Sunday, May 12, 2019


Silvia Panichi, La Cappadocia ellenistica sotto gli Ariaratidi ca. 250-100 a.C. Biblioteca di geographia antiqua, 5. Firenze: Leo S. Olschki, 2018. Pp. 131. ISBN 9788822265807. €25,00.

Reviewed by Paavo Roos, University of Lund (

Version at BMCR home site

[The Table of Contents is listed below.]

Cappadocia is an important part of Anatolia with a long history from the Bronze Age to Late Antiquity. For the Hellenistic and Roman periods considered in the present volume, however, the source material is limited. Important archaeological remains are few, and preserved inscriptions from Cappadocia in the Hellenistic period are also very few. Although the Cappadocian language is known to have existed and been spoken even at the end of the 4th century AD, written material in Cappadocian is lacking and there are no inscriptions. As the introduction, 'Short considerations on the state of documentation,' says, much of the information comes from numismatic material.

As can be seen from the bibliography, no survey of Cappadocia has ever been published, and the arrival of Panichi's book is welcome in spite of its concentration on a limited period. It is to be hoped that it will be translated and made available for a wider orbit of readers. As can also be seen from the bibliography, the author has been working on Cappadocia for several years and produced many articles with a bearing on the subject.

Although Cappadocia has an earlier history as the Achaemenian province of Katpatuka, which ended with the death of the last satrap in the battle of Granicus in 334 BC, the book starts with 250 BC. At the death of Alexander the Great and the division of his realm Cappadocia was in the hands of Ariarathes I, whom Perdiccas eliminated, after which it belonged to the Macedonian sphere. During the subsequent rulers Ariarathes II and Ariaramnes, Cappadocia remained under the influence of various diadochi, sometimes evidently divided into parts, causing subsequent terminological difficulties.

The period 250-100 BC represents the reigns of the kings from Ariarathes III to Ariarathes VII. The former was partly co-ruler with his father Ariaramnes and was the first to assume the title of 'basileus.' The complicated genealogy is given by Diodorus Siculus and elucidated in the book by the genealogical table reproduced as fig. 1 (where the years do not always quite match those of the book).

Ariarathes III was married to the Seleucid princess Stratonice which led to the hellenisation of the dynasty. He succeeded in enhancing his state by taking advantage of the internal conflicts among the Seleucids. The extremely long reign of his son Ariarathes IV (220-163) is characterized by wars in Anatolia; Ariarathes IV supported his father-in-law Antiochus III against the Romans but did not suffer for that, partly owing to support from the Pergamene king Eumenes, to whom he himself later gave military support. In the war of the Romans against the Macedonian king Perseus twenty years later Ariarathes was among the friends and allies of the Romans.

The reign of Ariarathes V was characterized not only by the wars between states (e.g., Pergamon against Bithynia) and smaller states in the east but also by internal struggles when Ariarathes was challenged by his brother Orophernes, who tried in vain to oust him. His son Ariarathes VI was married to the sister of king Mithridates Eupator of Pontus, and with that connection the conflict with the Pontic state began, including also events with Bithynia and Paphlagonia and of course also problems for Rome. Ariarathes was murdered, evidently on the instigation of Mithridates, who later killed with his own hand the son Ariarathes VII, his own nephew, during a treaty negotiation. Ariarathes' brother went in exile and subsequently died, and Mithridates put his own son on the throne. The dynasty of the Ariarathids was extinct about 100 BC, although the new king was given the name Ariarathes (i.e., IX). His reign and the passing of Cappadocia into Roman control is not dealt with in the book, but we can notice that Cappadocia survived as a state ruled by kings much longer than the other former states of Anatolia—Pergamon, Bithynia, and Pontus—although under Roman influence.

A section on 'The geographic picture' gives a survey of the mountains, rivers, and lakes of the area and also takes account of the road network, the so-called temple-states, and the numerous forts. The economy of the province is based on the salt of the Tuz Gölü (Lake Tatta) and the stone industry (but without mentioning mining), the breeding of horses and mules (famous already in the Achaemenian period), and the cultivation of fruit (important also today).

The second part starts with a survey of some institutions, the basileus, the court, the army, and the strategiai. The sub-chapter on the basileus deals with royal insignia and coins, matrimonial connections, and the fact that a queen could act in regency, and mentions the priest of the temple-state of Comana as the second after the king (and often related to him). The relation between the king and the poleis has often been discussed and is also mentioned, as are the friends and relatives epigraphically attested in the king's council. In the army, consisting both of natives and mercenaries, the proportion of cavalry was extremely high, as could be expected from a horse-breeding country. The sub-chapter on the strategiai tells us that the country, like other states in Anatolia, was divided into administrative districts, in this case ten in number; Cappadocia is the only country where we know the names of all of them. Some terms of functionaries are also known. The sub-chapter also deals with the administration of the temple-states, primarily Comana but also Venasa and Tyana and some sanctuaries.

The chapter 'Gli insediamenti' consists of a useful catalogue of the towns and forts in Cappadocia, from the important towns Mazaca and Tyana to small forts, some of which are only known by name; for some of them the identification is of course dubious. The information comes from ancient authors, mostly Polybius, Ptolemy, and Strabo, but the 'Index of quoted authors' lists more than thirty authors. Many of the 26 sites lack remains and nearly half of them could not be put on the map. Archaeological activity on the sites is not stressed, and in fact only a few of them are known for excavations: Castabala, Comana, and Tyana (and of course the famous Bronze Age Kanesh, which may be identical with Anisa). A few of them were founded as capitals by earlier kings before Ariarathes IV situated his capital at the unimportant Mazaca, called Eusebeia and later Caesarea, the present Kayseri.

A survey of the steps of hellenisation in the former Iranian province follows, and finally there is a short but skilful conclusion on the history of the period, also including capitals and sanctuaries.

The book has no other illustrations than a map of eastern Anatolia copied as fig. 2 and not comprising all sites mentioned. I should have liked to see some of the royal portrait coins that are often mentioned and discussed in the text. There is no index other than that of the quoted authors. The bibliography is thorough and very comprehensive.


Introduzione: Brevi considerazioni sullo stato della documentazione
Appendice: La genealogia degli Ariaratidi (Diod. XXXI, 19)

PARTE PRIMA: Profilo Storico e Geografico
1. Da Katpatuka alla 'Cappadocia seleucide' (ca. 550-250 a.C.)
2. Da Ariaramne ad Ariarate III 'primo re dei Cappadoci' (ca. 250-220 a.C.)
3. Ariarate IV fra i socii et amici di Roma (220-163 a.C.)
4. Ariarate V 'il filelleno' (163-130 a.C.)
5. Gli ultimi Ariaratidi (130-101 a.C.)
6. Il quadro geografico

PARTE SECONDA: Istituzioni, Insediamenti, Ellenizzazione
1. Le istituzioni
a. Il basilèus
b. La corte
c. L'esercito
d. Le strategie
2. Gli insediamenti
3. Fra iranismo ed ellenismo
Indice degli autori citati

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