appoint a people to arbitrate between us. The people of Magnesia was appointed to arbitrate for us, and the consul Gaius Laelius wrote to the people of Magnesia . . . and the letter written by him . . . as was agreed by us and them . . . the island called Leuke and the land . . . the people of Magnesia decided in accordance with the decree [of the senate] that [the island and the land] belonged to the Itanians from the time of their ancestors, and that they were lawfully enjoying the fruits of them. When [we] did not meet . . .

{ 20 lines missing }

. . . your envoys who had come to Rome, 50 and we sent to the senate, therefore we request the senate . . . at every opportunity the goodwill towards us . . . with your decrees to come to our aid so that they know . . . of a decree through you they be may forced to [give] us justice . . . to your friendship and alliance to us . . . envoys.

Concerning this matter [it was resolved as follows].   In whatever way each of the parties was occupying [the land and the island] on the day before the war began amongst them the war on account of which Servius Sulpicius and the embassy were sent to Crete - in this way they shall occupy, hold and enjoy the fruits of it. . . . to the consul Lucius Calpurnius . . . . . . 60 they neither attended this court of arbitration nor . . . the consul Lucius Calpurnius . . . that he shall authorise them, that in whatever way each party has occupied that territory and that island under dispute on the day before the outbreak of the war concerning which Servius Sulpicius and his delegation were sent to Crete, the court shall so determine that these occupants be permitted [to hold], to possess, and to enjoy the fruits thereof; and he shall perform sacrifices; and he shall set a day, before which they shall make a decision . . . Quintus Fabius . . . that the consul Lucius Calpurnius shall learn from his embassy 70 whether anything has been built in this land that he should command them to pull down; and concerning the other matters that were mentioned in the speeches when the last embassy of the Cretans appeared before the senate, he shall reply as seems to him consistent with the public interest and his own good faith. Resolved.

I determined this matter, recorded in the ..teenth 'wax' of the eighth tablet, on the 17th day before the kalends of Quintilis {14th June} with my advisory council in the Basilica Porcia . . . it being a sacred day in accordance with the [decree] of the senate . . . [I have declared] my decision [in accordance with] the opinion [of my advisory council] . . . 80 I shall set a day before which they should make a decision . . . and if [anything] was built there after the envoys . . . I shall (?) place your people amongst them . . . to consider how from the body of citizens . . . thirty-one noble judges . . . In accordance with the decree of the senate they shall make a decision within 360 days of the month of Quintilis in the year when [Lucius] Calpurnius and Marcus Livius were consuls {112 B.C.}, and if they do not make a decision before that day, then they shall make a decision on the 360th day.

The consul Lucius Calpurnius Piso, son of Lucius, 90 to the magistrates and the council and the people of Hierapytna, greetings. When the Itanian and your envoys came to me, that I might give them an audience with the senate, I gave to them an audience.   The decree of the senate is as follows: "I wish you to provide that, if any building has been erected in this territory under dispute, you shall remove it from this territory, as the senate has decreed and [has ordered]."   I have declared this decision in accordance with the recommendation of my advisory council.


145 B.C. Death of Ptolemy Philometor; Ptolemaic forces leave Itanos
144-142 B.C.   War in Eastern Crete; Hierapytna destroys Praisos
142/1 B.C. Embassy of Servius Sulpicius to Crete
140 B.C. Gaius Laelius asks Magnesia to arbitrate between Itanos and Hierapytna
115/4 B.C. Consulships of Marcus Aemilius and Manius Acilius; renewed conflict
113 B.C. Embassy of Quintus Fabius to Crete
112 B.C. Lucius Piso asks Magnesia to arbitrate between Itanos and Hierapytna
112/1 B.C. Decision of the Magnesian arbitrators

Sylloge³, which was published before inscription B was discovered, dated inscription A to the consulship of Cn. Calpurnius Piso, in 139 B.C.   But it is now clear that this refers to L. Calpurnius Piso, who was Roman consul in 112 B.C.

inscription 686

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