Greek Public Monuments of the Persian Wars

XII. Athenian Monuments of Plataea

57. Trophy on the battlefield.

Plutarch, Aristides 20.3.

Perrin 1901: 315; Mitsos 1940: 51, n.2.

Plutarch, Aristides 20.3:

“. . . the Lacedaemonians set up a trophy in private, and the Athenians also, apart from them.”

Plutarch’s notice of two trophies for the battle of Plataea apparently contradictss the information of Pausanias (9.2.6), who speaks of a single trophy. For a possible explanation see no. 32.

58. Persian spoils dedicated in the Parthenon as votive offerings.

Demosthenes 24.129; Dio Chrysostom 2.136; Pausanias 1.27.1; Harpocration, s. v. argyropos diphros.

Hitzig and Blümner 1896,1: 293; Frazer 1913,2: 342-343; Thompson 1956: 281-291.

Demosthenes 24.129 (In this passage Demosthenes charges Timocrates with stealing treasures from the Acropolis. The speech was probably delivered in 353 B. C.):

“Then as treasurer in the Acropolis of the first fruits of the city which it had taken from the barbarians, he stole them from the Acropolis, namely, the silver-footed chariot and the sword of Mardonius, which was worth three hundred darics.”

Dio Chrysostom 2.136:

“Therefore, he said, I am envious of the Athenians for the expense and lavish display around the city and sanctuaries of as many deeds they have accomplished previously. For they have the sword of Mardonius, and the shields of the Spartans captured on Pylos, a more revered and better dedication than the propylaia of the Acropolis and that at Olympia worth more than ten thousand talents.”

Pausanias 1.27.1:

“As many dedications as there are worthy of mention (i. e., in the temple of Athena Polias), there are, of the ancient ones, a chariot . . . spoils from the Medes, the corselet of Masistius, which he had for his leadership of the cavalry in Plataea, and the sword said to be that of Mardonius. I know that Masistius died when he was fighting with Athenian horsemen; and a more revered and better dedication, they would not have received in the beginning from a Spartiate man who had fallen nor equally did the Lacedaemonians allow Athenians to carry away the sword of Mardonius fighting opposite them.”

Harpocration, s. v. argyropos diphros [“silver footed throne”]:

“That of Xerxes, and who as a warrior, presided and sat upon it , as he watched the naval battle. It is kept in the Parthenon of Athena.”

A great quantity of the spoils of battle came into the hands of the Greeks after the battle of Plataea (Hdt. 9.80) and had doubtless come into the hands of the Athenians after Marathon, although the booty of the earlier battle was perhaps not so spectacular as that of the latter. The Persian spoils kept on the Acropolis were included by Pericles in his account of the wealth of the Athenian state at the beginning of the Peloponnesian war (Thus. 2.13.4).

Among the more noteworthy items of the spoils were the gold corselet of Masistius (Paus. 1.27.1), the sword of Mardonius (Paus., ibid.); Demosthenes 24.129; Dio Chrysostom 2.136), the silver footed throne of Xerxes (Harpocration; Demosthenes, ibid.). Moreover, the Odeum of Pericles (no. 59) was supposedly built from the masts and timbers of Persian ships and the entire structure was made ini imitation of the tent of Xerxes. According to Pausanias and Harpocration the spoils had been dedicated to Athena.

From known examples of Persian antiquites D. B. Thompson speculates profitably as to the precise nature of the spoils, especially the corselet of Masistius, the dagger of Mardonius, and the throne of Xerxes (1956: 281-291).

59. Odeum of Pericles, made in imitation of the tent of Xerxes with masts and timbers of Persian ships used as beams.

Plutarch, Pericles 13.5-6; Pausanias 1.20.4; Vitruvius 5.9.1.

Hiller 1873; Dörpfeld, 1892; Hitzig and Blümner 1896,1:230-232; Frazer 1913,2: 219-221; Judeich 1931: 306-308; Allen 1942; Robertson 1943: 174; Broneer 1944; Dinsmoor 1950: 211; Thompson 1950: 89; Lawrence 1957: 256; Davison 1958: 33-36. Cf. Wycherley 1957: 612-163.

Plutarch, Pericles 13.5-6; Pausanias 1.20.4; Vitruvius 5.9.1.

Hiller 1873; Dörpfeld, 1892; Hitzig and Blümner 1896,1:230-232; Frazer 1913,2: 219-221; Judeich 1931: 306-308; Allen 1942; Robertson 1943: 174; Broneer 1944; Dinsmoor 1950: 211; Thompson 1950: 89; Lawrence 1957: 256; Davison 1958: 33-36. Cf. Wycherley 1957: 612-163.

Plutarch, Pericles 13.5-6:

“The Odeum, in its internal arrangement has many seats and many columns, and in its roof it inclines on all sides from a single peak, and they say that it is an imitation of the tent of Xerxes, made under the sponsorship of Pericles. Wherefore, Cratinus, in the Thracian Women jokes about him:

This squill-headed Zeus comes

with the Odeum on his head,

since the ostracism has passed.”

Pausanias 1.20.4:

“Near the sanctuary of Dionysus and the theater is a structure, and it is said to have been built in imitation of the tent of Xerxes.”

Vitruvius 5. 9.1 (Immediately preceding this passage the various porticoes in existence have been enumerated):

“. . . and likewise at Athens there is a portico of Eumenia, a shrine of Father Liber, on the left for those going out of the theater, an Odeum which Themistocles covered with stone columns and sails and timbers taken from ships from the Persian spoils.”

The Odeum or Music Hall of Pericles was said to have been made in imitation of the tent of Xerxes, with the mastrs and timbers of Persian ships used in support of the roof. The evidence for this is literary, but Plutrch should be reliable on this point (Pericles 13.5-6), since he apparently follows a fifth century source, the comedian Cratinus.

The Odeum would have been an odd, exotic-looking structure, proding a good setting for the performance of drama. Moreover, the tent of Xerxes was left behind for Mardonius (Hdt. 9.82) and could easily have fallen into Greek hands after the battle of Plataea. As a memorial of the Greek victory it served as a reminder comparable to the Persian spoils kept on the Acropolis (Thuc. 2.13.4) and the cables of Xerxes’ bridge over the Hellespont displayed in the Athenian portico at Delphi (no. 43).

The building was square (cf. Kastriotis, in Karo 1930: 89 and Broneer 1944: 309) and had a conical roof with stone columns and wooden seats. Vitruvius (5.9.1) says that Themistocles had roofed the Odeum with the masts and timbers of Persian ships taken as booty in war. He is the only authority for this statement.

The mention of ships taken as spoils of war coud only refer tothe battle of Salamis. The Music Hall of Pericles, however, was apparently built in the last quarter of the fifth century (cf. Dinsmoor 1951: 317-318).

Excavations have shown that there were stone columns and wood used in the construction of the building, but there is no way of choosing between Themistocles or Pericles as the builder (Davison 1958: 34-35). Davison has recently drawn attention to passages in Hesychius (s. v. odeion) and Suidas (s. v. Pratinas) in which it is clear that musical contests took place in an Odeum upon a platform designated as ikria (cf. Pickard-Cambridge 1953: 10-15). Suidas reports taht the platform collapsed . davison claims that it is reasonably safe to conclude that the accident occurred during the first thirty years of the fifth century. It is likely that Themistocles did some building on the Odeum site after Salamis and that Pericles later rebuilt and repaired the original building.

60. Persian helmet dedicated at Olympia.

Kunze 1961: 129-137 and pl. 56-57.

Inscription on the helmet: Διὶ Ἀθεναῖοι Μέδον λαβόντες

“The Athenians to Zeus, having taken it from the Medes”

The excvations of the German Archaeological Institute at Olympia have recently brought to light a Persian helmet of bronze with an inscription indicating that it is a dedication to Zeus (cf. Kunze 1961 and Hood 1961-1962: 11; Schischilone 1963: 285; Rolley 1963: 231; and Knudsen 1964: 76). Clearly this is a dedication for one of the battles of the Persin wars but the particular battle is not specified. The Zeus of Olympia was a Panhellenic deity, however, and there are apparently no Athenian dedications to him for the battle of Marathon. The helmet may be a dedication for Plataea or, perhaps, a dedication after that battle for the victory over Persia in general, but this is not certain.

61. Shields hung on the architraves of the temple at Delphi dedicated from spoils.

Aeschines 3.116; Pausanias 10.19.1.

Hitzig and Blümner 1896,3: 734; Riuse 1907: 114; Frazer 913,5: 331; Parke 1939: 71-78.

Aeschines 3.116:

“There was proclaimed to us, by those wishing to show good will to the city, that the Amphissians, having been overthrown at that time and treating the Thebans badly, passed a decree on our city, to give the Athenian people five hundred talents, because we set golden shields on the new temple before it was finished and inscribed upon them a suitable inscription: the Athenians from the Medes and Thebans, when they fought in opposition to the Greeks.”

Pausanias 10.19.4:

“Golden weapons are on the architraves; the Athenians dedicated shields from the deed at Marathon, the Aetolians (dedicated) behind them and on the right the weapons of the Galatians; their form is very close to that of Persian shields.”

Shields taken as spoils from one of the battles of the Persian Wars had adorned the architraves of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. Early in the fourth century the temple was destroyed, either by fire or earthquake. Its rebuilding occupied the remainder of the century.

In the rebuilding, shields of the Persian type, which were gilded, were hung on the architraves as they had been previously. Near them the Athenians engraved an inscription saying that they had taken them from the Persians and the Thebans. It was doubtless a copy of an earlier inscription. Aeschines (3.116) said that the Amphiktyons attempted to fine the Athenians for hanging the shields on the temple. According to the orator this resolution was by the Amphiktyonic council in the archonship of Theophrastus (340/39 B. C.).

Pausanias (10.19.4) says that these gilded shields were dedicated from the spoils of Marathon but the inscription reported by Aeschines indicates that in the battle concerned the Athenian foes were the Persians and the Thebans. Thebes fought with Persia only at Plataea (Hdt. 9.67) and therefore the shields must be a dedication from the spoils of Plataea (Parke 1939: 71-78).

62. Epigram for Plataea.

Palatine Anthology 7.257. Cf. Schol. Aristides 13.126,132.

Bergk, Poetae Lyricae Graecae, 4th ed., Simonides, 101; Preger 1891: 274; Hauvette 1894: 62; Weber 1929: 45-47; Friedländer 1938-1939: 99; Diehl, Simonides 119; Jacoby 1945: 185, n. 107.

Palatine Anthology 7.257:

“Of uncertain author, for the Athenian defenders,

Sons of the Athenians, having destroyed the army of Persia,

Kept hateful slavery away from the fatherland.”