Art in Transition: Damophon of Messene in the Ionian Coast of Greece
|November 6, 2013||Posted by Milena Melfi under Art/Archaeology, E-journal, Research Symposium Papers|
Citation with persistent identifier:
Melfi, Milena. “Art in Transition: Damophon of Messene in the Ionian Coast of Greece.” CHS Research Bulletin 1, no. 2 (2013). http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hlnc.essay:MelfiM.Art_in_Transition_Damophon_of_Messene.2013
§1 A monumental Doric colum, inscribed with seven decrees in honour of the sculptor Damophon of Messene was found in the Asklepieion of Messene in relatively recent years. It bears a set of long and not yet fully published epigraphic texts, consisting of seven decrees by the cities of Lykosoura, Leukas, Kranioi, Melos, Kythnos, Oiantheia, Gerenia, who all bestowed honours on Damophon in relation to his artistic activity. The text has not yet been entirely published but what is known of it represents an extraordinary account of the career and deeds of an exceptional sculptor who was given unprecedented visibility. In most of the cities where he worked, he was bestowed exceptional honours related not only to his artistic activity, but also to his benefactions towards the local communities. He in fact offered his services without payment and was systematically honoured with iconic statues and laudatory texts in all sanctuaries for which he created cult statues. In this paper I will focus on the activity of the sculptor in the cities of Leukas and Kranioi (Kephallenia), in order to clarify some aspects of his career, such as the chronology of his works and the extraordinary visibility he achieved in the sanctuaries for which he provided cult statues.
§2 The city of Leukas, according to the decree preserved in the Messenian column, summoned Damophon to repair a cult statue of Aphrodite Limenarchis. Since the sculptor accomplished his task in an excellent manner, appropriate to the standing of the goddess and her city, and did not ask for any payment, he was proclaimed proxenos and benefactor and a bronze statue was decreed in his honour, to be placed in the same sanctuary of Aphrodite Limenarchis. A sanctuary of Aphrodite has long been known in Leukas from the literary sources: according to Dionysus of Halicarnassos the Trojans fleeing with Aeneas from Troy founded temples to an Aphrodite called Aineias in Leukas, Zakynthos, Aktion and Ambrakia . It has been recently argued that the epiclesis Aineias for Aphrodite was created in the 1st century BC, in the context of Roman propaganda on the Trojan origins of Rome. This is not necessarily true. The Trojan links of the western coast of Epirus were well established at least from the mid-5th century BC. The opening of Euripides’ Andromache with the legend of Helenus, as founder of the Molossian dynasty, and the monument of Achaean and Trojan heroes dedicated by the Apollonians in Olympia, bear witness to this phenomenon. By the 4rd century BC, the Molossian kings proudly advertised their origins linking them to both Trojan and Achaean ancestry. It would not be surprising that the cult of a Trojan Aphrodite, an Aphrodite Aineias, should be promoted in Zakynthos, Leukas, Aktion and Ambrakia at a time when all these regions were under Molossian control, that is to say the time of Pyrrhos, when the Epirote state reached its largest extension. The diffusion, in the same area, of early Hellenistic representations of the Trojan myth of Aphrodite seem to confirm this picture: a bronze mirror from Paramythia in the British Museum and a terracotta mould from the Museum of Arta show the encounter between Anchises and Aphrodite. The Trojan characteristics of the myth might have been later additions to a pre-existing cult of Aphrodite, since at least in Leukas and Kassope, the goddess appears on coins as early as in the 4th century BC. Whether these local Aphrodites were called Aineias in their own right, even before their association with Aeneas cannot be ascertained. Both the name of the goddess, similar to that of the Zeus Aineos/Ainesios worshipped on mount Ainos in the neighbouring island of Kephallenia, and that of the Trojan hero might have, in fact, arisen from the same pre-Hellenic root, and enjoyed a separate development before being reunited.
§3 The sanctuary of Aphrodite Aineias at Leukas is said to “stand today on the little island between the Dioryktos and the city”. The Dioryktos is the artificial channel cutting the isthmus that separated the northern part of the island from the mainland. It was originally opened in order to make the city’s port accessible from the north, and later became one of the main passages across the Ionian Sea (Figure 1). Its importance was crucial for the communication between the ports of Epirus and Acarnania, especially in the late Republican period, when the Romans frequently crossed the Adriatic and hopped along the sites under their protectorate to launch military operations. Although a sanctuary site in the vicinities of the Dioryktos is still to be found, some possible locations have been proposed, such as the islet of St. Niccolò, sited in the lagoon in front of the ancient city, and that of Vardacosta, near the south mole of the city harbour. In both hypotheses—and actually in all cases if we trust Dionysos’ indications—the sanctuary of Aphrodite Aineias must have been located in the heart of the harbour area. This is not surprising, considering that the other cults of Aphrodite Aineias are found in coastal locations and generally interpreted as maritime ones, offering protection to sea travellers—such as Aeneas and his companions. Both the location and the nature of the cult suggest that Dionysos’ Aphrodites Aineias and the Aphrodites Limenarchis, ‘commander of the harbour’, whose statue was restored by Damophon, were actually the same goddess. This cult must have been of primary importance in the pantheon of Leukas: it controlled not only the harbour, on which the life of the entire island community relied, but also the Dioryctos, a major shipping artery across the Ionian Sea for all involved in coastal navigation in the area.
§4 Already in the19th century, scholars argued that a Leukadian coin type depicting a standing female deity, placed on a low base, wearing a long chiton and holding an aplustre was to be interpreted as a statue of Aphrodite Aineias (Figure 2). The goddess has a fawn on her left and a dove at her back, placed on a thin column or a sceptre, and is sometimes accompanied by other animals, such as a goose or an owl. The presence of the fawn initially suggested a reading of the figure as Artemis, but the aplustre and the dove seemed ultimately more appropriate for a maritime Aphrodite. According to Texier this goddess “unit manifestement des traits d’Artémis et d’Aphrodite”, but the fact that she holds in her hand the most powerful emblem of maritime power makes her predominantly a divinity of the sea. Representations of aplustres are common in Greek coins as additional symbols in the field, but only a few divinities or personifications are depicted while holding aplustres in their hands before the Roman period. These include maritime gods, such as Poseidon, in the coins of Macedon under Demetrios Poliorketes and in Byzantion, local heroes whose mythology is connected to the sea, such as Taras, and symbolic personifications of thalassocracy, such as the Nike in the coins of Arados in Phoenicia. In all cases the meaning of superiority at sea of the aplustre is emphasized by the patronage of various divine figures, all connected to the sea in their own right. This maritime character would not be appropriate for Artemis, whose cult would be otherwise unattested in Leukas, but would fit perfectly Aphrodite and, in particular, what we know of her cult at the Dioryktos. Although the links of the goddess with the sea are very well known, this would be the only representation of Aphrodite with an aplustre in numismatic iconography and would provide a very strong example of identification of divinity with a city and its maritime power. This might not be the only explanation though. The only other possible representation of Aphrodite holding an aplustre comes from a completely different medium and provides an interesting Trojan context: a 5th century BC fragmentary terracotta pinax from the sanctuary of Francavilla Marittima, near Sicilian Naxos, shows an archaizing statue of Aphrodite holding the aplustre of the ship on which Helen and Paris are about to mount. The abduction of Helen is conducted under the auspices of the goddess, whose statue is given an archaic and hieratic appearance, reminiscent of the xoana that Dionysus of Halicarnassus associates to the cults of Aphrodite Aineias in Zakynthos and Ambracia. A similar aspect has also the statue depicted in the Leukadian coins, which would therefore gather all the appropriate elements for the cult statue of an Aphrodite both Limenarchis and Aineias: maritime character, Trojan connections and xoanon-like appearance.
§5 The coins bearing the statue type of Aphrodite Aineias were struck after 167 BC, when Leukas, separated by the Romans from the Akarnanian koinon, and therefore exempted from the duties of federal capital, becomes independent. Leukas was formally given autonomy, as Corcyra and Apollonia, even though it most likely remained under the control of Rome. While capital of the Akarnanians, Leukas did not produce independent coinage, silver and copper pieces bearing federal types such as the Actian Apollo and the head of Acheloos were only issued in the name of the League. It is striking that Leukas’ first autonomous coinage bears a completely new type, of peculiar appearance, but likely to be well-known and recognizable in order to replace the more famous federal types. I would like to link the creation of this new type with Damophon’s restoration of the cult statue of Aphrodite at Leukas: the new status of the island, free and allied to Rome, would have prompted the restoration of the old or damaged cult statue as marker of its restored poliadic identity after years of absorption in a federal state. The identification of the goddess with the city would have been ultimately exemplified in the new coin issues.
§6 The choice, among all possible local cults, of promoting an Aphrodite that could be intended as Trojan and bore a connection with Aeneas, was certainly not accidental. Whatever the origin and history of the cult was, its Trojan reading would have placed Leukas in the geography of Aeneas’ travel and strengthened the island’s relation with Rome. The Leukadian cult of Aphrodite Aineias would have been for the Romans comparable to that, much more famous, of Aphrodite Erycina in Sicily. The Leukadians invited Damophon the Messenian for this work of antiquarian conservation and religious validation. A cult statue was a sacred object, and its restoration could only be carried out by a specialist, an artist of fame who was at the same time knowledgeable about religious matters. Damophon was not only a famous agalmatopoios, a skillful craftsman able to mediate the divine form, but he was also theosebes, he had a “reverent attitude towards the gods”. For these reasons he had been chosen to repair Pheidias’ statue of Zeus at Olympia, the most sacred embodiment of the divine in the Greek world and was commissioned to create the cultic statue group of the sanctuary of Despoina in Lycosoura from a divine stone, dug up, according to Pausanias, in obedience to a dream. In addition to this, he knew how to deal with archaic-looking statues and even xoana: in Aigion he had in fact created a statue of Hygiea “covered from head to foot with finely-woven drapery; it is of wood except the face, hands and feet, which are made of Pentelic marble”. This description seems the most appropriate comparison for the iconography of the Aphrodite Aineias as recorded in numismatic and in literature, and opens the possibility that Damophon in Leukas might have carried out something more than a simple restoration, probably even a faithful reconstruction of an older simulacrum. In all cases, the Leukadians took no chances and invested in the best specialist and a new coin series—in the Attic system to facilitate exchange with the Romans—to exploit a profitable local myth and increase their kinship with the new rulers.
§7 If the above reconstruction is correct, it would suggest that Damophon worked in Leukas shortly after 167 BC. According to Petros Themelis the statue made by Damophon replaced an earlier one that was seriously damaged or destroyed during a period of general unrest in Acarnania—including Leukas—which ended in 217/216 BC. The statue would then have been completed before 197 BC, the year when Leukas was sieged and captured by the Romans. Such a reconstruction presents, to my mind, some difficulties. The years between 217 and 197 were very troubled for the island of Leukas, heavily involved in the Macedonian wars, defiantly on the side of Philip V, even when most of the Greek states had left his alliance, and placed along those coast of the Adriatic where raids of Illyrian pirates where frequent and ferocious. In addition to this, it seems politically unlikely that a Messenian sculptor could be summoned to work for the capital of the Acarnanian state, one of the closest allies of Philip V, in the same years when the king was ravaging Messene and its countryside or later, in the course of the Macedonian wars, when the Messenians figured prominently as allies of the Romans. A post-167 date would have the advantage of placing the restoration of the statue, and the possible re-packaging of the cult for a Roman audience, at the beginning of a new, peaceful, phase in the history of Leukas. This would be in agreement with the contemporary numismatic evidence and possibly with some internal epigraphic data. The only magistrate’s name preserved in the honorary decree of Leukas for Damophon is, in fact, that of a Διάκριτος, whose name appears also on the same Leukadian coins and in a decree relating to a donation of land, similarly dated to the mid 2nd cent. BC.
§8 Less informative is the decree issued in honour of Damophon by the city of Kranioi in the neighbouring island of Kephalenia. Here Damophon and his descendants are proclaimed proxenoi and evergetes, but the text does not give any further explanation of the sculptor’s relation with the island. We can nevertheless assume that the honours were related to his artistic activity. The last two lines of the inscription, in particular, if correctly reconstructed by Hallof, record the involvement of presbeutes, ambassadors. These envoys might have been those sent from Kranioi to invite Damophon to work in their island, following a procedure known from the decrees of Lycosoura and Kythnos. A poorly published inscription from Messene, not precisely dated, might confirm such information, since it mentions that ambassadors from Kephalenia were actually present in the city, possibly at the time of the festival of Asklepios. These documents confirm the presence of Damophon in yet another island of the Ionian Sea, although the chronology and context of the sculptor’s activity can only be matter of speculation. The history of Kephalenia is quite different from that of Leukas and even less known. If we turn to the political events involving the Kephalenians, it seems possible to exclude that any major artistic project, involving specialized craftsmen coming from abroad, may have started in the years between the Social war (220 BC) and the end of the first Macedonian war (205 BC). The island was, in fact, a faithful ally of the Aetolians, whose raid on Messene is considered by Polybius the cause of the Social War in 221 BC. The strategic importance of Kephallenia in the context of military operations is confirmed by the facts that the Aetolians used it as a base to storm the coasts of Acarnania and Epiros, and that Philip V tried to take it by siege in 218 BC. The years between the Aetolian war (191 BC) and the island’s surrender to the Romans (189 BC) do not look very promising either. This period marks the final submission of the Ionian Islands to the Romans. Corcyra had placed herself under the protection of Rome already in 229 BC, shortly after they first crossed the Adriatic. Leukas had been conquered with force by Famininus in 197 BC, possibly with the help of some Italians ‘Leucade habitante’ according to Livy, meaning that the island was already well established in the commercial network of Rome. In 191 BC Zakynthos was claimed by the Romans and was surrendered to them by the Achaean League, to which the island had recently acceded. Two years later, in 189 BC, it was the turn of Kephallenia: the island surrendered peacefully to M. Fulvius Nobilior, except for the city of Samai, which was eventually besieged and conquered. It is possible that Kephallenia was under the influence of the Romans already during the Aetolian war, since she does not appear to have taken any active part on the side of her traditional allies, but, on the contrary, her harbours were frequently used by the Romans.
§9 Two periods in the history of Kephallenia could therefore offer a plausible background for Damophon’s trip to the island: the years between 205 and 191 and those following the Roman conquest of 189 BC. The first hypothesis essentially corresponds to the chronology favoured by Petros Themelis for the activity of Damophon in Leukas and possibly in the Peloponnese. This would work if we were to accept that the Kephallenians’ involvement in the second Macedonian war was rather low profile and communication remained open between the Ionian Sea and the Peloponnese. The second hypothesis—the one I would like to endorse—has the advantage of placing Damophon’s intervention in a period, not only of peace, but also of strong political and cultural inter-connectivity between the islands of the Ionian Sea and the coast of Epiros. Similarly to Corcyra, the coastal cities of Apollonia, Epidamnus, and Issa had all accepted the Roman protectorate and by the mid second century BC a federal state in Butrint had been created under the aegis of Rome. In this peculiar region, geographically coherent and politically united under the control of Rome, it would be difficult to imagine that Damophon did not visit Kephallenia at the same time as being called to Leukas, in the 160s or 150s BC. Kephallenia therefore could well represent another leg of Damophon’s trip to the Ionian Sea. But why was Damophon summoned to Kranioi?
§10 The role played by Damophon in the religious policy of the Leukadians might offer some hints for understanding the reasons of his presence in Kephallenia. In Leukas the sculptor was called to restore the cult statue of one of the most important sanctuaries of the city, and at the same time to mediate the divine form of a goddess which could appeal to both locals and Romans. Is it possible that he accomplished a similar task also in Kranioi? The only cult of Kephallenia known from literary sources is that of a Zeus Aine(s)ios, whose main sanctuary was sited, according to Strabo, on the top of the highest mountain of the island: Mount Ainos. The epithet of the god is obviously of geographic origin but bears a strong resemblance with that of the Aphrodites of neighbouring Leukas, Zakynthos, Aktion and Ambrakia. It would be tempting to associate the restoration of the Aphrodite Aineias in Leukas with the making or restoration of a statue of Zeus Aine(s)ios in Kephallenia, with similar aims and under comparable circumstances. If such a statue was commissioned by the inhabitants of Kranioi we should assume that the cult of the mountain was under the jurisdiction of the city or was re-duplicated/transported there at some point in history. The cults of Kranioi are not well known, and the archaeological finds associated with religious buildings remain scanty. The numismatic evidence suggests the existence of cults of Apollo, Athena and Kephalos in the Late Archaic and Classical periods, while a single epigraphic document records Demeter and Kore. Zeus, probably the Aine(s)ios one, seems to be depicted only in the coins of Pronnoi, the city of the Kephallenian tetrapolis that was the closest to Mount Ainos, but much later the god is attested also on coins of Kranioi. A series of bronze coins of Roman standard issued in Kranioi in the name of C. Proculeius at around 30 BC bear on their obverse what is generally believed to be a bust of Juppiter (Figure 3). On a closer inspection, the bust on these coins appears to be a representation of the upper part of a herm, recognizable from the bosses placed at both sides of the shaft. The head of the god has distinctive features: he has long hair rolled into a fillet above the forehead and encircling the head. Although a small curl falling neatly on the neck appears to be an archaizing touch—typical of herms of bearded gods—the hairstyle is more closely comparable with that of 5th century representations of Zeus in both sculpture and painting. The distinctive features of the head and the fact that it is placed on a herm shaft suggest that this is not a generic image but the representation of a real object: possibly a cult-statue.
§11 That Zeus could be worshipped in the form of a herm is well-known. In Tegea, for example, Pausanias records the existence of a representation of Zeus Teleios with a ‘square image’, while in other localities of Arcadia the god was worshipped in the form of a pillar. Several examples of herms of a bearded god comparable to sculptural types normally used for the representation of Zeus, and connected to Classical originals, are also well-attested. The city of Krannoi, therefore, by 30 BC identified with a herm of Zeus. This Zeus might well have been the Zeus Aine(s)ios that was considered to be the most important cult of the island by Strabo’s lifetime. It is likely that Krannoi, having become the most important settlement of the island under the Romans—an important naval base, and the only centre to issue coins—appropriated the main cult of the island. Either by extending her influence over the sanctuary of Mount Ainos, or by importing the cult of Zeus Aine(s)ios within her own boundaries, it is clear that the city was responsible for the herm of Zeus depicted on the coins. Is it possible that the restoration, removal and setting, making or re-making of this herm was the reason behind the presence of Damophon in town? Such an enterprise would have certainly been well-suited to the skilled craftsman, a specialist, as I have tried to demonstrate, in the renovation of aged cult statues. The classicizing aspect of the herm, that seems to look at models from the 460s and 450s, rather than at Archaic predecessors, similarly agrees with the personality of Damophon, who is known as a Neoclassicist. A conservative artist, skilled in the art of piecing stone and wood, able to soften the transitions between different styles, and eminently knowledgeable of the classical models and their use, would have been needed either to restore an old simulacrum, or to create an old-looking one. Damophon was not unaccustomed to such enterprises: in Megalopolis, in the precinct of the Great Goddesses, he is known to have created a ‘wooden Hermes and a wooden Aphrodite with hands, face and feet of stone’ that could match the pre-existing xoana of Hera, Apollo and the Muses; and in Megalopolis itself a headless herm of Poseidon was found bearing an inscribed dedication by the sculptor. That the new or old herm could echo the Trojan saga, because of the epithet Aine(s)ios, already connected to the travels of Aeneas in nearby Leukas, constituted an added value that the Kephallenians would not have failed to exploit.
§12 If these reconstructions are correct, the choice of promoting cults of gods bearing a name similar to that of Aeneas, the commissioning of Damophon, and the use of divine statues as symbols of the cities under Roman rule would seem to be part of a religious policy common to both Kephallenia and Leukas. Leukas and Kranioi were old poleis, had always been urban communities, and each of them had a long history and established religious traditions. Their civic heritage could be used and adapted for mediating the relation with the Romans and ultimately bring the east and the west coast of the Adriatic even closer. Damophon was probably the best sculptor to convey this message of mediation and transition. He is known as a neo-classical sculptor, that is to say one of those artists who in the Hellenistic period, recognised the normative character of the Classical manner and tried to reproduce principles of ideal beauty in his works. In Lykosoura and Messene, he produced grandiose composition of calming and moderating effect, only with a slight touch of eclecticism. This style was perfectly suited for the conservatism of religious establishments under pressure in an age of change and transition, such as 2nd century Greece. At the same time it strongly appealed to the taste of the Romans. From the beginning of the 2nd century BC the Romans were in fact eager consumers of Greek neo-classical art, and Greek artists such as as Polykles and Timarchides and their descendants received important commissions of cult statues in Rome. Materials and techniques used by Damophon, such as piecing and acrolithic technique for colossal sculptures, were common in Rome, as much as a whole range of decorative motives in the neo-Attic style, that Damophon liberally used for example in the decoration of the veil of Despoina at Lycosoura. The preference of the Romans for the Neoclassical style comes, according to Andrew Stewart “as no surprise: the authoritarianism and psychological rigidity implicit in its claim to universality through absolute perfection suited them—and their religion totally conventionalized as it was—all too well”. Damophon’s conservatism therefore constituted a common artistic ground that both 2nd cent. BC Greeks and Romans could recognise as appropriate for cult statues. This artistic mediation was probably what made him a famous and sought-after artist, and can explain why he received so many commissions all over Greece.
§13 Damophon was probably a contemporary of Polybius and like Polybius understood that times were changing and that transition should be welcomed. He was not a politician, but an artist, somehow expert in religious affairs. He therefore could only use his skills, knowledge and moderation to help the transition. This could have been a conscious choice, a sort of self-appointed mission, at least after his career was well-established, and could explain why he did not accept any payment and received honours in most of the sites he worked for. Mario Torelli, although placing the sculptor’s activity in the last years of the 3rd century BC writes about Damophon’s activity in Messene: “L’Asklepieion di Messene assume quasi la dimensione di una pagina ideologica che avrebbe potuto essere scritta dalla penna stessa di Polibio, tanto e’ impregnata delle concezioni proprie della democrazia moderata di cui la lega achea era campione”. Torelli here suggests that Damophon’s art supported a moderate Achaean policy at a time of struggle between the members of the League. I believe that such a statement would make much more sense if we dated the career of Damophon half a century later, when his art might have supported the Polybian idea of a new Greece ineluctably controlled, but also protected, by Rome, as he seems to have done in Leukas and Kephallenia. These conclusions, which I have arrived at in this paper, using three episodes from the Ionian coast, have to be considered preliminary and will require further verification through the revision of Damophon’s career and chronology in its entirety. This is a promising path which is part of a larger study I am currently completing.
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 The column was broken into two pieces: the lower half was found in the sanctuary of Asklepios, north of the temple (Orlandos, Praktika tēs en Athēnais Archaiologikēs Hetaireias 27, 1972, 136-138); the upper part was found close to the funerary building Δ identified with the heroon of Damophon and finally associated with the previous document in the early 90s (Themelis, 1993, p. 100) . According to Themelis the column was carved after the death of the sculptor—since the decrees are all written at the same time, by the same hand—and placed in or next to the heroon. The column was self-standing, on its own base, and probably carried a statue of the sculptor on its top (Themelis 2000, 88-95). More sceptical appears Michel Sève in his recent reassessment of the data: the column might not have had any relation with the heroon, since one of its parts was found elsewhere, and might well have been displayed in the Asklepieion. Contesting the physical connection between the heroon and the column also weakens Themelis’ argument for an attribution of the monumental tomb to Damophon (Sève 2008, 118-119).
A consensus on the chronology has yet to be achieved, with the majority of the scholars placing his floruit around 180, while few others prefer later dates, even beyond the mid 2nd century BC status quaestionis and previous bibliography in Müth 2007, 180-183.
 See Moscati Castelnuovo 1986, 411-424, on the origin of the legend reported by Euripides and the reasons for its promotion in the latter half of the 5th century BC. The monument of the Apollonians is reconstructed on the basis of Pausanias’ description (5.22.2-4) and some epigraphic fragments. It consisted of two groups of heroes, Achaeans and Trojans, separated by Zeus, Hemera and Thetis (Cabanes 1993, 145-153).
 Tzouvara-Souli 1979, 45 argues that this was part of a conscious religious policy: on the one hand, the presence of Aeneas and Anchises reinforced the tradition of the nostoi on the coasts of Epiros; on the other hand the cult of Trojan origin could be seen as a duplicate—or as an appropriation—of the Sicilian one of Aphrodite Erycina, in the wake of Pyrrhus’ adventure in the west. Ciaceri similarly believes that the cult was an erudite construction of the 3rd century BC (Ciaceri 1911, 80-81).
 An aplustre in the field appears for example in the coins of Kassander (SNG ANS 740) and in some Rhodian didrachms (SNG Copenhagen 759). The symbol becomes increasingly common in late Republican coins.
 Spigo 1987, 316-318, pl. 31.2, where the scene is interpreted as the abduction of Helen under the auspices of a statue of Aphrodite; and Spigo 2000, 11-15, where the possibility that the statue is that of Artemis holding a torch is tentatively proposed. Although the scholar doubts that the goddess actually holds the aplustre of the ship, and tries to see a different object, such as a torch or a spindle, I believe that the iconography can be easily compared with that of other divinities holding the aplustre of a ship such as the nymph Histiaia in the coins of the homonymous city.
 Dion. Hal.: “and they offered to Aphrodite at the temple they had built to her a sacrifice which the entire population of Zacynthus performs to this day, and instituted games for young men (…) This is called the course of Aeneas and Aphrodite, and xoana of both are erected there” (1.50.3); “in Ambracia, a temple of the same goddess and a hero-shrine of Aeneas near the little theatre. In this shrine there was a small archaic xoanon, said to be of Aeneas” (1.50.4)
 In 215 Philip was involved in the outbreak of violence at Messene that eventually led to a massacre of local officials and to the establishment of a democratic government. In 214 Demetrios of Pharos and in the following year the king himself led attacks to the city and its countryside. After Philip’s aggression the Messenians appear as allied of the Romans in the first and second Macedonian wars (Luraghi 2008, 260-261).