III. Elis

James Roy


In the Dark Age there was limited settlement in northern and central Elis, grouped principally in the Peneios valley and the Alpheios valley. [1] Then between the Dark Age and the archaic period the communities of the Peneios valley must somehow have coalesced to form a political unit. The details of this process are not recoverable from archaeological or literary evidence; but the process certainly included a number of developments that were of crucial importance for the later history of Elis. Firstly, Elis became the principal settlement and presumably the political focus of the community. [2] Secondly, at least by the sixth century and probably earlier the new community expanded its influence over neighbouring areas. Thirdly, in the process of expansion a distinction was established between territory of the Elean state proper and other territories that were subordinated to the Elean state. These developments have to be deduced from our wider knowledge of Elean history rather than demonstrated from surviving evidence: in fact ancient accounts of Elean expansion are dominated by concern with competition between Elis and Pisatis for control of Olympia.
These accounts of warfare between Elis and Pisatis, though varying and even contradictory in detail, have been broadly accepted by many modern scholars (including the present writer). Recently, however, a view originally propounded by Niese has been revived and developed with good arguments by several scholars: [3] put simply, the central proposition of these arguments is that the concept of Pisatis arose in the fourth century, and with it a suitably elaborated history for Pisatis (and in due course, anti-Pisatan counter-history). Scholars adopting this view do, however, generally agree that in the classical period Pisatis (as it became) was an integral part of the Elean state proper. [4] This view of a late-emerging Pisatis is very attractive. One minor comment on it is that Elean expansion must have led to some complications in the area near Pisatis since the three minor states of Marganeis, Amphidoloi, and Letrinoi, situated side by side west of Olympia, all became perioikoi of Elis; some consideration of which we are entirely unaware must have induced Elis to make these three insignificant communities into subordinate allies rather than including them in the Elean state proper. More importantly it seems that, even if Pisatis had no authentic collective archaic past, some sentiment of regional identity was emerging by the end of the fifth century, since the unnamed group who sought to take over control of Olympia at the end of the Elean-Spartan war (Xenophon Hellenica 3.2.31) must have been from the Pisatan area. [5]
The term perioikoi is not attested in Elean documents, and is used of communities within the region Elis only by non-Elean writers. It is nonetheless used in this paper as a very convenient shorthand for those communities that were subordinated to the Elean state. There presumably were such perioikoi at least from the early sixth century. Some agreement between the Elean state and the communities of Akroreia (which lay east of Elis) to secure the border area between northern Elis and northwestern Arcadia is extremely plausible (if unattested) before major Elean expansion southwards. The eventual extent of Elean expansion is most clearly seen in accounts of the Spartan-Elean war c. 400. [6] North of the Alpheios the perioikic territories were Letrinoi, Amphidolia, and Marganeis (all in an area near Olympia to the west); four communities of Akroreia (northeast of Olympia and east of Elis); and Lasion (east of Akroreia). Everything else was Elean in the narrow sense, including Pisatis around Olympia and the coast at least as far south as Pheia. South of the Alpheios as far as the Neda everything was perioikic between the coast and Arcadian territories.

Geographical Scope of Expansion

No attempt by Elis to expand northwards into Achaea is known. Such expansion would not have been too surprising, since Strabo 8.3.9 reports that some called Dyme an Epeian city, the Epeians being the original inhabitants of Elis. [7] Moreover passage between Elis and Dyme in western Achaea was fairly easy, though protected by fortification at Teichos Dymaion, [8] and ancient reports that the 28th Olympiad (668 BCE) was organised by the Pisatans because the Eleans were occupied with a war against Dyme, though quite probably unhistorical, show awareness of the route. [9] In the Spartan-Elean war of c. 400 Agis led his Spartan and allied troops into Elis from Achaea, and subsequently Achaeans, like others, used the opportunity offered by this same war to pillage Elis (Xenophon Hellenica 3.2.23–24, 26). However, though military operations northwards would have encountered no geographical difficulty at least, there is no evidence that in the later archaic or classical periods the Eleans tried to gain control over any Achaean territory.
The frontier between Elis and Arcadia fluctuated. [10] For instance Pherecydes (FGH 3 F 161) described Phrixa as Arcadian, presumably referring to his own day, while Herodotus (4.148) described it as Minyan, and it eventually became Triphylian (Polybius 4.77.9). Also Lepreon sought help from Elis before the Peloponnesian War because it was at war with (unspecified) Arcadians (Thucydides 5.31.2). Despite shifts along this frontier, in the archaic and classical periods it was never possible for the Eleans to penetrate deep into territory claimed by Arcadians.
According to Herodotus (4.148) Elis was making a major effort in his own lifetime to extend its control over Triphylia (to use the name anachronistically). Therefore by the time the Eleans extended their control to the Neda, Messenia south of the Neda was securely held by the Spartans and there was no possibility of further Elean expansion southward. It is in fact quite possible that Sparta helped Elis to establish control over Triphylia as Strabo 8.3.33 says, [11] since there would have been advantages for Sparta in having the territory adjacent to Messenia under the control of an ally.
The Eleans thus pursued a policy of expansion at least from the early sixth century, directed mainly southwards within the limits outlined above. This policy was still being pursued vigorously in the fifth century. The expansion was not achieved solely by military means, for Lepreon voluntarily associated itself with Elis (Thucydides 5.31.2) and Epeion was bought by Elis (Xenophon Hellenica 3.2.30–31). Nonetheless the expansion, though complex, was probably pursued mainly by force, as Herodotus 4.148 records the subjugation of the Minyan cities in Triphylia. [12]
In the late fifth century Elis either held as strictly Elean territory or dominated as perioikic territory an area bounded by Achaea in the north, Messenia in the south, and Arcadia in the east. All purely Elean territory lay north of the Alpheios, but, since we do not know the precise limits of the perioikic areas north of the Alpheios, it is impossible to calculate exactly the extent of purely Elean territory. It was, however, certainly very large by Greek standards. Yalouris estimated the total area of Elean and perioikic territory north of the Alpheios at 2120 km2, while Swoboda estimated the area of Elean territory as 1160 km2 and that of perioikic territory as c. 1500 km2, but his calculations included Pisatis among perioikic territory. [13] It seems safe at any rate to assume that purely Elean territory amounted to well over 1000 km2.

The Eleans' Image of Themselves

The Eleans developed over time an elaborate mythical past through which they expressed their ethnic identity, as a very recent and full analysis by Gehrke (2003) has shown. The material was clearly being reworked in the classical period, often in a tendentious way. For instance, Ulf (1997) has analysed ancient accounts of the origins of the Olympic Games, and, inter alia, his analysis points to the strongly pro-Elean tendency of Ephorus’ account. Pro-Elean accounts of how the games had been run were also produced: Wacker (1998) has recently produced a review of the early victor-lists suggesting that there was strong pro-Elean bias both in the work of the Elean Hippias (which does not appear to have been widely consulted by later chronographers) and in the victor-list of the Elean Aristodemos, possibly the same man as the Elean of the same name who won an Olympic victory in 388 BCE. Other history was also written in a pro-Elean spirit: Bilik (1998–1999) has shown that Ephorus gave a strongly pro-Elean account of the Elean-Spartan war of c. 400. [14]
The most obvious focus for the expression of pro-Elean views was the sanctuary of Zeus at Olympia, once the Eleans took control of it. It would take too long to analyse the wealth of material from Olympia, and only a few items are selected here as illustrations. The Eleans enjoyed a remarkable number of Olympic victories from the fifth century onwards, and as a result there was a very large number of victors’ statues dedicated in the sanctuary by Eleans. [15] Other items put in the sanctuary by Elis may have shown more sympathy for the viewpoints of others, but interpretation is difficult. Herrmann (1987:3) sees the sculptural decoration on the temple of Zeus built by the Eleans from the 470s or 460s as appealing to several groups, with the myth of Pelops on the east pediment being local/Olympic, while the Herakles myth on the metopes was of general Dorian interest, and the battle of the centaurs on the west pediment was panhellenic. Kyrieleis (1997), however, sees Pelops on the east pediment as an indication of the political ambitions of Elis, and Heiden (2003) sees an expression of a connection between Thessaly and Elis on the west pediment. Jacquemin (2001a:299–300), accepting accounts of early Elean conflicts, sees in Pausanias’ account of the sanctuary at Olympia not so much a panhellenic setting for games in honour of Zeus as a panelean sanctuary uniting the two main elements of the Elean community, the Eleans of the Peneios valley and the Pisatans of the Alpheios. It seems that as the sanctuary developed it offered the visitor a complex set of messages, no doubt read by different Greeks in different ways. Some of the messages were of course not Elean at all: Olympia offered many Greeks a setting in which to project their self-image. [16] Olympia had, however, to be at the same time panhellenic and Elean: the Games were the most obvious expression of panhellenism, but the Eleans could also assert the Elean nature of the sanctuary. They did so, for instance, on the coins struck after Elis regained control of Olympia, lost during the Elean-Arcadian war of 365–362: on these Elean staters appeared a female figure and the legend "Olympia," interpreted—convincingly—by Ritter (2001) as Elis proclaiming its restored control of Olympia after the brief Pisatan regime. And Olympia was of course a functioning sanctuary between the Olympiads, the scene of continuing ritual that was largely Elean. [17]
Olympia had probably served the Eleans as a location for public display before they gained control of the sanctuary. There was certainly settlement at the site of the later town of Elis from the eleventh or tenth century BCE, and public building is identifiable archaeologically from the early sixth century. [18] There was clearly a town of Elis before the reported synoikism of 471, but it is not clear on present evidence that it was used as a location for major public display of images or monuments expressing Elean identity. There is also a striking lack of major religious sanctuaries in and around the Peneios valley, in contrast to the region south of the Alpheios where there were major sanctuaries at Samikon, known from literature, and at the excavated site at Kombothekra. [19] Olympia therefore probably served as the main focus of display for the communities of the Peneios valley even before Elis gained control of the sanctuary: the cult centre existed from the eleventh century, and had clearly gained considerable popularity by the seventh century. [20]

Cohesion within the Elean State

There were various communities within Elean territory other than the town of Elis, such as the two ports at Kyllene and Pheia and the site excavated at Armatova that was probably Elean Pylos. [21] The need to accommodate a number of settlements has led some scholars to regard Elis as a federal state. Walter, for instance, has recently made such a suggestion, and van Effenterre and Ruzé write without comment about “la Confédération des Eléens.” [22] Siewert (1994:30) cites other scholars who have taken a similar view, but himself argues firmly against the suggestion that the Elean state was a “Stammstaat.” Nafissi (2003:48) has recently argued for an “etnico-federale” state in Elis, but the phenomena leading to his conclusion could be explained by the theory of the “dependent state” evolved by the Copenhagen Polis Centre. [23] There is in fact no ancient evidence of a federal constitution in the Elean state, and so no reason to suppose that federalism was used as a means of satisfying a range of local interests within Elis.
It is also very difficult to know how far, if at all, the reported synoikism of Elis catered to a range of interests within Elis. In or around 471/0 BCE a synoikism of Elis took place, according to both Diodorus Siculus 11.54.1 and Strabo 8.3.2. The two reports may quite possibly derive directly or indirectly from a common source, in which case by far the most likely such source would be Ephorus. Given this ancient evidence it is difficult to deny that the synoikism occurred, but it is impossible to determine what the synoikism actually involved, despite a good deal of modern speculation that the synoikism was linked to a variety of other developments in Elis. [24] Its significance within the Elean state and in Elis’ relations with other communities is wholly obscure.

Pisatan Separatism

The Elean state proper (as opposed to the network of Elis’ perioikoi), though large and including important communities besides the town of Elis, appears to have held together satisfactorily, until separatist tendencies began in Pisatis. [25] Pisatis was certainly part of purely Elean territory at the time of the Elean-Spartan war c. 400, and there is no clear ancient evidence that it was ever perioikic. [26] There are, however, signs that a Pisatan identity began to appear at the end of the fifth century (unless it can be supposed to have survived from much earlier, even though Pisatis had been Elean for generations). At the end of the Spartan-Elean war of c. 400, [27] when the Spartans were deciding on the terms to be imposed in the peace, an unnamed group put in a claim to administer Olympia in place of the Eleans: the Spartans nonetheless allowed the Eleans to retain control because the others were χωρῑται (i.e. 'rustics', Xenophon Hellenica 3.2.31). The counter-claimants can hardly be other than Pisatan.
Later, when in 365 BCE war broke out between Elis and the Arcadian Confederation, and the Arcadians were able to detach Pisatis from Elis, Pisatis became an independent state. [28] There is clear surviving evidence that the Pisatans exercised the functions of a Greek state: a decree; treaties with Arcadia, Akroreia, Messenia, and Sikyon; gold coins minted by Pisa. [29] The Pisatan state is not heard of again after the battle of Mantinea in 362 and presumably rapidly returned to Elis, which had regained control of Olympia before the Olympic Games of 360. Pisatis may in fact have been something of a puppet-state used by the Arcadians: it was often said that the Olympic Games of 364, organised by the Pisatans and regarded as a non-Olympiad by the Eleans (Diodorus 15.78.3), were held by the Pisatans and the Arcadians (Xenophon Hellenica 7.4.28–9, Diodorus 15.82.1, Pausanias 6.4.2) or even by the Arcadians alone (Pausanias 6.8.3, 6.22.3, cf. Xenophon Hellenica 7.4.35). Given the Arcadian interest in exploiting an independent Pisatis, it is hard to know how far the Pisatans themselves took the initiative in forming their own state, but at the very least the Arcadians must have found Pisatans willing to collaborate with them.
From the late fifth century onwards—setting aside any possible earlier conflicts between Pisatis and Elis—those Pisatans who sought independence from Elis are known to have acted only when an outside power was in a position to help them: Sparta c. 400 and the Arcadians in 365. Nonetheless these repeated episodes in which Pisatans opposed Elis or sought to detach themselves from Elis, suggest that at least some Pisatans had a sense of Pisatan identity and a willingness to act on it. If one accepts that the concept of Pisatis emerged only in the fourth century, then it must be supposed to have given rise to strong sentiments in order to generate the large and persisting body of Pisatan myth-history preserved in later Greek writers. [30]
Thus development of an Elean identity within the territory of Elis proper did not wholly overcome the alternative, rival identity at least occasionally displayed by Pisatans. There is, however, no evidence of such conflict of identity elsewhere in Elis proper. In fact the terms in which Herodotus 8.73.1–3 writes of the peoples of the Peloponnese suggest that in his day Elean identity was well established north of the Alpheios. There were, he says, seven ethne in the Peloponnese. Two—Arcadian and Kynourian—were autochthonous. One—Achaean—was originally Peloponnesian but had moved within the Peloponnese. The other four had all come to the Peloponnese from elsewhere: Dorian, Aetolian, Dryopian, and Lemnian. Of these, the Eleans alone were Aetolian. Herodotus admittedly offers only a very brief survey of the supposed ethne, but he seems nonetheless to treat the area north of the Alpheios as broadly Elean, taking no particular account of either Pisatans or perioikic communities in the area. [31]

Elis and the Perioikoi [32]

When the Eleans began to lose some of their subordinate territories from the early Peloponnesian War onwards, their determination to recover and retain anything they had lost seems to have been unwavering. For instance, in the 420s with Spartan support Lepreon was able to free itself from Elean control (Thucydides 5.31.1–5). Then in 418, when Elis was allied to Athens, Argos, and Mantinea, the allied forces first operated against Orchomenos in Arcadia and then debated what to do next. Eventually they decided to proceed against Tegea. The Eleans, however, had urged the allies to help them retake Lepreon, and, when they failed to persuade the others, they went home in anger (Thucydides 5.62.1–2). It is hard to avoid the impression that Thucydides relates this episode in such a way as to bring out the Eleans’ blinkered focus on their own interests in Triphylia. Again at a peace conference in 371/0 the Eleans, according to Xenophon Hellenica 6.5.2, formulated their claim to communities in Triphylia in very blunt terms: these poleis, they said, were theirs.
Thanks to a recently published inscription we know that Elis’ relations with the perioikoi were, at least by c. 500, structured as an alliance. [33] That was still true in 420, as Thucydides 5.47 shows. The Eleans were naturally the dominant partners. The alliance seems to have been built up through a series of alliances with individual communities. IvO 9 of c. 500 is probably an early example of such an alliance, with the otherwise unknown community of Ewaoioi. [34] Lepreon also formed such an alliance with Elis (Thucydides 5.31.2).
It has been suggested that local communities around Olympia formed an amphictyony to administer the sanctuary. Taita (1999 and 2002) has provided a very full exposition of both the relevant ancient evidence and modern views for and against the idea of such an amphictyony. She concludes that such an amphictyony did exist, at least until c. 460 BCE, but the evidence for it is slight. The only explicit evidence for such a body is provided by Tzetzes Chiliades 12.363–364, and Tzetzes is by no means always a reliable witness. The arguments expressed against the idea of an amphictyony by Gauthier and the reservations of Sordi still have force, and it is difficult to accept the existence of such a body. [35]
Elis does, however, seem to have used its domination of Olympia as a means of exercising control over other states, both perioikic and non-Elean. [36] In the treaty between Elis and the Ewaoioi [37] any penalty for breach of the treaty by either party is to be paid to Olympian Zeus: since Elis dominated the god’s sanctuary, it would have a clear advantage in the event of a dispute. When the Anaitoi and Metapioi made a treaty of friendship (IvO 10), any question of a breach of the treaty was to be determined by officials at the sanctuary, thus giving Elis considerable influence over the two, presumably small, communities. In IvO 16, a fragmentary and difficult text concerning Skillous, penalties for wrongful conduct are to be paid to Olympian Zeus, again giving Elis considerable influence. When Lepreon agreed to cede half its territory to the Eleans in order to secure an alliance with Elis, the Eleans allowed the Lepreates to continue to cultivate the land on regular (presumably annual) payment of one talent to Olympian Zeus (Thucydides 5.31.2), which would have allowed religious sanctions for non-payment had not Sparta intervened between Elis and Lepreon. Elis then tried to use an Olympic court as an instrument against Sparta in 420. [38]
Elis may have also used other methods to create links between itself and perioikic communities. We learn that a cult of Artemis was transferred from Elis to Letrinoi (Pausanias 6.22.10), and that, conversely, a cult-statue of Poseidon was transferred from Samikon to Elis (Pausanias 6.25.5–6), but no date is recorded for either of these movements. [39] Pausanias 6.22.10 says that Elis had friendly relations with Letrinoi “from the beginning,” but this judgment overlooks the fact that c. 400, when the Spartans invaded Elis, Letrinoi deserted Elis to join the Spartans (Xenophon Hellenica 3.2.25). There is certainly evidence that by the second half of the fifth century some Greeks had come to regard perioikic territory as part of an Elean region. As noted above, Herodotus 8.73.1–2 does not distinguish the ethnic identities of the communities in the area north of the Alpheios. More explicitly, Thucydides 5.34.1 describes Lepreon as being on the border between Lakonike and Eleia: he must have considered that all Triphylia north of Lepreon, if not Lepreon itself, belonged to Eleia. [40] Aristophanes Birds 149 calls Lepreon itself Elean. [41] This sense that the whole region was Elean did of course ultimately lead to its being unified within the Elean state, but probably not until 146 BCE. [42]
In the late fifth and earlier fourth centuries, however, many of the perioikic communities were by no means ready to accept an Elean identity. From the earlier Peloponnesian War onwards, despite Elis’ determination to maintain its domination of its perioikoi, they were often able to break away, and in so doing many of them adopted a different ethnic identity. The first such problem for Elis arose over Lepreon, and was exacerbated by Sparta’s readiness to support Lepreon against Elis (Thucydides 5.1.5); why Sparta became willing to help undermine Elis’ domination of its perioikoi is not clear, but the breakdown in friendship between Sparta and Elis had very serious consequences. The bad relations between Elis and Sparta continued to the end of the fifth century, when Sparta undertook a war in order to detach all the perioikoi from Elean control. [43] It is notable that once Sparta launched a sustained invasion of Elis in that war, several perioikic communities abandoned Elis and joined the Spartans: Xenophon Hellenica 3.2.25 names Lepreon, Makiston, Epitalion, Letrinoi, Amphidoloi, and Marganeis. The terms imposed by Sparta when it won the war are in part difficult to establish, [44] but it is at any rate clear that Sparta insisted that Elis relinquish control of all perioikoi. What is interesting for the subject of the present volume is how some of the former perioikoi adopted new identities.
The perioikic communities south of the Alpheios were united into a new Triphylian state. Siewert (1987–1988) regarded this new creation as ephemeral and serving the interests of Sparta, but Nielsen (1997) has put forward good arguments for the view that unity in the area was in the interests of the local communities, allowing them to resist Elean attempts to re-establish control over them. Ruggeri (2001–2002 and 2004:73–143) has analysed the political and constitutional history of the Triphylian state, known especially from two inscriptions (both cited in full by Ruggeri).
Akroreia also became a separate state. [45] In Akroreia there were four poleis, namely Alion, Eupagion, Opous, and Thraistos. [46] In 394 the Akroreians sent a collective military contingent to support Sparta (Xenophon Hellenica 4.2.16), and may therefore have formed a federal state. Certainly the Akroreian communities acted collectively in making a dedication at Olympia jointly with the non-Akroreian Alasyes, [47] but the dedication could equally well have been made while Akroreia was still perioikic or after it was separated from Elis. [48] Siewert 1987–1988 regards the Akroreian state, like the Triphylian, as ephemeral and designed to serve Spartan interests; but it is notable that it was created with some regard for local identities: this is shown by the fact that it did not include Lasion, which lay close to Akroreia to the east and was detached from Elis at the same time as Akroreia. Both Xenophon (Hellenica 3.2.30, 4.2.16) and Diodorus (14.17.8) distinguish Lasion from Akroreia, and Lasion remained separate from the new Akroreian state, as is shown by its separate military contingent sent to the Peloponnesian League forces in 394 (Xenophon Hellenica 4.2.16).
In fact, c. 400 Lasion was being claimed by Arcadians, according to Xenophon (Hellenica 3.2.30). Since there was no Arcadian confederation at the time, and since, if Lasion was claimed by a particular Arcadian city-state like Psophis or Thelpousa, Xenophon would have had no reason not to say so directly, the phrase presumably means that some Arcadians claimed that Lasion shared their Arcadian ethnic identity. [49] Such a claim would fit well with the fact that Lasion became Arcadian a generation later.
Elis made considerable efforts to recover control of its lost perioikic territories, and had some success, particularly north of the Alpheios, though significant areas, including Triphylia and probably also Lasion, were not recovered. Because the evidence is patchy and hard to interpret, it is difficult to be sure exactly how much Elis had recovered by the battle of Leuctra in 371. Tuplin (1993, especially 183–185) offers a cautious and detailed analysis of the question. [50]
After Leuctra the political situation in the Peloponnese changed greatly as Spartan power declined (but did not disappear) and the Arcadian confederation came into being. Both Lasion and Triphylia declared themselves Arcadian, and joined the Arcadian confederation (Xenophon Hellenica 7.1.26; Xenophon does not name Lasion in this passage, but it is widely recognised that “the others” must refer to Lasion, because of Hellenica 7.4.12). Claims that Lasion was Arcadian had apparently already been raised c. 400, and it is not surprising that Lasion chose to be politically Arcadian in the 360s. For Triphylia to become Arcadian was a greater shift in ethnic identity, but it seems to have been welcomed by the Arcadians, who included Triphylos among the sons of their mythical ancestor Arkas on the Arcadian monument dedicated in these years at Delphi (CEG 2.824). [51] It is not clear whether the Arcadian confederation admitted Triphylia to the confederation as a single member or as several poleis. [52] In 365 Elis, or Arcadian exiles backed by Elis, captured Lasion, but it was soon recaptured by the Arcadian confederation (Xenophon Hellenica 7.4.12–13, Diodorus 15.77.1). Given the Eleans’ evident desire to recover their former perioikic communities (e.g. Xenophon Hellenica 7.1.26), it seems clear that in adopting formally an Arcadian identity and joining the Arcadian confederation, Triphylia and Lasion were also protecting themselves against the threat of renewed Elean domination.
In the 360s Elis and Arcadia, originally allies against Sparta in 370, became estranged, and by 365 were at war. The war allowed the Arcadians to detach from Elis both Akroreia [53] and Pisatis. [54] Neither of these territories now became Arcadian, though it was probably at this time that Pisatis was linked to Arcadia by a mythical marriage of Pisos to Olympia, daughter of Arkas. [55] Instead Pisatis and Akroreia became independent states, and an alliance of Arcadia, Akroreia, and Pisatis was created. [56] An ancient identity for Pisatis was elaborated (or revived), and the collective identity of the Akroreians recovered the political form that it had had at the beginning of the fourth century. The two new states are not heard of again after the end of the Arcadian-Elean war in 362, and they presumably reverted to Elis, which certainly regained control of Olympia (Xenophon Hellenica 7.4.35).
Thus the collective identities of communities within Elis and its perioikic territory were frequently exploited in the period from the end of the Peloponnesian War to the 360s. Triphylia was created. Akroreia’s collective identity was given independent political form, twice. Lasion developed an Arcadian identity, probably from the early fourth century and certainly in the 360s. Triphylia too became Arcadian, in a remarkable adaptation of its still fairly new collective identity. The ancient identity of Pisatis, expressed in accounts of the region’s early history, was elaborated. No doubt in this catalogue of shifting identities there was a degree of opportunism, but it is hard to believe that all these developments were due simply to cynical political manoeuvring. Triphylia for instance, whose identity evolved in the most remarkable way, could presumably have secured Arcadian support against Elis in the 360s by an alliance rather than by actually becoming Arcadian. The exceptional case of Letrinoi, Amphidoloi, and Marganeis, the three insignificant communities west of Olympia, is illuminating because, though feeble on their own, they were included neither in the new Triphylian nationality after the Elean-Spartan war nor in either the Triphylian nationality or the adjacent Pisatan nationality in the 360s. Underlying sentiment helped both to shape and to limit the identities that emerged among the Elean perioikoi in the fourth century, and these three small communities were neither Triphylian nor Pisatan, just as Lasion was not Akroreian. Adopting a common identity, so far as sentiment allowed, became a common method of seeking to secure a community’s freedom from the threat of Elean control.
It is notable that in every single case the shift in identity was away from Elis. Despite some signs that an extended Elean identity, extending as far south as the Neda, was beginning to emerge by the later sixth century, Elis was evidently unable to offer any counter-attraction to the prospect of freedom from Elean domination. When faced with a choice between being attached to Elis and being attached to Elis’ neighbour Arcadia, those perioikoi who had the choice chose either alliance with Arcadia or actual Arcadian identity. Evidently Elis’ traditional distinction between the Elean state proper and its perioikoi [57] was too strong to be overcome when Elis needed to find a way to hold on to its subordinate allies.
From the Peloponnesian War to the 360s, Elean foreign policy, when not dominated by the Peloponnesian League, was heavily influenced by the desire to find allies who would help Elis retain or recover its perioikoi. Of course other considerations also influenced external policy, not least internal conflicts in Elis itself that would take too long to explore here. [58] In general, however, Elis suffered greatly from a failure to find an answer to the potent appeal that the prospect of a separate identity made to many of its perioikoi.


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[ back ] 1. Eder 2001b.
[ back ] 2. On the early history of settlement on the site of the town Elis see Eder and Mitsopoulos 1999.
[ back ] 3. Nafissi 2003, Möller 2004, and Giangiulio in this volume.
[ back ] 4. E.g., Möller 2004:265. Ruggeri (2004:52–53, 196–197 and elsewhere) takes the view that the Pisatans, though controlled by Elis from the later archaic period, did not become Elean citizens until 400 (i.e. the end of the Elean-Spartan war); this view leaves the status of the Pisatans in the fifth century unclear, and would cause difficulties in explaining the peace terms at the end of the war, when Pisatis remained Elean although Elis lost all its subordinate communities.
[ back ] 5. Unless one regards Xenophon’s reference to these counter-claimants as anachronistic, provoked by knowledge of Pisatis’ separation from Elis and control of Olympia in the 360s, as suggested by Nafissi in discussion at Munster.
[ back ] 6. Roy 1997b. On the war generally see Schepens 2004.
[ back ] 7. Strabo 8.3.9; on the report see Rizakis 1995:521, cf. 160.
[ back ] 8. On Teichos Dymaion see Rizakis 1995:449 and 504, and Morgan and Hall 1996:188–189.
[ back ] 9. Julius Africanus Ol. 28, Eusebius Chronicon 1.28; cf. Philostratus de Gymnastica 7 = C264: see Rizakis 1995:10, 129, and 371.
[ back ] 10. Roy 2000.
[ back ] 11. Roy 2002b:259–260, noting the chronological uncertainties in the reports by Strabo in 8.3.30 and 8.3.33.
[ back ] 12. On the expansion see Roy 2002b:259–260.
[ back ] 13. Yalouris 1972:96, Swoboda RE 5.2422 on Elis.
[ back ] 14. Bilik’s argument that Ephorus’ source was Hippias of Elis has however been questioned by Nafissi 2003:29n59.
[ back ] 15. Crowther 1988; Jacquemin in Casevitz, Pouilloux, and Jacquemin 2002:xii.
[ back ] 16. See for instance on the western Greeks, Ioakimidou 2000.
[ back ] 17. Jacquemin 2001b.
[ back ] 18. Eder and Mitsopoulos 1999.
[ back ] 19. Samikon: Strabo 8.3.13; Kombothekra: Sinn 1978, 1981. See also Taita 2001.
[ back ] 20. Morgan 1990:57–105, Eder 2001a.
[ back ] 21. Roy 2002b 254–255. On Armatova: Coleman 1986. Generally on Elean and perioikic settlement see Roy 1999.
[ back ] 22. Walter 1993:121; van Effenterre and Ruzé 1994–1995 e.g. 1.21.
[ back ] 23. Hansen and Nielsen 2004:87–94.
[ back ] 24. Roy 2002b.
[ back ] 25. On Pisatis see recently Nafissi 2001 and 2003, Moller 2004; on settlement in Pisatis see Roy 2002a.
[ back ] 26. Roy 1997b:283–284, 297–298: see Nafissi 2001:311 correcting the interpretation of Pausanias 5.10.2 in Roy 1997b:310n12.
[ back ] 27. On which, see Schepens 2004.
[ back ] 28. On the events of 365–362 see Roy 1994:203–204, Nielsen 2002a:118–119, 483–484.
[ back ] 29. Decree: IvO 36 = DGE 422; treaties: Ringel, Siewert, and Taeuber 1999; coins: Head 1911:426. See Nafissi 2003 and Ruggeri 2004:178–207.
[ back ] 30. Möller 2004:263–265 shows that in the Pisatan area there were elements of myth-history that could be combined into a Pisatan past.
[ back ] 31. Herodotus was perfectly capable of recording a complex ethnic interaction in a limited region, as 4.148 on Triphylia shows.
[ back ] 32. Generally on Elis’ relations with its perioikoi see Roy 1997b and Ruggeri 2004.
[ back ] 33. Ebert and Siewert 1997; see also Roy 1997b:292–293.
[ back ] 34. Roy and Schofield 1999.
[ back ] 35. Gauthier 1972:43–45; Sordi 1984:29–30; Roy 1997b:296 with note 89; Gehrke 2003:18; Nafissi 2003:41n139; Möller 2004:257.
[ back ] 36. Roy 1997b:296–7.
[ back ] 37. IvO 9: Roy and Schofield 1999.
[ back ] 38. Thucydides 5.49.1–50.4: Roy 1998.
[ back ] 39. Jacquemin in Casevitz, Pouilloux, and Jacquemin 2002:302 suggests that the statue of Poseidon was transferred in the period 245–146 BCE; Ruggeri 2004:107–108 suggests a date after 146.
[ back ] 40. Roy 1997b:311n17.
[ back ] 41. Hornblower 2000:223n6.
[ back ] 42. Roy 1999.
[ back ] 43. Among the considerable literature on these events see Roy 1997b:291–292, Roy 1998, and Hornblower 2000. On the war see Schepens 2004.
[ back ] 44. Roy 1997a, 1997b:299–304; Schepens 2004; Ruggeri 2004:21–28.
[ back ] 45. Siewert 1987–1988; Ruggeri 2004:144–161.
[ back ] 46. Diodorus 14.17.8; Xenophon Hellenica 7.4.14 writes of poleis in Akroreia, but names only Thraustos, i.e. Thraistos, individually.
[ back ] 47. Siewert 1991 no. 3.
[ back ] 48. Siewert 1987–1988:8n3.
[ back ] 49. Roy 2000:138, Nielsen 2002a:98.
[ back ] 50. See also Ruggeri 2004:36–42.
[ back ] 51. Ruggeri 2004:95–96 also draws attention to the hitherto neglected figure Triphyle, mother of Klytios and so ancestor of the Klytiad line of seers at Olympia.
[ back ] 52. Nielsen 1997:152–155, Ruggeri 2004:140–143.
[ back ] 53. Xenophon Hellenica 7.4.14: the Arcadians did not capture Thraistos on this occasion, and it is unknown whether they took it later. The Eleans had evidently recovered Akroreia, though we do not know when.
[ back ] 54. Nielsen 2002a:118–119.
[ back ] 55. Nielsen 2002a:118–119.
[ back ] 56. Ringel, Siewert, and Taeuber 1999; Ruggeri 2004:184–188.
[ back ] 57. Ruggeri 2004:35–36 and 46–53 (and elsewhere) redevelops the argument that Elis granted citizenship to its perioikoi in (or shortly before) 368 and withdrew it by 364. Having argued (Roy 1997b:297–298) that no such grant was made, I hope to support that view with fresh arguments at a forthcoming conference.
[ back ] 58. See Gehrke 1985, Bultrighini 1990.