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Οὐ τὸ νικᾶν ἀλλὰ τὸ εὖ ἀγωνίζεσθαι: Playing to win or to show off? Itinerant artists performing in unconventional ἀγῶνες in some decrees from Delphi (third to first century BC)

Citation with persistent identifier:

Cinalli, Angela. “Οὐ τὸ νικᾶν ἀλλὰ τὸ εὖ ἀγωνίζεσθαι: Playing to win or to show off? Itinerant artists performing in unconventional ἀγῶνες in some decrees from Delphi (third to first century BC).” CHS Research Bulletin 2, no. 2 (2014). http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hlnc.essay:CinalliA.Playing_to_Win_or_to_Show_Off.2014

§1 In the cultural panorama of the Hellenistic Period, a significant space is occupied by itinerant professionals of literature and music who travelled from city to city all around Greece, the Aegean Sea, and the coasts of Asia Minor, in search of fame, glory, rewards, and money[1]. As their activities were likely oral performances intended for the occasion, most of the times it is not possible to reconstruct the modus operandi of these specialists. Nevertheless the epigraphic sources[2] shed light on several other aspects of this cultural phenomenon that became more and more popular and spread throughout every part of Hellenistic Greece at different levels of society and artistic life. The most relevant feature of this cultural movement is its transversality because of the connection with the public and the politic sphere, with the world of ἀγῶνες and of artistic guilds.

§2 The loci Apollinei—the mountainous Delphi and the island of Delos—were prestigious displays of the artistic iter of performers. Epigraphic sources testify to an impressive turnout of artists, especially in Delphi[3]. A plethora of honorary and proxeny decrees document the passage of an outstanding πομπή composed by the most representative exponents of the Hellenistic cultural and public scene[4]. In this panorama, a parade of illustrious men of cultural and public life[5], trained artists[6], enfants-prodige[7], women[8], professionals of avantgarde and traditional music[9], artistic teams[10], and teachers at various levels of education[11] took place, displaying their τέχνη in front of an audience gathered for the occasion and enjoying the honors and privileges granted by the host city, in approval of their performance. The ἀγῶνες of Pythia and Soteria are also crucial tesserae of the Delphian cultural mosaic of the Hellenistic Period. Individual performances and artistic contests are closely connected here and paint a composite panorama[12] where young artists attempt their “shortcut to fame”[13] while the most celebrated contestants anchor their reputation.

§3 This study is an in-depth analysis of a group of honorary and proxeny decrees for some of the performers who visited the city of Delphi between the middle of the third and the beginning of the first century BC. They offered demonstration of their skills on occasions that do not seem to coincide with proper competitions but are nonetheless indicated by the verb ἀγωνίζομαι. Although this peculiarity has already been noticed by some scholars[14], I will attempt a systematic analysis of the testimonies at our disposal in order to shed light on the complexity of the issue.

The Athenian κιθαρῳδός Menalkes, son of Speuson:

§4 During the archonship of Emmenidas (259/8 or 255/4 BC), the κιθαρῳδός Menalkes from Athens[15] was granted by Delphi the publicly acclaimed praise and the laurel crown[16]:

FD III iv 361.5–9:

ἐπειδὴ Μενάλκης ὁ κιθαρωιδς/ παραγενόμενος εἰς Δελφοὺς εἰς τὰ Σωτήρια/ τόν τε ἄλλον ἀγῶνα καλῶς καὶ φιλοτίμως ἠγωνί/σατο καὶ προσεπέδωκε τῶι θεῶι καὶ τοῖς Ἀμφικ[τύ]/οσι τὸν ἀγῶνα ⟦⟦— —0.09m— —⟧⟧[17]

§5 Here the context is the Amphictyonic Soteria, founded to commemorate the defeat of the Gauls and  the emancipation of the Sanctuary of Apollo[18]. This decree gives a résumé of the artistic agenda of the κιθαρῳδός Menalkes: he arrived in Delphi specifically for the Soteria but he also took part in an ἄλλος ἀγών. Furthermore, the inscription informs us that Menalkes προσεπέδωκε τῶι θεῶι καὶ τοῖς Ἀμφικ[τύ]/οσι τὸν ἀγῶνα (line 9):  the verb used is not simply ἐπιδίδωμι[19] (as usual in this formula, see §7, 10, 11, 14, 17) but προσεπιδίδωμι, i.e. “give over and above”[20], in order to emphasize an additional offering to the god and to the Amphictyons. Since we know that, apart from this decree, the expression ἐπιδίδωμι τῶι θεῶι καὶ τοῖς Ἀμφικτύοσι occurs only in the earliest catalogues of the participants of the Soteria[21], we can infer that the additional offering is connected to the occasion of this festival. Even though we cannot determine to which ἀγών the offering is referring to (since τὸν ἀγῶνα of line 9 could correspond to the Soteria, to ἄλλος ἀγών, or it also could be comprised of the two competitions), just because it is additional, we can argue that Menalkes offered both his performances in Delphi[22].

§6 Thanks to a lucky coincidence, the two artistic appointments of this Athenian κιθαρῳδός attested in the decree seem to be confirmed by the catalogue recording the participants of the Soteria in the same year[23]. There the name of Menalkes first appears once (line 35), registering his performance in the χοροὶ ἀνδρῶν, and again once at the very end of the catalogue (line 82) after a list of all the participants, attesting to a hors concours performance[24], delivered together with the αὐλητής Boiskos[25]: [. . .] ΒΟΙΣΚΟ. Μενάλκει προσαυλῆσαι. The line 35 of the catalogue testifies that, for some reason, Menalkes did not take central stage with his own performance but performed only as a chorister. This could explain the vagueness of the decree about his participation in the Soteria which is not specified but associated with the ἄλλος ἀγών where he was appreciated. At the end of the catalogue of participants (line 82), the occasion when this multi–talented[26] artist took central stage, displaying his skills, consisted of the supplementary pièce performed together with Boiskos once the competition was over. According to the decree however, Menalkes was applauded in the ἄλλος ἀγών and not for a simple performance. We can assume that either ἄλλος is referring to another ἀγών or it has to be interpreted as the rest of the ἀγών[27]. This latter interpretation seems the most acceptable if we consider that the idea of another ἀγών can more likely be expressed with ἕτερος ἀγών, as an even earlier inscription from Tegea shows[28]. On one hand, the reference to another unspecified ἀγών can be confusing because this could imply that the decree refers to another performance of Menalkes from the catalogue. On the other hand, the “out-of-the-competition” performance acknowledged within the rest of the ἀγών is even more strange. In fact, since the catalogue informs that it was delivered when the competition was over and without other competitors in the same specialty, it rather appears as a performance while being described as a contest in the decree. Either we have to suggest an obscure typology of contest or we have to consider the possibility that the verb ἀγωνίζομαι is used in this Delphian decree with the same shift of meaning that occurs from about a century later onwards, as—we will see—it can be tracked down in other inscriptions from Delphi and possibly even elsewhere.

✤ Nikon Megalopolitas son of Nikias, τραγῳδός:

§7 In 165 BC the τραγῳδός[29] Nikon from Megalopolis received from Delphi the proxeny[30] and other rewards for his artistic activity conducted in town:

FD III i 48.3–5

ἐπειδὴ Νίκων Νικία Μεγαλοπολίτας τραγωιδὸς καὶ πρότερον μὲν/ εὔνους ὢν διετέλει τᾶι πόλει καὶ ἐνδαμήσας δὲ ἀξιωθεὶς ἐπέδωκε τῶι θε/ῶι ἁμέραν καὶ ἀγωνίξατο καὶ εὐδοκίμησε

§8 The occasion when Nikon gave his exhibition must have been a very significant one if he was judged worthy before being allowed to offer to the god a performance of a single day. The same election procedure is documented for another artist, the Samian Satyros (FD III iii 128.2ff), coming to Delphi at the beginning of the second century BC: τούτωι πρώτωι συμβέβηκεν μόνωι/ ἄνευ ἀνταγωνιστῶν αὐλῆσαι/ τὸν ἀγῶνα καὶ ἀξιωθέντα ἐπιδοῦ/ναι τῶι θεῶι καὶ τοῖς Ἕλλησι μετὰ/ τὸν γυμνικὸν τῆι θυσίαι ἐν τῶι στα/δίωι τῶι Πυθικῶι αἶσμα μετὰ χοροῦ[31]/ Διόνυσον καὶ κιθάρισμα ἐκ Βακχῶν/ Εὐριπίδου.

§9 The situation of Satyros is extraordinary, since he found himself alone competing with the αὐλός at the ἀγών[32] without any rivals. Nevertheless he is considered ἄξιος and suitable to offer the performance of his new composition and the Euripidean reperformance in the σταδίον during the sacrifice[33]. Both the τραγῳδός Nikon and the αὐλητής Satyros are “pre-judged” in their skills in order not to disappoint the expectations of the audience during important displays. Whereas we are aware of the occasion which Satyros is considered suitable for, our knowledge about the context of Nikon’s performance is lacking. If in the decree for Menalkes we have a hors concours ἀγών included in the schedule of the formal contest, here in the case of Nikon there is the indication of an anonymous ἀγών. We can infer that the τραγῳδός in some ways was recognized worthy in a preliminary step. We can also argue that we are in presence of an ἀγών of a high caliber, even without a proper name or even a prize. The reward in return for the artistic performance seems to consist of the achievement of glory and success (εὐδοκίμησε) together with honors and privileges, among which the most prestigious ones ever granted by Delphi—the praise and the invitation to the Prytaneion[34]—are included. It is important to note here that the epigraphic sources describing the typologies of performances (not only the Delphian ones) adopt a specific terminology that can be terse but never ambiguous or approximate. If in this case the performance was an audition of some kind or a showy demonstration without any implications of competition, the word ἀκρόασις or ἐπίδειξις could have been suitable, as for example the auditions on his own compositions given by Aristhoteos from Trezene[35] or the archaic music demonstrations delivered by the brothers from Pheneos and from Egina[36]. Instead the idea of competing is expressed by ἀγωνίζομαι and in my opinion this usage cannot be ignored or underestimated if for no other reason than because other testimonies attest to the same practice.

✤ Aristys from Aigion, son of Aristomenes, performing together with Damokles son of Timokrates:

§10 In the middle of the second century BC (ca. 157 BC), Aristys from Aigion ἐπέ/δωκε τῶι θεῶι ἁμέραν κ[α]ὶ ἀγωνίξατο καὶ εὐδοκίμησε (FD III iii 125.4–5). His compatriot Damokles travels with him and συναγωνίξατο [μ]ετὰ Ἀρίστιος (FD III iii 126.4–5). Which drama specialty they perform is not clear[37] but the rewards granted to them allow us to understand that Aristys is the dominant part[38] of the artistic couple since he earns also the [ξέ]νια τὰ μέγιστα ἐκ τῶν νόμων (line 10) and the publication of the stele ἐν τῶι ἱερῶι τοῦ Ἀπόλλωνο[ς] ἐν τὸν ἐπιφανέστατο[ν τ]όπον (lines 11–12), besides the rewards of the proxenoi[39]. The willful grant of a day to the god, explained by ἐπέδωκε τῶι θεῶι ἁμέραν, is surely to be intended as an “umsonst spielte”[40] but it seems it cannot be disconnected from the following ἀγωνίξατο καὶ εὐδοκίμησε since they appear as three steps of a unique procedure. The performance duration and appreciation for Aristys supported by Damokles and Nikon are the same, but, as we said, the requirements change.

✤ Χοροψάλτρια, daughter of Aristokrates, from Kyme:

§11 Some decades after Aristys (134 BC), we find this χοροψάλτρια[41] from Kyme apparently traveling alone to Delphi[42]:

Syll3 689 + Robert 1938a:38.2–6:

ἐ[πειδὴ/ ․ ․ ․ 8 ․ ․ ․ ․  Ἀριστο]κράτεος Κυμαία, χοροψάλτρια, παραγενηθεῖσα ἐν Δε[λφούς/ καὶ παρακληθεῖ]σα ὑπό τε τῶν ἀρχόντων καὶ τᾶς πόλιος ἐπέδωκε [τῶι θεῶι/ ― καὶ ἀ]γ̣ωνίξατο[43] ἁμέρα[ς δύο ?] καὶ εὐδοκίμησε ἐν τῷ ἀγῶνι [―/― ἀξίως τ]οῦ[44] τε θεοῦ καὶ τᾶς πόλιος ἁμῶν

§12 First of all the decree of this anonymous musician is useful in helping us realize that here the ἐπίδοσις τῶι θεῶι and the ἀγών are distinct performances. We cannot say whether, as in the cases of Nikon and Aristys, they overlap, but the χοροψάλτρια deliberately offers a day to the god, being officially requested (if we accept the restoration [παρακληθεῖ]σα of line 3 and of αὐθαμέραν at line 5 proposed by Pomtow), and then she participates to the unconventional ἀγών for two (?) days and obtains success.

§13 According to Robert’s cautious reading of the text, we can easily rescue the fil rouge of the formula ἐπέδωκε τῶι θεῶι καὶ ἀγ̣ωνίξατο καὶ εὐδοκίμησε we are getting used to but the restoration proposed by Couve and Pomtow alluding to the Pythia[45] is misleading and complicates the situation. What should exactly be the success achieved by this instrumentalist at the Pythia μουσικοὶ ἀγῶνες intended through εὐδοκίμησε? Are we to believe that although she did not win, she was so appreciated that she was granted extraordinary honors (praise, bronze statue (?), crown, a thousand silver (?) drachmae[46], publication of the decree in the most relevant place of the sanctuary of Apollo, and copy to be sent to Delphi) in addition to the privileges of the proxenoi?  Nevertheless the rewards listed in the inscription are worth all the artistic services held in Delphi by this χοροψάλτρια and not as a consolation prize for missing the victory at the Pythia. Last but not least: if we accept the restoration, there is a doubt about why she is supposed to compete for two days.

§14 Another case, earlier by about fifteen years, presents the same problem but offers a new perspective on the situation because of the shifting of the elements of the formula.

✤ Athanadas from Rhegion, son of Zopyros, κιθαρῳδός:

 Daux 1949:276–277n27.3–8:

ἐπεὶ Ἀθανάδας Ζωπύρου Ῥηγῖνος κιθαρωιδὸς παρα/γενόμενος ἐπὶ τῶι ἀγῶνι τῶν Σωτηρίων ἀγωνίξατο ἁμέρας δύο, ἐπαιτηθεὶς δὲ καὶ ὑ[πὸ/ τ]ο[ῦ] δ[ά]μο[υ] ἁμέραν ἐπέδω̣κε τῶι θεῶι καὶ τᾶι πόλει καὶ εὐδοκίμησεν τῶι ἀγῶνι ἀξίως το[ῦ/ τε θε]οῦ καὶ τᾶς πόλιος τᾶ̣ς̣ [Ῥηγίνω]ν καὶ τᾶς ἁμετέρας πόλιος ἔν τε τᾶι ἐπιδαμίαι ἀνε/στράφη καλῶς καὶ εὐσ̣χῃμόνως

§15 The decree clarifies that the κιθαρῳδός Athanadas from Rhegion performed in the ἀγῶνες of the Soteria[47] for two days. We do not have clear descriptions of the duration of the rounds of competitions during the Soteria and we do not know how many competitors were accepted. If we accord to the description given by Lucian of the κιθαρῳδία competition in the panhellenic ἀγών of the Pythia[48] and to the lists of participants of the earlier Amphictionic Soteria[49], we could figure out that the rounds of competitions in the Aetolian Soteria too were arranged to last one day each[50]. However, according to the indisputable information given by the decree, we have two days of competition in a formal ἀγών where this κιθαρῳδός obtains success. Without any comparanda, we can only provide some hypothesis: 1. Athanadas was allowed to perform in two specialties of the Soteria ἀγῶνες scheduled on two consecutive days: as a κιθαρῳδός and as a κιθαριστής[51]; 2. we can envisage a situation similar to some contemporaneous music performance competitions, organized through an eliminating round, a semi-final, and a final phase to be conducted during different days.

§16 The verb εὐδοκιμέω here applied to the ἀγών (of the Soteria) suggests that Athanadas was unable to win the competition[52] (but, if we were to envision a phase-out ἀγών, perhaps he passed through different rounds of it?) even though publicly-gained success and this achievement provided him the request to offer one day more to the god and also to the πόλις this time. In this case, there is not need to recognize him as ἄξιος (as we have seen for Nikon and Satyros) because his skills have been positively tested during the Soteria. He did not win the ἀγών but, he could have received a type of “people’s choice award” thanks to which the progression of his successes in Delphi continued through another day of exhibition for the god. If we hypothesize variation of the epigraphic formula and the restoration of the Pythia (line 6), the same progression could be figured out for the χοροψάλτρια. Whether the situation of these two artists is the same, we have to explain why there is a substantial difference in honors and privileges granted to them. If we compare the rewards offered to the χοροψάλτρια from Kyme to the ones attributed to Athanadas, we immediately notice that he receives minor regards: besides the privileges of the proxenoi indeed, only the invitation to the κοινὴ ἑστία in the Prytaneion[53] leaves the mark. If we hypothesize the same artistic journey in Delphi, they gain different rewards by the town: should this be considered an unequal treatment due to the different stage of their career? At the end, if we accept the restoration of line 4 of the χοροψάλτρια’s decree, the first move is done by the city requesting her skills first of all for an offering to the god and then for a two-day performance at the Pythia (?). She could have already been famous and he could have been a valuable young artist. This would explain both the preliminary request of the city for her shows and the invitation for Athanadas—an excellent performer at the early stage of his career—only after competing at the Soteria.

✤ Polygnota, daughter of Sakrates, from Thebes, χοροψάλτρια:

§17 Three other decrees of the second half of the second century BC, honoring a μουσικός named Philonidas and two individuals respectively coming from Thebes and Pergamon[54], could join this group of testimonies documenting these peculiar occasions of performance, but unfortunately they are too fragmentary to shed more light on the situation considered here. On the contrary, a well-known decree for another χοροψάλτρια, Polygnota from Thebes coming to Delphi accompanied by her cousin Lykinos[55], represents a very clear and significant case suggesting that these extraordinary performances are bound up with the idea of competition:

 FD III iii 249.4–9:

ἐπει]δὴ Πολυγνώτα Σακράτους Θηβαία χοροψάλτρια ἐνδαμήσασα ἐν Δελ/[φοὺς ἐν ὧι και]ρῶι ἔδει συντελεῖσθαι τὸν ἀγῶνα τῶν ΙΕΙ Πυθίων διὰ δὲ τὸν ἐνεστακότα/ [πόλεμον οὐ συ]ν̣τελειμένου τοῦ ἀγῶνος αὐθαμέ<ραν> ἀπάρξατο καὶ ἐπέδωκε ἁμέραν, παρα/[κληθε]ῖσ̣α̣ δὲ ὑπό τε τῶν ἀρχόντων καὶ τῶν πολιτᾶν, ἀγωνίξατο ἐ/[πὶ ἁ]μ̣έρας τρεῖς καὶ εὐδοκίμησε μεγαλομερῶς ἀξίως τοῦ τε θεοῦ/ [καὶ] τοῦ δάμου τοῦ Θηβαίων καὶ τᾶς ἁμετέρας πόλιος

§18 As this decree clearly informs, this other χοροψάλτρια came to Delphi in order to perform in the Pythia ἀγῶνες[56] which were cancelled owing to the Mithridatic war[57]. Nevertheless she decided to stay in town and αὐθαμέ<ραν>[58] ἀπάρξατο καὶ ἐπέδωκε ἁμέραν. Two kindly offered days of performance are indicated by ἐπιδιδόναι and ἀπάρχεσθαι[59]. At that point, being officially requested by the town, she ἀγωνίξατο ἐ/[πὶ ἁ]μ̣έρας τρεῖς καὶ εὐδοκίμησε μεγαλομερῶς[60].

§19 For her artistic services to the city, she is rewarded with praise, a crown for the value of five hundred drachmae (despite the rasura[61], the value is still readable), the invitation to the Prytaneion (as well as Athanadas and Nikon so far), and another very particular grant: she receives the ἱερεῖον for the sacrifice to Apollo[62]. The value of her rewards seems to be lesser than the one of the other χοροψάλτρια but this could be due to a moment of economic hardship[63] rather than to the different artistic levels of the two performers[64]. However, despite the difficulties experienced by the town, despite the cancellation of the festival, Polygnota ἀγωνίξατο ἐ/[πὶ ἁ]μ̣έρας τρεῖς. As Robert had already noticed[65], this ἀγωνίζομαι cannot be referred to the Pythia and he interpreted it as an “audition.” Still, if nomina sunt consequentia rerum, why use ἀγωνίζομαι rather than adopt the proper terminology of performance that more suitably suggests an “audition” (i.e. ἀκρόασις)?

§20 The decree of Polygnota is the most crucial evidence of performances which seem to preserve the spirit of competition but take place on occasions that were distinct from the formal ἀγῶνες.

✤ Antipatros, son of Breukos, from Eleutherna, ὕδραυλος:

§21 The drawing of this Delphian scenario can be concluded with a decree of the same period (ca. 86 BC), in honor of the ὕδραυλος Antipatros coming from Eleutherna:

Syll3 737.3–7:

ἐπεὶ Ἀντίπατρος Βρεύκου/ [Ἐλευθερν]α̣ῖ̣ος, ὕδραυλος, ἀποστειλάσας ποτ’ αὐτὸν τᾶς πόλιος πρεσβεί/[αν παραγ]ενηθεὶς ἐν Δελφοὺς καὶ παρακληθεὶς ὑπὸ τῶν ἀρχόντων καὶ τᾶς/ [πόλιος] ἀγωνίξατο ἁμέρας δύο καὶ εὐδοκίμησε μεγαλομερῶς καὶ ἀξίως̣/ [τ]οῦ τε θεοῦ καὶ τᾶς πόλιος τῶν Ἐλευθερναίων καὶ τᾶς ἁμετέρας πόλιος̣

§22 The case of this musician is peculiar. He came to Delphi expressly requested by the city which even sent him an embassy in order to have him in town and appreciate his art. He ἀγωνίξατο ἁμέρας δύο καὶ εὐδοκίμησε μεγαλομερῶς[66], just as the other performers we have taken into consideration. As the two χοροψάλτριαι, the town officially petitions for him to perform, whereas in the case of the κιθαρῳδός Athanadas the appreciative public seems to have requested for more of his art[67] (to be delivered in the ἐπίδοσις to the god). What is apparently missing here in the ὕδραυλος agenda is the ἐπίδοσις to the god but, as we can observe some lines further after the rasura of the value of the crown[68] (lines 9–10: ἃς̣ καὶ/ συνετέλεσ̣ε ὑπὲρ αὐτοσαυτὸν τῶι θεῶι), he makes an offering in money[69] (of the drachmae being worth for the crown?) to the god rather than in art.

§23 Beyond the crown, the bronze statue, and τὰ ἄλλα τίμια, he gains all the privileges of the proxenoi and ξένια τὰ μέγιστα together with his brother Breukos. Moreover the city calls them as well as the team traveling with them (οἱ μετ’ αὐτῶν)[70] to the ceremony of hospitality in the Prytaneion.

§24 So we can envisage a group of technicians traveling with Antipatros in order to arrange his performances with a relatively young an instrument as the ὕδραυλος was[71]. It is reasonable that into the carnet of its artistic calendar, Delphi wanted to lead the avantgarde music scene by inviting for a two-day exhibition one of the (probably still only a few at that time?[72]) entertainers capable of playing such a tuneful instrument[73]. But here the noteworthy points are the peculiarities of this occasion and the reason why the performance is described with the verb ἀγωνίζομαι. The artistic appointments of Antipatros[74] and of the other experts analyzed so far (apart from Athanadas and probably from the anonymous χοροψάλτρια) suggest neither formal ἀγῶνες nor simple performances.

✤ Abroad:

§25 Furthermore, the ambiguity of the occasion seems to extend beyond Delphi.

§26 A decree on a marble pediment stele found in Ptolemais in the Upper Egypt and dating to the early Ptolemaic Period, testimonies the same election procedure already attested for the τραγῳδός Nikon: Ἀθήναιον τ[ὸ]ν τραγω[ι/δὸν ἐπ]ιδημήσαντα εἰς τρ[α/․ ․ ․ ․ ․ ․ ․ ] ἀξιωθέντα ἠγωνί̣/[σαι ἀξίως κ]αὶ[75] φιλοτίμως κα[ὶ/ ․ ․ ․ ․ ․ ․ ․ τι]μηθῆναι αὐτὸ[ν] (SB 7286.5–9).

§27 Two more testimonies dating between the third and the second century BC, probably referable to the same context, open the horizon of this artistic practice also to the Cyclades. The κομῳδός Nikophon from Miletus ἐπαγγέλλεται ἀγωνιεῖσθαι/ τῶι θεῶι ἡμέρας τρεῖς δράμα/τα τρία and, for this, he receives the proxeny from Amorgos (IG XII vii 226.4–6). In the same period a Delian κιθαρῳδός son of Nikon is honored with crown and other τίμια in Siphnos (IG XII v 482 + IG XII v Add.318.7–10): ἐπειδὴ — —μος]/ Νίκωνος Δήλιος κιθ[αρωι]δὸς [ἀνὴρ ἀγαθὸς ὢν/ κ]αὶ πεισθεὶς ἀγωνίσα[σ]θαι κα[λῶς καὶ φιλοτίμως] ἠγώνισται. We cannot affirm if the occasions when these three artists perform are similar to the Delphian decrees or if ἀγωνίζομαι is attesting a real competition in this locale. The preliminary demonstration of ability requested to the τραγῳδός in Egypt, the three days performance of the κομῳδός, and the official request by the town in the Cycladic area are features already noted in Delphi. Nonetheless, since they are isolated testimonies, it is preferable to be cautious and focus on the evolution of the artistic occasion in Delphi.

§28 At this point either we might think of competitions that are not attested elsewhere—but the lack of a proper name casts some doubt—or we might suggest other kinds of artistic challenges for which the inscriptions have provided crucial clues that I intend to emphasize.

– We have anonymous occasions outside of the standardized ἀγῶνες where the artists are called on worth or prestige. Some performers seem to have to be qualified to participate, as it is the case of the τραγῳδός Nikon; some others are officially requested during their visit in town, as for example Polygnota; some special performers are called on purpose to town, as Antipatros. For we can notice that the artists chosen for these unspecified ἀγῶνες must have been considered renowned specialists.

Table 1: Requirements for the performance

WORTH Nikon from Megalopolis, τραγῳδός ll. 4-5: ἀξιωθείς
PRESTIGE Χοροψάλτρια from Kyme?  l. 4: παρακληθεῖ]σα ὑπό τε τῶν ἀρχόντων καὶ τᾶς πόλιος
Polignota from Thebes, χοροψάλτρια l. 4: παρα[κληθε]ῖσ̣α̣ δὲ ὑπό τε τῶν ἀρχόντων καὶ τῶν πολιτᾶν
Antipatros from Eleutherna, ὕδραυλος ll. 4-6: ἀποστειλάσας ποτ’ αὐτὸν τᾶς πόλιος πρεσβεί[αν παραγ]ενηθεὶς ἐν Δελφοὺς καὶ παρακληθεὶς ὑπὸ τῶν ἀρχόντων καὶ τᾶς [πόλιος]

– As we have observed for Menalkes and Polygnota, sometimes the travel to Delphi is inspired by the formal ἀγῶνες of Pythia and Soteria. Depending on their different backgrounds and artistic credibility, they are officially asked by the town to perform for one or more days. The principal criterion for the selection of the performers who deserve to participate in these exhibitions seems to be the high level of their artistry and professionalism[76]. The affirmation or the confirmation of the position in the artistic panorama is at the basis of these exhibitions.

Table 2: Principal purpose of the travel: the formal ἀγών

PYTHIA Polignota from Thebes, χοροψάλτρια ll. 4-6: ἐνδαμήσασα ἐν Δελ/[φοὺς ἐν ὧι και]ρῶι ἔδει συντελεῖσθαι τὸν ἀγῶνα τῶν ΙΕΙ Πυθίων διὰ δὲ τὸν ἐνεστακότα/ [πόλεμον οὐ συ]ν̣τελειμένου τοῦ ἀγῶνος
SOTERIA The Athenian κιθαρῳδός Menalkes l. 6: παραγενόμενος εἰς Δελφοὺς εἰς τὰ Σωτήρια

– The sequence in the performance agenda is the ἐπίδοσις τῶι θεῶι, the participation at the ἀγών, and the appreciation by the public. In all cases, the ἐπίδοσις consists of a performance, apart from the ὕδραυλος who offers to the god the economic value of his grants. The artistic agenda of the two χοροψάλτριαι shows that the anonymous ἀγών is disengaged by the ἐπίδοσις to the god and they appear as two different artistic occasions. In the cases of Nikon and Aristys this cannot be taken for granted but the situation seems similar. In Menalkes decree however, his whole Delphian artistic agenda consists of an offering to the god and the Amphictyons.

Table 3: Synopsis of the performers’ careers in Delphi

PERFORMANCE AGENDA HONORS & PRIVILEGES ACCLAIM & PUBLICATION
The Athenian κιθαρῳδός Menalkes – τόν τε ἄλλον ἀγῶνα καλῶς
καὶ φιλοτίμως
ἠγωνί/σατο
καὶ προσεπέδωκε τῶι θεῶι
καὶ τοῖς Ἀμφικ[τύ]οσι τὸν ἀγῶνα
laurel crown
vacat
public acclaim of his crown
at the Soteria (?)
Nikon from Megalopolis, τραγῳδός – ἐπέδωκε τῶι θε/ῶι ἁμέραν καὶ ἀγωνίξατο καὶ εὐδοκίμησε praise
– προξενία; προμαντεία; ἀσυλία; προεδρία ἐμ πᾶσι τοῖς ἀγώνοις οὓς ἁ πόλις τίθητι; τὰ ἄλλα τίμια πάντα ὅσα καὶ τοῖς ἄλλοις προξένοις καὶ εὐεργέταις ὑπάρχει παρὰ τᾶς πόλιος
invitation to the Prytaneion for him and οἱ μετ’ αὐτοῦ
Aristys from Aigion,
son of Aristomenes, performing with Damokles
– ἐπέ/δωκε τῶι θεῶι ἁμέραν καὶ ἀγωνίξατο καὶ εὐδοκίμησε praise
bronze statue ?, crown (aristeion ?), (1000?) silver drachmae
ξένια τὰ μέγιστα ἐκ τῶν νόμων
– προξενία; προμαντεία; [προδικία; ἀσυλία; ἀτ]έλεια; προεδρία ἐμ πᾶσι τοῖς ἀγώνοις οὓς ἁ πόλ[ις τίθητι]; τὰ ἄλλα [τίμια ὅσα καὶ τοῖς ἄλλοις προξένοι]ς̣ καὶ εὐεργέταις τᾶς πόλιος ὑπάρχει
publication of the stele in the most noteworthy place of the sanctuary of Apollo
Χοροψάλτρια
from Kyme ?
– ἐπέδωκε [τῶι θεῶι]
– [ ― καὶ ἀ]γ̣ωνίξατο ἁμέρα[ς δύο ?]
– καὶ εὐδοκίμησε ἐν τῷ ἀγῶνι
[ ― / ― ἀξίως τ]οῦ τε θεοῦ καὶ τᾶς πόλιος ἁμῶν
praise
bronze statue ?, crown (aristeion ?), (1000?) silver drachmae
ξένια τὰ μέγιστα ἐκ τῶν νόμων
– προξενία; προμαντεία; [προδικία; ἀσυλία; ἀτ]έλεια; προεδρία ἐμ πᾶσι τοῖς ἀγώνοις οὓς ἁ πόλ[ις τίθητι]; τὰ ἄλλα [τίμια ὅσα καὶ τοῖς ἄλλοις προξένοι]ς̣ καὶ εὐεργέταις τᾶς πόλιος ὑπάρχει
publication of the stele in the most noteworthy place of the sanctuary
copy of the decree in Kyme
Polignota from Thebes, χοροψάλτρια -αὐθαμέ<ραν> ἀπάρξατο
καὶ ἐπέδωκε ἁμέραν
– ἀγωνίξατο ἐ/[πὶ ἁ]μ̣έρας τρεῖς
– καὶ εὐδοκίμησε μεγαλομερῶς
crown for the value of 500 drachmae
praise
– προξενία; προμαντεία; προ[δι]κία; ἀσυλία; ἀτέλεια; προεδρία ἐμ πᾶσι τοῖς ἀγώνοις [ο]ἷς ἁ πόλις τίθητι; ἔγκτησις; τὰ ἄλλα τίμια πάντα ὅσα καὶ τοῖ<ς> ἄλλοις π[ρο]ξένοις καὶ εὐεργέταις τᾶ{ι}ς πόλιος ὑπάρχει
invitation to the κοινὴ ἑστία in the Prytaneion
ἱερεῖον for the sacrifice to Apollo
Antipatros from Eleutherna, ὕδραυλος – ἀγωνίξατο ἁμέρας δύο
– καὶ εὐδοκίμησε μεγαλομερῶς
– offering in money
(drachmae? ἃς̣ καὶ/ συνετέλεσ̣ε ὑπὲρ αὐτοσαυτὸν τῶι θεῶι)
crown (value in rasura); bronze statue
For him and for his brother:
praise;
– προξενία; προμαντεία; προ[δι]κία; ἀσυλία; ἀτέλεια; προεδρία ἐμ πᾶσι τοῖς ἀγώνοις [ο]ἷς ἁ πόλις τίθητι; ἔγκτησις; τὰ ἄλλα τίμια π̣ά̣ν̣τα ὅσ̣α̣ καὶ τοῖς ἄλλοι̣ς πρ[ο]ξ̣έν̣οις κ̣αὶ εὐεργέταις τᾶς πόλιο̣ς̣ ὑπάρχε̣ι̣
ξένια τὰ μέγιστα ἐκ τῶν νόμων
invitation to the κοινὴ ἑστία in the Prytaneion, also for οἱ μετ’ αὐτῶν
publication of the stele in the most noteworthy place of the sanctuary of Apollo
copy of the decree in Eleutherna

– Some of the honors and privileges that these performers gain as an allowance for their artistic service are extremely distinctive. The assignment of the statue is so rare an honor that only six people received one in Delphi[77], among whom we can mention Antipatros and the χοροψάλτρια from Kyme[78]. Furthermore, the dispatch of the ξένια is another infrequent privilege that four of the artists here considered receive, as well as the invitation to the hospitality at the κοινὴ ἑστία into the Prytaneion[79]. Even more unusual is the offering of a victim for the sacrifice, which only Polygnota in this group obtains. The city manifests its gratitude through δῶρα and τίμια which are not a formal cachet[80] but a form of concrete appreciation for the art of these specialists and for their efforts. Sometimes the rewards are more symbolic, other times they are much more substantial and their value, in my view, is connected with the artistic status of the specialist as well as with the economic situation of the town. Compared to the other artists, the grants of the τραγῳδός Nikon—who is previously declared worthy—and of Athanadas[81]—who has a different artistic journey in Delphi, though—are more symbolic than substantial. Instead, both the χοροψάλτριαι, Antipatros and Aristys also, even with differences, gain concrete besides formal rewards (praise, ξένια τὰ μέγιστα, statue, drachmae, and crowns valued in drachmae). This gives the idea of illustrious specialists in vocal and instrumental technique whose art has the purpose to enrich the grandeur of the cultural scenario of this locus Apollineus. (See Table 3 above.)

– The terminology describing the various typologies of performances in the Delphian inscriptions[82] tends towards accuracy in describing or an audition either a demonstration[83]. In this group of decrees the terse vocabulary adopted is, multa in paucis, describing a common practice embedding a competitive idea of performance. The decree of the κιθαρῳδός Menalkes seems to be the earlier testimony of a formula indicating a performative occasion. After a century, this formula finds a “crystallization” and in the meantime welcomes in se nuances and variations in order to describe differences in the same situation.

§29 The testimonies do not give us other clues to go further but I propose a hypothesis. The wording of the Delphian inscriptions does not suggest that the artistic appointments of these top vocal and instrument players traveling to Delphi are simple performances or exhibitions. Their competitive impulse cannot be underestimated and for this reason I would propose to interpret them as conventions where the major specialists of music and poetry parade offering their performances in succession for a day or even for more. In these kermesses the accomplishment consists of the appreciation of the audience and this implies the idea of the competition and of the comparison among the performances of the ἀγωνισταί. The decree of the Athenian Menalkes is, at the middle of the third century BC, the flagship of the common practice which finds its maturity and completion between the middle of the second and the first decades of the first century BC. Probably the boundaries of this practice attesting the conventions of expertise are not limited to Delphi but can be extended at least to Upper Egypt and the Cycladic area, whose sources date between the third and the second century BC. It is not possible to determine if these conventions had an extemporaneous nature, being organized una tantum, or if they had a cyclic feature. The case of Menalkes, whose performance is scheduled towards the end of the competition, testifies that they could be engaged in the festival’s environment but it is not possible to clarify whether it was a regular practice or not[84]. Nothing can also be specified on the way the artistic specialties were involved in the program of these conventions.

§30 My feeling is that, based on these few evidences, testifying to the goodwill and generosity of some professionals, we are able to reconstruct a partial snapshot of artistic occasions that might possibly have involved also other top players participating for money. Because of this, they could have not received any grants by the town, thus condemning themselves to be forgotten. Nevertheless the achievement in these conventions seems to correspond to a confirmation or affirmation of their artistic profiles and expertise in front of the audience, through the comparison with other famous experts. Indeed the demonstration of their skills involves the implication of a challenge, which induces the artists to perform with spirit of competition[85]. This would explain the sense of ἀγωνίζομαι, chosen in place of the alternative lexicon of the individual performances attested in the Delphian inscriptions. In this view the success of the single artist becomes also enrichment of the artistic profile of the town. It requests, hosts, and rewards the artistry of a selected roster of top players showing off in implicitly competitive occasions which, although are not formalized as their anonymity suggests, are nonetheless of great acclaim. In a mutual exchange, the jewels of the Hellenistic cultural panorama offer their artistic image and skills while the town reciprocates through honors, privileges, and rewards in due proportion. Everything is held under the sacred flag of the god, watcher of the itinerant art.


* This study is part of a wider project on the itinerant men of literacy and music in the epigraphic sources of the Hellenistic Period which I am currently leading. The digital part of this project will be developed in collaboration with the I.T. staff of Center for Hellenic Studies. I am deeply grateful to Professors Gregory Nagy, Leonard Muellner, and Douglas Frame and to M. Zoie Lafis for this chance. I thankfully acknowledge the feedback and helpful remarks regarding my paper from Professors Gregory Nagy, Angelos Chaniotis, and Richard Martin. I am grateful to Professor Christos Tsagalis for his substantive comments and to all the audience of the CHS Research Symposium. My gratitude goes also to Dr. Madeleine Goh for reading the drafts of my paper.

[1] A first overview was conducted by Guarducci 1927–1929. Several studies on specific areas, personalities and specialties have been published even though a compendium on this cultural phenomenon in the Hellenistic Period is still missing.

[2] Mostly honorary and proxeny decrees, but also funerary and celebrative epigrams, statue bases, votive offerings. The typologies of the sources vary depending on the areas. For example the panorama of Delphian testimonies is very homogeneous (decrees) instead in Boeotia there is more variety (besides the decrees, a considerable amount of epigrams and votive offerings).

[3] The study of Bouvier 1985 gives the perception of the massive reception of artists that Delphi faced from the fourth century BC to the Imperial Era.

[4] E.g. Aristoteles and Kallisthenes (FD III i 400); the poet and historian Hegesianax from Alexandreia Troas and Polemon from Ilion the periegetes (Syll3 585, prox. 18, 114); Lykon the peripathetic (FD III iii 167); Alexandros’ fleet commander Nearkhos (FD III i 412); the historian Neanthes from Kyzikos (FD III i 429); Theopompos from Knidos, Caesar’s friend (FD III i 527).

[5] In several cases the performance represents the conjunction between artistic and public activity for both intellectuals and statesmen: e.g. FD III iii: 124, 224. The artistic skills can work together with the cultural heritage in order to create the “mnemopoetic”, as Chaniotis (2009a:254) defined the construction of the image of the past through the aesthetic of the narration. Also, Chaniotis 2009b.

[6] E.g. Nachtergael 1977:428–9n15; FD III ii: 78, 190.

[7] E.g., a child from Skepsis: FD III i 273.

[8] Among them, two χοροψάλτριαι who will be considered further and the poetess Aristodama (her decree, to be precise, is from Khaleion: FD III iii 145).

[9] If the conservation of the poetic and music tradition and the cultural heritage is a leitmotif (Syll3 703; FD III i 49), Delphi is also open to the acceptance of innovation and new tendencies (Syll3 737: see §21–24 below).

[10] FD III i 48; Syll3 737. See §7–9, 21–24 below.

[11] E.g. Syll3 771; FD III i 223; FD III iii 338.

[12] The catalogues of the Amphictyonic Soteria register the presence of different artists granted also with the proxeny and other privileges by the city (FD III i: 21, 26, 36; ii 207; iii 86; Nachtergael 1977:430–431n16). This interference between the two spheres of individual performances and contests is scarcely attested in other environments, as for instance Delos or the Boeotian area.

[13] Lucian Herodotus or Aetion 3.

[14] These atypical appointments have been interpreted so far as exhibitions or performances, sharing the same nature of ἀκροάσεις and ἐπιδείξεις: Robert, 1929:38–39; Sifakis 1967:97–98; Nachtergael 1977:326–327, 361–362.

[15] If the restoration of the patronymic is right, we find him in the same period (270–250 BC) in Delos receiving the proxeny for unknown reasons: IG XI iv 575. This is only one of the several artists following the “loci apollinei περίοδος”: in Nachtergael (1977:243–244), tables of artists attending both places.

[16] A crown is cut on the top of the stele. In Delphi, crown (the laurel crown παρὰ τοῦ θεοῦ is the most common typology: e.g., cf. FD III ii 78; FD III iii 167; see Habicht 2002:23–24) and praise are usually combined together: Lefèvre 1998:253.

[17] The reasons for the martelage of line 9 are anything but clear (cf. §21–23 below, Syll3 737; FD III iii 249: in those cases the value of the crown has been erased). Pomtow (ad Syll3 431:674n5) considers likely the restoration ⟦⟦τόν Σωτηρίωι⟧⟧.

[18] Roussel 1924; Nachtergael 1977:299–328; Robert 1984:36–37. On the increase of the newly founded and re–organized festivals in the Hellenistic Period: Chaniotis 1995. A general overview of the μουσικοὶ ἀγῶνες in the Hellenistic Greece is given by Manieri 2009:17–32.

[19] Pomtow explains the value attributed to ἐπιδίδωμι in Syll3 690n5: ἐπέδωκαν sc. δωρεάν; Pouilloux 1976:25 (ad FD III iv 356): “offrir gratuitement et volontairement.” See Robert 1929:40–41 and Liefferinge 2000:151. On the ἐπιδόσεις in general: Migeotte 1992:5 passim.

[20] LSJ 1996:1510 s.v. προσεπιδίδωμι.

[21] Nachtergael 1977:407–410n3, 4. The earliest catalogues of participants of the Soteria record this header formula (here the less fragmentary of the two texts is quoted, n3): [τὸ κοιν]ὸν τῶν τεχνιτῶν ἐπέδωκε τῶ[ι θεῶι κ]αὶ τοῖς Ἀμφικτύοσιν εἰς τὰ Σω[τήρια] τὸν ἀγῶνα παντελῆ· ἠγωνίσαντ[ο δὲ οἵδε·]. The κοινόν supposedly refers to the one of Isthmos and Nemea (Pomtow 1897:819–820; Nachtergael 1977:302ff; Manieri 2012:139–140 with a compendium of the issue). The τεχνῖται deliberately offered the ἀγὼν παντελής (for the interpretations of this adjective, see: Pomtow, ad Syll3 489n7; Pouilloux 1976:25 ad FD III iv 356; Nachtergael 1977:304) to the god and the Amphictyons, so they did not receive a payment for their performances. Since the formula is lacking in the further catalogues, it would make sense that the τεχνῖται were offering only the inaugural festivals (Le Guen 2001:166), whereas the other editions of the Soteria were not intended to be gifted by the κοινόν. This leads us to think that, if the free participation of the κοινόν is stressed, normally individuals belonging to other guilds (for the participation of the Athenian σύνοδος at the Amphicyonic Soteria, see Aneziri 2007:76n44) or (why not?) freelance performers would have received a prize in money.

[22] According to this inference (or also if we accept the connection of προσεπιδίδωμι to the context of the Soteria), we can admit the χρηματίτης nature of the Amphictyonic Soteria, which has been maintained by various scholars: Ferguson 1934:324n22; Nachtergael 1977:300; Le Guen 2001(I):166.

[23] Nachtergael 1977:416–419n8.35, 82.

[24] Nachtergael 1977:326–327.

[25] Boiskos could be the same αὐλητής appearing on a choregic inscription of Orchomenos: Amandy–Spyropoulos, BCH 98 1974:191n8. In order to improve their performances some artists could hire partners who followed them in their artistic iter. This is documented for a female dancer who engages a musician to travel with her for a year (Tedeschi 2003:135) and we could figure out a similar situation for Menalkes and Boiskos. Cf. also §10: FD III iii 125–126.

[26] Menalkes is one of the several versatile artists attested in the Hellenistic epigraphic sources: e.g., cf. IG V ii 118; ID 1497. Anyway, he is first of all a κιθαρῳδός (so he is named in his decree). Since he is skilled in the instrumental and vocal technique (Bélis 1995, see n51 below), then he is perfectly able to perform as a chorister, as he does in the ἀγὼν μουσικός of the Soteria. Figuring out the exhibition together with Boiskos is challenging because Menalkes’ competences would have been suitable either to a performance of singing and αὐλός or even to an instrumental pièce.

[27] I am grateful to Prof. Chaniotis for this suggestion.

[28] IG V ii 113 (fifth century BC): the granting of the προεδρία for a family is announced κἐπὶ τἀτέρο[ι] ἀγῶνι.

[29] For this specialty on the canto a solo tragedy excerpts, appearing from the fourth century BC: see Gentili 1977:6–15.

[30] A long catalogue of the proxenoi of Delphi (Syll3 585) records the name of the τραγῳδός Nikon (prox. 128).

[31] Cf. the αἶσμα μετὰ χοροῦ performed in Delphi by the Boioitian Xenotimos (middle of the third century BC): FD III iii 86.

[32] The lack of a specification about the ἀγών he took part in alone is unusual and the situation of Satyros could be considered similar to the one attested for Menalkes. Nevertheless I consider here likely the allusion to the ἀγὼν μουσικός of the Pythia which used to precede the ἀγὼν γυμνικός (Amandry 1990:306–310). The performance this artist is judged worthy results as an exhibition during an extremely crucial moment of the festival.

[33] According to this inscription, shall we think that, by common practice, the winners of the μουσικοὶ ἀγῶνες of the Pythia were considered ἄξιοι to perform at the sacrifice after the ἀγὼν γυμνικός?

[34] Habicht 2002.

[35] FD III iii 124 (middle of the second century BC). He gives ἀκροάσεις ἐπ[ὶ π]λείονας ἁμέρας τῶν πεπραγματευμένων αὐτῶι, besides the public lectures of his ἐν̣[κώ]μια εἰς Ῥωμαίους (lines 5–6).

[36] FD III i 49.2: ἐπιδείξεις διὰ τῶν λυρικῶν συστημάτων; Syll3 703.5–6: ἐπιδείξεις διὰ τὸς μουσικὰς τέχνας.

[37] They could be either tragic or comic actors. O’ Connor 1908:114n73; Ghiron Bistagne 1976:313, 317 (it is not clear why he gathers that they take part in the Soteria); Stephanis 1988:n375, 575. Cf. FD III ii 48.17–18, 34, 37: among the Athenian Dionysiac τεχνῖται in the Delphian Pythaides of 97 BC, συναγωνισταί of τραγικοὶ ποιηταί or τραγῳδοί and κωμῳδοί; Nachtergael 1977:492–493n80.16–17: συναγωνισταί in the comedy competition of the winter Soteria (145–125 BC).

[38] Preuner 1899:70; Pickard Cambridge 2003:129, 135, 155: the συναγωνισταί are supporting actors.

[39] Aneziri (2009:231–232) reasonably argues that the privileges granted to the artists as ἀτέλεια or ἀσυλία are connected to their condition of travelers.

[40] Baunack SGDI II 871; Preuner 1899:69–71.

[41] Female harpist playing with a χορός: Robert 1938a:36–8; Bélis 1988:244–246. Cf. Michel, Recueil n910. Bélis 1999:259n57 explains that it is not to be taken for granted that a harp (see Ferrandini Troisi 2000:34–36) is meant here: “toute artiste jouant d’un instrument à cordes sans utiliser le plectre mérite d’être dénommée psaltria, qu’il s’agisse d’une harpe ou d’une cithare à caisse arrondie.”

[42] Bielman 2002:229; Loman 2004:64. Effectively the decree of this musician does not mention the presence of a chaperon (as instead it is the case of the brother of the poetess Aristodama from Smyrna: FD III iii 145; Syll3 532), but, if we consider as a comparison the case of the famous Polygnota from Thebes (FD III iii 249, see §17–20 below), we realize that the presence of her relative Lykinos is attested by a proper decree (FD III iii 250) and not even touched on the Polygnota inscription. So, if it is odd imagining a woman traveling alone, we could suppose that the decree for the chaperon of the χοροψάλτρια from Kyme has been lost.

[43] Cf. Pomtow (ad Syll3 689.4–5): [τῶι θεῶι/ αὐθαμέραν καὶ ἀ]γ̣ωνίξατο.

[44] Couve in the first edition (BCH 18 1894:82–84n6) proposed the restoration for the lines 5–6: τ̣[ῶν Πυθίων/ ἀξίως] and Pomtow (ad Syll3 689) follows him restoring: τ̣[ῶν Πυθί/ων καταξίως τ]οῦ τε θεοῦ καὶ τᾶς πόλιος ἁμῶν.

[45] This would imply that we can finally admit the even limited participation of women into contests: Lee 1988:109–110; Dillon 2000; Aneziri 2003:221–223; Loman 2004:64–66; Ferrandini Troisi 2006. This topic has been largely discussed: denying, despite the evidence (e.g. SIG3 802 besides this inscription, and Plutarch Table Talk 675b) the possibility of women’s presence in contests (Slater 2007:46n162); accepting it with misgiving (Bélis 1999:52–57); recognizing women participating only in supporting or particular roles (Angeli Bernardini 1995:188–189).

[46] The granting of the drachmae together with the crown represents a rare reward. The best comparison to this case is the decree for the composer of tragedies and satyr plays Zotion, who is crowned with olive and rewarded with cash at Coronea: Chaniotis 1988:346E69; Schachter and Slater 2009.

[47] The decree was approved during the month of Poitropios, corresponding to December–January. Shall we think the Soteria here mentioned are the winter Soteria, attested through a unique catalogue of participants dated at about 145–125 BC (Nachtergael 1977:492–493n80, 373–376)?

[48] Lucian The Ignorant Book–Collector 8–10: the κιθαρῳδία contest of the Pythia ἀγῶνες is fictitiously described. Three competitors–the mediocre Euangelos from Tarentum, Thespis from Thebes, the excellent Eumelos from Elis–are involved in the competition after which the award ceremony takes place. Everything happens without interruption in the same day.

[49] Since the catalogues mention only two or three participants for every specialty, they could be supposed to compete over one day: Nachtergael 1977:404–413n2–11. Also Lucian ad loc. 9: the three competitors he describes do not seem to be a firm number.

[50] The lists of victors are useless in understanding whether the number of participants admitted to compete was raised up during the Aetolian Soteria, whose festival was entirely renewed: Nachtergael 1977:329–338; Champion 1995; Chaniotis 1995.

[51]  In both specialties the κιθαρισταί and κιθαρῳδοί possess the instrumental technique (e.g. in Teos, the education in both kinds of expertise was committed to a single teacher: Syll3 578.15–20) but, since the κιθαρῳδοί are able to sing while they are playing, their art is valued more. See Bélis 1995.

[52] Εὐδοκιμέω is often used to praise doctors (Samama 2003:n60, 98, 103, 163, 321) and men of letters in Hellenistic decrees (Chaniotis 1988:384–389): Chaniotis 2009b:88. Here, in the case of Athanadas Rheginos, the praise for his professionalism partly implies the sense of a consolation prize in place of the real one he missed at the ἀγών.

[53] A study of the epigraphic and literary sources on the invitation to the ceremony of hospitality has been conducted in a monograph forthcoming. The topic is briefly presented in Cinalli 2014 forthcoming.

[54] Daux 1939:161–162; Robert 1929:39–41.

[55] FD III iii 250.

[56] The decree was stated only during the summer month of Boukatios (line 1), when the Pythia were usually celebrated. I do not know if it is possible to go so far as to admit a competition of female harpists at the Pythia (Liefferinge 2000:157), but the evidence that she was supposed to compete at the ἀγῶνες cannot be ignored or misinterpreted (Pouilloux 1971:67–70n10). Plutarch (Table Talk 674d–e) informs us that after the addition of the τραγῳδός to the original three specialties (αὐλητὴς πυθικός, κιθαριστής and κιθαρῳδός), all kinds of entertainment were admitted to the competition, pleasing the ear but distorting the nature of the ἀγῶνες.

[57] On cancellation or interruption of festivals owing to the war: Habicht 2006.

[58] If we accept the restoration, cf. the decree for the other χοροψάλτρια (see §11–13 above). The significance of the word αὐθαμέραν is explained by Chaniotis (2009b:89–90) as the clue of a spontaneous initiative of Polygnota who performed, despite the cancellation because of war, in the day her competition at the Pythia was scheduled, pleasing both the public and the city of Delphi.

[59] The “secularization” of the verb, intended as offering “prémices de l’art” is explained by Robert 1938b. Cf. also: FD III iii 129; FD III iii 338 (ἀπαρχὴν ποιεῖσθαι); SEG II 184 (Tanagra).

[60] Cf. the ὕδραυλος Antipatros from Eleutherna. See §21–24 below.

[61] The Delphian law on the grants for foreigners changed retrospectively from the middle of the first century BC. This explains why the value of the crowns has been erased from the decrees: Habicht 2002:24. See further, the decree of Antipatros from Eleutherna at lines 8–9. Probably also the inscription of the Kymaian χοροψάλτρια at lines 8–10 had a rasura but the stone is unfortunately broken in that point.

[62] Cf. the similar grant accorded to another woman performing in Khaleion, the poetess Aristodama from Smyrna (Rutherford 2009), who receives as a [γέρ]ας πα[ρ]ὰ τοῦ Ἀπόλλων[ο]ς, a piece of the victim for the κοινὴ ἑστία in Smyrna. Cf. also Pouilloux 1971:168–170n33; see Robert 1960:126–131.

[63] Perrot 2010:287–288.

[64] Bielman 2002:230.

[65] Robert 1929:38–39.

[66] This adverb appears seldom and in this context it clearly has the function of emphasizing the positive response of the audience: see Chaniotis 2009b:87–88. The same expression is used in the decree for Polygnota, line 8. See §17 above.

[67] The verb used for the request to Athanadas by the δῆμος (lines 4–5) is ἐπαιτέω («ask, demand for more»).

[68] Cf. the decree of Polygnota at lines 9–10: see §17 above. Robert 1929; Liefferinge 2000:152.

[69] Whether here it is Antipatros accepting the grants but paying for them, the γραμματικός Menandros (FD III iii 338), conducting σχολαί in the γυμνάσιον of Delphi, refuses his stipend (ἔρανος) for the sake of god and the Delphians. The procedure of the offering is different for both these professionals but, at the end, their activity in the city is gratis et amore dei and in Antipatros’ case is even onerous.

[70] Cf. §7–9 above, the τραγῳδός Nikon from Megalopolis: Delphi invites to the Prytaneion him and οἱ μετ’ αὐτοῦ. The decrees of Nikon and Antipatros are two outstanding testimonies of the fact that these artists were bringing their own team and restore the complexity of the arrangement of travel and performance. In the case of the ὕδραυλος, the idea of the team acquires significance through the necessity of different assistants able to activate the pumps of the instrument, to prepare it properly for the performance and to provide to its maintenance and transport: Sachs 1985:333; Apel 2000:396–397 s.v. “Hydraulis”.

[71] The ὕδραυλις was projected in third century BC by the Alexandrian engineer Ktesibios: Athenaeus IV 174b–e. See Tannery-De Vaux 1908; Farmer 1931:127–128.

[72] When it was introduced in Rome, the ὕδραυλις had immediately huge success: Cicero Tusculan Disputations III 43.

[73] Athenaeus ibidem.

[74] Beschi (2009:259) takes inexplicably for granted the participation of this ὕδραυλος at the Pythia.

[75] Bilabel in SB suggests the restoration εἰς τρ[αγωιδεῖν] at lines 6–7 and, even accepting the ἠγωνί̣/[σαι ἀξίως κ]αὶ φιλοτίμως proposed by S. de Ricci in Revue Épigraphique 1 1913:143n1, notices that it might be too long for the vacant space. Indeed the other parallels of the formula show that the adverb ἀξίως is connected to the god and to the achievement of success rather than to the contest itself (e. g. εὐδοκίμησε ἀξίως̣ τοῦ θεοῦ in Syll3 689 and 737, FD III iii 249; Daux 1949:276–277n27).

[76] The expression περὶ τὴν τέχνην προαίρεσις in the decrees of Polygnota and Antipatros (and Athanadas, also) is extremely significant. For other examples, see Chaniotis 2009b:88.

[77] Habicht 2002:23n45.

[78] Her case though is not certain (line 8), see §11–13 above.

[79] In Delphi, the assignments of the ξένια are all focused between the 195 and the 90 BC; the invitation to the Prytaneion is granted between the middle of the second to the end of the first century BC: Id., 23–25.

[80] We have an idea of how much in terms of money a famous performer could cost to a town from the cachet agreed by the actor Polos from Aegina performing in Samos: he gets the takings of the theatre and a fee (to be paid by installments): IG XII vi 56. See Schachter and Slater 2009:91.

[81] He is the only one whose grants do not include neither the praise nor the crown. The other artists here considered obtain either one or both these honors.

[82] All the inscriptions attesting to individual performances present a peculiar terminology that can be synthetic but not imprecise. Also in the papyrological documentation the distinction between demonstrative and competitive contexts is stressed: POsl. 189 = Vandoni 1964:30n13.

[83] We find: ἀκροάσεις ἔν τε τῶι γυμνασίωι (FD III i 273; Daux, BCH 63 1939:168–169); ἀκροάσεις ἐπ[ὶ π]λείονας ἁμέρας τῶν πεπραγματευμένων αὐτῶι (FD III iii 124, see n35 above); ἐπιδείξεις (FD III i 223); ἐπιδείξεις διὰ τῶν λυρικῶν συστημάτων (FD III i 49); ἐπιδείξεις διὰ τὸς μουσικὰς τέχνας (Syll3 703); ἐπιδείξεις σχολᾶς (Syll3 771); σχολαί (FD III iii 338); παραναγιγνώσκω ἐν̣[κώ]μια εἰς Ῥωμαίους (FD III iii 124, see n35 above); τῶν προγόνων τῶν τᾶ[ς πόλιος ἁμῶν] μν[άμ]αν ποιέω (FD III iii 145).

[84] Nor it is possible to propose a sort of affinity of these alternative kermesses with festivals whose catalogues do not record the victors but the participants: the Amphictyonic Soteria, commonly considered “une exhibition plus qu’un concours” (Robert 1936:22; Ferguson 1934:324; Gentili 1977:43; Slater 2007:47n165) and the festivals of Apollonia and Dionysia in Delos, to which a demonstrative nature have been attributed: Bruneau 1970:74–75; Manieri 2013:142–143.

[85] For the spirit of challenge rather than of demonstration in performing, what Athenaeus (XII 537d–e) narrates about the last wedding δεῖπνον of Alexander the Great matches perfectly: ὁ Ἀλέξανδρος ἐπεισόδιόν τι ἀπομνημονεύσας ἐκ τῆς Εὐριπίδου Ἀνδρομέδας ἠγωνίσατο καὶ τὸν ἄκρατον προθύμως προπίνων καὶ τοὺς ἄλλους ἠνάγκαζεν. For the intention of demonstration instead, cf. the ἐπιδείξεις of the famous athlete Milon: Pausanias VI 14.6–7. Furthermore, we may recall exempli gratia some literary sources where the idea of performing with spirit of competition can be recognized. The dancing performance with the ball of Alios and Laodamas (Odyssey viii 370–380) is not set as a proper contest (owing to the lack of other competitors, as Alkinoos specifies at verse 371), unlike the other Phaeacian dinner games (Odyssey viii 110–130) or also the funeral games (see Iliad XXIII 257ff). In the intention of demonstration of superb abilities, the spirit of competition between the two dancers is implied. Again, in the platonic Ion (530c–d), Socrates request of Ion’s Homeric performance sounds not only like a demonstration but also like a challenge where the ideal competitor is the level achieved by the other past and present Homer experts.


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