Greek Public Monuments of the Persian Wars

IX. Athenian Monuments of the Persian Wars in General

43. Athenian portico at Delphi with dedicatory offerings.

Syll.3 29; Herodotus 9.121; Pausanias 10.11.6.

Portico: Amandry 1952.

Inscription on the stylobate. Syll.3 29; SEG 13.312.

Haussoulier 1881: 7-19; Roehl1882: 169,3a; Koldewey 1884; Wilamowitz 1893: 287-288; Koehler 1891; Hitzig and Blümner 1896,3: 700-701; Homolle 1896: 615-616; Pomtow 1896a: 609-613; Pomtow 1896b; Wilhelm 1898; Roehl 1907: 73.23; Hicks and Hill 1901: 11; Furtwängler 1901: 391-392; Pomtow 1901; Pomtow 1902; Furtwängler 1904: 370; Frazer 1913,5: 285; Wilamowitz 1922: 86; Löwy 1937: 14-15; Dinsmoor 1942: 194-195; Tod 1945-1948,1: 18; Amandry 1946; Dinsmoor 1950: 142; La Coste-Messelière 1957: 324 and pl. 126-134; Lawrence 1957: 151-152; Berve and Gruben 1960: 138-139.

Syll.3 29 :

“The Athenians dedicated the stoa and the cabl[es a]nd the ship’s ornaments, having taken them from the en[em]y.” 

Herodotus 9.121 (The Athenians under Xanthippus have just recovered the cables of the bridge over the Hellespont, which had been removed by the Persian Oebazus):

“Having done these things, they sailed to Greece, taking, among other goods, the cables of the bridges, in order to dedicate them in their sanctuaries.”

Pausanias 10.11.6:

“The Athenians built the stoa from goods which had come to them in the war from the Peloponnesians and as many as were allies of the Peloponnesians. There lie the pointed ornaments of the ships and bronze shields; the inscription on them enumerates the cities from which the Athenians took first fruits, that of the Eleans, that of the Lacedaemonians, Sicyon, Leukas, and Corinth itself. These are from naval battles, and there was a sacrifice to Theseus and to Poseidon at the so-called Rhion. And the inascription appears to be for Phormio son of Asopichos and his deeds.”

The portico of the Athenians at Delphi was built to house the spoils of victory in a sea battle and was dedicated to Apollo. It was discovered by French excavators in 1880 (Haussoulier 1881: 7-19). The structure had been described by Pausanias as containing the beaks of ships and bronze shields, with an inscription enumerating the cities from which the spoils were taken and mentioning a sacrifice to Theseus and Poseidon at Rhium. It probably also contained a dedicatory formula showing that this was an Athenian dedication. Pausanias rightly connected these dedications with the naval victories of Phormio at the outset of the Peloponnesian War (429 B. C.; Thuc. 2.83-92), but he also inferred that the portico itself was constructed from the revenue acquired from these victories. The inscription on the stylobate, however, is written in early Attic letters and clearly indicates that Pausanias’ date is too late for the construction of a stoa.

Architecturally the strongest argument against a sixth century date is the use of Pentelic marble in the shafts of the columns. The marble did not come into use at Athens until after the Persian Wars. Advocates of sixth century dating claimed that, since the bases and capitals were of Parian marble, the original monument did not employ the Pentelic; they held that it was substituted in a renovation. Pentelic marble, however, was less supple than Parian and was difficult to use for the delicate carving of a capital. It need not cause suprise that Island marble was preferred for the sixth century and before the Persian Wars, and that the new Pentelic marble was used in the shafts. The theory of a renovation seems to complicate the problem unduly.

Paleographic evidence is also not conclusive. The inscription is written in the archaic Attic alphabet, used exclusively in the sixth century and gradually discarded in the fifth, some letters apparently being retained longer than others. Characterstic letters are theta with cross, three stroke sigma, alpha with bar horizontal or slightly oblique, nu with parallel, oblique hastas on the same level, and epsilon with short, horizontal bars of equal length. It is now certain that theta with cross did not yield to dotted theta until after the Persian Wars (Meritt 1936: 357-358 and Raubitschek 1949: 43, 53, 104, 107, 154, 172, 380). Moreover, three stroke sigma did not disappear before 450 (cf, Tod 1945-1948,1: 12,43; Raubitschek 1949: 173).

The inscription suggests that the Athenians built the portico to house the spoils of victory. Since the stoa and inscription make an important monument, the vctory must also have been significant, Three such victories may be suggested: the victory overthe Boeotians and Chalkidians in 506; the battle of salamis in 480; and the battle at the Eurymedon in 468.

Arguments against dating the stoa in the sixth century may be urged against the first battle. As for the last, it is known that the Athenian dedication at Delphi for Eurymedon was a gilded statue of Athena mounted upon a bronze palm tree (Paus. 10.5.14), the foundations of which have recently been discovered in the northeast corner of the temple of Apollo (Amandry 1947, 1947-1948, and 1954). The battle of Salamis seemed a likely candidate and was suggested by Pomtow.

A statue of Apollo was dedicated at Delphi as a Panhellenic offering after Salamis, however (no. 29); Salamis was not a victory of Athens alone and the prize for valor was awarded the Aigenetans (Hdt. 8.93). Still, the Athenians could have put up their own dedication at Delphi for the battle but there are other reasons which indicate that it was not the relevant one. The wide intercolumniation of the portico (See n. 39.) strongly suggests that it was built primarily to display the hopla kai takroteria of its dedicatory inscription. The akroteria are the beaks of ships or the ornaments upon beaks; the hopla, on the other hand, can be “tackle” or may be armor, such as could have been taken from hoplites or even marines. A naval victory is suggested but the evidence is, so far, inconclusive.

Herodotus may provide a clue to the problem. He says (9.121) that the Greeks (apparently Athenians), after the capture of Sestus (478), took the cables of the bridge which Xerxes had built over the Hellespont back to Athens, in order to dedicate them in their shrines. These cables are called hopla. Amandry claims that the Athenian portico at Delphi was built to house them, as indicated in the inscription. This idea has received favorable notice (cf, n.41; Hammond1959: 253; MacKendrick 1962: 170-171); a date after 478 is supported on both architectural and epigraphical grounds and amandry’s suggestion offers an attractive confirmation of Herodotus.

As for the series of naval victories which followed Plataea the Spartans participated at Mycale (Hdt. 9.90) and Byzantium was captured by Pausanias (Thuc. 1.89.2). In the strict sense Sestus is the only battle of the years 480 and 479 in which the Athenians were the sole commanders. Nevertheless the cables of Xerxes’ bridge were an appropriate symbol for victory in the wars in general and their imposing display was probably not meant to commemorate only the battle of Sestus.

44. North Wall of the Athenian Acropolis, built from the ruins of the Persian destruction of 480 B. C.

Cf. Thucydides 1.93.1-2.

Walter1929: 15; Dinsmoor 1950: 91, 150; Gomme 1945-1956,1: 260-261; Kirsten and Kraiker 1962: 53-54.

Thucydides 1.93.1-2:

“In this way the Athenians walled their city in a short time. The building of it is still clear and also that it was done in haste. For the foundations of all kinds of stones lie beneath it and are not worked into it regularly, but as they once brought up each piece, many stelae were taken from grave markers and stones that had been lying around were collected. For the circuit of the city was extended greater everywhere, and for this reason they were driven, moving all things alike.”

Describing the rebuilding of the Athenian city walls after the threat of Xerxes had been repulsed, Thucydides says that it was hastily constructed from all types of stones lying around the city in ruins. From the section now preserved at the Dipylon, which is full of stelae and bases heaped upon one another, one can readily confirm his testimony. The wall was hastily put up in his fashion at the instigation of Themistocles.

The North Wall of the Acropolis is built in the same way and hence may have been built by Themistocles, too. However, it displays burnt blocks from the Acropolis and thus is a memorial of the Persian destruction of 480. The North Wall was completed under Pericles (Kirsten and Kraiker 1962: 53-54).

Moreover, materials were taken from the ruins of the Old Parthenon (no. 20) and built into the North wall (Dinsmoor 1950: 150). In 480, therefore, it was evident that the prohibitions of the Oath of Plataea were strongly felt. The present remains of the North wall of the Acropolis in which architectural blocks are ostentatiously displayed confirm Thucydides’ statement that it was built in haste.

45. Statue of Zeus Eleutherios in front of the Stoa Eleutherios in the Athenian Agora.

Isocrates 9.57; Pausanias 1.3.2; Harpocration, s. v. eleutherios Zeus.

Hitzig and Blümner 1896,1: 139-140; Frazer 1913,2: 61-62; Jessen 1905-1913a: 2348-2349; Farnell 1896-1909: 116; Thompson1937: 5-77; Martin 1942-1943; Travlos 1949: 389-390; Hill 1953: 41-45; Wycherley 1957: 21-31; Vanderpool 1959.

Isocrates 9.57 (At this point Isocrates is praising Conon and Evagoras for freeing the Greeks from Spartan domination by the victory at Cnidus in 394 B. C.):

“Besides, we honored them with the greatest honors and set up statues of them, where the image of Zeus the Savior stands, near it and them, as a memorial for both, and for the greatness of benefits and friendship to each other.”

Pausanias 1.3.2 (Pausanias has enumerated the statues of statesmen, Conon, Timotheus, and Evagoras, near the Royal Stoa):

“There stand Zeus Eleutherios and the Emperor Hadrian . . . “

Harpocration, s. v. eleutherios Zeus:

“Hyperides: ‘Now to Zeus, O men of the jury, a title has been given which proclaims freedom because freedmen built the stoa which is near him.’ Didymus says that the orator is wrong. For he was called eleutherios because the Athenians were freed from the Medes. Because he is inscribed Soter, he is named Eleutherios, as Menander shows.”

A statue of Zeus Eleutherios, sometimes referred to as Zeus Soter, stood in the Athenian Agora, in front of the Eleutherios Stoa along with statues of statesmen of the fourth century. Its connection ith the Persian Wars is established by Didymus, as reported by Harpocration; he contests a statement of the orator Hyperides that the Eleutherios Stoa was so named because it was built by freedmen. Didymus says that, on the contrary, the stoa was named from the statue which stood in front of it, set up to commemorate th deliverance from the Persians. The statue is also attested by Hesychius, Suidas, s. v. eleutherios Zeus; Schol. on Ps-Plato, Eryxias 329a; and Etymologicum Magnum, s. v. eleutherios.

Commentators have generally followed Didymus (Hitzig and Blümner 1896,1: 1390140; Frazer 1913,2: 61-62; Jessen1905-1913a: 2348-2349). The Eleutherios Stoa is identified with the Royal Stoa (Paus. 1.14.6) by the American excavators of the Agora (See, especially, Thompson 1937: 5-77). The stoa dates from the last third of the fifth century B. C. but beneath it the remains of a small archaic structure were found. These remains surrounded a rectangular base suitable for a statue and nearby were traces of what might have been an altar. Apparently the spot had been sacred to Zeus since the sixth century B. C. What stood there originally was destroyed by the Persians and no public building occupied the spot from 480 to ca. 430, when the stoa was built. Because of its location in an area sacred to Zeus it had a sacred as well as a civic function. If the Stoa Eleutherios and the Royal Stoa were in fact the same building, the two names may derive from the stoa’s dual function.

The statue of Zeus Eleutherios probably stood on a circular base in front of the stoa (Thompson 1937: 57-58), traces of which remain. The remains of the base are constructed of a mixture of Hymettian marble and poros limestone from Aigina, a building material common in Athens in the fourth century and sometimes used in the fifth, notably in the Royal Stoa itself. The center of the statue base lies directly on the E-W axis of the stoa and this suggests that it was intentionally put there contemporaneously with the building of the stoa or certainly not much later.

Hence it may be considered a dedication to Zeus and the epithet Eleutherios strongly connects it with the deliverance from Persia, as Didymus says. As a monument of the late fifth century it commemorates the Persian wars in general. For a different theory about the meaning of Eleutherios, however, see Oliver 1960.

46. Statues of Miltiades and Themistocles in the Athenian Agora.

Demosthenes 23.196; Pausanias 1.18.3.

Hitzig and Blümner 1896,1: 212; Frazer 1913,2: 174; Richter 1955: 1, 19-20; Wycherley 1957: 94,207,214,216.

Demosthenes 23.196:

“Now at first they (the Athenians of the fifth century ) did not make bronze statues of Themistocles, who won the naval victoy at Salamis, and Miltiades, who was the leader at Marathon, and many others, nor did they especially exalt them.”

Pausanias 1.18.3 (In an enumeration of the statues in the Prytaneum in the Athenian Agora, Pausanias says that there statues of various men.):

“For they have statues of Miltiades and Themistocles and have changed the statue of a Thracian to that of a Roman man.”

In his description of the Athenian Agora Pausanias says that there were statues of Themistocles and Miltiades in the Prytaneum. These were probably portrait statues set up in honor of the famous statesmen, a fairly common practice in the fourth century and possibly even in the late fifth. Aristotle says that Harmodius and Aristogeiton were the first to have portrait statues in the Agora (Rhet. 1.3.9) as a public honor and Demosthenes says that Conon was the first statesman after them to be so honored (20.70). Furthermore he claims (23.96) that Themistocles and Miltiades did not have bronze statues in the fifth century; but he doubtless means public statues in the Athenian Agora, since there was a statue of Miltiades in the group sent to Delphi (no. 17) and the statues of Themistocles privately set up elsewhere (cf, the statue of Themistocles in the temple of Artemis Aristoboule, Plut. Themistokles 22; the statue of him in the market place of Magnesia, Diodorus 11.58.1 and Cornelius Nepos 10.3; his tomb in Magnesia, which may have had a statue, Thuc. 1.138.5, cf. Richter 1955: 1, 19). Moreover, since Themistocles died in exile, it is altogether unlikely that he had a statue in the Agora in the mid-fifth century. By the end of the century, however, his reputation may have been restored to its former fame (cf. Thuc. 1.138.3).

These statues may therefore be considered monuments of the Persian Wars in general, of a type which did not become widely popular until the fourth century. They may have been included in the catalog because they represent an important direction whih Persian War commemoration had taken in the minds of the Athenians by the fourth century. The portrait statues were secular honors; the only certain example of a sculptured portrait of a general in the fifth century, the statue of Miltiades in Delphi (no. 17), was connected with religious motifs. Nevertheless a trend in the movement from the religious to the secular in public portraiture of the fifth century may be seen in the painting of Marathon in the Stoa Poikile (no. 14). This depicted both gods and men, to be sure, but it was not displayed in a religious building.

47. Statue of Xanthippus set up with one of Pericles on the Athenian Acropolis.

Pausanias 1.25.1.

Hitzig and Blümner 1896,1: 276; Frazer 1913,2: 321-322; Sauer 1918: 373.

Pausanias 1.25.1:

“There are on the Athenian Acropolis astatues of Pericles son of Xanthippus and of Xanthippos himself, who fought the naval battle at Mycale against the Medes.”

The statue of Xanthippus set up on the Athenian Acropolis is probably a public honor of the fourth century (cf. no. 46) but may be of the late fifth, especially since it stood next to one of Pericles. The bust of Pericles by Cresilas in the British Museum is almost certainly a fifth century work; similarly a bust in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptothek is possibly one of Xanthippus (Sauer 1918: 373).

48. Tomb of Themistocles near the Piraeus.

Thucydides 1.138.5-6; Plutarch, Themistokles 32.4-6; Pausanias 1.1.2.

Hitzig and Blümner 1896,1: 119-120; Perrin 1901: 259-260; Frazer 1913,2: 21-22; Kahrstedt 1934 1697; Lenschau 1937: 92-93; Gomme 1945-1956,1: 445-446.

Thucydides 1.138.5-6:

“There is, then, a memorial for him in Magnesia of Asia in the market place . . . . . but they say that his relatives recovered his bones to his home, as he had bid them, and that they were buried secretly by the Athenians in Attica. For it was not allowed them to bury anyone who had been exiled for treachery.”

Plutarch, Themistocles 32.4-6:

“The Magnesians have a magnificent tomb for him in their agora; concerning his remains, however, it is necessary to trust Andocides . . . when he says that the Athenians tore them out and stole them . . . and Phylarchos says this, . . . bringing up that a certain Neokles and Demopolis, sons of Themistocles, wished to move a festival and an experience, so that a chance bystander would not fail to recognize that he had been sculpted. Didymus the perigete says, in his Peri mnematon, supposing it rather than knowing it, that he lies in the Great Harbor of Piraeus, away from the point according to Alkimos, at a sort of elbow, where he is buried within it, where there is an inlet from the sea, and a large pedestal stands there with the tomb of Themistocles upon it in the form of an altar. He thinks that Plato the comic writer bears witness to this:

‘Your tomb is heaped up in a fine place,

and everywhere there is access for merchants,

and it will observe those sailing in and out,

and will be seen whenever there is a contest of ships.’”

Pausanias 1.1.2:

“There are still ship sheds in my time and the tomb of Themistocles in the Great Harbor. For they say that the Athenians changed their minds about Themistocles and that his relatives recovered his bones from Magnesia.”

Tradition identified a point of land near the Piraeus as the tomb of Themistocles (Plut., Themistokles 32.5; Paus. 1.1.2; cf. Lenschau, ibid.). Plutarch cites a reference to it by Plato Comicus (5th/4th century B. C.), in addition to citing Andocides, Phylarchus, and Diodorus the periegete. Hence the tomb of Themistocles was in the Piraeus at least in the early fourth century and possibly in the late fifth.

Despite his ostracism Themistocles was considered one of the famous statesmen of the period, and there was a portrait statue of him in the Agora at least in the fourth century (no. 46). Consequently there may have been some sentiment to have him bnuried in Attica but his tomb may not have been there when Thucydides wrote. Nevertheless Pausanias took note of it and it was doubtless a famous landmark.

49. Tomb of Aristides in Phalerum.

Plutarch, Aristides 27.1.

Perrin 1901: 328; Limentani 1964: 4-5,10.

Plutarch, Aristides 27.1:

“His tomb, however, is pointed out in Phaleron, which they say that the city built itself for him, since he left nothing for burial.”

Plutarch says that Aristides had become so impoverished that he had to be buried at public expense. Yet the poverty of Aristides was proverbial, in keeping with his reputation for justice (cf. Demosthenes 25.209); hence this may account for Plutarch’s story. If Aristides was buried at public expense, his tomb would acquire the chracter of a monument to his service tothe state. Athens did recognize the contributions of some of her statesmen of the era of the Persian Wars. At least in the fourth century portrait statues of Miltiades, Themistocles, and Xanthippus were set up (nos. 46,47). Curiously enough, a statue of Aristides is not attested. Nevertheless his tomb was probably cited as a site of some interest, although Limentani thinks that this may not be the actual tomb of the statesman (cf. Plutarch’s phrase … phasi kataskeuasai).


[ back ] 1. It was discovered in situ by Haussoulier in 1880, except for one fragment which was located in 1893. The inscription was, however, correctly restored even before the finding of this fragment. It is beyond question that the inscription was engraved on the portico at the time of its construction. [ back ]

[ back ] 2. Originally the portico had eight columns, evenly spaced 3.58 m. apart. The first five and the seventh have survived. The wide intercolumniation was necessitated by the desire to display the cables and the ship’s ornaments. [ back ]

[ back ] 3. Among scholars dates have ranged from 552 to 459 B. C. Only Frazer (1913,5: 285) accepts Pausanias’ date of 429; all others agree that the archaic writing points to an earlier period. For a recent summary of the problems see Amandry 1952: 91-92, notes 1-7. [ back ]

[ back ] 4. Amandry 1952: 100-101. Since the late nineteenth and early twentieth century a trend away from a sixth century date has been noticeable. A date in the 470’s has received support in recent handbooks of Greek architecture. See Robertson 1943: 335; Dinsmoor 1950: 142; Lawrence 1957: 151-152. [ back ]

[ back ] 5. The evidence is summarized by Amandry 1952: 92-101. Briefly stated, it is as follows: (1) the length of the inner axis, 3 m. 58 cm., is quite long; there is no other certain example of an inner axis greater than the height of the column, here 3 m. 7.8 cm. (2) The ratio between the height of the column and the lower diameter of the shaft varies between 7.88 and 8.48. Cf. the temple of Artemis at Ephesus, ca. 8; the peripteral temple behind the temple of Rhoecus at Samos, ca. 8; the throne of Apollo at Amuclae, ca. 7; but the ratio reaches 9.13 in the Ionic temple at Locris (first half of the fifth century) and, from the middle of the fifth century on, it reaches and gradually passes 9, although there are exceptions, notably the temple at the Ilissus (8.25) and the temple of Athena Nike (7.8). (3) Ratio of the height of the base to the diameter of the shaft at the point of intersection with the base 0.52. For Attic temples of the second half of the fifth century the ratio is 0.485-0.38. In the fourth century it becomes less than 0.40. [ back ]