THE BOSPORAN KINGDOM
BOSPORUS IN THE FIFTH CENTURY B.C.
THE peculiar form which the Greek city-state constitution, Greek life and Greek religion assumed on the shores of the Black Sea and especially in the Bosporan kingdom merits special treatment in a general survey of Greek history. Despite some peculiarities the development of the Bosporan kingdom is typical ror the general trend of Greek history, and in many respects anticipated the Hellenistic monarchy, especially that aspect of it which is represented by Syracuse in Sicily and Pergamum in Asia Minor. In the field of civilization and art Bosporus exemplifies that marvellous adaptability of Greek creative genius to new conditions and new surroundings which again must be recognized as one of the main features of the Hellenistic age.
The history of Greek colonization on the shores of the Black Sea has already been dealt with. It will, however, be convenient here to emphasize some important facts which have a direct bearing on the development of the Bosporan kingdom. The Greek colonies in the Black Sea region are to be divided into five distinct groups. The earliest is the group on the south coast along the route to the rich mining districts of northern Asia Minor and to the gold-fields of the Caucasus. Next comes the line of Milesian colonies which gradually occupied the western and northern shores as far as the mouths of the Bug and of the Dnieper. In founding these colonies the Milesians were looking for an abundant and accessible supply of food-stuffs, especially of fish and grain. They were created with the consent and blessing of the masters of the steppes of South Russia—the Scythians. This group might be called, therefore, so far as South Russia is concerned, the Graeco-Scythian or the Olbian group.
The Scythians had pushed the former rulers of South Russia— the Cimmerians—southwards or westwards or locked them up in the Taman peninsula and the adjacent regions and in the hills of the southern part of the Crimea, but they were never able to conquer these parts of the former Cimmerian empire. Our tradition is full of half-legendary stories of their prolonged struggle with the Sindians, the inhabitants of the Taman peninsula, and we never hear of the Taurians, the residents of South Crimea, as subjects of the Scythians.
Like the Scythians the Sindians were not hostile to the Greeks. They had long been wont to receive their metals from the south coast of the Black Sea, in all probability through the Carians, and as soon as the Greeks established themselves near the mining regions, they opened their shores to them. Thus a third group— Graeco-Sindian—of colonies was created in this region: Teian Phanagoreia, Mitylenaean Hermonassa, and fishing stations of the Clazomenians.
Meanwhile the Milesians began to colonize the Crimea, probably from their colonies of Sinope and Amisus. They knew, no doubt, how rich the Crimea and Taman were in fish and corn. The excellent harbours of the later Chersonesus and Theodosia were occupied and, finally, Panticapaeum was founded at a spot which commanded the straits of Azov, and had been, no doubt, an ancient Cimmerian stronghold. There is no reason to doubt the statement of Stephanus of Byzantium that the Milesians sent their colony to Panticapaeum with the permission of the Scythians, who were used to the Milesians and preferred to deal with them rather than to depend on the Greek colonies of the Sindian coast.
Perhaps as early as the fifth century, or even earlier, the city of Chersonesus was taken from the Milesians by Dorian Heraclea Pontica, and became the nucleus of a group of Greek cities along the south and west shores of the Crimea which dealt chiefly with the Taurians and may be called therefore the Graeco-Taurian group. Panticapaeum, however, remained Milesian and soon began to grow and to extend its tentacles both along the straits to the Sea of Azov and to the mouth of the Don (where Tanais was founded) and along the Sindian shore of the straits. Thus arose a strong Panticapaean or Bosporan group of Greek cities in close connection both with the Scythians and the Sindians.
The early history of this Bosporan group is almost a blank. A group of coins shows that three of these cities began to strike money using the Aeginetan standard (like Olbia) and, in the main, Samian types. One of these cities was Phanagoreia, another Panticapaeum, the third with the name apparently of Apollonia is a puzzle: a city of this name never appears again in our tradition.
The uniformity of this early coinage points either to an agreement between the three cities or to the supremacy of one of them, presumably Panticapaeum. Unfortunately these coins cannot be dated exactly; some of them no doubt were struck in the fifth century and the earliest of them may go back to the sixth. More than that we cannot say.
It is by way of Athens that we are first able to approach the history of Panticapaeum. After 480 bc the names and dates of some of its rulers appear in what is probably Attic historical tradition, represented by excerpts from Diodorus Siculus. After the correction of some characteristic errors by Diodorus or his chronographical source and the checking of his chronology by reference to Bosporan affairs in the speeches and inscriptions of the fourth and third centuries, we are in the possession of a trustworthy tradition.
The first rulers of Panticapaeum are, according to Diodorus, who calls them ‘kings’, the Archaeanactids, reigning from 480/79 BC to 438/7 BC. His statement may be accepted, for no reason can be detected for the invention of so shortlived a dynasty either by local or Athenian historical tradition. Tyrannies were common in the Greek East of the time, and it is reasonable to suppose that in the Archaeanactids we have either a tyranny created by the Scythian overlords of Panticapaeum, like the tyrannies in Asia Minor which served the purposes of Persia, or rulers set up by the Greeks of the city in order to assert more effectively their rights against these same overlords. The name Archaeanax itself is a good Greek name, and is found in the early historical tradition of Mitylene.
During the fifth century the Black Sea region was well known to Greek merchants for its corn and fish, as is attested by Herodotus, whose statements are confirmed by the abundance of Greek pottery, first Ionian and then a little later Corinthian and Attic, found in the Greek cities and in Scythian and Sindian graves. Trade was free, and produce went to anyone in Greece who was able to buy it. After the Persian Wars and the conversion of the Delian confederacy into an Athenian empire Athens turned her attention to the Black Sea. She had failed to seize the corn market of Egypt and to establish her hegemony over Phoenicia, Cyprus, and southwest Asia Minor. She had now to find either in the West or in the North-East a secured and ample supply both of food-stuffs and shipbuilding material. In the West Athens had a formidable rival in Syracuse and, as has been described above, she made the North-East the principal sphere of her activity. Probably between 437 and 435 Pericles himself led an expedition to the Black Sea which paraded the power of Athens before ‘the barbarian peoples and their kings and dynasts’ in that region. The Greek cities gained in security by this display, and in return were brought under Athenian influence. Sinope, Astacus, and Amisus received Athenian colonists; Heraclea, which threatened to dominate the Milesian colonies in the Crimea, was weakened, and Athens formed a friendship with a new dynasty which in 438/7 had begun to rule at Panticapaeum.
The new dynasty was that of the Spartocids. Its founder, Spartocus, is not mentioned in Athenian sources, but his successors are, and from the time of Leucon I, the third ruler of the dynasty, we have local inscriptions containing the names of almost all the rulers after Spartocus’ son Satyrus. Among these names Spartocus is found at least three times, and we need not doubt Diodorus’ statement that a Spartocus was the founder of the dynasty. There are three facts which are significant. Not only have the rulers of Panticapaeum Thracian names, Spartocus and Paerisades, but these names are also found as dynastic names in the Odrysian kingdom, which was no less a new friend of Athens. Moreover, it is probable that the Spartocids knew of a mythical genealogy worked out for them, no doubt, by Athenian scholars which connected them with the Thracian hero Eumolpus and through his father Poseidon and Heracles with Athens. The genealogy became fashionable later in the Roman period of the Bosporan kingdom, when the ruling dynasty was again half Thracian, but it is presumably of earlier origin. A parallel with this is the Attic genealogy invented for Teres, the founder of the Odrysian dynasty, which made him a descendant of Tereus, the husband of Procne, King Pandion’s daughter. In the third place, at about the same time that Spartocus became the ruler of Panticapaeum we hear of similar rulers or kings in the Sindian region. A story which may be dated in the early period of the Bosporan kingdom—the tale of Tirgatao—related by Polyaenus, speaks of an independent Sindian king Hecataeus who married a Maeotian princess Tirgatao and later became the son-in-law of Satyrus, the ruler of Bosporus, presumably the son of Spartocus I. The story names also a Gorgippus as son of Satyrus. Though the story is a historical novel (one of the earliest of its kind) it reveals a real knowledge of the history of the Bosporan kingdom. Further, the name Hecataeus recurs on early monuments of the region of Gorgippia. At Gorgippia also have been found tiles with the name of Gorgippus, probably a local ruler. Finally, Strabo speaks of Gorgippia as the capital of the Sindians, and there are some fifth-century coins inscribed with their name. All this suggests that in the fifth century bc the Sindians had their own kings, all of them Greeks. The residence of these kings was a Sindian town renamed probably after the first king of the dynasty Gorgippia.
We may then conjecture that the half-Thracian dynasty at Panticapaeum and the half-Sindian dynasty at Gorgippia came from the same source. This source may have been Athens, anxious to control the two shores of the Cimmerian Bosporus in the same way in which she controlled the Thracian Bosporus. Whether Spartocus was an Odrysian prince who came to Panticapaeum with a retinue at the call of the Archaeanactids, and with the permission of Athens, or an earlier Thracian resident of the city related to the Odrysian dynasty, or a scion of the Cimmerian royal family, if we assume the Cimmerians to be Thracians— do not know. It is, however, no accident that the establishment of new dynasties at Panticapaeum and probably at Gorgippia was contemporary with the establishment of an Athenian cleruchy at Nymphaeum, a small Ionian city not far from Panticapaeum and perhaps with the creation of a similar stronghold—Stratocleia on the east shore of the Cimmerian Bosporus.
Of the early history of the new dynasties we know little, but the archaeological evidence suggests no very great prosperity during the reign of Spartocus I (438/7—431/0 bc), or the early years of Satyrus I (431/0—389/8 bc). The graves of this period are sparse and poor, and the coinage is not abundant. The Athenian monopoly, whereby the corn of the North-East was concentrated in Athens, no doubt hampered the trade of the Bosporan kingdom. Thus Athenian policy, acting through the Spartocids, was burdensome, even if Athens exacted no tribute from Bosporan cities.
It is significant that Olbia appears to be outside the orbit of Athenian interests. In Herodotus, who draws on Ionian sources, much is said about Olbia, nothing about Panticapaeum, whereas in the Athenian tradition after the middle of the fifth century the converse is true. A reason for this Athenian neglect of the northern route by Olbia in contrast to her intensive cultivation of the southern route is hard to see, unless the internal conditions of Olbia either reduced its export of corn or prevented an effective Athenian control of it. Archaeological data give no explanation. While fifth-century remains do not show any great prosperity, they show no catastrophic decline, and Athenian influence, so far as it is suggested by the spread of Attic pottery, is felt at Olbia no less than at Panticapaeum.
THE BOSPORAN KINGDOM IN THE FOURTH CENTURY
The downfall of the Athenian domination in the Black Sea during and after the Peloponnesian War freed the corn-trade of Bosporus and so led to a new period in the life of this region. Even the allies of Athens, not to speak of cities outside her empire, had not been able to import Bosporan corn without special permission, and this fact, of course, kept prices down, but presently we find Mitylene on the eve of her revolt dealing directly with the Pontus and, later, with Leucon I, the son of Satyrus. The effective beginning of this period is marked by the betrayal of Nymphaeum and its garrison by Gylon, the grandfather of Demosthenes, who entered the Bosporan service and married a Scythian, receiving as a reward for his treachery the town of Cepi. This presumably happened at the end of Satyrus’ reign, so that Leucon I inherited the blessings of an unrestricted corn-trade.
None the less, the official relations between Athens and the Bosporus remained close. Except for a short period Athens was the strongest naval power in Greece, and the commercial importance of the Piraeus was very little affected by political misfortunes. To Athens the Bosporus continued to be the one safe source of overseas food, which she needed in ever-increasing quantities while the Bosporan kingdom found in Athens its richest and steadiest customer, with a stable currency and a navy strong enough to convoy the corn-fleets past the hungry cities that lay between the Crimea and the Piraeus.
The first ‘treaty’ between Satyrus and Athens, indeed, appears to follow on the recovery of Athenian naval power after the battle of Cnidus in 394. That it was not earlier is suggested by the speaker of Isocrates’ Trapeziticus, the son of Sopaeus, Satyrus’ general, who is made, in that year, to refer to the Athenians being allowed to buy corn before other merchants as though this was not a right secured by agreement but a favour granted from time to time. But with the rebuilding of the Long Walls at Athens and the gradual partial restoration of an Athenian maritime confederacy the bonds between the two powers became closer. There is extant an Attic decree whereby honours were granted to the sons of Leucon, and these are connected with privileges secured to Athens. It is explicitly stated that grants or benefactions (Scopeou) given to Athens by Leucon’s sons are identical with those given to her by Satyrus and Leucon and so are the honours given by Athens. This implies that the first agreement between Bosporus and Athens was formally made during the reign of Satyrus, and was afterwards renewed under his successor. After the death of Spartocus, the elder son of Leucon, in 342, the compact was once more renewed by Paerisades, who, after reigning jointly with his brother, now became sole ruler of the Bosporan state.
These compacts between the democracy of Athens and the dynasts of Bosporus take a peculiar form. On the side of Athens they are decrees bestowing on the Spartocids as ‘guest-friends and benefactors’ certain privileges: Athenian citizenship, ateleia, crowns and statues. They in return make benefactions: ‘exemption from customs duties to those merchants who import corn to Athens, and a proclamation that those merchants who sailed to Athens had the right of loading their ships first.’ This right of pre-emption secured to the importers to Athens a full cargo, regardless of variations in the visible supply of corn at Panticapaeum or Theodosia. The benefactions are not based on any formal decision of the Council and People of Panticapaeum—for indeed such constitutional organs did not exist— but they are made effective by the ‘proclamation’ of the rulers to the customs and harbour-officials and the population at large. Thus the benefactions remain the acts of the individual rulers, who are officially to the Athenians private persons. Athens has, therefore, no responsibility for the constitutional position of the Spartocidae, to whom in extant Attic inscriptions their official title of Archon is never applied. Demosthenes, it is true, uses the title, but it was apparently unknown to the Athenian chancery.
The position of the Bosporan dynasty was consolidated with the growing prosperity that followed the freedom of the trade in corn. As we have no inscriptions of Spartocus I or Satyrus I, we cannot tell what were their formal relations to the Bosporan state. But Leucon was called the Archon of Bosporus and after the annexation of Theodosia, to be described later, he was also Archon of Theodosia. To this republican title was added (we do not know when) that of ‘king of the Sindians, Toretians, Dandarians and Psessians’. Thus to the Greek dwellers in the Bosporan cities the Spartocids were simply Archons, and Panticapaeum was still nominally a free city, as is shown by the fact that its beautiful gold and silver coins are all minted in the name of the city without any mention of the Archon. To foreign states, if we may judge from Athens, they were officially no more than private citizens. Even Arcadian mercenaries in the service of Leucon describe him as ‘Leucon, son of Satyrus, citizen of Panticapaeum’. At this point the inscription breaks off, but the above phrase is republican enough. But this constitutional masquerade does not obscure the essential fact that Panticapaeum had lost its civic liberties. We never hear of a Council or Assembly, foreigners are honoured not by the state but by its rulers, and no magistrates appear on its inscriptions or coins. The Spartocids’ rule was in fact a thinly disguised military and hereditary monarchy or tyranny. Their power had no doubt meant some violence, and the exile and confiscation of their opponents. From time to time we hear of exiles at Athens or Theodosia, and of plots and revolts against tyrants. But the dynasty remained unmoved, and no doubt many citizens in the realm welcomed its stability.
Their main support was no doubt the army and navy. Whether the earlier Spartocids employed the citizen militia we do not know, but there may be a reference to it in a passage of Polyaenus in which Leucon, probably Leucon I, employs his Scythian archers to make retreat dangerous for his hoplites. But we may assume that the bulk of the army and navy consisted of mercenaries, and of ‘allies’, that is detachments of Scythians who were probably no more than mercenaries themselves. The navy was commanded by trierarchs, some of whom at least were Bosporan citizens. The rulers themselves were surrounded by nobles who gave faithful service. Such was Sopaeus who commanded Satyrus’ army and was connected with him by marriage. He had wide lands from which he exported corn and was no doubt a feudal grandee as was Gylon, the betrayer of Nymphaeum. Other courtiers whom we can trace are Sosis and Theodosius, who came to Athens as ambassadors, and Stratocles, the friend of Sopaeus’ son. A further support for the dynasty were the foreign merchants, who were numerous enough to be of service to Leucon at a critical moment. Finally, the dynasty was immensely rich, as is shown by the finds in some of the royal graves at Panticapaeum, finds which are a mere remnant of the original contents. Their wealth was derived from their extensive traffic in corn and fish, as is reflected in the symbols found on the Bosporan coins. The corn came partly from their own domains, partly from the contributions of their subjects and vassals, partly by purchase from neighbouring tribes in the Crimea and in the Kuban and Don deltas. No doubt they also owned rich fisheries in the straits, in the Sea of Azov and on the Don. How great were the resources of the realm is shown by the abundance and excellence of its currency.
Besides the consolidation of their position in Panticapaeum and the efficient regulation of their overseas trade by adroit diplomacy, the Spartocids were chiefly concerned to extend their territory and with it their exportable supplies of corn and fish. Their first aim was to secure for themselves the corn of the Crimea and the Taman peninsula. The natural harbour for the Crimean corn was, and still is, Theodosia. In the early fifth century Theodosia was a free city, and in the time of her domination Athens prevented Heraclea from taking an important part in the corntrade of the Black Sea by controlling Theodosia, but when the power of Athens was broken, Heraclea tried again to compete with Panticapaeum, and looked to Theodosia as her natural ally. But Satyrus was determined to secure the city for himself, and in consequence there was a prolonged war with Heraclea, which was brought to a successful conclusion by Leucon I, and probably had as result the setting up of a tyranny at Heraclea in 364 bC. Theodosia was now annexed to the Bosporan kingdom and with its annexation the corn-export controlled by the Spartocids was doubled.
Satyrus probably sought to effect a union of the country of the Sindians with Panticapaeum. Traces of this process may be detected in the romance of Tirgatao which has been already described. In the end, the Sindian rulers acknowledged the suzerainty of the Bosporan dynasty which added to its title of ‘Archons of Bosporus and Theodosia’ that of ‘Kings of the Sindians’. Whether Satyrus or Leucon was first to assume this title we do not know, but doubtless Leucon reaped where his predecessor had sown. But Bosporan suzerainty did not mean that the Sindian dynasty disappeared. The two ruling houses probably coalesced, but the Sindian country retained its own dynasts as vassals of Panticapaeum. It is noteworthy that Athens took no official cognisance of the new state of things: Athenian decrees make no mention of the new title of the Bosporan rulers and statues were set up not only of Paerisades I and his son, but also of Gorgippus who was probably Paerisades’ father-in-law and dynast of the Sindians. Whether Phanagoreia was part of the Sindian ‘kingdom’ cannot be determined until it is systematically excavated. The city is never mentioned as a constituent part of the Bosporan state, and the same is true of Hermonassa. Yet it is hard to believe that Phanagoreia remained independent, the more so as dedications dated by Leucon I have been found upon its site.
Once masters of the Sindian region, the Bosporan rulers, especially Leucon I, extended their power far to the north and the east. In two inscriptions Leucon is described as king not only of the Sindians, but of the Toretians, Dandarians and Psessians, tribes to the east and north of the Taman peninsula. We know nothing of a similar advance in the Crimea, though something could be discovered by the investigation and dating of the earth walls which surround the territory of Panticapaeum and Theodosia. Nor have we direct evidence of the relations of the Bosporan rulers with the Scythians, though we may assume that they were friendly on the whole. Finally, as regards Panticapaeum itself we do not know the date of its Acropolis, and while the extant remains of the city walls cannot be earlier than the fourth century, we cannot tell whether or not these remains belong to the oldest system of fortification.
The influence and growth of the Bosporan state is illustrated not only by its coinage, but even more conclusively by the fact that in the fourth century Olbia was gradually losing ground in her commercial relations with the Scythian empire, and her primacy was passing to Bosporus. For the Scythians, as for the Greek cities of the Pontus, the late fifth century bc was a time of comparative decline in prosperity. While the Scythian graves of the sixth and the early fifth centuries are exceedingly rich and full of imported gold and silver objects, we have but few rich Scythian graves of the later fifth century. It was not until the fourth century that the marvellous series of the richest Scythian royal graves begins, only comparable in wealth and artistic value of the objects with certain graves of the sixth or early fifth century.
Most of the best objects in the Scythian graves of the sixth century are imported, partly from Persia, partly from the Ionian and Aeolian cities of Asia Minor. Alongside these appear in increasing numbers objects in native style and of native workmanship, and imitations of them made no doubt at Olbia and perhaps at Panticapaeum both in precious metals and in bronze. The general aspect of the Scythian graves remains more or less the same in the next century. Some of the objects found in them might have been made in Athens, but most are either Ionian and Graeco-Persian, or Olbian or Panticapaean imitations of Ionian, Persian and native originals. The fourth-century graves present striking contrasts. They become richer and richer and at the same time the Olbian products in them gradually vanish. Imported objects are equally rare. The bulk of the gold and silver plate, of the gold-plated arms and weapons, of the gold and silver horse trappings show all of them a new style, a kind of neo-Ionian of a peculiar type. No doubt this originated in Panticapaeum, and the fact that objects of this style appear both on the Bug and the Dnieper and on the Don and the Kuban shows that it was Bosporus which now controlled Scythian commerce. The evidence of these graves makes it certain that relations were on the whole friendly. Trade not war was their policy and commercial gain not tribute was the aim of Bosporus and Scythians alike.
BOSPORUS AND THE SCYTHIANS
The time of Satyrus and Leucon I in Bosporus was a period of expansion and consolidation. The new form of government was recognized both by the Greek dwellers of the Bosporan state and by the foreign powers, both ‘barbarian’ and Greek. The rulers of Bosporus became immensely rich themselves and enriched some of their subjects. Theybecame indispensable both for the Scythians, who understood the great advantages of a commerce with the Greek world undisturbed by wars, and for the Greek customers of the Bosporan state, for whom it was a great privilege to be sure of a safe and constantly growing supply of the staple food of the masses of the Greek city-dwellers—corn and fish. While Athens policed and controlled the sea route from the Thracian Bosporus westwards, the Bosporan rulers, masters of a strong navy, succeeded in keeping well in hand the dangerous pirates of the Black Sea— the Caucasian and Taurian professional sea-robbers.
The main concern of the Bosporan dynasts was to increase and stabilize their corn-trade. For this was needed on the one hand a careful management of their internal affairs and their relations to the Scythians, and on the other a close watch on political conditions in the Aegean Sea and a readiness to adapt themselves to the various aspects of political life in Greece. We cannot, therefore, understand the fortunes of the Bosporan state without keeping in mind political developments both on the steppes of South Russia and in the Aegean.
The earlier history of the Scythian empire has been dealt with in a previous volume. But certain leading features in its history during the fourth and third centuries deserve special notice in this connection. In the fourth century b.c. the Scythians became enormously rich: their dominion extended from the Kuban and the Don to the Danube, and was felt far into Central Russia, as far as the middle Dnieper in the West and the middle Don in the East. Recent excavations have shown that even the region of the lower Volga and of the Ural river was culturally Scythian in its main features. The Hungarian plain and large parts of Transylvania had been Scythian since the seventh century, and probably belonged, at least at the beginning, to the great Scythian empire. In the fourth century expansion to the west, temporarily arrested by the expedition of Darius and the growth of the Odrysian Thracian empire, began again. Many Thracian dynasts on the right bank of the Danube became at that time Scythian vassals, and Scythian civilization spread far and wide into modern Bulgaria and to the regions of the lower Danube. The western expansion of the Scythians was, however, soon arrested, and Scythian domination in the west was broken by the pressure of Celtic tribes and Illyrians driven before them. Equally dangerous for the Scythians were the Macedonians when they became united and their state was reorganized by the genius of Philip. Slowly the western part of the Scythian empire split up into political chaos. This slow disintegration of the Scythian empire in the west accounts, as we have seen, for the gradual elimination of Olbia as one of the two important outlets for Scythian commerce. Olbia was no longer a safe place for the corn-trade. Very often she suffered herself from severe famines, and the corn-supply from the Dnieper region became intermittent if it did not cease entirely.
The Scythians gradually retreated eastwards and concentrated in the steppes between the Dnieper and the Don. Some of them found a safe refuge in the Dobrudsha at the mouth of the Danube. Further retreat in this direction was, however, impossible. In the third century the steppes east of the Don were becoming occupied by tribes of Iranian origin whom the Greeks called Sauromatae—they probably wrongly identified the newcomers with a branch of Maeotians who bore this name—and the Romans Sarmatians. Of the Sarmatians we know very little in the fourth and third centuries bc. Archaeological evidence abounds but is difficult to interpret, especially as the steppes between the Don and the Volga and between the Volga and the Ural river are so little excavated. Nevertheless, we may safely assume that the third century was a time of fierce struggle between the Scythians and the Sarmatians, whose movement westwards the Scythians were not able to arrest. They gave up the valley of the Kuban first and gradually—probably very slowly—lost the control even of the steppes between the Don and the Dnieper. Their last refuge and their stronghold was the Crimea. Indeed, the Sarmatians never dislodged them from the lowlands of the Crimea where they established their capital, probably about the end of the third century.
These events were of the utmost importance for the Bosporan state. The more the Scythians were occupied in fighting the Thracians, the Celts and the Macedonians in the West, and the Sarmatians in the East, the less they pressed on the Maeotian tribes and on the Bosporan state. Their withdrawal from the Kuban valley gave to the Bosporan rulers for a while a free hand to expand their territory up the river and along the shores of the Sea of Azov. The decline of Olbia secured for the Bosporans the Scythian trade and made the corn which they exported ever more valuable to their Western customers.
It was some time before the Sarmatians in their turn began to press on the eastern frontier of the Bosporan state. We have no evidence of such a pressure before the late Hellenistic period. More dangerous was the situation in the Crimea. The strong and well-organized Scythians, gradually driven out from the richest parts of their empire, became dangerous neighbours of the Greek cities of the Crimea, and were inclined no doubt to insist on their old and antiquated rights of sovereignty. We know how exorbitant were their demands of tribute from Olbia. The same may be supposed as regards the Bosporan kingdom and the Greek colonies of the Taurian group. Here then great skill and energy was needed if the princes who ruled at Panticapaeum were to keep intact their political independence and to maintain their corn-trade—their main resource—at its old level.
THE CORN-TRADE AND THE SPARTOCIDS IN HELLENISTIC TIMES
The demand for corn in the West was not declining, it was rather increasing. But the conditions in which it was carried out were gradually changing. It was no easy task for Athens, during the political anarchy of the second half of the fourth century, to guarantee for herself the largest share in the corn-export from the Bosporan state and to protect from seizure year after year the corn-fleets that sailed to Athens. We hear repeatedly of such seizures between 362 and 338, whether by Byzantium, Chalcedon, Cyzicus, Chios, Cos, Rhodes or Philip of Macedon. Through waters so threatened safe convoy became ever more difficult.
It is no wonder that Athens tried to make sure of her cornsupply by restrictive measures: she demanded from all her corn merchants that they should import grain exclusively to Athens and reserve for her two-thirds of the cargo. All these efforts were in vain: she first lost control of Thrace and then later of the Bosporus. In 330/29 bc for example, Dionysius, the tyrant of Heraclea, dared to use violence towards a corn merchant of Salamis in Cyprus who was sailing to Athens with corn. The famine which raged at Athens for some years after 330 cannot be accounted for, were it not for the loss of control over the Bosporan trade. In these difficult years the Athenians were at the mercy of private corn-dealers, as is shown by her decrees in honour of members of this class. With this famine at Athens we are entering into a new period in the history of the corn-trade. After Alexander it became free, once and for all. The demand for corn increased rapidly. It is true that new corn lands were now opened up. Egypt under the first Ptolemies rapidly increased her production of corn, which became their main source of income. Cyprus and Phoenicia exported some corn, as did Asia Minor. On the other hand, Thrace, except for a short period under Lysimachus, was in a state of anarchy; Sicily and Italy could hardly export any large amount of corn to the East; and, as we have seen, the region of Olbia was no more to be relied upon.
The ancient world never knew any period of over-production of foodstuffs. There was no competition between the producers: that was reserved for the consumers. And so it was in the third and second centuries b.c. Whatever ideas we may have on the degree of industrialization of the ancient world in the Hellenistic period, there is no doubt that the population of Greece increased rapidly in the third century in spite of a large emigration to the Orient, and that many places in Asia Minor did not begin their city life till this period. The Greek cities, with their ever-increasing production of wine and olive-oil and ever-decreasing production of cereals, were more than ever before in need of imported corn and fish. Witness the frequent famines in the Greek cities and the measures—sometimes desperate—which were taken by various cities to guarantee a sufficient food-supply for their population; pressure on rich citizens; honours to corn merchants; ever increasing importance of the magistrates concerned with it (sitonai, agoranomoi, etc.). Thus everyone who was able to export large quantities of corn might count on becoming not only rich but also politically influential.
Thus in Hellenistic times the corn-trade became all important. There was, however, at no time during this period any one single power which was in control of the Mediterranean corn-supply. Trade was free, and the only obstacle to its peaceful development were the constant wars in the Aegean and the corresponding growth of piracy, the pirates being indeed freely used by the combatants as allies and auxiliaries. The burden of policing the seas fell heavily on those powers which succeeded in creating the strongest navies: from Athens it passed to Philip and Alexander the Great, from Antigonus and Demetrius to the Ptolemies, who relied beside their own navy upon the combined naval forces of the Islanders, from the Ptolemies to the Rhodians, now the presidents of the Island League, and finally, after a period of prolonged anarchy, to the Romans.
The changes in the Aegean world which have been described help to explain the vicissitudes of the Bosporan state in the late fourth century and the next two hundred years.
On the death of Leucon I in 349/8 bc power was shared for five years by two of his sons, Spartocus II and Paerisades I, who may have ruled with him for the later part of his reign. In 344/3 their joint rule ended with the death of Spartocus, and Paerisades reigned alone till 310/9. He extended Bosporan territory far to the east, including in his title the tribes of the Thateans and Doschians, while in place of the several Maeotian tribes enumerated in his father’s title, there sometimes appears the proud formula—‘and of all the Maeotians’. This territorial expansion is no doubt explained by the withdrawal of the Scythians from the Kuban region. He also was engaged in war with the Scythians, probably, though this is not recorded, to defend his dominions from their migration into the Crimea under the pressure of Celts and Sarmatians. We may assume that he was successful, for during many years we hear of no more wars between Bosporus and the Scythians, who indeed appear as allies of Paerisades’ son Satyrus II at the very time that they are pressing hard on the neighbouring city of Chersonesus. An elegiac inscription, which describes the kingdom as including all the land between the Caucasus and Taurian mountains, even suggests that, for a time at least, the Scythians of the Crimea acknowledged Paerisades’ suzerainty. This would explain their military help to his son and the fact that exactly at that time Scythian dynasts built near Panticapaeum the splendid tomb of Kul-Oba and a similar tomb in the so-called tumulus Patinloli.
During this period the corn-trade kept to the paths marked out by Satyrus and Leucon. The Treaties’ with Athens were renewed, and the commercial relations of Bosporus were extended, as is shown by many inscriptions of Panticapaeum, Gorgippia and Phanagoreia, all of the fourth century. These testify to trade with the Crimean Chersonesus, with Heraclea, Amisus, Chalcedon, Colophon, Cromne, Chios and Syracuse, and the evidence for these commercial relations continues throughout the third century. Despite the warlike preoccupations of Paerisades, which once at least hindered the export of corn, Bosporus continued to hold its place as the chief centre of corn-export for many Greek cities, especially Athens. In Bosporus itself Strabo records an official cult of Paerisades as a god. If this was established in his lifetime, it was an anticipation of the policy of the Diadochi. His wife Komosarye was a daughter of Gorgippus, presumably lord of the Sindians, a fact which suggests that the subordinate dynasty continued to exist under the shadow of the Bosporan state. Finally, like other Greek tyrants, and like his father Leucon, Paerisades was a patron of the arts: at least he welcomed at his court the wandering musician Stratonicus, and his over-exigent hospitality provoked the sharp tongue of that Greek Voltaire.
For the period after his death we have more evidence in a detailed excursus in Diodorus, which is no doubt ultimately derived from a local historical source favourable to the dynasty. There was a short civil war between the three sons of Paerisades, Satyrus, Eumelus and Prytanis, which ended in the victory of Eumelus. What is of importance is that the Scythians supported Satyrus and Prytanis and made up their army except for 4000 Greek and Thracian mercenaries, while the forces of Eumelus were wholly composed of Sirakians, in whom we may recognize the first Sarmatians who appeared to the north of the Kuban region and gradually pushed on west and south. There is no mention of any Bosporan citizen army and it may be conjectured that Paerisades and his heirs relied wholly on mercenaries and had suppressed the citizen militia. Eumelus set himself to conciliate the goodwill of the Greek population of Bosporus, and announced the restoration of the ‘ancestral constitution.’ This proclamation suggests that Paerisades at least had made changes in the traditional policy of the dynasty, especially in the imposition of heavy taxes and war contributions, and Eumelus now abolished these burdens and perhaps restored the Greek citizen militia.
His aim in doing so was to strengthen the Greek element in his kingdom and with its help to carry out an ambitious project, similar to that of his contemporary Lysimachus and later of Mithridates the Great, namely to unite all the Greek cities of the Pontus under his rule and to transform the Black Sea into a Bosporan lake. Consequently he helped Byzantium and Sinope—no doubt in their struggle for independence against Lysimachus— and tried to save Callatis from subjection. In this he failed, but he used the opportunity to attract a thousand Callatians to his land and to strengthen the Greek element in Bosporus by founding a new Greek city, Psoa, and by planting there a group of Greek military settlers. His panegyrist has no doubt that he would have succeeded in his plan had he not met an untimely end after a reign of five years. He was succeeded by his son Spartocus III (304/3— 284/3).
Spartocus III inherited a strong and well-organized kingdom, for after Eumelus the Bosporan state may fairly be so described. Whether, in fact, it was Eumelus who first called himself basileus both at home and abroad, we do not know. Diodorus’ use of the title is not decisive, since for Diodorus all the Bosporan rulers are kings and we have no inscriptions which mention his name and his title. His son, however, appears as basileus both in his kingdom and in foreign lands. In Bosporus the usage varies: in inscriptions dated by his rule he is sometimes styled archon, sometimes basileuon, sometimes both titles are used together. In his foreign relations he was more consistent. There is an interesting Athenian decree of 289/8 bc. The Athenians had just recovered their liberty and were anxious to renew their relations both with the Paeonians and with the powerful ruler of the Bosporus. An Athenian embassy was sent under the pretext of announcing the happy event to Spartocus III, who negotiated with the embassy. The result was the decree. It is interesting to compare this decree with that voted for Spartocus II and Paerisades I. While the former, like those which had preceded it, was a disguised commercial treaty, the decree of 289-8 bc is a formal alliance. While the predecessors of Spartocus were treated by Athens as private citizens, Spartocus III is given the title of basileus. While in the former treaties trade privileges to the Athenians were specially mentioned and formed the core of the document, in this decree the ‘grants’ are mentioned as a matter of the past. Beside a modest gift of corn Spartocus gives no definite privileges to Athens, but only promises to do his best for her. Whether any definite privileges were secured, we do not know. The question was probably settled by the ambassadors who were sent to Bosporus to carry with them the decree. And last, but not least, the king was granted a statue not only in the agora like his predecessors, but also on the Acropolis.
The Bosporan kingdom continued to flourish throughout Spartocus’ reign and that of his successor Paerisades II, who succeeded to the throne in 284/3 and ruled until after the middle of the century. For this Paerisades we have no literary evidence, and the inscriptions of Bosporus merely show him as inconstant in his titles as his predecessor. But we have interesting information from abroad which throws light on his foreign policy. Whereas no mention of him has survived at Athens, we find the trade which is his policy connecting him with Rhodes, Egypt and Delos. It is probable that close commercial relations with Rhodes began much earlier than this time and they continued into the first century bc. As regards Egypt we find Apollonius, the minister of Ptolemy Philadelphus, instructing his agent Zeno to make all due preparations for a visit from Paerisades’ ambassadors in 254 or 253 bc. Whether or not the Battle of Cos had been fought, Egypt was at that moment the chief naval power in the Aegean, and the hostility of Egypt would be a fatal handicap to Paerisades’ trade. Equally many Egyptian manufactured goods found their way to the Black Sea and there was regular commerce, for example, between Alexandria and Sinope. Thus we need not be surprised to find these two crowned merchants seeking to be on good terms with each other. About the same time two Bosporans appear together with four Rhodians and some other Greeks in an Alexandrian inscription. Whether they were merchants or soldiers we cannot say, but their presence is significant. Equally significant is the appearance of two Bosporans and many citizens of Chersonesus at Delos, and the dedication of a bowl by Paerisades in 250 bc. It is characteristic of Bosporan policy that in this year Paerisades appears at Delos with Antigonus Gonatas and Stratonice. The star of Philadelphus is setting; the star of Antigonus is in the ascendant.
With Paerisades II ended, in all probability, the great age of the Bosporan kingdom. The close of the fourth century and the first half of the third are distinguished by the richest finds both in Panticapaeum, Phanagoreia and Gorgippia and in the steppes of Southern Russia, so that the archaeology of this whole region bears eloquent testimony to the able policy of the Spartocid rulers from the First to the Second Paerisades. At some time within this period begins also the new royal gold coinage of Bosporus in imitation of that of Lysimachus, bearing the name of Paerisades instead of the name of the city and a portrait head in place of the gods and badges of Panticapaeum. That Paerisades II was the first to issue these gold staters is, however, not probable, for the style is poor and hardly consistent with his date.
For more than a century after the death of Paerisades, some time after 250 bc, the dynasty continued to reign in Bosporus, but little is known of the several rulers. There was a Fourth Spartocus and a Second Leucon, with whom it is tempting to connect a grim story mentioned in Ovid’s Ibis. The scholia tell how a Bosporan King Leucon killed his brother Spartocus, who had seduced his wife Alcathoe, and was then himself killed by her in revenge. In the judgment of Ovid, the queen bore the surname of Eusebes and belied it. With these murders began a period of anarchy, made worse by the vigorous advance of the Sarmatians, which in turn caused the Scythians of the Crimea to exert pressure probably both on Bosporus and Chersonesus. Panticapaeum, it is true, remained so strong that Chersonesus appealed to her for help in the evil plight which is well illustrated (for a later period) by the romantic story of the Sarmatian Queen Amage who at last saved Chersonesus from the Scythians. But the dynasty was, no doubt, weakened by its dissensions, and by the end of the third century there is evidence for the rise of usurpers. There is one Hygiaenon who appears in coins and inscriptions. He has the title of Archon, which suggests that he stood for an attempt by the Greeks to regain their civic liberty. Another usurper, Akes—known from a single coin—looks like a Scythian or Sarmatian.
At some time in the first half of the second century there was peace once more in Bosporus. A Paerisades appears as a contemporary of Prusias II of Bithynia, that is between 168 and 149 bc, and there were two other kings of the same name and at least one other Spartocus. Bosporus itself enjoyed a revival of prosperity which is probably to be connected with the consolidation of the Scythian dynasty in the Crimea and the final settlement of the Sarmatians in the Kuban valley. The Bosporan kings were now able to reach a lasting understanding with these powers and to resume regular trade relations with the outer world. It is possible that this revival of trade began quite early in the second century and that the period of anarchy was of short duration. As early as 195/4 bc citizens of Bosporus and Chersonesus are mentioned in a list of proxenoi at Delphi and some two years later the same privilege is awarded to envoys from Chersonesus. We may assume that both cities were regaining their position in the society of Greek cities.
We know little indeed of life in the Bosporus during this period, but some information may be gathered from an unusual source. Romantic tales of the Bosporan kingdom began to circulate in Greece probably as early as the fourth and third centuries bc. There is first the story of Tirgatao and later that of Amage, and in the late Hellenistic period these are followed by full-dress Scytho-Bosporan novels. A fragment of one of these has recently been discovered in Egypt and similar novels are probably the main source of one episode—that of Macentas, Lonchatas and Arsacomas—in Lucian’s Toxaris. Valueless as they are for the political history of Bosporus, these later novels may well give a fairly accurate picture of life in South Russia at the time of their composition. Bosporan kings are engaged in constant warfare with Scythians and Sarmatians, sometimes fighting each with the help of the other. At court, even in time of peace, Scythians and Sarmatians are familiar figures, and Bosporan princes marry Iranian ladies and vice versa. Archaeological evidence partly confirms and partly refutes this strange picture. The graves of this period are still Greek, and Sarmatian influence does not become dominant till later. The Bosporans cannot be called poor: in many graves in Panticapaeum or the Sindian country there is still evidence of wealth. But the general standard has declined and the Hellenic character of the graves is in no way as pure as in the fourth and third centuries.
CIVILIZATION AND ART
The constitution of the Bosporan state, which according to the Greek ideas was a military tyranny, grew up out of a compromise between the Greek colonists and the native population. To the natives the Spartocids were always kings; to the Greeks the rule of these hellenized barbarians, accepted because of bitter necessity, was a tyranny thinly disguised under the constitutional title of archon. The Bosporan tyranny is the more interesting for an historian of the ancient world, since it was not a passing incident in the life of a Greek city, like most of the earlier and later Greek tyrannies—even the tyrannies of Heraclea and of Syracuse—but a settled government which existed for centuries and was gradually transformed into a typical Hellenistic monarchy comparable with monarchies of Asia Minor: Pergamum, Bithynia, Cappadocia, Pontus, Armenia and Commagene, with their more or less hellenized native kings and a population which consisted both of Greeks (in the cities) and of natives (in the country).
The social structure of the Bosporan kingdom differed little from the social structure of the Hellenistic kingdoms named above. The population of the Greek cities was probably engaged mainly in trade and industry. Some of the Greek residents of the cities may have been tillers of the soil like the citizens of Chersonesus, where the small territory of the city (the Heracleotic peninsula) was divided into kleroi which were owned and tilled by the Chersonesites. Such tillers of the soil, small landowners, were the Callatians whom Eumelus settled in Psoa. These Greek farmers, however, played a relatively subordinate rdle in the economic and social life of the Bosporan cities. The prosperity of Bosporus was based not on them but on an agricultural native population both in the Crimea and the Sindian region. This native population was probably tied to the soil. We may draw this conclusion from an interesting inscription of ad 151found in the Sindike. A certain Letodorus (probably long before) had dedicated to ‘the goddess’ certain lands and serfs who tilled them, as was stated in a special document which he had drawn up and published. These possessions of the goddess, which had diminished by lapse of time, King Rhoemetalces now declares that he had collected and restored to her. The inscription shows that in this region both in Roman and in pre-Roman times private landowners and temples owned land to which native serfs were attached, a state of affairs similar to that which prevailed all over Asia Minor in the Hellenistic period.
While there were some private landowners in the territory of the Spartocid kingdom, the largest landowner and the largest producer of grain and master of native serfs was the ruler of the Bosporan state. He probably claimed ownership over all the land which was not held by the Greek citizens of the larger cities. The grant, for instance, of the small city of Cepi by Satyrus I to the Athenian Gylon, or the status of Sopaeus, the friend and prime minister of that king, shows that the ruler claimed the right of disposing of all the land of the Bosporus and of giving up this right temporarily or for ever in favour of friends and officers, who in this way became real feudal lords. There is nothing strange in this, since we know that similar conditions prevailed in all the monarchies of the ancient world, especially in the Graeco-Iranian states. .
Being the largest landowners in the state, the Bosporan rulers owned enormous quantities of corn, cattle and fish. As war lords they had from time to time large masses of slaves to dispose of. All these goods were sold and exported abroad. There is no evidence that the kings owned a commercial fleet, nor can we suppose that ships were normally owned by other landowners—the visit of Sopaeus’ son to Athens on ships which belonged to his father and were loaded with corn from his estates was probably an exception. Trade with the cities of the Aegean was as a rule carried on by regular Greek merchants, a motley crowd from various cities, some of them Bosporans. Some of these merchants may have had their permanent residence at Panticapaeum, but the majority came and went like birds of passage. Along with the landowners and merchants there also existed in the cities of the Bosporan state, as in any Greek city, a large population of artisans and shopkeepers, of workmen and sailors and slaves.
The most interesting feature of the social and economic as well as of the cultural life of the Bosporus is the mixture in it of often heterogeneous elements. The state was like a double-faced statue of Janus or a triple-headed pillar of Hecate. The two strongest elements in this mixture were the Greek, especially the Ionian element, and the various native elements, especially Thracian (if we consider the Cimmerians to be Thracians), Sindian and Maeotian (if these are to be regarded as the pre-Cimmerian population) and Iranian. None of these native elements deserves the name of barbarian, for all of them could look back upon a long evolution of civilized life.
This dualism of Greek and non-Greek is noticeable in every department of Bosporan life. At first sight the cults of Panticapaeum or Phanagoreia reveal no important peculiarities if compared with those of other Ionian cities; we notice a set of Greek cults with that of Apollo predominant. But if we look a little deeper, we shall see that, along with the Greek cults, the native slightly hellenized cults take an ever more leading part in the religious life of the Bosporus. All over the Sindian region were scattered rich and revered sanctuaries of the native Great Mother, the Asiatic ‘Lady of the beasts’. In the temple at Phanagoreia the goddess was worshipped under the name of Aphrodite, in another temple on the shore of the lake Tsukur the same goddess is styled Artemis Agrotera. In a dedicatory inscription found on the Taman peninsula it may be the same goddess who passes under the name of the Ephesian Artemis. And there were at least two more of her temples: one near Hermonassa and another near Gorgippia. We have thus in Bosporus the same phenomenon which is so familiar all over Asia Minor.
There is the same dualism in the material life of the population, especially of the ruling class. We are well informed about the city cemeteries of most of the Bosporan cities, and the picture is the same everywhere. The tombs of the urban middle class, sometimes rich and well constructed, show a surprisingly pure Greek character: Ionian in Bosporus and at Olbia, Dorian at Chersonesus. In Bosporus we have the same mixture of cremation and inhumation as in other Ionian cities. The funeral rites of these graves are purely Greek, as is the funeral furniture; athletic objects prevail, weapons are rare. In the tombs of the sixth to the second centuries many, if not most, of the objects are imported from Greece, especially bronze and silver plate, jewellery, pottery, rich textiles and glass. Whether there existed local pottery factories in Bosporus, which imitated first Ionian and afterwards Attic ware, we do not know. Style is not always decisive; we need extensive chemical analysis of the clay.
While the tombs of the middle-class population of the cities are purely Greek, we cannot say the same of the monumental tombs of the rulers and of the aristocracy—stone chambers hidden in high earth or stone tumuli. Scores of such tumuli are still to be seen on the summits of the two ranges of hills in the neighbourhood of Panticapaeum, many lie along the road which leads from the city into the steppes and many others are to be found on most of the hill-tops in the Taman peninsula and the Crimea, mostly near the ruins of the other Bosporan cities.
The stone chambers inside the tumuli were very carefully constructed and were gorgeously adorned with paintings and hangings of costly stuffs, often sewn with gold plaques. The chambers and the corridors leading into the chambers were usually vaulted: the vault is often of the corbelled type, round or square, with one course of stones projecting beyond the next, though true barrel vaults are occasionally found. In the middle of the chamber was placed a coffin, usually of wood, rarely of marble, carved, inlaid and painted. Round the coffin were Greek vases of the finest ware. The bodies laid in the coffins wore festal dress; the men had their weapons, the women jewels. Some of the graves, which were discovered intact or only half plundered, have yielded superb collections of ancient jewellery and metal-work: engraved stones signed by celebrated artists, necklaces, bracelets, earrings of the best workmanship, bronze and silver vessels. The funeral rites are not the same in all the graves. The graves in the Taman preserve features which recall the native Cimmerian and Scythian burial-rites as, for example, the interment of horses and of funeral chariots. The graves in the territory of Panticapaeum have none of these foreign elements. And yet they are not purely Greek. The Greeks of this period did not bury their dead under barrows, in stone chambers with ‘Egyptian’ vaults, in sumptuous coffins, nor did they any longer deposit whole fortunes in their tombs. They had no blood sacrifices and no magnificent funeral feasts. If not Greek and not Scythian, what type do these graves represent? True analogies with the funerary ritual and the sepulchral structures of Panticapaeum and the other Greek cities of the Bosporus are to be found partly in heroic Greece (e.g. blood sacrifices and funeral feasts), partly in those lands which reveal a great similarity with heroic Greece—in Thrace and in Macedonia—, and there is a striking similarity between the tumuli cemeteries of the Bosporan cities and those of Amisus and Sinope and in Etruria, especially the recently excavated groups of tumuli near Caere. Everything suggests that the great tombs of the Bosporan kingdom were built for members of the ruling class, which was not of pure Greek origin, but of mixed stock: half-Thracian, halfGreek, with some Scythian and Sindian blood.
Some of the objects found in these tomb-chambers were imported from Greece or from the Orient (especially from Persia), but side by side with these there are others which are unquestionably local work, and it is these which concern us more nearly.
There is no doubt that the coins of Panticapaeum were struck in the city itself. In the sixth and fifth centuries they differ very little from the coins of the Ionian cities in Asia Minor. But in the fourth century—the exact date of the new series of coins is unknown—the coinage suddenly changes. Gold staters were now struck, and the types of these staters and of the corresponding silver coinage are quite new. These types are not imitated from the contemporary coinage of other Greek cities. They are original creations of Bosporan artists, and they are generally recognized as masterpeices of original and forcible art. The chief types of the coins—heads of bearded Silens and beardless Satyrs—are still a puzzle. They cannot be etymological allusions to the name of Panticapaeum, for they do not represent the god Pan. Nor are they faithful reproductions of the established types of Silens and Satyrs. Possibly they are heads of Thracian gods akin to the Thracian Dionysus. The types on the reverse of the Bosporan coins are also of local origin. The arms of Panticapaeum are not Greek: the lion-griffin or eagle-griffin treading upon an ear of corn or a fish and holding in its mouth a spear came no doubt to the Bosporus from Persia, either directly or through Asia Minor. Of the same origin is the group of a lion and a deer and the other types.
The style of the coins is notably similar to that of those peculiar products of Greek metal-work which spread in the late fourth and in the early third centuries b.c. all over the Scythian steppes: gold and silver vessels, gold and silver mounts of Scythian arms and weapons, gold plaques sewn on Scythian garments and rugs, and gold and silver parts of Scythian horse-trappings. These objects in the seventh to fifth centuries show either a purely Ionian style or are a mixture of various Oriental styles with the peculiar Scythian or Pontic animal style predominant. It is possible that both the first and the second class were produced by Ionian artists, resident in the Greek cities of the southern and northern shores of the Black Sea, the artists to whom are probably due the so-called Graeco-Persian gems and some rare GraecoPersian and Graeco-Anatolian sculptures.
With the fourth century bc there begins a change. Alongside commonplace subjects of a purely ornamental character, the artists who worked for the Scythians began to reproduce in a conventional late Ionian or late Attic style subjects which bore on Scythian life and Scythian religion. Scythian gods, Scythian religious rites, scenes of the investiture of kings by the gods, and, last but not least, scenes of war, are now the main topics treated by the Greek artists. The most famous and the richest graves in the steppes of South Russia are full of such subjects. Kul Oba and the Patinioti tumulus near Panticapaeum, Chertomlyk and Solokha on both banks of the lower Dnieper, Karagodeuashkh in the Kuban valley, not far from the Black Sea coast, Chastye Kurgany on the middle Don, may serve as instances of this numerous class. The date of this group of Scythian royal burials is disputed, but the present writer has no doubt that they all belong to the time of the zenith of the Bosporan kingdom. The manner of treatment of all the subjects mentioned above testifies to an intimate knowledge of Scythian life. The artists who treated the subjects had not only heard of and seen the Scythians, but had lived with them and breathed the air of the Russian steppes. They idealized them slightly but they are exact in reproducing their dress and weapons, their horses and dogs, their religious and military life. Such a choice of subjects and such a treatment are novelties in the Greek art of this period. The Greeks of the late fourth century b.c. did not care for the barbarians. If they reproduced figures of barbarians, even of those whom they knew very well, they gave highly conventionalized pictures of them. They took the barbarians from the Greek point of view and showed but little interest in them. The only monuments of art which may be compared with the objects found in the Scythian tombs are the so-called Graeco-Persian gems mentioned above. These considerations compel the conclusion that the objects from the Scythian graves were not produced either in Greece proper or in Asia Minor. They are local.
The similarity of the style of these objects with the style of the Panticapaeum coins of the fourth century is striking. The heads of the Silens and Satyrs of the coins look exactly like some heads of Scythians on the best objects of the Scythian graves. This fact, and the fact that the area over which the graves in question are spread radiates around the Bosporan kingdom, make it certain that in the fourth and third centuries there was at Panticapaeum and in the other cities of the Bosporus a school of artists who made it their special task to furnish their Scythian, Sindian and Maeo- tian neighbours with pieces of their equipment which suited their taste and represented their life. If so, there is no praise too high for what some of these artists have achieved. Never were these scenes of Scythian life surpassed in the history of ancient art: neither in the Hellenistic nor in the Roman period. They can easily bear comparison with the admirable figures of the Gauls created by Pergamene art.
After the end of Scythian supremacy in the South Russian steppes, when new customers replaced the old ones both in the north and in the east, and the requirements of these customers appeared to be quite different compared to those of the Scythians, the Bosporan artists adapted themselves at once to the new conditions. The trend of the time was for polychromy. Jewellery with inset stones was what the new fashion and the new patrons liked most, and the Bosporans began to work in this new style, adapting it to or combining it with the new forms of objects used by their new customers, mostly Sarmatians. The graves of the Taman and of the Kuban valley and some graves in the Dnieper region from the late third century onwards show all the stages of this development. The achievements of the Bosporan school in polychrome jewellery and metal-work were lasting, more lasting than those of their predecessors, and have survived by many centuries those who were responsible for them.
We have almost no material to illustrate the intellectual life of the Bosporan kingdom. We hear of no great Bosporans who made a lasting contribution to the development of Greek civilization. The only name which might be quoted in this connection is that of Sphaerus, the philosopher, who lived in Egypt in the time of Ptolemy Philadelphus and of his successors. There is, as we have seen, some little evidence for a Bosporan trade in music and for the visits of famous musicians to the Bosporus. Yet neither at Panticapaeum nor in any other city of the Bosporus is there the slightest indication of ruins of theatres or other similar buildings. This may be due to the scarcity of good building material, or possibly the theatres were wooden buildings. Of one thing we may be sure, the Bosporus produced some historians of its own. We cannot account for the surveys of Bosporan history, or for some details which have been preserved, unless we postulate the existence of a school of local historians, most of them in the service of the rulers. And it is also not unreasonable to suppose that the origin of the Bosporan and Scythian novels goes back to the vivid imagination of Bosporan writers. And finally, some fine verse is to be found among the votive and funeral inscriptions which time has spared.
The Bosporan state, therefore, was not by any means an insignificant little group of Greek towns lost on the shores of the Cimmerian Bosporus. It developed an interesting and original form of life. It had the sagacity to invent a semi-Greek constitution which held the state together for centuries. It contrived to make this form of government popular in Greece and to gain for Bosporan tyrants such as Leucon I a place in the great gallery of famous statesmen whose names were familiar to Greek readers and even to Greek schoolboys. It succeeded in spreading Greek civilization among the Scythians its neighbours and the Sindians and Maeotians its subjects. For many centuries it guaranteed the Greek world a cheap and abundant supply of foodstuffs. It transformed wide tracts of steppes into cultivated fields. It kept the Black Sea free of pirates. It connected the Greek world with Central Asia. And last but not least, it created a vigorous art which achieved brilliant triumphs.
In a word, the Bosporus of the Classical and of the Hellenistic periods played no unimportant part in the life of the ancient world. The time is past when, in the imagination of cultivated persons, the Greek world is bound by the shores of Attica and of the Peloponnese. The Greek genius succeeded not only in creating lasting values for the Greeks, it showed at the same time an incomparable universality and flexibility, a power of adapting itself to unfamiliar conditions, and of constructing, in foreign surroundings, new centres of civilization, in which whatsoever was strong and fertile in the native life was combined with the eternal creations of Greek intelligence. Bosporus is one of the earliest examples of this wonderfully stimulating power of Greece.