Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Builder of the Stoas?

While recently reading Stephen Mitchell's piece "Festivals, Games, and Civic Life in Roman Asia Minor" in the Stephen Mitchell, The Journal of Roman Studies, Vol. 80, (1990), pp. 183-193, we stumbled upon a translation by Michael W├Ârrle of the great inscription commissioned by Demosthenes of Oenoanda detailing his establishment of games in Oenoanda.

While the whole inscription and Mitchell's comments on it are fascinating, the thing that really caught our eye was in the second section of the inscription where Demosthenes, a wealthy citizen, details his donations in the past to the city. The second section begins:

"II When Claudius Capito Rubrianus was high priest of the emperors on 24 Artemisios (25 July), I C Iulius Demosthenes, son of Apollonius, of the Fabian tribe, prytanis and secretary of the council of the Oenoandians, as I have loved my dearest homeland since earliest youth, and have not only maintained, but thoroughly surpassed the generosity of my ancestors towards it, in the annual subsidies which I made to ensure fair prices in the market and providing a boundless supply of {...} to the magistrates, and as I have constructed a food market with three stoas facing it, two with one and one with two storeys, and have spent more than 15000 denarii on this and the purchase of the houses which were removed to make way for this building, and as I wish.....[it goes on to talk of the funding of the games]". 

This passage is interesting to us for its relating of the construction of this food market. As we have noted elsewhere, there was speculation as to the function of the so-called Esplanade, with speculation that it was more accurately an Upper Agora. What exactly does Demosthenes mean here? He constructed this market comprised with three stoas (the market being the whole complex) or he constructed a market in the midst of three existing stoas? To us it sounds like he constructed the three stoas and thus created a whole ensemble in which the food market functioned. Having read the extant research on the Upper and Lower Agoras, it sounds more like the Upper Agora he is speaking off for the Lower Agora does not appear to be surrounded by three stoas but rather by one stoa and a mix of other buildings.  


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