Monday, March 10, 2003

Athens and Pompey: A Political Relationship by Michael Hoff

In the spring of 62, following the Mithradatic War and the re-establishment of the pax Romana in the eastern provinces, Pompey returned triumphantly to Italy, allowing for several stopovers en route. Plutarch catalogues the stops from east to west and the benefactions Pompey made (Pomp. 42, 7-11): in Mytilene, he restored freedom to the city and the citizens honored him with an inscription for "having put an end by land and sea to the wars besetting the world." On Rhodes he attended the philosophical schools and bestowed a talent on each philosopher, according to Plutarch. Pompey then arrived in Athens where he reportedly provided a similar benefaction to the philosophers in residence there. Plutarch (42,11) reports that Pompey donated 50 talents to the city to help in its restoration. Pompeys purpose in these private and civic endowments, according to Plutarch, was to enhance his reputation. Undoubtedly Plutarch is correct in his simple assessment, but in light of other references to his benefactions in Athens, Pompey was sowing the seeds of allegiance owed to him by the cities of the Greek East in his upcoming war against Caesar in 48.
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