Helots and The Masters in Laconia and Messenia: Histories, Ideologies, Structures

  Luraghi, Nino, and Susan E. Alcock, eds. 2003. Helots and Their Masters in Laconia and Messenia: Histories, Ideologies, Structures. Hellenic Studies Series 4. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_LuraghiN_AlcockS_eds.Helots_and_Their_Masters.2003.

Chapter 6. The Dorianization of the Messenians

Jonathan M. Hall

It is an axiom of recent scholarship that the primordial and essential identity proclaimed by an ethnic group may often be a recent and illusory fiction, forged in the context of—and in response to—precise historical circumstances, but this view was actually anticipated already in 1922 by Max Weber, who emphasized that subjective beliefs in common descent were at the heart of ethnic consciousness, regardless of “whether or not an objective blood relationship exists.” [1] Operating on the assumption that all group identities—even in situations where a deep and pervasive historical continuity can be demonstrated—need to be continuously and actively reconstructed in changing circumstances rather than passively inherited within a system of intergenerational homeostasis, I here seek to account for the possible historical circumstances in which the Messenians gained, maintained and chartered cognizance both of their own identity and of their affiliation to a broader Dorian ethnocommunity.

For Pausanias, writing shortly after the middle of the second century of our era, the Dorian heritage of the Messenians was taken for granted. “The Messenians,” he says, “were actually wandering outside the Peloponnese for three hundred years, in which time they clearly abandoned none of the customs of their homeland nor did they cease to speak the Doric dialect, but even in my own day preserve it more accurately than any of the other Peloponnesians” (4.27.11). Interestingly, this linguistic {142|143} observation conforms with the findings of philologists, who not only assign the Messenian dialect to the Doris severior group—believed by many to comprise a more conservative stratum within the West Greek dialect group—but also consider Messenian to be one of the least innovative of all the West Greek dialects. [2] Further indications of just how rooted this Dorian heritage had become in the Messenian landscape are provided by the periegete’s description of a ruined city named Dorion in the upper Pamisos Valley (4.33.7) and of a sacred grove, outside the city of Pharai, dedicated to Apollo Karneios (4.31.1)—a god whose festival was, according to Thoukydides (5.54.2), particularly sacred among the Dorians. Nor was there any reason for Pausanias to believe that the Messenians’ affirmations of Dorian descent were recent: in describing events of the Second Messenian War, conventionally dated to the mid-seventh century, [3] he recounts how the Messenians accused their Lakonian aggressors of impiety, “since it was out of pure greed that they were attacking men who were kinsfolk (συγγενεῖς), showing no respect for the ancestral gods of the Dorians and Herakles above all” (4.8.2).

The simplest way of explaining why the Messenians of Pausanias’ day should have considered themselves Dorians would be to invoke the ancient traditions that told how the Dorians had migrated south from their homeland in central Greece and conquered the Peloponnesian territories of the Argolid, Lakonia, Messenia and Korinthia, thus putting an end to the “Akhaian” dynasties portrayed in the Homeric epics. [4] For what it is worth, stylistic analysis of Dark Age II pottery from Messenia (ca. 975-800 BC) suggests a certain homogeneity with the contemporary styles of Lakonia as well as an association with a broader West Greek koinê that included Ithaka, Akhaia and Aitolia. [5] Similarly, the Messenian dialect, in addition to its affiliation to the West Greek dialect group, shares a number of specific {143|144} features with the dialect of Lakonia. [6] Yet, quite apart from the fact that the traditions associated with the coming of the Dorians would also require archaeological and linguistic correlations with the material culture and dialects of the Argolid which cannot be sustained, the historicity of those very traditions has itself come under increasing scrutiny. Supposed archaeological innovations (e.g. ironworking, the Protogeometric style of pottery, cremation, single burial in cist tombs and new types of weapons and jewellery), once thought to indicate the arrival in the Peloponnese of a new northern population, have now proved to be either anterior to the destructions of the Mycenaean palaces or first attested in areas such as Attika or Euboia which never claimed to be Dorian. [7] Similarly, the structural correspondences shared by the so-called “Doric” dialects of the Peloponnese assume less significance in light of the observation that no single shared linguistic innovation can be isolated that is not also found in at least one other non-Doric dialect, suggesting that the similarities may have derived from prolonged “lateral” contact rather than common descent from a single “proto-Doric” linguistic ancestor. [8] Even the literary tradition for the Dorian invasion—defended by some historians as the only reliable testimony for the migration [9] —appears, on closer examination, to be a composite amalgam of originally independent charter myths telling of separate ancestral leaders (Doros; Aigimios; the Herakleidai) and different homelands (Doris; Hestiaiotis) which can only have coalesced in the centuries after the supposed date of the invasion. [10]

There is, then, a growing realization among scholars that the legend of the Dorian invasion may be a charter myth, invented to legitimate a common Dorian ethnicity that was itself the product of the protohistoric, rather than prehistoric, period. The myth may have developed initially in Asia Minor, where Dorians coexisted alongside Ionians and Aiolians, [11] or—as I have attempted to argue elsewhere— in the context of Spartan conquests of the ninth and eighth centuries BC. [12] In the latter case, the apparent cultural similarities between Lakonia and Messenia in the tenth century need not be accidental, but neither need they be relevant to later, more {144|145} subjective and self-conscious professions of identity. That is to say, the Dorianization of the Spartans did not necessarily have to entail the simultaneous Dorianization of neighbouring Messenians, and indeed there is no hint that the seventh-century Spartan poet Tyrtaios regarded the Messenians as Dorians. Granted, the omissions of a poet whose writings exist in only fragmentary form should not be overstated. On the other hand, since it is commonly held that much of Tyrtaios’ poetry was composed against the backdrop of Spartan hostilities against the Messenians, it becomes difficult to understand why the Dorian ancestry of the Spartans should be emphasized if it were an inheritance common to both Spartans and Messenians. For example, Tyrtaios proclaims how “Zeus himself, the husband of fair-crowned Hera, gave this city (Sparta) to the Herakleidai, in whose company we (Dorians) left windy Erineos and arrived in the broad Peloponnese” (fr. 2 West), and elsewhere describes a battle-scene with “Pamphyloi, Hylleis and (Dymanes), separately, brandishing in their hands man-slaying spears of ash” (fr. 19 West). [13] The Hylleis, Dymanes and Pamphyloi were the distinctive phulai (“tribes” in the political, rather than ethnic, sense) in many Dorian cities and—like the reference to the Dorian-Heraklid foundation of Sparta—would seem to denote a distinctive quality about the Spartans that loses its force were it equally true of the Messenians. [14]

A terminus ante quem for the Dorianization of the Messenians is provided by Herodotos who, in his account of the battle line-up at Salamis in 480 BC, describes the Peloponnese as being inhabited by seven ethnê. Of these, two—the Arkadians and the Kynourians—are autochthonous; one, the Akhaians, is not autochthonous in the strict sense but had always lived in the Peloponnese, fleeing the territories of Lakonia and the Argolid and settling along the southern shore of the Korinthian Gulf at the time of the Dorian invasion. The four remaining populations are descended from immigrants: the settlers of Elis originated from Aitolia; the Paroreatai were formerly Lemnians; the cities of Hermione and Asine were populated by Dryopes; but the majority of cities—and certainly the most famous ones—were founded by the Dorians (8.73.1-2). The Messenians are not explicitly mentioned (save for the inhabitants of the perioikic community of Asine), but they should certainly be classified by default among the Dorian inhabitants of the Peloponnese.

The ethnikon employed to denote the Messenians—“Messenioi” (Μεσσήνιοι) in Attic; “Messanioi” (Μεσσάνιοι) in its epichoric Doric form—and its relationship with the toponym “Messenia” (Μεσσηνία) are not quite as straightforward as might be assumed. The adjectival i-grade that appears between the root and the termination in “Messenia” might, by analogy with toponyms such as Aitolia, Akhaïa, Boiotia or Makedonia, have suggested that it belongs to the category of social nomenclature that Fritz Gschnitzer defines as “Stammesgemeinde”—i.e., where a region is named after the population group that inhabits it. [17] Yet if this were the case, we would expect the ethnikon to be “Messenoi” without the i-grade (cf. Aitoloi, Akhaioi, Boiotoi, Makedones). The fact that the adjectival i-grade does appear in the ethnikon should indicate instead that the Messenians are what Gschnitzer terms an “Ortsgemeinde”—that is, where a community takes its name from a central settlement (“Athenaioi” < “Athenai”; “Korinthioi” < “ Korinthos”; “Lakedaimonioi” < “Lakedaimon”) or, less commonly, a broader region (“Eleioi” < “Elis”; “Peloponnesioi” < “Peloponnesos”). [18] Indeed, it is in this latter, regional sense that the ethnikon “Messenioi” is commonly understood, yet there is a {146|147} problem. The toponym “Messenia” is attested relatively late in our sources: instead, the form that we find in both Homer (Od. 21.15) and Tyrtaios (fr. 5 West) is “Messene.” Since it has generally been assumed that a city named Messene cannot have existed prior to Epameinondas’ foundation at the foot of Mount Ithome, modern scholars—following Strabo (8.5.8) and Pausanias (4.1.4)—have tended to understand “Messene” as designating a region rather than a specific settlement. [19] Yet recent excavations, conducted by Petros Themelis, have revealed that the site of Messene-Mavromati was in fact already occupied in the Geometric period, [20] making it a reasonable guess that a settlement named Messene—whether that situated below Ithome, by whose name it may also have been known, [21] or elsewhere— existed from an early period. [22] The simplest solution, then, would be to suppose that the ethnikon of the Messenians follows the norm attested elsewhere in Greece—namely, that “Messenioi” is a city-ethnic derived from the toponym “Messene,” and that “Messenia” is a ktêtikon also derived from the primary toponym (cf. “Korinthia” < “Korinthos”). [23]

Nevertheless, this conclusion carries a further implication. Mogens Herman Hansen has observed that in the vast majority of documented cases, the attestation of a city-ethnic implies not only a geographical, but also a political, identity: in other words, it marks its bearers as simultaneously members of both an urban and a political community. [24] Now clearly it makes little sense to attribute a sense of political identity to those Messenians enslaved as Helots by the Spartans. Nor is it reasonable to suppose that Messenian perioikoi adopted the city-ethnic “Messenioi” when they already possessed city-ethnics of their own. [25] If, then, we find the city-ethnic “Messenioi” employed prior to the liberation of Messenia, we can only conclude that it was a designation employed by those free inhabitants of Messenia who formed a political community-in-waiting—that is, the Messenians who had fled Spartan occupation in various waves, settling (among other places) {147|148} Rhegion in Southern Italy, [26] Zankle-Messina in Sicily, [27] Kyrenaika, [28] and—above all—Lokrian Naupaktos, where the Messenian population served as valued allies of the Athenians during the Peloponnesian War. [29] To the extent that these Messenians (i) were scattered throughout various host-communities among whom they constituted a minority, (ii) entertained a desire to return to Peloponnesian Messenia, and (iii) retained a collective memory of the homeland, articulated not least through the employment of a city-ethnic derived from their ancient birthplace, it is reasonable to describe them as a diaspora. [30]

It may be, however, that Thoukydides is here being credited with more subtlety than is warranted. In his account of the revolt, no part seems to be played by diasporic Messenians of communities such as Zankle-Messina (i.e. Diodoros’ “Messenioi”); instead, the rebels are Helots joined by perioikic communities such as the Thouriatai and the Aithiaies (1.101.2). [34] I would like to suggest that while Diodoros may have erred in giving the name “Messenioi” to the rebels before their departure from Ithome, [35] the distinction that he draws between those who fled Messenia (“Messenioi”) and those who remained (Helots) is in fact one preserved also by Thoukydides, even if it is not always expressed with the clarity for which one might have wished. [36] For example, in an authorial comment on the revolt, he notes: “Most of the helots were descendants of the old Messenians (παλαιῶν Μεσσηνίων) who were then enslaved, and it is for this reason that all are called Messenians” (1.101.2). At first sight, this appears to corroborate Figueira’s belief that the dependent population of Messenia could be described as both Helots and Messenians. On the other hand, the fact that Thoukydides has to explain contemporary usage of the ethnonym simultaneously implies that the usage is technically erroneous. Furthermore, Thoukydides quite deliberately adopts the language of temporal disjuncture rather than continuity: the Helots used to be (εγένοντο) Messenians, but then (τότε) they were enslaved; for this reason they have all been called (εκλήθησαν) Messenians (sc. but they should more properly be termed Helots). [37] A similar temporal distinction recurs in Thoukydides’ description of Pylos as being located “400 stades from Sparta and . . . in the land that was once Messenia” (4.3.2; cf. 4.41.2), while in his account of the Sicilian expedition he notes that the Athenians were accompanied by “those who are now called the Messenians, from Naupaktos and Pylos, which was at that time under Athenian occupation” (7.57.8)—in other words, the Messenians of {149|150} the diaspora. [38] Perhaps the most explicit formulation, however, of this distinction between Messenians of the diaspora and the dependent population of Messenia comes in Thoukydides’ description of the failure of the Peace of Nikias:

Πύλον μέντοι ἠξίουν σφίσιν ἀποδοῦναι· εἰ δὲ μή, Μεσσηνίους γε καὶ τοὺς Εἵλωτας ἐξαγαγεῖν, ὥσπερ καὶ αὐτοὶ τοὺς ἀπὸ Θρᾴκης, Ἀθηναίους δὲ φρουρεῖν τὸ χωρίον αὐτοὺς, εἰ βούλονται. Πολλάκις δὲ καὶ πολλῶν λόγων γενομένων ἐν τῷ θέρει τούτῳ ἔπεισαν τοὺς Ἀθηναίους ὥστε ἐξαγαγεῖν ἐκ Πύλου Μεσσηνίους καὶ τοὺς ἄλλους Εἵλωτάς τε καὶ ὅσοι ηὐτομολήκεσαν ἐκ τῆς Λακωνικῆς.


In short, Thoukydides never describes the contemporary inhabitants of Messenia as Messenians unless some temporal qualifier is added.

It is not, however, sufficient to demonstrate that Messenians of the diaspora called themselves “Messenioi.” Rather, the case needs to be made that this ethnonym was not regularly employed by the resident population of Messenia prior to liberation. Two pieces of potentially contradictory evidence need to be considered. The first is the now near-universal belief that a stele, datable to the mid-sixth century and set up on the frontier between Lakonia and Arkadia, carried a treaty forbidding the Arkadians to enfranchise Messenian Helots who might flee across the border. [44] This would seemingly indicate that the Archaic population of Messenia was already named “Messenioi” in the sixth century, but in reality this “evidence” may be nothing more than a mirage of modern historiography. No trace of the stele—let alone concrete indications for its date—has ever come to light. It is known through a reference in Ploutarkhos’ Greek Questions (repeated in the Roman Questions [Mor. 277c]), which seeks to provide an answer to the question, “Who are the khrêstoi among the Arkadians and Lakedaimonians?” Ploutarkhos writes:

When the Lakedaimonians had come to terms with the Tegeates, they made a treaty and erected a common stele on the banks of the River Alpheios, on which it was written—among other things—that they should expel the Messenians from their land and not be able to make them khrêstoi. In interpreting this, Aristotle says that it was not possible to put someone to death for assistance lent to the pro-Spartan party among the Tegeates.

(Mor. 292b)

It is worth noting that it is not Aristotle (presumably Ploutarkhos’ source here) who interprets the treaty’s provisions as applying to the Helots of Messenia but rather the magisterial authority of Felix Jacoby, who opposed the term khrêstoi to the phrase ἄκρηστον ἦμεν (“to be unemployable” and, hence, “disenfranchised”?) in an inscription from Kretan Dreros. [
45] Yet Aristotle is guilty of considerably more {151|152} than a simple “misunderstanding” of the treaty if he can interpret the phrase “not make the Messenians khrêstoi” as a reference to internal political conflicts at Tegea, [46] and this should urge some caution on our part before jettisoning his explanation entirely. [47] In any case, given that this particular provision of the treaty (itself merely one of a series, according to Ploutarkhos) is evidently not cited directly from the inscription since it is rendered in the Attic, rather than Lakonian or Arkadian, dialect, we cannot be entirely certain that the term “Messenioi” was actually employed in the original treaty (if it ever existed), nor are there any compelling grounds—other than hypothetical reconstructions of Spartan-Tegean relations in the Archaic period—for assuming that such a treaty has to belong to the sixth century. [48] Furthermore, even if “Messenioi” was employed in an original sixth-century treaty, it need not refer to Helot refugees: David Asheri believes that the decree forbids the Tegeates from giving full citizen rights to already-settled groups of Messenians resident in Arkadia. [49] In this case, the ethnonym would refer to Messenians of the diaspora.

The second case is more complicated and involves two inscribed bronze spear butts—one dedicated at Olympia and reading “The Methanioi [captured and dedicated this] from the Lakedaimonians,” [50] the other dedicated at the sanctuary of Apollo Korythos near Messenian Korone and reading “The Methanioi dedicated [this] from booty [captured from the] Athen[ians?].” [51] When the Korone spear butt was discovered, it was immediately associated with the already-known example from Olympia and both were interpreted as dedications by the small city-state of Methana in the Eastern Argolid. Lilian Jeffery, however, was troubled by the Korone dedication, seeing as it was offered in a local Messenian sanctuary at a considerable distance from the Argolid, and therefore suggested that in this case— but not in the case of the Olympian example—“Methanioi” was a local designation for the inhabitants of the Messenian perioikic town of Methone. [52] Robert Bauslaugh, by contrast, has argued that “Methanioi” is a local dialect form for {152|153} “Messenioi.” [53] Starting from Thoukydides’ observation (4.41.2) that the Athenian general Demosthenes deployed a contingent of Messenian troops at Pylos on the grounds that they spoke the same dialect (ὁμόφωνοι) as the Spartans, he notes that Aristophanes frequently portrays Spartan dialect-speakers as uttering sibilants in place of Attic theta—for example, Ἀσαναῖοι (Asanaioi) for Attic Ἀθηναῖοι (Athenaioi). [54] A similar linguistic phenomenon may be detected in a treaty, probably to be dated to the later fifth century, which binds the Aitolian Erxadieis to follow “wheresoever the Spartans lead, both by land and sea” ([κ]αὶ κα(θ) θάλα(θ)αν, rather than Attic καὶ κατὰ θάλατταν [θάλασσαν]). [55] In Bauslaugh’s view, both the spear butt at Olympia and that at Korone represent dedications made by Messenian Helots in the wake of the revolt of the 460s against the Spartans and their Athenian allies, in which case we would have to accept that the Helots of Messenia regarded—and denominated—themselves as “Messenioi.”

A number of objections may be levelled against this interpretation. The letter-forms of the inscriptions do not lend much assistance since our knowledge of the Archaic scripts for both Messenia and Methana is pitifully meagre, though it is worth noting that every letter form on the spear butts—especially, the more diagnostic characters such as delta, epsilon, theta, kappa, lambda and pi—can be matched with the (admittedly earlier) funerary stele of Androkles, discovered on the Methana peninsula. [56] The dialectal arguments, instead, are less compelling than they might appear. Firstly, the Greeks showed little interest in a properly linguistic analysis of dialects before the Hellenistic period, and even then the dialect groupings that were recognized did not conform exactly to the isoglosses identified by philologists today. [57] There is no reason to believe that Thoukydides was peculiar or exceptional in this regard and, in fact, in his account of how Demosthenes employed Messenians of Naupaktos in the vanguard of his campaign against the Ambrakiotes “because they spoke the Doric dialect” (3.112.4), it becomes clear that the Messenians are later described as ὁμόφωνοι not because of specific observable correspondences between the Lakonian and Messenian dialects, but because all the populations of western Greece spoke a broadly similar idiom. [58] Secondly, apart {153|154} from the fact that the precise relationship between what we now read in the manuscripts of Aristophanes and what was actually heard on the Attic stage in the fifth century is poorly understood, [59] provisional acceptance that the Spartans pronounced aspirated dentals as sibilants does not automatically entail that they wrote sibilants as aspirated dentals. Thirdly, the spelling of θάλαθαν in the Spartan-Aitolian treaty is, as Bauslaugh admits, [60] unprecedented in the Lakonian dialect, but his appeals to other instances in both Doric and non-Doric dialects where theta is substituted for a sibilant (e.g. θεθμός (thethmos) for Attic θεσμός (thesmos), or πρόθθα (proththa) for Attic πρόσθα (prostha) [61] do not really establish a valid parallel since in all these other examples it is a question of the assimilation of a sibilant with a pre-existing aspirated dental—something that is evidently not the case with “Messenioi.” In any case, the shift that Bauslaugh posits from the sibilant to theta is unattested in other Messenian inscriptions of the period. That the decision to inscribe the dedication on the base of the Olympia Nike in the Doric dialect was deliberate is indicated by the fact that Paionios’ own signature is inscribed in the Ionic dialect. It would, then, be strange if the Messenians (named here “Messanioi” rather than “Methanioi”) had employed a form of Doric that they did not actually speak. [62]

Finally, while we remain at a loss to provide a precise historical context in which troops from Argolic Methana might have scored a victory over the Spartans (and possibly the Athenians—if that is the correct restoration), [63] our knowledge of even relatively major events that occurred in the fifty or so years between the Persian Wars and the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War is hardly sufficient to exclude such a possibility. Jeffery’s original unease about Methanians offering a dedication in a local Messenian sanctuary may have been occasioned by the assumption that Sparta exercised continuous and total control over the entire territory of Messenia. Yet there are grounds for supposing that this particular stretch of the Messenian coastline was not a centre of Helot habitation. Pausanias says that to the south of the sanctuary of {154|155} Apollo Korythos lay Kolonides, whose population was originally Attic even if it learnt the Doric dialect and customs over time (4.34.8), and the city of New Asine (modern Koroni), supposedly granted by the Spartans to Dryopeans who had fled Argolic Asine (cf. 2.36.5; 3.7.4; 4.8.3). On the opposite (western) coast of the Akritas peninsula was Mothone, apparently settled with refugees from Argolic Nauplia (4.24.4; 4.27.8; 4.35.2). We cannot, then, rule out the possibility that dedicants from another Argolic city, Methana, might have made their way to a local Messenian sanctuary in a coastal region dominated by perioikic settlements. [64]

To sum up thus far, references in fifth-century literary accounts and inscriptions to “Messenioi” almost invariably denote Messenians resident overseas rather than in Messenia itself. Furthermore, it is these residents of the diasporic Messenian community who are described—and described themselves—as Dorian. This is clear from the Doric dialect employed on the joint Messenian and Naupaktian dedication at Olympia, but it is also evident from Thoukydides’ enumeration of the contingents that fought in the Sicilian theatre of operations, where the Messenians of Naupaktos and those garrisoned by the Athenians at Pylos are mentioned immediately after the Dorians of Kerkyra and its metropolis, Korinth, and directly before the Dorians of Megara and its grand-daughter colony, Selinous (7.57.7-8). If it is really true that the Messenians of Tyrtaios’ day were not necessarily considered Dorians (see above), then we would have to assume that this identity was forged among the Messenians of the diaspora—perhaps to neutralize the Spartans’ own appeals to their Dorian superiority. [65] Certainly, it is scarcely credible that Herodotos derived his information for the Dorian ancestry of the Messenians (see above) from the dependent population of Messenia, given its subjugated and supposedly highly-policed condition, [66] and it is a more reasonable conjecture that his informants were either Messenians living in exile at Naupaktos or—perhaps more likely—their Athenian benefactors. This in turn, however, raises the possibility that the dependent population of Peloponnesian Messenia did not necessarily regard itself as Dorian—a possibility that finds some confirmation in the mythical traditions of Messenia.

If ancient authors are surprisingly reticent in the significance they attach to Epameinondas’ establishment of Messene as capital of the newly liberated state of {155|156} Messenia, [67] modern historians have perhaps tended to underestimate the immense difficulty with which this event must have been achieved. Presumably, claims had to be balanced between those liberated Helots who might have expected to take possession of the land they had formerly farmed for their Spartan masters and those returning Messenians of the diaspora who probably anticipated a handsome reward for having borne the brunt of the resistance against the Spartans and their allies during the Peloponnesian War. These conflicting claims find their reflex in our literary sources. [68] Diodoros (presumably following Ephoros) emphasizes the refoundation of Messene as a new home for those who had endured centuries of exile overseas:

And so finally, and according to these circumstances, the Thebans founded Messene at the suggestion of Epameinondas, who gathered together Messenians from every direction and restored to them their ancient territory.

Isokrates, by contrast, purports to present a Spartan viewpoint which privileges the liberation of the Helots over the repatriation of the diasporic Messenians. He has the Spartan king Arkhidamos complain:

If they [the Thebans] were bringing back those who are really Messenians, they would still be committing wrong against us, but on seemingly nobler grounds. But now they are installing Helots next to us, so that the real danger is not that we shall wrongfully be deprived of our land but that we shall see it in the possession of our slaves.

What is interesting about this conflict of viewpoints is that it is almost precisely paralleled in Messenian traditions about the arrival of the first Dorians. When Pausanias comments that “the ancient Messenians were not dislodged by the Dorians but agreed to be ruled by Kresphontes and to divide up their land with the Dorians” (4.3.6), it is difficult not to recognize in his “ancient Messenians” (Μεσσηνίων τῶν ἀρχαίων . . . ὁ δῆμος) those “Messenians of old” (παλαιῶν Μεσσηνίων) whose enslavement on their own territory was described by Thoukydides (1.101.2), thus establishing in turn a correlation between the Dorian newcomers who arrived at the end of the Heroic Age and those Dorian Messenians of the diaspora who were repatriated by Epameinondas. Yet if Pausanias suggests a relatively pacific coexistence by {156|157} the two groups, a more conflictual situation is presented by Ephoros (FGrHist 70 F116), who tells how Kresphontes originally intended to administer his kingdom through five cities—Stenyklaros, Pylos, Rhion, Mesola and Hyameitis—and to give to the Messenians the same political and judicial rights (ἰσονόμους) as were enjoyed by the Dorians, until the Dorians became annoyed at what they regarded as an inequitable settlement, thus forcing Kresphontes to change his mind and to gather all the Dorians together in Stenyklaros alone. Nikolaos of Damascus (FGrHist 90 F31) elaborates further and recounts how the conflict between the Dorians and the indigenous Messenians (ἐγχώριοι) over the equality of land divisions (ἰσόμοιρον) escalated to the point where the Dorians finally killed Kresphontes and all but one of his sons.

The myth of Kresphontes’ murder was not itself a recent invention. It was in fact the subject of a Euripidean play which exists now only in a few fragments, though was probably first performed in the 420s BC, but in Euripides’ version the perpetrator of the crime is Kresphontes’ own brother, Polyphontes. [71] It is tempting, then, to suppose that the transfer of blame to the Dorians collectively was a later modification to the legend, forged in the context of the conflicts that arose when repatriated Messenians of the diaspora were settled alongside recently liberated farm labourers. Two other features of these stories may also point in the same direction. The first is the continued emphasis on the equality of shareholdings between the already resident Messenians and the newly arrived Dorians—a concern that tellingly reflects the provisions contained in the late sixth-century decree regulating the division of territory among former (ὑπαπροσθιδίον) and new (ἐπιφοίκον) settlers at Naupaktos. [72] The second is the impression—given especially by Ephoros’ account—that the Dorians were outnumbered by the indigenous Messenians, perhaps by as many as four to one (on the basis of the five cities designated by Kresphontes). Since nothing is heard of Messenians at Rhegion after the expulsion of Anaxilas in the 460s (and the city was itself practically destroyed by Dionysios I in 387 BC) and since Naupaktos had been abandoned at the end of the Peloponnesian War, it is entirely possible that there were comparatively few Messenians to repatriate by 369 BC. [73]

If the Helots of Messenia were not always considered Dorians, what were they? Theopompos (FGrHist 115 F122) draws a parallel between the Spartans and the Thessalians in that “both equipped themselves with a slave force from the Hellenes {157|158} who formerly occupied the land which they now hold—the former from the Akhaians, the Thessalians from the Perrhaiboi and Magnesians.” Theopompos may be ascribing an Akhaian identity to the Helots of Lakonia only, though there is nothing to preclude a wider application to embrace the Helots of Messenia as well, and it would certainly not be unreasonable to suspect that the Spartans were reluctant to draw an ethnic distinction between two populations that effectively shared the same politico-juridical, social and economic status within the Lakedaimonian state. [74] That suspicion finds some support in Pausanias’ testimony (4.34.6) that a coastal settlement near Korone was named Limen Akhaion (“Port of the Akhaians”) and in Strabo’s belief (8.4.1) that the whole of Messenia had originally belonged to the kingdom of the “Akhaian” king Menelaos. Perhaps the clearest indication, however, of Messenia’s formerly Akhaian legacy is presented by those traditions that recount the tripartite division of the Peloponnese among the descendants of Herakles. The story is invariably associated with the arrival of the Dorians in the Peloponnese, though in fact concerns the territorial rights of their Heraklid leaders who were more properly Akhaian. [75]

Later versions of the story focus on the theme of deception. In Pausanias’ account (4.3.5), it is decided that the territories of Argos, Sparta and Messene should be assigned to the Heraklids on the basis of seniority. Temenos, as the eldest, receives Argos, but a dispute then arises between Kresphontes, who is older than the two sons (Eurysthenes and Prokles) of the recently defunct Aristodemos, and Theras, who is older than Kresphontes and is serving as regent for the two orphans. Eventually it is decided to throw clay lots into a water pitcher to see which lot rises to the surface first, but Temenos gives a sun-baked—rather than kiln-fired—lot to the sons of Aristodemos which promptly dissolves in the pitcher. Consequently Kresphontes’ lot rises to the surface and he chooses Messene. That this is a Messenian version of the tale is evident from the fact that Messenia is regarded as a more desirable territory than Lakonia (which is assigned by default to the sons of Aristodemos) and that the deceit practised to obtain this assignment for Kresphontes is not of his volition but engineered instead by Temenos. [76] What is not so immediately apparent is why the procedure to establish the relative seniority of {158|159} Kresphontes and the sons of Aristodemos has to be so elaborate, and this suggests that the Messenian version transmitted by Pausanias is itself a response to an alternative tradition in which the story of the lot plays a greater role. That alternative version is the one recounted in the pseudo-Apollodoran Bibliothekê (2.8.4) where the cities are first arranged in a fixed order (Argos-Sparta-Messene) and then lots are thrown into a water pitcher regardless of the relative ages of the contestants. Since Kresphontes is anxious to secure Messenia as his realm he engages in trickery by casting a lot not of stone but of earth which dissolves in the pitcher, thus automatically assuring that Argos and Sparta are assigned first. Kresphontes’ deceit in this version ultimately serves to undermine his title to Messenia, [77] thus betraying a non-Messenian, presumably Spartan perspective which is also evident in earlier versions of the tale, even if they do not specifically ascribe deceit to Kresphontes. [78] In Isokrates’ Arkhidamos, Kresphontes obtains Messenia fairly but is then murdered by his subjects, prompting his sons to seek Spartan support for vengeance in return for ceding to them their hereditary kingdom—a clear aetiological justification for the Spartan annexation of Messenia. [79] Sparta also seems to be given priority in Pindar’s brief notice of the division of the Peloponnese (Pyth. 5.69-72). [80]

Populations do not always have to accept the ethnic classification foisted upon them—particularly in cases where this identity is perceived to be negatively evaluated. In such situations, the population in question may try either to assimilate with the dominant group, or to develop new dimensions of comparison to bypass those by which it is disadvantaged, or else to redefine seemingly negative characteristics in a more positive light. [83] The first option was obviously unattainable; the second would certainly warrant further investigation; but it is the third option that seems to have been adopted by the Helots of Messenia. Instances of tomb-cult (i.e. post-Mycenaean cultic veneration at the site of Late Bronze Age tombs) occur with greater frequency in Messenia than in all other areas except Attika and the Argolid. More importantly, however, tomb-cult in Messenia is more persistent than anywhere else, continuing throughout the Archaic and Classical periods, [84] and it is tempting to interpret this practice as an “ancestralizing strategy” designed to forge a link to the Heroic “Akhaian” past and thus to consolidate a sense of Akhaian identity in the present. [85] Another possible instance of such ancestralizing strategies may be represented by Sanctuary Ω-Ω west of the Asklepieion at Messene. The evidence of votive offerings in this sanctuary suggests that cultic activity commenced in the seventh century BC and continued through to the first—thus spanning much of the period in which the inhabitants of Messenia were enslaved to Spartan masters. [86] At any rate, it is difficult to account for why remnants of an Akhaian identification should have survived the refoundation of Messene and the {160|161} repatriation of Dorian Messenians had it not served some practical function in the preceding centuries.

The connection that the legend of the Heraklid partition of the Peloponnese forged between Messene and the important cities of Sparta and Argos must have proved valuable in establishing the historical credentials of the newly liberated fledgeling state of Messene, [87] but it was difficult to harmonize this tradition with the Dorian identity professed by post-liberation Messenia—an identity that sought to occlude the previous centuries of subjugation during which the residents of Messenia had clung to a pre-Dorian Akhaian heritage which had itself been forged by others, notably the Argives and the Spartans. [88] What the liberated Messenians appear to have done is to have preserved the mythical association between Messene, Argos and Sparta by retrojecting it to a more distant past, prior to the arrival of either the Akhaians or the Dorians. Thus, Pausanias (4.2.4) tells how Perieres, the son of Aiolos and the founder of a new dynasty in Messenia, married Gorgophone, daughter of the Argolic hero Perseus, and that Gorgophone herself had previously been married to the Spartan hero Oibalos—in pseudo-Apollodoros’ account (1.9.5), Perieres is himself originally of Spartan descent. But even this association is simply a replication of a network of contacts between Messenia, Lakonia and the Argolid that, according to Pausanias (4.1.1-2), had existed several generations earlier when Messenia was first named by the eponymous Messene, daughter of the Argive hero Triopas and wife of Polykaon, son of the Spartan Urvater Lelex. [89] The figure of Messene (who was probably originally differentiated from the homonymous nymph of Sicilian Zankle-Messina) [90] features prominently in the myths of independent Messenia, and the multiplicity of roles assigned to her—as both founder and queen of Messenia, as initiator of the cult of Zeus Ithomatas and as the first host of the Andanian Mysteries—would seem to betray an urgent need on the part of liberated Messenia to equip itself with charter myths and founder heroes/heroines that were satisfied by resorting to the time-honoured (but hardly very original) practice of eponymous attribution. [91] Certainly, if we are prepared to trust Pausanias’ confession that he was heavily dependent upon post-Leuktra sources in his account of Messenian history, then we should also take him at his {161|162} word when he says that he could find no mention of the eponymous Messene, or the children she had by Polykaon, in such epic and genealogical poems as the Eoiai, the Naupaktia, or the works of Kinaithon and Asios; only the Great Eoiai presented an account of Polykaon, but here his partner was not Messene but Euaikhme, daughter of Herakles’ son Hyllos (4.2.1). [92]

There was nothing primordial or inevitable about the Dorian identity professed by the Messenians of Pausanias’ day. There is no evidence that the Messenians were thought of—or thought of themselves—as Dorians at an early date and indeed some indications that they may have subscribed to a general pre-Dorian or “Akhaian” heritage. Rather, the Dorianization of the Messenians was effected in two stages: firstly, among the Dorians of the diaspora as a counterclaim to the Dorian legacy that was being proclaimed so vigorously by the Spartans in the fifth century; and secondly, as a result of mythopoeic developments in the postliberation traditions of Messenia in which the Akhaian component of Messenian identity was, if not entirely eradicated, [93] at least neutralized and bypassed by rooting Messenia’s origins—and its role within the Peloponnese—in the earliest phases of human history. I have previously had occasion to remark that the archaizing tendencies exhibited by the dialect of post-liberation Messenia are somewhat unexpected given that the city recruited not only freed Helots but also Messenians of the diaspora (whose dialects are unlikely to have remained uninfluenced by the linguistic idioms of their host communities) and even non-Messenians, and I tentatively hypothesized that the Messenians adopted a type of “katharevousa” (or purified dialect) in order to equip themselves with a linguistic authenticity that they felt was otherwise lacking. [94] I hope here to have sketched a plausible discursive context in which that linguistic event could have occurred. {162|}


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[ back ] 1. * I am especially grateful to Nino Luraghi for providing me with useful suggestions and insights at various [ back ] stages in the development and execution of this chapter. I should also like to thank both him and Sue [ back ] Alcock for their original invitation to attend the workshop at which these ideas were first aired. [ back ] Weber 1978: 389. Note that Weber is not here establishing a classificatory dichotomy between [ back ] ‘subjective ethnicity’ and ‘objective ethnicity,’ as Hall 1992 supposes. For a summary of theoretical [ back ] definitions of ethnicity, see Hall 1997: 17-33, 2002: 9-19.

[ back ] 2. Doris severior is the term designated by Ahrens (1843) for the group of West Greek dialects that assimilate the lengthened vowels created by the three compensatory lengthenings (‘secondary vowels’) with the pre-existing ‘primary’ long vowels; it includes the Theran, Kyrenean, Kretan, Lakonian, Herakleian and Messenian dialects. Doris mitior, instead, denotes those West Greek dialects that created new ‘close’ long vowels to represent ‘secondary’ vowels. See Bartonek (1972: 117) for the intermediate category of Doris media. Most believe Doris mitior to be more innovative with respect to Doris severior, though see Ruijgh (1986, 1989) who argues that the assimilation of primary and secondary vowels was a later phenomenon, and that therefore Doris severior and Doris media are more innovative than Doris mitior. For the innovation coefficients of the Messenian dialects, see Bartonek 1972: 91, 159, 185.

[ back ] 3. For doubts about the historicity of the Second Messenian War, see Osborne 1996: 178; Luraghi 2001a: 280.

[ back ] 4. For the traditions, see Vanschoonwinkel 1991: 335-366.

[ back ] 5. Coulson 1986: 55, 71; cf. Coulson 1985: 66. These observations may need to be revised slightly with the full publication of the Pylos Regional Archaeological Project: see Davis et al. 1997: 452.

[ back ] 6. Bartonek 1972: 186. It should be noted, however, that characterizations of the Messenian dialect are, for the most part, based on inscriptions that postdate Epameinondas’ (re)foundation of Messene in 369 BC: see further below.

[ back ] 7. For a summary: Hall 1997: 114-128, 2002: 75-76, 78-79.

[ back ] 8. E.g. Lopez Eire 1978: 293, 296; Fernandez Alvarez 1981: 39. See Hall 1997: 161-162, 2002: 78.

[ back ] 9. E.g. Brillante 1984; Musti 1985: 43-44.

[ back ] 10. See Hall 1997: 56-65.

[ back ] 11. So Ulf 1996, reviving a position previously held by Duncker 1881: 365; Beloch 1913: 82; and De Sanctis 1939: 78-79.

[ back ] 12. Hall 2002: 82-89.

[ back ] 13. The name ‘Dymanes’ is a reasonable restoration for the lacuna that occurs at this point in the papyrus.

[ back ] 14. For the Dorian phulai, see Roussel 1976: 221-229.

[ back ] 15. See, however, Luraghi (2001a, 2002, and this volume) who questions the opinio communis that all Messenians were enslaved to Sparta at such an early date.

[ back ] 16. For the sceptical view of Messenian history, see inter alios Grote 1869: 421-440; Niese 1891: 26-30; Jacoby 1943: 112-181; Pearson 1962; Asheri 1983: 29-30; Musti and Torelli 1991: xii-xxviii. Contra Shero 1938: 504; Treves 1944: 104; Kiechle 1959; Zunino 1997. For more reconciliatory positions (and discussion of the debate): Alcock 1999; Luraghi 2002: 46-8; cf. Figueira 1999; Alcock 2001.

[ back ] 17. Gschnitzer 1955.

[ back ] 18. Hansen (1996) defines the former as a ‘city-ethnic’ and the latter as a ‘regional-ethnic.’ For ‘Lakedaimonioi’ as a city-ethnic and not a regional-ethnic, see Hall 2000: 77-80.

[ back ] 19. See Deshours 1993: 43.

[ back ] 20. For recent bibliography on the excavations, see Luraghi 2001a: 299 n. 82.

[ back ] 21. See Diod. 19.54.5 and Plut. Pel. 24.5 with Luraghi 2001a: 300 n. 88.

[ back ] 22. Luraghi 2002: 48-50 and in this volume, 112.

[ back ] 23. As elsewhere in the Greek world, ‘Messene’ would include not only the physical settlement of Messene but also its surrounding territory. It is, however, unlikely that Messene’s territory embraced the whole of the region that constitutes the modern nomos of Messenia. For ‘Messenioi’ as a city- ethnic, see Hansen 1996: 195.

[ back ] 24. Hansen 1996.

[ back ] 25. E.g. the Aithaies and Thouriatai mentioned in Thuc. 1.101.2.

[ back ] 26. Paus. 4.23 has Rhegion already under the rule of the Messenian tyrant Anaxilas in 664 BC and notes that his great-grandfather, Alkidamidas, arrived in Rhegion from Messenia at the time of the First Messenian War (cf. Antiokhos of Syrakousai FGrHist 555 F9), but this conflicts with the early fifth-century dates provided for Anaxilas’ reign by Hdt 7.164.1 and Thuc. 6.4.6. It is, then, generally believed that Alkidamidas arrived in Rhegion with Messenian refugees in the late-seventh or early-sixth century: see Pearson 1962: 421; Asheri 1983: 32; and, defending Pausanias through a recalibration of Olympiad dating, Shaw 1999: 275-281. Luraghi 1994: 193-197 doubts the existence of a true Messenian element at Rhegion.

[ back ] 27. SEG 26.311-314; Hdt. 7.164.1; Thuc. 6.4.6; Diod. 15.66.5; Strab. 6.2.3; Paus. 4.23.1-10. For the numismatic evidence, Robinson 1946. See, however, Luraghi 1994: 200-201, 209 who is more sceptical.

[ back ] 28. Diod. 14.34.3; Paus. 4.26.2-4.

[ back ] 29. Thuc. 1.103.3; Diod. 11.84; Paus. 4.24.7.

[ back ] 30. See Safran 1991; Cohen 1997. The term is most famously associated with Jewish and Armenian communities overseas. It is commonly believed that it was first used of Jewish communities outside Judaea (e.g. in the third-century BC Greek translation of Deuteronomy 28.25), though in fact it is used approximately a century earlier by Plato (Leg. 699a-d) where it describes the hypothetical Athenian community that would have existed overseas had the Athenians not decided to unite in self-defence against the Persian invasion in 480 BC.

[ back ] 31. Cf. Plut. Cim. 17.2. For the chronology of the rebellion, see Luraghi 2001a: 280-285.

[ back ] 32. Figueira 1999: 217.

[ back ] 33. Figueira 1999: 216.

[ back ] 34. See Luraghi 2002: 60. For the perioikic communities of Lakonia and Messenia, see Shipley 1997.

[ back ] 35. Hdt. 9.35.2, 9.64.2 and [Xen.] Ath.pol. also use the term ‘Messenioi’ to refer to the rebels of Messenia, but—as Thuc. 1.101.2 notes (see below)—this need not represent an ‘internal’ classification and may be a product of claims forged among the Messenian diaspora.

[ back ] 36. Contra Luraghi 2001a: 291.

[ back ] 37. Cf. Paus. 4.24.6: ‘On top of this disaster [a destructive earthquake], those of the Helots who used to be Messenians launched a rebellion on Mount Ithome’.

[ back ] 38. Cf. Thuc. 4.41.2.

[ back ] 39. In Figueira 1999: 217, the final part of this passage is translated ‘they persuaded the Athenians to withdraw from Pylos the Messenians and the other helots and anyone who had run away from Lakonia.’ I should note, however, that the author has shown me page proofs indicating his corrections to the manuscript at this point that were regrettably not incorporated in the final published version.

[ back ] 40. For the inscription: IvO 259; ML 74; SEG. 28. 432. For the possible historical context of the victory commemorated by the dedication, see Hölscher 1974. Beloch (1914: 165 n. 2) believed that the inscription referred to two separate communities resident at Naupaktos, though Asheri (1983: 35) tentatively speculates that both designations refer to the same community (i.e. Messenian by origin but Naupaktian by enfranchisement). For an unpublished inscription referring to a treaty between Messenians and Naupaktians, see Mastrokostas 1964: 295, cited in Figueira 1999: 214.

[ back ] 41. Daux 1937: 67-72; Jeffery 1990: 206 no. 8.

[ back ] 42. SEG 28 431; cf. Paus. 5.26.4-5. See, however, Luraghi 1994: 226 who suggests that Mikythos here describes himself as a citizen of both Rhegion and Zankle-Messina rather than as a Rhegian citizen whose ethnic origins are Messenian.

[ back ] 43. IG I2 1030.

[ back ] 44. E.g. Leahy 1958: 163; Pritchett 1965: 125; Wade-Gery 1966: 297; Forrest 1968: 79; Ste. Croix 1972: 97; Cartledge 1979: 138-139.

[ back ] 45. Jacoby 1944. The Dreros inscription is ML 2.

[ back ] 46. E.g. Asheri 1983: 31: ‘il giusto senso, gia mal compreso al tempo di Aristotele . . .’

[ back ] 47. See Braun 1994: 40-42.

[ back ] 48. Moretti (1946: 101-103) prefers to date the treaty to the mid-fifth century, thus referring to the Helot revolt of the 460s BC; cf. Nafissi 1991: 141; Cawkwell 1993: 368-370; Luraghi 2001a: 288 n. 34. Braun (1994: 43-45) inclines towards a seventh-century date though admits that a date in the fifth century is entirely feasible. The reconstructions of Spartan and Tegean relations are ultimately based—sometimes rather fancifully—on Hdt. 1.66-68.

[ back ] 49. Asheri 1983: 31. Kallisthenes (FGrHist 124 F23) referred to Arkadia as the second fatherland (δευτέρας πατρίδος) of Messenia.

[ back ] 50. Roehl 1882, no. 46; IvO 247; SGDI no. 3369; Jeffery 1990: 182 no. 4.

[ back ] 51. Versakis 1916: 88-89, 114-115; Jeffery 1990: 206 no. 3.

[ back ] 52. Jeffery 1990: 177, 203-204.

[ back ] 53. Bauslaugh 1990.

[ back ] 54. Ar. Lys. 170, 980, 1244, 1250, 1300.

[ back ] 55. SEG 26. 461. For the various dates ascribed to the treaty as well as interpretations concerning the identity of the Erxadieis, see Peek 1974; Cartledge 1976, 1978; Kelly 1978; Shipley 1997: 275 n. 53.

[ back ] 56. SEG 11.391; Jeffery 1990: 181 no. 1.

[ back ] 57. See Buck 1955: 14-15; Hainsworth 1967; Cassio 1984; Morpurgo Davies 1987; Hall 1995: 87-89, 1997: 174-177.

[ back ] 58. Figueira (1999: 213) notes that later the Messenians join the Argives in singing the Doric Paian (Thuc. 7.44.6). For the employment of homophônia as a topos in Greek literature (and especially battle narratives), see Petrocelli 2001.

[ back ] 59. Harvey 1994: 44; Colvin 1995: 45.

[ back ] 60. Bauslaugh 1990: 664; cf. Cartledge 1976: 91.

[ back ] 61. Bauslaugh 1990: 663-664.

[ back ] 62. Interestingly, this is precisely the period in which Zankle-Messina began to issue coins with the Doric legend ΜΕΣΣΑΝΙΩΝ, despite having previously employed legends in the Khalkidian dialect: see Jeffery 1990: 243. Although Anaxilas of Rhegion was probably the first to promulgate an ideology of Messenian origins in the 490s BC in order to detach Rhegion and Zankle-Messina from the Khalkidian orbit (see Luraghi 1994: 200-203), it was evidently the middle decades of the fifth century that witnessed the critical stage in the construction of a Dorian consciousness among the Messenians of the diaspora.

[ back ] 63. The restoration is that of Jeffery 1990: 204. However, Versakis (1916: 114) restored the fragmentary inscription as Μεθάν[ιοι] ἀνέθε[ν] Ἀθάναι [ἐκ] λαιδο[ς] (The Methanians dedicated [this] to Athena from the spoils), followed by Zunino 1997: 173. See Figueira 1999: 214.

[ back ] 64. For a recent summary of the sanctuary of Apollo Korythos, together with its material connections to Sparta (a further indication of Korone’s perioikic status), see Luraghi 2002: 50-3.

[ back ] 65. For the rhetoric of Spartan (and Syrakousan) appeals to Dorian characteristics, see Alty 1982; Hornblower 1996: 61-80; Hall 1997: 37-38; Jones 1999: 30-31.

[ back ] 66. The Spartans were famous for their periodic deportations of foreigners (e.g. Thuc 1.144; 2.39; Xen. Lac. 14.4; Pl. Prt. 342c; Leg.950b). Given the fear they entertained during the Messenian Revolt of the 460s BC that the Athenians might eventually begin to sympathize with the plight of the Messenians (Thuc. 1.102.3), it is hard to believe that they practised a more open policy with regard to Messenia.

[ back ] 67. Xenophon neglects entirely (and perhaps deliberately) to mention this event in the Hellenika.

[ back ] 68. See generally Dipersia 1974; Asheri 1983: 37-38; Figueira 1999: 219-220; Luraghi 2002: 61-4.

[ back ] 69. Cf. Plut. Ages. 34.1; Pel. 24.5; Nep. Epam. 8.5; Pelop. 4.3; Paus. 4.26-27.

[ back ] 70. Cf. Alkidamas’ support (ap. Schol. ad Arist. Rh. 1.13.1373b18) for the liberation of the helots on the grounds that nobody is a slave by nature. See Raaflaub, this volume.

[ back ] 71. Cf. Pearson 1962: 405; Luraghi 2001b: 51-52. For a text and translation of the surviving fragments of the Kresphontes: Harder 1985.

[ back ] 72. ML 13. For similar provisions in a fourth-century inscription that purports to replicate the original founding-decree of Kyrene, see ML 5.

[ back ] 73. Asheri 1983: 39.

[ back ] 74. Theopompos’ opinion on the Akhaian origin of the helots has not, however, been accepted by all scholars: Meyer (1937: 258), Kahrstedt (1919) and Pareti (1920: 189) argued that they were ethnically indistinguishable from their Spartan masters. See Oliva 1971: 40-41.

[ back ] 75. E.g. Hdt. 5.72.3; Paus. 7.1.5-7. See Hall 1997: 60, 2002: 80. For the distinction between the Dorians and Herakleidai, see Prinz 1979: 293; Musti 1985: 38; Pierart 1985: 278; Sakellariou 1990: 151; Vanschoonwinkel 1991: 360; Malkin 1994: 38-43; Ulf 1996: 252-264; Hall 1997: 59-62, 2002: 80-81.

[ back ] 76. Contra Pearson 1962: 408.

[ back ] 77. Luraghi (2001b: 47-49) correctly notes that trickery is often a laudable trait in heroes and need not carry negative connotations, but this also runs the risk of ignoring the victims of deceit. That Kresphontes’ duplicitous victory may be a source of self-congratulation in Messenian eyes does not necessarily preclude the possibility that, from a Spartan or Argive perspective, it has resulted in ill-gotten gains to which the Messenians have no title.

[ back ] 78. The partition of the Peloponnese among the Herakleidai appears to have been treated in both the Temenos and the Temenidai of Euripides, but it is not certain that Kresphontes’ trick was being recounted this early—the Temenidai actually seems to have attributed deception to the sons of Aristodemos. See POxy. 2455 fr. 9, with the discussion by Luraghi 2001b: 40-41. The specific ruse to which Kresphontes resorted in the pseudo-Apollodoran version is known from other contexts (see Soph. Aj. 1283-1287) but, again, this does not prove that it was associated with Kresphontes already in the fifth century: see Kiechle 1966: 496-497.

[ back ] 79. Pearson 1962: 404-405. A less specific account is presented in Pl. Leg. 3.683c-d.

[ back ] 80. This may present some difficulty to the otherwise robustly-argued view of Luraghi (2001b) that the pro-Spartan variant, recounted by Isokrates, was a modification of an earlier version, coined in the mid-fifth century to legitimate Argive interests.

[ back ] 81. Cf. the Neleid ancestry of the Peisistratid tyrants of Athens, the rule of Akhaian-Heraklid leaders over the Aiolians of Thessaly, and the dominion of ‘Greek’ autocrats over supposedly ‘non-Greek’ populations in Makedon and Molossia. See Hall 2001: 168-169, 2002: 166.

[ back ] 82. Contra Figueira 1999: 221: ‘In the socialization by which the Spartiates endeavored to inculcate into the Helots their inferior status, it is noteworthy that elaborated ethnic symbolism was not included’.

[ back ] 83. See Giles et al. 1977: 320-321; Hall 1997: 31.

[ back ] 84. Antonaccio 1995: 70-102.

[ back ] 85. For possible instances of ancestralizing appeals to the Akhaian past in the Argive Plain, see Hall 1997: 99-107, 138-142; in perioikic Lakonia, Hall 2000: 87-89.

[ back ] 86. For recent bibliography on the excavation, see Luraghi 2001a: 299 n. 83. Elsewhere (2002: 55-56), Luraghi compares the iconography of the terracotta relief plaques found in the sanctuary with that of the so-called Lakonian hero-reliefs. For the possibly Akhaian connotations of the latter, see Hall 2000: 88.

[ back ] 87. Cf. Asheri 1983: 30: ‘Uno dei primi desiderata del governo filo-tebano locale fu per forza di cose l’identita nazionale.’

[ back ] 88. For a parallel reticence on the part of Pausanias concerning Messenia’s history under Spartan rule, see Alcock 2001: 143-145. For the originally non-Messenian origins of the myth of the tripartite division of the Peloponnese among Akhaian Heraklids, see Luraghi 2001b.

[ back ] 89. For Triopas’ connection with Argos, see Paus. 2.16.1. For Lelex as first king of Lakonia: 3.1.1.

[ back ] 90. Deshours 1993: 47-49; Figueira 1999: 231.

[ back ] 91. See Deshours 1993: 47, who nevertheless proceeds to argue that the -ênê suffix is prehellenic and that the figure of the eponymous Messene predates Epameninondas’ foundation of the city.

[ back ] 92. Figueira 1999: 231 argues that Messene was discussed by Hellanikos, on the basis of Schol. Eur. Or. 932. It is evident that the Scholiast to Euripides made use of Hellanikos’ genealogy, though that cannot exclude the possibility that Messene (who is not specifically mentioned by Hellanikos) is a later addition: see the stemmata in Hall 1997: 82-83.

[ back ] 93. One of the post-liberation phylai at Messene took its name from Kresphontes; the other four were also named after Heraklids. See Jones 1987: 146-148; Luraghi 2001b: 57.

[ back ] 94. Hall 1995: 91, 1997: 180.