Lines 11-13 of the Laodice inscription (RC 18)

Jaap-Jan Flinterman 

This is the complete translation of a short French-language note published in the Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 70, 1987, 171-172: 'Sur les lignes 11-13 de l'inscription de Laodice'. Constantine Manos, Greek Peasants (1964) - photo downloaded from: onlyhdwallpapers.comIt adduces a parallel for a phrase from the so-called Laodice inscription: an epigraphic dossier concerning the sale, by the Seleucid king Antiochus II to his wife or former wife Laodice, of the village of Pannucome. The sale can be dated to the year 253 BC; Pannucome was situated in what is now northwestern Turkey, near the modern city of Gönen. In the 1970's and 1980's there was some discussion about the question whether the peasants from the village were included in the sale. I thought (and still think) that they were, and that the parallel adduced in this note proves that this is the correct interpretation of the royal letter that constitutes the central document of the dossier. Unfortunately, the misunderstanding I tried to dispel in my 1987 contribution still crops up in items of the standard bibliography on the position of native peasants in Asia Minor. That is why I have recently returned to the subject: 'Pannucome revisited: lines 11-13 of the Laodice inscription again', ZPE 181, 2012, 79-87. 
In a contribution to the Colloque 1971 sur l'esclavage, Pierre Briant[1] has proposed an interpretation of the so-called Laodice inscription[2] which strongly diverges from the usual understanding of this document. According to Briant, the letter of Antiochus II does not refer to the sale to Laodice, the king's ex-wife, of a village with land and λαοί, but to the sale of the revenues of the land.[3] Hitherto this interpretation, which has far-reaching consequences for our understanding of the nature of landed property and the status of native peasants in Hellenistic Asia Minor, has not met with much approval.[4]

Among the problems Briant had to confront, were the lines 11-13 of the inscription under discussion: ὁμοίως δὲ καὶ εἴ τινες ἐ[κ] τῆς κώμης ταύτης ὄντες λαοὶ μετεληλύθασιν εἰς ἄλλους τόπους (...). According to Briant, this phrase did not imply that any run-away λαοί were included in the sale, but that Laodice could expect a 'rente fixe', "même si certains de ceux qui appartiennent au village se sont installés d’autres topoi."[5] Kreissig has pointed out that this translation founders on the parallel with the lines 7-8 (καὶ εἴ τινες <ε>ἰς τὴν χώ[ρα]ν ταύτην ἐμπ[ί]πτουσιν τόποι),[6] and recently Van der Spek, following a suggestion made by D.M. Schenkeveld, has argued that Briant's interpretation requires in Greek εἶ καὶ τινες.[7] To the best of my knowledge, however, none of Briant's critics has so far adduced a passage where ὁμοίως δὲ καὶ εἴ τινες indisputably has the meaning necessary for their interpretation.

[172] Yet such a parallel passage can be found, in a fictional πρόσταγμα by Ptolemaeus Philadelphus in the so-called Letter of Aristeas.[8] The king orders the release of the Jews enslaved during the campaign by Ptolemaeus Soter in Syria and Phoenicia; he also orders the release of the Jews enslaved before and afterwards.[9] According to the author, Philadelphus personally enlarged the group meant to profit from his order so as to include the Jews enslaved before and after Soter's campaign. He did so by adding a phrase to the draft submitted to him by the chancellery: ὁμοίως δὲ καὶ εἴ τινες προῆσαν ἢ καὶ μετὰ εἰσιν εἰσηγμένοι τῶν τοιούτων.[10] It should be obvious that here we have ὁμοίως δὲ καὶ εἴ τινες in the meaning assumed by Briant's critics. Apparently we are dealing with a standard phrase for widening the scope of a legal transaction (sale in one case, release in the other) so as to include categories not yet mentioned.


[1] P. Briant, 'Remarques sur "laoi" et esclaves ruraux en Asie Mineure hellénistique', in Actes du Colloque 1971 sur l'esclavage, Paris 1972, 93-133; reprinted in: idem, Rois, tributs et paysans, Paris 1982, 95-135. Cf. P. Briant, 'Communautés rurales, forces productives et mode de production tributaire en Asie Achéménide', Zamân 1980, 75-100 (reprinted in: Rois, tributs et paysans , 405-430), esp. 83-84.

[2] C.B. Welles, Royal Correspondence in the Hellenistic Period. A Study in Greek epigraphy, New Haven 1934, no. 18.

[3] Briant, 'Remarques sur "laoi"', 104-105.

[4] For criticism see, among others, D. Musti, 'Chora basilikè, stati sacerdotali, indigeni e poleis libere', in: A. Barigazzi, P. Lévêque, D. Musti, La società ellenistica. Quadro politico, Milano 1977, 231-287, esp. 238-239; H. Kreissig, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft im Seleukidenreich. Die Eigentums- und die Abhängigkeitsverhältnisse, Berlin 1978, 96; G.E.M. de Ste. Croix, The Class Struggle in the Ancient Greek World from the Archaic Age to the Arab Conquests, London 1981, 152 and 566 n.26; R.J. van der Spek, Grondbezit in het Seleucidische rijk, Amsterdam 1986, 157-159 and 166 n. 143.

[5] Briant, 'Remarques sur "laoi"', 106.

[6] Kreissig, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft, 96.

[7] Van der Spek, Grondbezit, 166 n. 143.

[8] My references are to the edition by A. Pelletier, La Lettre d'Aristée à Philocrate. Texte critique et traduction, introduction, notes et index, Paris 1962. Philadelphus' order can be found in the sections 22-25.

[9] 22.

[10] 22; 26. In 26 the author refers to the additional phrase as καὶ εἴ τινες προῆσαν ἢ καὶ μετὰ εἰσιν εἰσηγμένοι τῶν τοιούτων. In my opinion, this does not detract from the parallel between 22 and RC 18, 11-13. Rather, it underlines the parallel, pointed out by Kreissig, between the lines 7-8 and 11-13 of the Laodice inscription.