Friday, March 11, 2016

Oenoanda's Political Context

It might be useful to put the "city" of Oenoanda is some sort of political context. Essentially it was a large town, though I am sure it regarded itself as a small city and it did have many of the trappings of a major population centre despite its limited population.

What was its political status though?

The Tetrapolis

The political arrangement of Oenoanda prior to 81 BC was that it, and the cities of Balbura, Bubon and Cibyra, belonged to a political alliance known variably as the Tetrapolis, the Cibyratis, or Cabalian League. It was dominated by the city of Cibyra (Kibyra), which formed a league approximately contemporaneously with the Lycian League, to the south. 

The main ancient sources on the subject are Polybius and Strabo. 

Cibyra ruled the Turkish Lakes Region. It was called Cibyra Megale, "Greater Cibyra," to distinguish it from Cibyra Mikra or "Little Cibyra" (today near Okurcalar) near Side. The lakes region is a string of alpine valleys in the folds of the Taurus Mountains, which have no natural exits. Instead they have collected lakes. Cibyra was on a low hill to the west of Gölhisar Valley and Gölhisar Lake, just north of Gölhisar.

Cibyra dominated an ancient region, Cabalis, which was divided between the later states of Lycia, Pisidia and Lydia, subsequently incorporated in Phrygia. According to Strabo, it spoke four languages, Lydian, even though Lydian had disappeared elsewhere, Greek, Pisidian and "that of the Solymi." Cabalis, which was later divided into Lycian and Asian Cabalis, was the putative home of the Solymi. It included the Milyas District of Lycia, putatively the home of the first Lycians. It is possible that they spoke a form of Anatolian earlier than the attested Lycian, which some have dubbed "Milyan." 

Also according to Strabo the Cabalian grouping operated on the basis of each of the cities having one vote with the exception of Cibyra that had two votes. 

The Cibyratis was ruled by a succession of deliberately ostentatious and high-handed tyrants. Having become a thorn in the side of Rome, they attracted the attention of Gnaeus Manlius Vulso, commander of the Roman armies successfully fighting the Galatian War of 189 BC. Manlius turned toward Cibyratis with the intent of removing the thorn. The tyrant, Moa'getes, barely escaped with his life and his position by entering the Roman camp dressed in humble clothing, with a handful of similarly dressed assistants, claiming destitution and begging for mercy. He offered a payment of 15 talents. Manlius set the payment at 500 talents, a huge sum, impossible of payment. Finally moved to mercy, he allowed Moa'getes to bargain him down to 100 and 10,000 medimni of wheat, necessary to the Roman commissary.

When the Romans had departed Moa'getes dropped the pretense, and Cibyratis resumed its arrogance. Consequently, when Lucius Licinius Murena (elder) did finally deal with Cibyratis, he had no political mercy.

Strabo says that Bubon and Balbura were transferred to the Lycian League forthwith. He does not mention Oenoanda, but it had been a city of the Lycians anyway. It minted coinage of the League subsequently. There is no evidence that Cibyra was ever admitted to the League, although that assumption sometimes is made. It was in Asian Cabalia and as such was joined to Phrygia later, an event supported by their coin issues. The last tyrant of the Tetrapolis was also named Moa'getes, a different one, unless the term was a title, or Strabo made a mistake.

After the dismemberment of the Cibryatis alliance, Oenoanda was grafted onto the Lycian League. Whethre this involved a loss of relative status was unclear, as it went from being a large city in a small grouping to being yet another city in a much more substantial grouping where it was "outvoted" by cities such as Xanthos. 

The Lycian League

The Lycian League (Lukiakou systema in Strabo's Greek transliterated, a "standing together") is first known from two inscriptions of the early 2nd century BC in which it honors two citizens. Bryce hypothesizes that it was formed as an agent to convince Rome to rescind the annexation of Lycia to Rhodes. Lycia had been under Rhodian control since the Peace of Apamea in 188 BC. 

In 168 BC, Rome took Lycia away from Rhodes and turned over home rule to the League. There was no question of independence. Lycia was not to be sovereign, only self-governing under republican principles. It could neither negotiate with foreign powers nor disobey the Roman Senate. It was not independent. It could govern its own people and for a time mint its own coins as a right granted by Rome. It did not determine its own borders. Land and people could be assigned or taken away by the Senate. Remarking on this protectorate Strabo says of the government:

"Formerly they deliberated about war and peace, and alliances, but this is not now permitted, as these things are under the control of the Romans. It is only done by their consent, or when it may be for their own advantage."

Exactly what such a statement might imply is uncertain. Lycia had not been a sovereign state for some time. Whether the Lycian League as such is meant, implying that it existed anciently, or some other similar government is meant, is not clear. The statement does not say also whether there was a gap between the former sovereign state and the new Lycian League, or whether they are to be conceived as chronologically continuous.

According to Strabo, the league (prior to 81 BC) was comprised of some 23 known city-states as members. It was a federal-style government that shared political and economic resources. A “Lyciarch” was elected by a senate (συνέδριον, synedrion, "sitting together") that convened by agreement beforehand at "what city they please." Each member had one, two or three votes (presumably by different representatives), depending on the city's size. The decline of some cities over time caused them to join with the major state in their vicinity to form a sympolity. In that case they lost their vote (if they had one) assuming an influence in the vote of the major city. After election of the Lyciarch the Senate voted for the other public officials and the magistrates. The League's government took precedence, but, as in many federal systems, the issue was not entirely settled, and the resulting civil conflict led to the dissolution of the union.

Strabo identified the major cities of the League; that is, the three-vote cities, as Xanthos, Patara, Pinara, Olympos, Myra, and Tlos, with Patara as the capital. The full complement has been identified by a study of the coins and mention in other texts.

As mentioned earlier the Roman consul, Lucius Licinius Murena (elder) in 81 BC grafted the cities of Balbura, Bubon and Oenoanda onto the league, having stripped from the Cabalian systema to the north. 

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