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Thread: Athenian Police? (from Ancient Lead Mining...).

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    conon394's Avatar hoi polloi
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    Default Athenian Police? (from Ancient Lead Mining...).

    Split out from "Ancient Lead Mining on the Halkidiki Peninsula & Alexander's Conquest of the Levant"

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclops View Post
    I guess this story won't be published for a while, and the archaeologist involved has to navigate the usual minefields that digging in the Holy Land involves.

    ...

    I'm pretty sure they [Scythian Archers] were.

    http://www.stoa.org/projects/demos/a...&greekEncoding

    It may be that like the Varangians they began as one ethnic lump and became a more diverse group over time, but the existence in classical Athens of a body of Skythian slaves who acted as a police force is well attested.
    @Cyclops

    Just an aside here to avoid OT posting.

    Good link, but I there is a mistake in hanging much to much on thin evidence and creating sort of a historical myth that takes on a life of its own.

    First, I object to the word Police even thought it has been widely used by many historians and text books etc over time. Police to modern reader it implies far too wide a scope of power, authority and scale of operation than any source allows. Critically in the references by Aristophanes it is an Athenian Magistrate of one type or another who has the power of action not the Scythian/Archers. Notably they seem not to have been present or played a role in period of assassinations that helped create and install the fear and suspicion that made the coup of 411 possible.

    That last point is interesting since in origin both the orators describe a corporate military body, given the listing with military reforms and other new Athenian forces post Salamis. Such a force should have been ideal for the tracking down of assassins. Protecting the special assembly en mass when it was moved outside the walls for the fatal day of coup voting (a move Kagan rightly notes was meant to scare away attendance by the poor not of hoplite or cavalry status) would also seem to have been a potential function of an actual Police force and one that would be disinterested politically. Also note they do not figure in the Pericles list of Athenian military assets in the first Year of the Peloponnesian war..

    Using Athenian is also problematic since they are limited at most to the City proper not seen in the Piraeus or on the walls or at the gates etc.

    On balance Agora mall cops.

    Sorry a lot of typing for a tiny point but it always bugs me to see them called Athenian Police. But it is a bit more than a peeve, since the sort of truism of them as Mecenary police bleeds subtly into arguments about the status of Athenian horse archers (or their origins) and other flat assertions that Peltasts in Athens are mercenaries or such quite in the face of evidence (5th or 4th centuries).
    IN PATROCINIVM SVB Dromikaites

    'One day when I fly with my hands - up down the sky, like a bird'

    But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs and arms and heads, chopped off in battle, shall join together at the latter day and cry all 'We died at such a place; some swearing, some crying for surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left.

    Hyperides of Athens: We know, replied he, that Antipater is good, but we (the Demos of Athens) have no need of a master at present, even a good one.

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    Default Re: Athenian Police? (from Ancient Lead Mining...).

    I mistook your disagreement for denial that the Skythians served in Athens, I understand your objection better now thanks.

    Quote Originally Posted by conon394 View Post
    ....

    On balance Agora mall cops. ...
    I can't agree with that, mall cops answer to a facility manager not a magistrate.

    The role of the Skythians almost certainly evolved over time, and may have gone from pacifying political disturbances and drunks to perhaps a more military function (its quite unclear though), but that role is not "mall cop" any more than its "NCIS".

    We don't know if they pursued housebreakers or other criminals aside from the disorderly but their role is somewhat similar to the Peelers of early Victorian London (who did concern themselves with thief taking, especially housebreakers, but also played the traditional constables role of keeping the peace, with the political connotations of post-Revolutionary Europe). In British Police forces the Bobbies were often posted away from their home provinces (especially in Ireland): the wisdom of using non-locals to break up local disturbances was recognised as in Athens.

    If you prefer the term constable (which has a bunch of meanings, like police does) or Bobbie (which really does convey the idea of a tough individual who will pacify the unruly) I could agree, but there's not really accurate modern equivalent and we would be reduced to calling them "maybe a civic peacekeeping force" which is near enough to police for me. "Watchmen" maybe? I don't want to say Praetorian even though in their first incarnation they were soldiers attending a Praetor (as the Skythians most likely did to Athenian magistrates) because the term is now associated with the Emperors bodyguard.
    Jatte lambastes Calico Rat

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    conon394's Avatar hoi polloi
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    Default Re: Athenian Police? (from Ancient Lead Mining...).

    Fair enough Cyclops I was sort of shooting to the extreme of my opinion.

    Ironically we have manged to frame the question in the latest treatment of the subject in "Scythians and Greeks cultural interaction in Scythia Athens and the early Roman Empire" Specifically the contribution by Balbina Bäbler "Bobbies or Boobies? The Scythian Police Force in Classical Athens".

    Too expensive to buy and not online anywhere but I did glean an interesting fact. They seem to be absent under the 30 tyrants but are attested now well into the mid 4th century. In other words a particular fixture of the Democracy.

    the wisdom of using non-locals to break up local disturbances was recognised as in Athens.
    I agree. The democracy was rather strict with delegating the right to punish one citizen by another that is needed for such things. It did have too and for other public offensives of a minor sort (when red handed). Since that often included on the spot beating. The Archers may have provided an impartial buffer. A man could not later be accused of going light on friends or hard on those he disliked because the administration of the lashes was by a disinterested party.

    For comparison consider the odium that the Cavalry earned for decades when it became the preferred method of enforcement (at least from citizen Athenians) for the Thirty. Cavalry earned a low reputation under the restored democracy. First sent off with Agesilaos with hopes of no return an then only maintained at a tiny level and with less subsidy for decades even though cavalry was vital military necessity.

    The role of the Skythians almost certainly evolved over time, and may have gone from pacifying political disturbances and drunks to perhaps a more military function (its quite unclear though)
    I would reverse that. They certainly look to have started out as part of crash military expansion but than evolved into OK let's say Bobbies for the City, as Athens developed and expanded its own Cavalry and Archers (and Peltasts). They were no longer needed in that capacity and found a new role. That would work well with Athens (the City) growing so much larger and more diverse than it had been as well.
    Last edited by conon394; February 16, 2017 at 09:17 PM.
    IN PATROCINIVM SVB Dromikaites

    'One day when I fly with my hands - up down the sky, like a bird'

    But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs and arms and heads, chopped off in battle, shall join together at the latter day and cry all 'We died at such a place; some swearing, some crying for surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left.

    Hyperides of Athens: We know, replied he, that Antipater is good, but we (the Demos of Athens) have no need of a master at present, even a good one.

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    Default Re: Athenian Police? (from Ancient Lead Mining...).

    Quote Originally Posted by conon394 View Post
    ...
    I would reverse that. They certainly look to have started out as part of crash military expansion but than evolved into OK let's say Bobbies for the City, as Athens developed and expanded its own Cavalry and Archers (and Peltasts). They were no longer needed in that capacity and found a new role. That would work well with Athens (the City) growing so much larger and more diverse than it had been as well.
    Hadn't thought of that, makes a lot of sense though. Its easy to imagine a wiry Skythian archer breaking up (in an even handed way, one biff each) a political brawl he doesn't understand, and some Athenian onlookers (or brawlers) having multiple lightbulb moments "this guy should be around for all our brawls discussions".

    I do appreciate your desire for more precise terms, I suffer from the same yearning myself, and the retconning of inappropriate terminology drives me nuts. My current bugbear is the use of America and a synonym for USA: while long usage has legitimised this use (no one gets confused by what you mean so its quite legitimate) it still seems so messy.

    You're quite right that police is the wrong term. As my longwinded excursus above demonstrates it works as shorthand only and also only if you footnote "by police I don't mean Sipowicz, or LeStrade, more Mr Plod, but not a Bow Street Runner mind (although possibly...) and possibly pre-Augustan praetorian (but not princeps smotherers) . Guest worker Bobbies?

    Would Watchman work? No, they weren't an oddly assorted band of superheroes with prominent genitals. Civic militia was a term I proposed above and on reflection that's also wrong as that suggests citizen militia (although it doesn't precisely mean that) and would mislead the unwary. "Ersatz ghulam cum peacekeepers" maybe? Or we could go with an EB style two foot long name "Toxotai skuda dimósioi ıpoptos" or some such nonsense (I cobbled that together from the hyperlinks in the article). Its frustrating.
    Jatte lambastes Calico Rat

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    conon394's Avatar hoi polloi
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    Default Re: Athenian Police? (from Ancient Lead Mining...).

    A few new thoughts for this thread... and of the obscure sorts to include a very famous Athenian pot.

    First a fresh read about the much over thought Eurymedon vase and the Scythian Archers is available at JSTOR.

    Braund, David. "In Search of the Creator of Athens' Scythian Archer-Police: Speusis and the "Eurymedon Vase"." Zeitschrift Für Papyrologie Und Epigraphik 156 (2006): 109-13. http://www.jstor.org/stable/20191067.

    The up shot is that the author steps away from the shaky CW interpretation of the pot as a linked to the Battle of Eurymedon River and is the Greeks buggering a Persian as metaphor for a win in battle (and all the related stuff hung off that - thanks Dover et al ) but rather to the ideal that it is a joke w/o context about the man (one Speusis -> Speusippos) who is said to have organized the Scythian 'police' circa 460 BC at Athens

    The glue that holds the theory together is thus:

    First take at face value that for a pot without archaeological context dated only by style, the figure and who is logically talking don't support the battle allegory. Ans also the use of Eurymedon is a tad profanne in ways hat would not really been seen as easily funny if associated with a a river/battle victory. Next the name Speusis(ippos) is extremely rare in Athens and so is Eurymedon. There is however a very famous pair of them - Eurymedon the husband of Plato's daughter and his son the Plantonic Philosopher., Speusippoi. Athenian propertied families often like a name schema for eldest children that went Father - (A -name) Son (B -different name), Grandson (A -name). Famously the Callias clan clung by the family moniker to the point you can reference a long list in 'Athenian officials 600BC-322BC' as Callias I,II,III, IV... In any case give one known family with uneconomic names they would support a Speusippos born circa 490BC to be on hand to founder of the Sythian corps with a Farther named Euymedon and to be father of Plato's future in law of the same name.

    The implementation of the Scythian 'police' would have been a significant political proposal and an expensive long term commitment. Like any other major decision in the democracy it (and it backers) were likely libel to satire and sarcastic wit. Pots art as often as the stage was a typical venue for such. For all the benefits of the force latter Aristophanes' jokes suggest the kind of apathy most people have toward the police if they are on the receiving end of enforcement.. thus its funny to watch Athenian women best them over and over on the stage. The vase might suggest the same thoughts at inception somehow,

    In a related note on Athenian archers in general (since the many basic histories occasionally confuse the Scythians in with the Athenian archers) . Why is often the ideal that Archer was disdained by Greeks and Athenians and thus Athenian archer in all contexts much have been mercenaries or slaves (I don't dispute the bow compared badly to hoplite spear mentality but just its overwhelming use or that not the non elite Athenian and the navel mob would have the same opinions out of hand as the elites). Some added support is given to this by an odd off the cuff statement by Thucydides in describing the battle of Delium, he says the Thebans had a organized force of Boeotian Peltats while the Athenians had no light infantry... This is often taken as general statement which is is nonsensical given Athens horse archers and some 1600 Archers. The reality is he either meant at the battle (with would be true) or that the Athenians had no organized Peltats (also true).

    In another paper I found only limited access to DM Pritchard covers some of this.

    D. M. Pritchard (2018) (in press), Dialogues d’Histoire Ancienne 44/2. THE STANDING OF SAILORS IN DEMOCRATIC ATHENS.

    On the one had he links dusts off a fair amount of evidence that they were a professional full time corps. But and also an expensive one. To be paid all year would be a not insignificant budget hit to the Athenian bottom line (96 Talents per year). The casualty lists show a mixed force of Athenian and metics and considering the Thracian and Scythian names that pop up mixed with Athenian in corps stocked with quality archers. Like the cavalry the Athenian probably demanded demonstrated skill to get a year round check. Although the author does run out the evidence for distaste of archery by Greeks he is a bid biased in selection. In any case he deems the expense was to great for the restored democracy was sustain in the early 4th century (compare the similar small size of the cavalry at the time).

    That gets Prritchard over to the Sythians and he deems that they were not restored for the same reason of expense (contra Bäbler above) Pritarch takes what Babler would call the conventional view. His citation in n99 amount to 3 supporting papers (only notes in them) and one contra like Babler a full paper. The contra view for a restored Police force in the restored democracy seems to rest heavy on a couple speeches by orators that point to order in the Assembly being turned over to a lot selection group of citizens out of the tribe holding the lead in Boule. The problem being there is no indication anywhere that a similar process occurred to replace the Scythians in any other function they had in law or in Aristophanes - that is being the truncheon wielder, arresting agent for all the magistrates in charge of every other part of public order in Athens.
    Last edited by conon394; August 25, 2019 at 01:15 PM.
    IN PATROCINIVM SVB Dromikaites

    'One day when I fly with my hands - up down the sky, like a bird'

    But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs and arms and heads, chopped off in battle, shall join together at the latter day and cry all 'We died at such a place; some swearing, some crying for surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left.

    Hyperides of Athens: We know, replied he, that Antipater is good, but we (the Demos of Athens) have no need of a master at present, even a good one.

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    Default Re: Athenian Police? (from Ancient Lead Mining...).

    Thats more than a few thoughts mate, a lot to chew on for me. Its good to stretch my brain in a discussion where the thinking is well above my level.

    Quote Originally Posted by conon394 View Post
    ...The contra view for a restored Police force in the restored democracy seems to rest heavy on a couple speeches by orators that point to order in the Assembly being turned over to a lot selection group of citizens out of the tribe holding the lead in Boule. The problem being there is no indication anywhere that a similar process occurred to replace the Scythians in any other function they had in law or in Aristophanes - that is being the truncheon wielder, arresting agent for all the magistrates in charge of every other part of public order in Athens.
    I wonder what the muscle was before and after the Skythian Cop heyday? Rome had a mixture of private heavies, magistrates with attendant clubmen and (mostly) inviolate Tribunes that degenerated into one dude on a throne surrounded by spears. I guess the old pre-Drakonian set up was like the early republic, aristoi like nobiles with their cliens turning up for showdowns.

    Maybe the restored Athenian democracy was run protected by the navy with sailors hanging out on street corner like its St Petersburg in 1917? Very hard to pick that up from a pot or a play script I guess.
    Jatte lambastes Calico Rat

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    Default Re: Athenian Police? (from Ancient Lead Mining...).

    Cool stuff, thanks for sharing and having a healthy debate, you two!

    With that in mind, I can't resist:

    Bad demoi, bad demoi, what you gonna do? What you gonna do when Scythians come for you?

    Octavian as emperor Augustus was the first dude to implement a professional firefighter force in Rome instead of the disastrous ad hoc private organizations and individuals like Crassus who handled it beforehand. I guess it's not a huge surprise that other near contemporary states were fiddling with the idea of a professional patrolling force to keep the public order. Like Cyclops said, though, this shouldn't be equated to NCIS or CSI: Miami. LOL.

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    Default Re: Athenian Police? (from Ancient Lead Mining...).

    In the West, for whatever reason the bow was not a preferred weapon, and although its utility in combat was recognized, it was not that popular in western armies compared to the spear. You see the disdain for the bow as far back as Homer - Paris' weapon was the bow, while his more noble brother Hector's weapon was the spear, and Odysseus left his great now behind when he went to war. Only the English among Western European armies were really into the bow.

    That said, archers in Greek armies would likely be mercenaries from cultures where the bow was more highly regarded and used in combat, like the Scythians, so much so Scythians became a nick name for any Archer even if the arher happened to be Greek. As for the use of the Scythian archers for police men, perhaps that started to give these archers something rondo during times of peace. You might not to send them home, in case you needed them for future conflicts, and you could not turn them loose with nothing to do, nor would you want to pay them tonjust sit around doing nothing

    So perhaps employing the archers as police gave them something useful to do in times of peace, and still kept them available for times of war.

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    Default Re: Athenian Police? (from Ancient Lead Mining...).

    Quote Originally Posted by Roma_Victrix View Post
    ...

    With that in mind, I can't resist:

    Bad demoi, bad demoi, what you gonna do? What you gonna do when Scythians come for you?
    ...
    We've done this dance before, posts #11 and #12.

    https://www.twcenter.net/forums/show...i#post15569424

    Good times.
    Jatte lambastes Calico Rat

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    conon394's Avatar hoi polloi
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    Default Re: Athenian Police? (from Ancient Lead Mining...).

    You see the disdain for the bow as far back as Homer - Paris' weapon was the bow, while his more noble brother Hector's weapon was the spear, and Odysseus left his great now behind when he went to war.
    But neither Teucer or Philotetes left their bows. And of course Phil got his from Hercules. Pandarus was no coward his archery foiled by Athena he was willing to face Diomedes close...I don't disagree there is a spear bias but all too many heros are bowmen or lead them both the men of Philotetes and those of Aias are bowmen (and slingers as well for the latter). I think the bias in homer is often read a bit to heavy handed.

    That said, archers in Greek armies would likely be mercenaries from cultures where the bow was more highly regarded and used in combat, like the Scythians, so much so Scythians became a nick name for any Archer even if the arher happened to be Greek. As for the use of the Scythian archers for police men, perhaps that started to give these archers something rondo during times of peace. You might not to send them home, in case you needed them for future conflicts, and you could not turn them loose with nothing to do, nor would you want to pay them tonjust sit around doing nothing
    But that is exactly the kind of argument I think is mistaken.

    By that logic Athens should have none of archers or sailors or cavalry (at least outside of the 90 or so the true 1% could afford). Again you should not confuse the slave Scythian police - 300, with the Athenian Archers to the number of 1600 (*). The evidence from the public burials for Athenian shows a majority Athenian archers, than Greek metics and finally a few with clearly barbarian names. On balance than a professional force as one would expect given its effectiveness in the field., but like the sailors or the horse archers that likely saw sneers from the good an the beautiful because they all existed via state pay made possible by the democracy and were a mix of citizens and metic and thus collectively a symbol everything that made Athens not really a polis by the classic definitions.


    * the 300 Scythians were were explicitly put in place as 'Police' and date from circa 460 BC decades after Athens already had an organized force of archers for its navy and to be deployed en mass at Plataea. You ideal works a little better with the Hellenistic era use of the work Cretan or certainly with neo-Cretan archers where the Island's archers seem to have crated a brand or type of archer mercenary, not necessary from Crete all the time.
    IN PATROCINIVM SVB Dromikaites

    'One day when I fly with my hands - up down the sky, like a bird'

    But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs and arms and heads, chopped off in battle, shall join together at the latter day and cry all 'We died at such a place; some swearing, some crying for surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left.

    Hyperides of Athens: We know, replied he, that Antipater is good, but we (the Demos of Athens) have no need of a master at present, even a good one.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Athenian Police? (from Ancient Lead Mining...).

    Quote Originally Posted by conon394 View Post
    But neither Teucer or Philotetes left their bows. And of course Phil got his from Hercules. Pandarus was no coward his archery foiled by Athena he was willing to face Diomedes close...I don't disagree there is a spear bias but all too many heros are bowmen or lead them both the men of Philotetes and those of Aias are bowmen (and slingers as well for the latter). I think the bias in homer is often read a bit to heavy handed.
    Note, it is the secondary heroes, not the major ones like Achilles or even Hector, that use the bow. While heroes like Hercules can use the bow, it was not the preferred weapon. This bias continues on through Western society through to the middle ages. Few, it any, of the great heroes of the Germanic, Celtic, peoples used the bow as their main weapon. Beowulf, Siegfried, are not shown using the bow, while there are a number of magical/divine bows shown to be used by Indian god's, like Shiva's bow Kodhandam. And even though the longbow was a popular English weapon, it was mostly used by ordinary men, not nobles or the elites. Originally, the longbowmen were not paid any more than regular soldiers.

    But perhaps you are correct, while there was a bias toward the spear, perhaps we are exaggerating any disdain toward the bow. The bow was used throughout ancient Greek warfare and beyond. Medieval illustrations even show continental European armies using regular bows, so even if not as popular, it was still used. Still, archery was something the ancient Greeks did not particularly excelled at, which is why they employed foreign archers.



    But that is exactly the kind of argument I think is mistaken.

    By that logic Athens should have none of archers or sailors or cavalry (at least outside of the 90 or so the true 1% could afford). Again you should not confuse the slave Scythian police - 300, with the Athenian Archers to the number of 1600 (*). The evidence from the public burials for Athenian shows a majority Athenian archers, than Greek metics and finally a few with clearly barbarian names. On balance than a professional force as one would expect given its effectiveness in the field., but like the sailors or the horse archers that likely saw sneers from the good an the beautiful because they all existed via state pay made possible by the democracy and were a mix of citizens and metic and thus collectively a symbol everything that made Athens not really a polis by the classic definitions.
    I did not realize these police were all Scythian slaves. I thought that the term "Scythian", because of their skill with a bow, might have become a slang term to apply to all archers, even when the archers were native Greeks.

    Perhaps the Scythian were used precisely because they were slaves? The job of policing may have been considered to be a low status job, and being slaves might give authorities more control over them with respect to bribes, or because the Scythian were slaves. it gave them something to do when not fighting. Unlike mercenaries and free citizens, whom you could dismiss when not fighting, you still had to pay to feed and clothes slaves even when not fighting. Since the Athenians already had these slaves at hand, maybe they found it cost effective to employ them as police, it would not have cost them any more. Employing free Athenian citizens or mercenaries meant you would have to pay them to use as police.

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    conon394's Avatar hoi polloi
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    Default Re: Athenian Police? (from Ancient Lead Mining...).

    The job of policing may have been considered to be a low status job
    Probably not. A status thing that is. There was at least some sneering at being hired labor. Although like the bow thing we are very much at the mercy of aristocratic bias in so much of the literary source material being aristocrats talking to and for each other. But in any case being employed by the the state was a different matter.

    and being slaves might give authorities more control over them with respect to bribes, or because the Scythian were slaves
    On bribes and corruption probably. Foreign state slaves would have no particular incentive to do anything but their job, and have no reason to become attached to any year long magistrate they were serving on a particular day. It is worth recollecting how strenuous the Athenian democracy was in trying to break or minimize the impact of aristocratic patronage and also to minimize the authority of the magistrates to very circumscribed little boxes. The Scythians would help in both. On the second in particular. In Athens unlike Rome a magistrate had a exact set of duties and authority prescribed by the demos, and no real ability to assume or imply authority (contra Rome and Roman law). To the extent the Scythian owed their duty to the state, they would have little incentive to follow say the magistrate in charge of inspecting coinage on a journey to exceed his authority and start trying to punish people for violating the laws on dumping sewage. That venture in Roman law would be fine not in Athens.

    it gave them something to do when not fighting
    The Sythians were not soldiers. Outside of the extreme cases were the Athenians were looking for volunteers to fight for freedom they had no military role.

    Unlike mercenaries and free citizens, whom you could dismiss when not fighting
    They would not fill their role effectively as 'police' if they were not always on hand.

    Employing free Athenian citizens or mercenaries meant you would have to pay them to use as police.
    Salary would not be an issue. For example the dockyards alone had 500 guards (phrouroi neorion) selected annually by lot (an apportionment from all citizens). And a case of officers and magistrates of unknown number called neoriophylax and/or neoriophylakes... The Ephebes and men over 52 who guarded the walls and gates had to paid as well and amounted to several hundreds at any one time in the city proper. Add in all the other magistrates and secretaries and boards of administrators its rather clear the Athenians were happy to pay for people needed to run the city The very fact that they (the Sythians) were a state tool paid for by the state is sorta fundamentally a trait of the Athenian democracy. For contrast consider who the thirty tyrants turned to in their fun short lived oligarchy. The cavalry. Not the democratic cavalry - its horse archers (a complete state construction) and men too poor to have horses without a state loan were gone. No just the core the rich kids of the elite to be on hand armed without pay to enforce the dictates of the oligarchy.
    IN PATROCINIVM SVB Dromikaites

    'One day when I fly with my hands - up down the sky, like a bird'

    But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs and arms and heads, chopped off in battle, shall join together at the latter day and cry all 'We died at such a place; some swearing, some crying for surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left.

    Hyperides of Athens: We know, replied he, that Antipater is good, but we (the Demos of Athens) have no need of a master at present, even a good one.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Athenian Police? (from Ancient Lead Mining...).

    My own feeling is slaves were preferred over citizens as police because they would have no tribal/phrartry/client loyalties. No so much corruption and bribes as the old boy network.
    Jatte lambastes Calico Rat

  14. #14

    Default Re: Athenian Police? (from Ancient Lead Mining...).

    Possibly a loosely related question. Any of you know anything about Scythopolis? Specifically, why did the Hellenes call it Scythopolis? It's where the Jezreel Valley meets the Jordan Valley. I think the oldest reference to it as Scythopolis is during Ptolemy II's reign. An inscription or something, I don't remember. I asked a local expert and got the answer that maybe it's because some Scythian mercenaries were settled there. Yeah, I've heard that before. What Scythian mercenaries?
    Quote Originally Posted by Enros View Post
    You don't seem to be familiar with how the burden of proof works in when discussing social justice. It's not like science where it lies on the one making the claim. If someone claims to be oppressed, they don't have to prove it.


  15. #15
    Abdülmecid I's Avatar ¡Ay Carmela!
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    Default Re: Athenian Police? (from Ancient Lead Mining...).

    I think the point of the ambiguity is that we have no idea, so we're referring to them abstractly as mercenaries of someone, presumably a local ruler. If I remember correctly, it was even associated with the glorified Scythian raids in the Near East, during the last moments of the Assyrian Empire. Anyway, regarding the mercenary question, there is no indication that Ptolemy II or any other Lagid monarch had employed or even gained access to Scythian mercenaries. Even if it's a reference to the recruitment of Iranian cavalry by the Seleucids, the latter did not control the region, when the name of "Scythopolis" firstly appeared. I suppose they could have settled there under Alexander III or the Achaemenids, but I'm not sure how convincing this explanation is.

    Crazy theory: Judging by how Beit She'an is pronounced, is it theoretically possible that Scythopolis is nothing but a hellenisation of the town's Hebrew name? Beit could have perhaps been translated to "polis", while She'an, which, as far as I know, does not directly correspond to a specific word of the vocabulary, having "misunderstood" by the Greeks to refer to the Scythians. Generally speaking, this phenomenon is not too rare and there are more instances of a flexible and liberal transliteration of a foreign personal name by the imaginative Hellenes.

  16. #16
    Ἀπολλόδοτος Α΄ ὁ Σωτήρ's Avatar Yeah science!
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    Default Re: Athenian Police? (from Ancient Lead Mining...).

    Quote Originally Posted by Abdülmecid I View Post
    Crazy theory: Judging by how Beit She'an is pronounced, is it theoretically possible that Scythopolis is nothing but a hellenisation of the town's Hebrew name? Beit could have perhaps been translated to "polis", while She'an, which, as far as I know, does not directly correspond to a specific word of the vocabulary, having "misunderstood" by the Greeks to refer to the Scythians. Generally speaking, this phenomenon is not too rare and there are more instances of a flexible and liberal transliteration of a foreign personal name by the imaginative Hellenes.
    Quite plausible in fact. Scythians that far south at that time seem highly unlikely. If it was settled by foreign mercenaries it could perhaps even been some other people, possibly from the Caucasus referred to as Scythians for whatever reason.
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  17. #17

    Default Re: Athenian Police? (from Ancient Lead Mining...).

    Quote Originally Posted by Abdülmecid I View Post
    Anyway, regarding the mercenary question, there is no indication that Ptolemy II or any other Lagid monarch had employed or even gained access to Scythian mercenaries.
    That's what I suspected.

    Quote Originally Posted by Abdülmecid I View Post
    Crazy theory: Judging by how Beit She'an is pronounced, is it theoretically possible that Scythopolis is nothing but a hellenisation of the town's Hebrew name? Beit could have perhaps been translated to "polis", while She'an, which, as far as I know, does not directly correspond to a specific word of the vocabulary, having "misunderstood" by the Greeks to refer to the Scythians. Generally speaking, this phenomenon is not too rare and there are more instances of a flexible and liberal transliteration of a foreign personal name by the imaginative Hellenes.
    Greek always does this Š to S shift with Semitic loanwords, so then you end up with Sə'ān, which still has two sounds that don't exist in Greek, so they were bound to substitute something. Probably there are some other loanwords which could be looked at to predict what they would likely substitute. And then you can imagine further shift as people pronounced it based on folk etymology. Seems within the realm of possibility.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ἀπολλόδοτος Α΄ ὁ Σωτήρ View Post
    Quite plausible in fact. Scythians that far south at that time seem highly unlikely. If it was settled by foreign mercenaries it could perhaps even been some other people, possibly from the Caucasus referred to as Scythians for whatever reason.
    Ah yeah, I did know Greek does that, but it hadn't occurred to me in this context. Aramaic uses the equivalent of "Cimmerian" as a generic word for all steppe origin people. There are a lot of Achaemenid type arrowhead finds from Scythopolis dating to the Hellenistic Period, but that's also not really unusual. Still, that type of arrow seems to have been referred to as "Cimmerian" in Aramaic. A cognate of the Aramaic word for "Cimmerian" is the Armenian word for "Cappadocian". I'm thinking that even though Greek has a separate word for "Cimmerian", it could potentially still be translated as "Scythian" by an Aramaic speaker who understood some Greek. No, I didn't tie those data points into anything coherent, but I think you all will see why I mentioned them.
    Last edited by sumskilz; September 17, 2019 at 01:03 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Enros View Post
    You don't seem to be familiar with how the burden of proof works in when discussing social justice. It's not like science where it lies on the one making the claim. If someone claims to be oppressed, they don't have to prove it.


  18. #18
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    Default Re: Athenian Police? (from Ancient Lead Mining...).

    In Australia we had a funny habit of naming places after British Empire battles and places, so my state of Victoria has localities called Travancore and Mafeking. My city is called Melbourne after (not the parish in Derbyshire but) the British Viscount who was Prime Minister when the location was settled.

    We know Hellenistic Monarchs did occasionally name cities after their victories (most famously Thessalonika) their wives and even their horses.

    Could Scytholpolis be named after a victory over Skudra, or after a famous Skyth? Or even a steppe pony?
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  19. #19
    conon394's Avatar hoi polloi
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    Default Re: Athenian Police? (from Ancient Lead Mining...).

    Any of you know anything about Scythopolis?
    Me, no but it got somebody published back in the sixties

    AVI-YONAH, M. "Scythopolis." Israel Exploration Journal 12, no. 2 (1962): 123-34. http://www.jstor.org/stable/27924894.
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  20. #20

    Default Re: Athenian Police? (from Ancient Lead Mining...).

    Quote Originally Posted by conon394 View Post
    Me, no but it got somebody published back in the sixties

    AVI-YONAH, M. "Scythopolis." Israel Exploration Journal 12, no. 2 (1962): 123-34. http://www.jstor.org/stable/27924894.
    Thanks, I'm kind of vexed by that not showing up on the first page of the search I did through the TAU library system.

    His claim is counter Abdülmecid's view (sort of):

    Soldiers of Scythian origin or natives of the Greek cities of the Bosphoran kingdom (also called 'Scythians') served in the armies of Alexander and his successors, including the Ptolemaic army.23 It is thus quite probable that a nucleus of cleruchs, settled by Ptolemy II on his Beth-Shean estate, consisted of veterans of these 'Scythian' units, which need not have been ethnically pure.

    23 M. Launey: Recherches sur les armées hellénistiques, II, Paris, 1950, pp. 421-423, 1205.

    Paerisades II, king of the Bosphorus - his official title was 'King of the Sindians, all the Maitians and the Thatians - reigned from c 284 to c. 250 B.C. He belonged to the dynasty of Spartocids who had set up their Bosphoran kingdom on the northern shore of the Black Sea. The 'Scythian' soldiers in the Ptolemaic army were probably his subjects. In his days the Bosphoran kingdom reached its apogee. It established commercial and political relations with Rhodes and other Greek centres, as well as with Ptolemaic Egypt.
    I'd want to follow the paper trail to a primary source to see how credible it seems, but I don't have access to that Marcel Launey book. I also don't have the same degree of background knowledge as some you guys have on the topic. As per usual, I'm on the internet writing about and researching something that just caught my attention when I'm supposed to be writing a chapter for an excavation report on a completely different topic.
    Quote Originally Posted by Enros View Post
    You don't seem to be familiar with how the burden of proof works in when discussing social justice. It's not like science where it lies on the one making the claim. If someone claims to be oppressed, they don't have to prove it.


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