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Cretan Laws and Cretan Literacy

Author(s): James Whitley

Source: American Journal of Archaeology, Vol. 101, No. 4 (Oct., 1997), pp. 635-661
Published by: Archaeological Institute of America
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Cretan Laws and Cretan Literacy


A high degree of literacy and the appearance of writ- It is suggested that we need a theory of law and literacy
ten law are factors that have in the past been seen as that takes greater account of cultural differences within
necessary conditions for the development of Greek de- Archaic Greece, in particular the different roles of
mocracy. It would be natural to infer that widespread narrative art and oral performance in Attica, Laconia,
literacy and written law would occur together in the and Crete.*
same regions of Archaic Greece in which democracy
would later develop. The purpose of this article is to
examine whether this supposition is supported by the
relevant archaeological and epigraphic evidence.
In Orwell's Animal Farm, the animals, hav
Crete possesses the best epigraphic evidence for the
development of written law in Archaic Greece. Numer- cessfully rebelled against their human owne
ous inscriptions of legal character are found on most upon a set of laws that are to enshrine the pr
of the major cities of the island. But signs of informal of their new state, their new politeia. Orwell
or widespread literacy in Crete are slight, and it is noto- "They [the pigs] explained that by their s
riously a region where democracy never developed. In
Attica, on the other hand, there is abundant evidence
the past three months the pigs had succeede
for widespread "craftsmen's" literacy in the sixth century,
ducing the principles of Animalism to Seven
but little epigraphic evidence for written law. The evi- mandments. These commandments would now be
dence for literacy in Archaic Sparta is examined briefly; inscribed on the wall; they would form an unalter-
the Spartan use of writing has much more in common able law by which all the animals on Animal Farm
with Athens than with "Dorian" Crete. In both Sparta
must live for ever after."' Orwell goes on to describe
and Athens, an aristocratic, agonistic, and personal use
of literacy prevailed throughout the Archaic period. how two pigs, Snowball and Squealer (who is later
The relationship between literacy, written law, and to emerge as the orator, remembrancer, and scribe
the social order needs to be thoroughly reexamined. of this community), write down this unalterable law:

* This is a revised version of a paper delivered first at Gagarin M. Gagarin, Early Greek Law (Berkeley
the Institute of Classical Studies in London in October 1986).
1994 and later in Cardiff in September 1995 and Freiburg Harris W.V. Harris, Ancient Literacy (Cambridge,
in July 1996. I would like to thank everyone who attended Mass. 1989).
for their comments, especially Alan Johnston. In a shorter Hoffmann H. Hoffmann, Early Cretan Armorers
form, this paper will appear in a volume entitled Archaic (Mainz 1972).
Greece: The Evidence and Its Limits, edited by H. Van Wees Immerwahr H.R. Immerwahr, Attic Script: A Survey
and N. Fisher. The following kindly supplied me with photo- (Oxford 1990).
graphs: Dyfri Williams at the British Museum; the Centre Jeffery L.H.Jeffery, "The Inscribed Gravestones
for the Study of Ancient Documents, Oxford University; of Archaic Attica," BSA 57 (1962)
the Museum of Classical Archaeology at Cambridge Uni- 114-53.
versity; and Herbert Hoffmann. Much of the work for this Jeffery and L.H. Jeffery and A. Morpugo-Davies,
article was done while I was first School and then Macmillan- Morpugo- "FOINIKAETAE and FOINIKAZEN:
Rodewald Student at the British School at Athens, and I Davies BM 1969.4-2.1, a New Archaic Inscrip-
would like to express my gratitude to that institution for tion from Crete," Kadmos9 (1970) 118-
its essential support. Finally, I would like to thank every- 54.
one who has offered useful criticisms on earlier drafts of
LSAG2 L.H.Jeffery and A. Johnston, The Local
this paper, in particular Nick Fisher,John Bennet, Anthony Scripts of Archaic Greece2 (Oxford 1990).
Snodgrass, and the two anonymous AJA referees. Thomas R. Thomas, Literacy and Orality in Ancient
The following abbreviations are used below: Greece (Cambridge 1992).
Blome P. Blome, Die figiirliche Bildwelt Kretas Viviers D. Viviers, "La cit6 de Dattalla et
in der geometrischen undfriiharchaischen l'expansion territoriale de Lyktos en
Periode (Mainz 1982). Crete centrale," BCH 118 (1994) 229-
Boardman J. Boardman, The Cretan Collection at 59.
Oxford: The Dictaean Cave and Iron Age Willetts R.E Willetts, The Law Code of Gortyn
Crete (Oxford 1961). (Berlin 1967).
Dawkins R.M. Dawkins ed., The Sanctuary of Arte- 1G. Orwell, Animal Farm3 (London 1971) 20-21.
mis Orthia at Sparta (London 1929).

American Journal of Archaeology 101 (1997) 635-61 635

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The Commandments were written on the tarred wall done. The public will be enabled to criticize, amend,
in great white letters that could be read thirty yards
and improve. That written law serves the interest of
away. They ran thus: a more equitable social order is a view shared by
many ancient and modern commentators, and it is
1. Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
partly for this reason that Zaleukos, Charondas, Ly-
2. Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a
friend. curgus, Pittakos, Dracon, Solon, and other legendary
3. No animal shall wear clothes. and historical lawgivers are still thought to deserve
4. No animal shall sleep in a bed. honorable mention in many recent histories of Ar-
5. No animal shall drink alcohol. chaic Greece. Snodgrass voices a common opinion
6. No animal shall kill any other animal. of the benefits of both alphabetic literacy and the
7. All animals are equal.2
development of written law:
In the initial stages of this revolution, the writing
What is much clearer is that the alphabet, once
down of laws is accompanied by a determined effort
adopted, proved an enormous asset to the progress
on the part of some animals to remember them,ofandGreek society. By making the art of reading and
by an educational campaign intended to make all widely available, it enabled organizations to
communicate beyond the close circle of those actu-
animals literate. As the novel progresses, however,
ally operating them, and individuals beyond their
and as it becomes clearer that the pigs have in fact
immediate acquaintances. Governments could write
established an oligarchy not dissimilar to the old re-
down procedures and law codes, cult associations
gime, such educational programs are abandoned.
could record forms of rituals and names of officials,
Eventually, only the pigs, Muriel the goat, and the
sanctuaries could list their property and record in-
formation of wider interest. .... At the same time,
old donkey, Benjamin, remain literate, and, after
Muriel dies, it is only Benjamin who is capable of could record payments, craftsmen sign
their products, property owners publish their claims
recognizing that things have changed:
against potential usurpers, poets set down their com-
positions. But permanency did not necessarily mean
"My sight is failing," she [Clover, the horse] said finally.
"Even when I was young I could not have read what immutability: on the contrary, once a thing is set down
was written there. But it appears to me that the wall in writing, it becomes inherently more open to analy-
looks different. Are the Seven Commandments the sis and criticism than when it is secreted in the mem-

same as they used to be, Benjamin?" ories of a specialist group. In this way, alphabetic writ-
ing, despite the fact that in our view it was adopted
For once Benjamin consented to break his rule,
and he read out to her what was written on the wall. with no such intention, must have made a consid-
There was nothing there except a single Command-erable contribution to the speed of development in
ment. It ran: the institutions of Archaic Greece.4


Snodgrass later cites the early legal inscriptions
from Dreros (fig. 1) as evidence that these processes
Animal Farm is, of course, a fable about Soviet were at work in Crete in the seventh century.5 Such
Communism and the betrayal of a socialist ideal.benefits may not have been apparent, however, if lit-
But it does share with classical scholarship a num-eracy was restricted to a small group. Certainly in
ber of tacit assumptions concerning the relationship Animal Farm, the lawgivers themselves, the pigs, do
between literacy, the rule of law, social progress, and not merely breach the principles of animal social-
social justice. Widespread literacy is a good thing, ism. They break their own laws. They befriend hu-
a necessary condition for liberty and democracy. mans; they betray other animals; they learn to wear
Written law too is good. If a law is written and pub-clothes, sleep in beds, and drink alcohol; and finally,
licly displayed, the public will notice if its terms are they kill other animals. It must be admitted, how-
being adhered to. The public will be alerted to dis-ever, that in this respect they differ profoundly from
parities between what was written and what is beingearly Greek lawgivers, who, in legend at least, were

2 Orwell (supra n. 1) 20-21. For an example of what could be termed an ultraliberal

: Orwell (supra n. 1) 99. view of these relationships, see D. Harris, "Freedom of In-
A.M. Snodgrass, Archaic Greece: The Age of Experiment
formation and Accountability: The Inventory Lists of the
(Berkeley 1980) 83-84. On the liberal assumptions linking
Parthenon," in Osborne and Hornblower (supra) 213-25.
democracy, literacy, and public law, see now C.W. Hedrick,
Snodgrass (supra n. 4) 120; for the Dreros inscription,
"Writing, Reading and Democracy," in R. Osborne see andalso LSAG2 315 no. la. For the first publication of this
S. Hornblower eds., Ritual, Finance, Politics: Athenian Demo-
inscription, see P. Demargne and H. van Effenterre, "Re-
cratic Accounts Presented to David Lewis (Oxford 1994) 157-74.
cherches a Dreros II," BCH 61 (1937) 333-48.

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Fig. 1. The decree from Dreros. LSAG2 315 no. la. (Courtesy C
sity, and the Estate of L.H. Jeffery)

famously literal-minded ineracy,

the written
law, and the development
of laws of a more
that they themselves were equitable social order
responsible does not
for, seem toput-
often apply. This
ting the rule of law before invites their
the questionown
of whatinterests.6
those presumed relation-
Greek lawgivers were much more
ships actually are, scrupulous
which in turn bringsthan
us to a num-
Orwell's pigs. ber of theoretical issues that require some prelim-
In any case, it would be silly to pursue the analogy
inary discussion.
of Animal Farm much further. The purpose of an
analogy is, after all, to clarify a problem by bringing
out both the similarities and differences between "Archaic Greece was a literate society in
two cases, and not to force facts into a mold they ern sense." So wrote Oswyn Murray in 1
will not fit. It is my intention to explore the relation-
statement, as Murray makes clear in his
ship between alphabetic literacy and the practice rives from a theory of the importance of
of producing written laws. Crete is a case in which scripts developed by Goody and othe
the presumed relationship between alphabeticviewed
lit- the alphabet, particularly the Gr

6 A. Szegedy-Maszak, "Legends of the Greek is very similar to that of Snodgrass
GRBS 19 (1978) 199-209. 8J. Goody and I. Watt, "The Consequences of
7 0. Murray, Early Greece (Glasgow 1980) 96. Murray Studies
does in Society and History 5
not seem to have changed his views at all,
see toalsojudge by The
Goody, his Domestication of the Savag
bridge 1977).
comments in the second edition of this book. Murray's per-

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bet, which added vowels

trativeto the West
caste.10 S
If l
nantal systems, aswas law, since
marking publi
an impor
in the development question
of human of though abstra
In Goody's view, In the thisalphabet way, diffe alpha
from earlier writing democracy, systems.but Compl to p
spects, Goody's
systems such as cuneiform made use theo
other influential scholar,Such
ing number of symbols. Eric Havelock." Havelock
saw thethat
one single principle development relates
of Greek rational thought as
ten symbol. Symbolsnot merely depending
were upon a new,
used and more widely
diffused, form of literacy,
pictograms, ideograms, or butphonogram
more importantly on
the progressive differentiation
such complexity could only ofbe literate master
from oral
culture from the time of
ists, that is, by scribes. Homer onward. For Have-
Scribes were
lock, literacy
part of Near Eastern was not merelysocieties,
palace a new "technology of
the intellect,"
was used for largely but also a new and radically different p
form of cognition.
thus had a close relationship with rul
a vested interest Goody's
in work the status
stimulated much interest in quo.
the gen-
eral question
The Greek alphabet, onof the effects
the of literacy
other on society ha
a very restricted culture,
number and so helped toof develop symbols
a whole new field
employed a single "acrophonic"
of study. But the result of many of these newprin
individualletters has been to undermine Goody's original
corresponded tothesis.
or phonemes. The many cultures
alphabetthat make use of alphabets,
was the skills
a m
of literacy can
more straightforward be as restricted as in any
system, Near East-
of ern Bronze Age palace.
literacy, in principle atThe "scribal class"avail
least, did not
Greek alphabet was therefore
disappear with not
the end of cuneiform or hieroglyphic
system of writing,systems. Asbut
Halverson has
a pointed
new out, Goody's
eracy thesis has "imploded"'
intellect." The alphabet and the culprit is none
other than literacy
eracy, and alphabetic Goody himself.2 Classical
was scholarsahaven
not been idle
sufficient) condition for in questioning
the these earlier assump-
tions. Harris
aspects of the Greek has argued that the degree of literacy
achievement in
in the ancient
ist scholarship has traditionally world has been consistentlyplace
ated.'" Thomas has questioned
The alphabet democratized whether the absolute w
division between
longer remain the preserve of "literacy" and "orality"
a was as hard

9 For the relationship between the Greek alphabet andin many respects restated and elaborated Goody's argu-
West Semitic consonantal systems, see LSAG2 1-42. For a
ments. It should be noted that the picture of "cuneiform"
succinct account of the various writing systems in useliteracy
in presented above is a summary (and perhaps also
the eastern Mediterranean during the Late Bronze Age a caricature) of Goody's arguments. For a good recent sum-
and Early Iron Age, and of their different potentialities,
mary of cuneiform literacy, see J.N. Postgate, Early Meso-
see J. Naveh, Early History of the Alphabet (Jerusalem 1982)
potamia: Society and Economy at the Dawn of History (London
13-42, 53-112; and B.B. Powell, Homer and the Origin of 1992)
the 51-70.
Greek Alphabet (Cambridge 1991) 68-118. Some scholars have" E. Havelock, Preface to Plato (Cambridge, Mass. 1963);
argued recently that the alphabet was adopted in Greece Havelock, The Literate Revolution in Greece and Its Cultural
much earlier than the eighth century. These arguments
Consequences (Princeton 1982). Havelock believes that Greece
are based entirely on letterforms; see J. Naveh, "Some
remained primarily an oral rather than a literate culture
Semitic Epigraphical Considerations on the Antiquityuntil
of around 430 B.C., after which political philosophy de-
the Greek Alphabet," AJA 77 (1973) 1-8; Naveh, "Semitic
veloped. Havelock's thesis has recently been developed and
Epigraphy and the Antiquity of the Greek Alphabet," Kad-
modified by K. Robb, Literacy and Paideia in Ancient Greece
(New York 1994).
mos 27 (1988) 65-86; and Naveh 1982 (supra) 175-86. For
a more extreme view, see M. Bernal, "On the Transmission 12J. Halverson, "Goody and the Implosion of the Lit-
of the Alphabet to the Aegean before 1400 B.C.," BASOR eracy Thesis," Man n.s. 27 (1992) 301-17. See also the criti-
267 (1987) 1-20. There is, however, no firm archaeological cisms of Goody's position by B.V. Street, Literacy in Theory
evidence to support these hypotheses. No alphabetic in- and Practice (Cambridge 1984), esp. 19-43 and 44-65 (but
scription in Greek can be dated to before 800 B.C. For re- note that Street published his work in a series edited by
views of the more recent evidence, see A. Johnston, "The Goody). Criticisms of the equation between literacy and
Extent and Use of Literacy: The Archaeological Evidence," rationality have also been voiced by M. Bloch, "Literacy
in R. Higg ed., The Greek Renaissance of the Eighth Century and Enlightenment," in K. Schousboe and M.T. Larsen eds.,
B.C.: Tradition and Innovation (Stockholm 1983) 63-68;John- Literacy and Society (Copenhagen 1989) 15-38.
ston, in LSAG2 424-28; and Powell (supra) 5-67, 119-86. 13 Harris, esp. 45-64 for the Archaic period in Greece.
1) See Goody (supra n. 8). Powell (supra n. 9) 68-118 has

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points. Svenbro
and fast as was once thought.14 First, even if byand
modern standards literacy
as have cast a skeptical eyein on
the ancient
the world was restricted,
link between there is still an
alphabetic literacy and rational
difference between and have
a society in which 10%
emphasized the "irrational"ofuses
the population is literate and
to which one in which only
was put in Archaic Greece.'51% of the population could ever be. Secondly, ques-
All these critical reappraisals,
tions however, raise
about the rate of literacy in the
ancient Greece are
secondary by
question of what it is that we mean to theliteracy,
more general question
a ques- of the kinds
tion addressed directly by of Harris.16
literacy that mayFor my
have existed pur- com-
in different
poses, literacy is defined asmunities
the abilityemploying essentially
to read the sameand"technol-
write short texts. Literacy isogy more than the ability
of the intellect.
simply to sign one's name, but What of need not
the theories imply
of the importance an of written
ability to comprehend long ThereStillis still aless
do I view
in- that the cre-
tend to imply that to be literateation ofin the
written lawancient world
represents progress of a kind,
is necessarily to be cultured. andHarris makes
that the writing down a of useful
laws was a catalyst, if
distinction between scribal literacy
not a cause, for and craftsmen's
the development of a more equitable
social order.
literacy.17 The former is the kind of Written
literacy law, inthat
principle accessible to
vailed in Near Eastern palace states,
all who could read,where
is seen bywriting
many as one of the
is a specialist skill jealously guarded by a particular
chief positive achievements of Archaic Greece.'9 But
class. The term "craftsmen's considerable
literacy," skepticism
on the also exists
otheras to whether
hand, implies that literacy has therespread
is any directto a wider
connection between sec-
written law
tion of the population, comprising a majority
and the emergence of democracy. ofFewthenow believe
upper classes and a large number that writtenof lawskilled artisans
developed simply in order to curb
in several trades, who regularly the arbitrary read
power of and write
magistrates or lordsinin aristo-
the course of their daily business. Harris, moreover,
cratic states.20 Work on Archaic Rome has brought
has raised the question of what into doubt
we themight
old view that mean
the creationbyand codifi-
literacy being widespread. Ication agree of written law necessarily favors that
with Harris a democratic
the literate population of the ancient world
social order.21 Recently scholarsseldom,
whose primary in-
if ever, exceeded 20% of the terest
lies in Archaic as a whole,
Greece have begun to argue
and that 10% is a realistic maximum estimate of the along similar lines. Both H1olkeskamp and Thomas
proportion of the population that was literate in Clas- have expressed doubts concerning the relationship
sical Athens.'8 Nonetheless, it is worth stressing two between written law and democratic interests.22 Few

14 Thomas 15-28, 44-50; R. Thomas, Oral Tradition and over, Gagarin 122-26 argues very effectively that the im-
Written Record in Classical Athens (Cambridge 1989) 15-34. petus for the creation of written law cannot have been a
15J. Svenbro, Phrasikleia: An Anthropology of Reading in An- popular wish to record in writing laws that were previously
cient Greece (Ithaca 1993); Svenbro,"Phrasikleia: An Archaic oral, and so to put law into the public domain, since there
Greek Theory of Writing," in Schousboe and Larsen (supra can be no such thing as "oral law."
n. 12) 229-45; Thomas 78-88. See also the remarks of O. 21 W. Eder, "The Political Significance of the Codifica-
Andersen, "The Significance of Writing in Early Greece: tion of Law in Archaic Societies: An Unconventional Hy-
A Critical Appraisal," in Schousboe and Larsen (supra n. pothesis"' in K.A. Raaflaub ed., Social Struggles in Archaic
12) 73-90; and Z. Varhelyi, "The Written Word in Archaic Rome: New Perspectives on the Conflict of the Orders (Berkeley
Attica," Klio 78 (1996) 28-52. 1986) 262-300. There is also good reason to believe that
16 Harris 3-24.
literacy performed a primarily "symbolic" function in later
17 Harris 7-8.
Roman times; see M. Beard, "Writing and Ritual: A Study
'1 Harris 114.
of Diversity and Expansion in the Arval Acta," BSR 53 (1985)
19 See, e.g., Robb (supra n. 11) 74-96; M. Detienne,114-62.
"Eespace de la publicite: Ses operateurs intellectuels 22 K.J. H61olkeskamp, "Tempel, Agora und Alphabet: Die
dans la cite," in Detienne ed., Les savoirs de L'ecriture enEntstehungsbedingungen von Gesetzgebung in der archai-
Grece ancienne (Cahiers de philologie 14, Lille 1994) 29- schen Polis," in H.J. Gehrke ed., Rechtskodifizierung und-so-
81; A. Andrewes, in CAH2 111.3, 370. Gagarin seems to ziale Normen in interkulturellen Vergleich (Thibingen 1994)
have divided views. On the one hand, he maintains that135-64; H61olkeskamp, "Written Law in Archaic Greece,"
"the law was made available to and was intended to be PCPS 38 (1992) 87-117; R. Thomas, "Written in Stone? Lib-
used by the entire citizenry" and, further, that Greek cities
erty, Equality, Orality and the Codification of Law," BICS
"held to the ideal of keeping the law in the hands of all40 (1995) 59-74. For a different view of the reasons behind
citizens" (Gagarin 146). But see his views below (infrathe process of the codification of law (and thus the initial
n. 20). creation of written law), see G. Camassa, "Aux origines de
20 See the remarks of A.J. Graham, in CAH2 111.3,la codification ecrite des lois en Grece," in Detienne ed.
190-91, on the effect and intention of Zaleukos's laws. More-
(supra n. 19) 130-55.

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laws were actually written

betic literacy. down
Lawmaking, and in particular the ap- in
period, and mostpearance
laws of publicly accessible written law, can only
remained unw
is no reason to suppose play the role assigned
that to it in many narratives of Ar-
writing a
essarily conferred any special status chaic Greece, the role of midwife to democracy, if on
vis other laws whose the population at large is widely literate.27 Wide-
transmission rem
ily oral. spread literacy must precede written law if law is to
Why then were some laws written, and others not? serve democratic interests. For the purposes of com-
One answer seems to be that Greeks in the Archaic parison, it may therefore be worth looking at two
period were particularly concerned to record proce- other areas of Archaic Greece. Sparta and Athens
have been chosen, since they are usually thought to
dural law. Rules governing "due process" were the first
to be inscribed on bronze, stone, or wood. This is be opposites, the two poles of the ideal type that
at least Gagarin's argument on the basis of his sur- is the Greek polis. Athens, moreover, is one Greek
vey of law in Archaic Greece. For Gagarin, however, polis where democracy did develop and where the
the history of early Greek law is still a progression archaeological and epigraphic evidence suggests that
toward a more enlightened political order.23 Gaga- alphabetic literacy was widespread in Archaic times.
rin deals with the Cretan evidence at some length,
and acknowledges that the situation in Crete differs
significantly from that in other regions of Greece. In order to understand the relationship b
The main attraction of Crete for Gagarin, however, literacy and lawmaking in Attica we need fi
is that it is an island where considerable epigraphic dress questions of a relatively simple kind. W
evidence for written law seems to have survived. of literacy existed in Archaic Athens? Whic
Archaic Cretan inscriptions thus provide examples of people used writing, and for what purpos
of processes at work in Greece as a whole.24 Study ofin Archaic Athens, was writing for? It mus
these inscriptions gives us insights into the stages membered that most of our evidence is epi
of development of Greek law.25 Gagarin's view doesthat is, archaeological. Our inferences must
from a statistical analysis of these archa
not therefore conflict with the opinion of those schol-
ars who wish to see Crete at the time of the Gortyn facts, since the poems of Solon are our only
Law Code as an example of arrested development,
literary evidence for Archaic Athens (that is
literary evidence that actually dates from t
an Archaic survival of a more primitive society pre-
served for historians in the words of the Great Code
concerned). Of course, the skeptical reader
itself.26 to point out that the application of this
There is, however, a contradiction between the pre- would tend to ignore the possibility that ma
cocious, progressive appearance of written law at were written on perishable materials such a
Dreros and the apparently primitive society de- leather, or papyrus. There are several cou
scribed in the Code at Gortyn. It is my contention this point. First, gross statistical difference
that this contradiction, this seeming paradox, re- regions require explanation, as they have so
quires an explanation. Crete is a part of Archaic ing on the practice of writing in those comm
Greece, where the epigraphic evidence for the wide- Second, while scholars should remain aware tha
spread and early production of written law and its ing on perishable materials may have exi
gradual codification sits uneasily with other evidence, may even have been widespread, the onus is
indicating an otherwise very restricted use of alpha- on those scholars who believe this to be the case

23 Gagarin. don 1955) 3-36, 249-56; and Willetts, in CAH2 111.3,

'24 Gagarin 138 acknowledges that the Cretan situation 234-48. Robb (supra n. 11) 99-124 seems to share this view,
is slightly different, though he does not really elaborate seeing the Gortyn Code as a "transitional" document. For
on this point. criticisms of this "primitivist" view of Archaic Crete, see
" Gagarin 81-86, 127-28. Thomas (supra n. 22) seems M.I. Finley, "The Problem of the Unity of Greek Law," in
to share Gagarin's view of the Cretan evidence as repre- Finley, The Use and Abuse of History2 (Harmondsworth 1987)
sentative in many respects of processes at work in the wider 134-52.
world of Archaic Greece. 27 This is not a view that any scholar I know of has con-
26 The view that the Gortyn Code in particular providessciously espoused. But it is a necessary, logical step in any
evidence for a more "primitive" stage of development than,argument that seeks to connect written law with democ-
say, Athenian society is one given by Willetts 18-22;racy see (or with stages along the path to democracy), as Hed-
rick (supra n. 4) 161-62 has pointed out.
also R.E Willetts, Aristocratic Society in Ancient Crete (Lon-

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Table 1. Attic Inscriptions of Archaic Date

Date Inscribed Inscribed
Range Dedications Graffiti Dipinti Tombstones Laws
750-650 2 49 2 0 0
650-600 8 64 6 2 0
600-550 35 63 45 12 0
550-500 101 32 531 66 4
500-480 249 32 174 2 4

Sources: Various, chiefly IG 13,

1271-73, 1274-78; ABV; ARV2; Imm
sen, AM 78 (1963) 104-53; M. Lang
of Zeus on Mount Hymettos (Princet
Acropolis (Cambridge, Mass. 1949)

to demonstrate that it
From 620 B.C. onward, was.
painted A
inscriptions (di- los
definition, unknowable, and so immaterial to this pinti) are increasingly found incorporated into the
argument.28 visual images on vases (table 3). These dipinti are
Inscriptions of Archaic date from Athens and first used to clarify, or perhaps amplify, narrative
Attica survive in a variety of forms,29 as table 1 in- scenes, as in the Nessos amphora, where inscrip-
dicates. It is clear that, from very early times, writing tions accompany the pictures of both Herakles and
was put to a wide range of uses. The earliest Athe- Nessos.34 By the early sixth century, this practice
nian inscription, a graffito on the so-called Dipylon had developed considerably. Sophilos has a habit
Oinochoe, is a hexameter verse that accords very well of naming every god and hero depicted on his
with Powell's "sympotic" or "poetic" theory of the adop- dinoi (fig. 2)," a tendency if anything accentuated
tion of the alphabet.3"- From the seventh century on- by Kleitias and Ergotimos on the Frangois Vase
ward there is no lack of graffiti from Attica, such as (fig. 3).36 Here, apart from pygmies and cranes,
one from the Athenian Agora that reads ptosT6q ho everyone and everything is named: each one of
natig.i1 Owners' names too are not uncommon,32 and the heroes and hounds who took part in the Caly-
a number of seventh-century abecedaria are known donian boar hunt; each of the contestants in the fu-
from both the Athenian Agora and Mt. Hymettos neral games of Patroklos; every youth and maiden
(table 2)."3 Clearly, many people in seventh-century led away by Theseus from Knossos to Athens; all the
Attica found it a worthwhile exercise to practice the protagonists in the story of Troilos and Achilles;
newfound skills of writing. and every god, goddess, muse, or fate attending the

28 Writing on perishable materials such as papyrus n. 31) 30-31 nos. F1-F20; for the peculiar "owner's name"
sometimes encourages a more cursive script, as may have with the drawing of a foot from Thorikos, see J. Bingen
been the case in Ionia in the Archaic period; see LSAG2 in Thorikos VIII (Ghent 1984) 183-84 no. 79, figs. 113-14.
56-58 and Hdt. 5.58.
3" Abecedaria: for material from the Agora, see Lang
29 See S. Stoddart and J. Whitley, "The Social Context
(supra n. 31) no. Al; for the Hymettos inscriptions, see Lang-
of Literacy in Archaic Greece and Etruria," Antiquity don 62(supra n. 31) 17-18 nos. 20-26.
(1988) 761-72, esp. 764-66. All the relevant dedicatory 14 in-See Immerwahr 9-10 and 20-21. I would discount ex-
scriptions are now gathered together in IG 13, nos. amples
501- from Aegina; see S.P. Morris, The Black and White
Style (New Haven 1984) 19-36.
:1) For the Dipylon Oinochoe, see LSAG2 76 no. 1; and 5 For Sophilos, see Immerwahr 21-22; G. Bakir, Sophi-
B. Powell, "The Dipylon Oinochoe Inscription andlos:
theEin Beitrag zur seinem Stil (Mainz 1981), esp. 5-7 and
Spread of Literacy in 8th Century Athens," Kadmos 27 (1988)
64-72; ABV 37-42; Paralipomena 18-19. For the most elab-
65-86; for early Greek literacy and the "symposium," see vase by Sophilos, the so-called Erskine Dinos, see esp.
Powell (supra n. 9) 158-63; and now 0. Murray, "Nestor's
D. Williams, "Sophilos in the British Museum," Greek Vases
Cup and the Origins of the Greek Symposium," AnnArch-
in theJ. Paul Getty Museum 1 (Malibu 1983) 9-34; and A.B.
StorAnt n.s. 1 (1994) 47-54. Brownlee, "Story Lines: Observations on Sophilan Narra-
"I For early Athenian graffiti, see LSAG2 76 nos. 2-4;
tive," in J.B. Carter and S.P. Morris eds., The Ages of Homer:
Immerwahr 8 and 11; for graffiti in the Athenian Agora,
A Tribute to Emily Townsend Vermeule (Austin 1995) 363-72.
see M. Lang, Agora XXI: Graffiti and Dipinti (Princeton 1976)
' For the Frangois Vase, see Immerwahr 24-25; ABV
12 nos. C1-C5; for graffiti from Mt. Hymettos, see 76-77M.K. no. 1; A. Stewart, "Stesichorus and the Frangois Vase,"
Langdon, A Sanctuary of Zeus on Mount Hymettos (Hesperia
in W.G. Moon ed., Ancient Greek Art and Iconography (Madi-
Suppl. 16, Princeton 1976) 17-39. son 1983) 53-74; for detailed illustrations, see FR I (Mu-
"2 For owners' names from the Agora, see Lang (supra
nich 1904) 1-14, 55-62; pls. 1-3, 11-13.

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Table 2. Details of Attic Graffiti

Love and
Date Owners' Hate Other
Range Abecedaria Names Names Names Other Total
750-650 2 2 1 8 36 49
650-600 5 5 1 12 41 64
600-550 1 4 3 17 38 63
550-500 0 9 2 13 8 32
500-480 3 39 6 7 10 65

Sources: Various, chiefly M.K. L

1976); M. Lang, Agora XXI (P

marriage of Peleus
In the Frangois Vase, and Thet
the distinctions between
much further oral, visual,
than and literate culture become blurred.
simply c
scene; in some The complex
cases, visual narratives
an of thisinscri
vessel must
of an image.37relate toSome
poems whose presentation
ofwould thehave
Kleio, Euterpe, and
been primarily Thaleia)
oral, though we do not know quite a
Aphrodite) are
how. Thenamed
scenes on the vase may alludein to such the
Peleus and Thetis
performances; theythat are
may precisely represent not
if naming in or they may, more
itself directly, depend enough
were on an oral per-
ence. In other formance
scenes, of a very particular kind to have been
tity cannot be fully
in understood
doubt,by a contemporary viewer.
are In any na
picting the case, oral of
story performance and visual narrative areand
there is no uncertainty
closely connected. Yet it is still oddabout
that the partic- t
tion of ipants in these (KpFwv),
spring visual narratives are denoted not
the hy
so why merely by a set of visual clues (which
inscriptions are would have
the objects were considered
been sufficient), but also by an inscription, a written a
the story, elements
transcription of the sound asof theiressenti
name. A number
the hounds to of
scholars haveCalydonian
commented recently upon the ap- b
the hounds, they have
parent interdependence to
of image and be
inscription n
in early Greek art.39 Most examples of such inter-
dependency come from Archaic Attica, and the ex-
Table Details3. of Attic Dip
amples are not confined to images on pots. A play
Date Kalos
between image and inscription is equally evident
Range Signatures Names Other Total in many Archaic Attic funerary monuments, as Sven-
750-650 0 0 2 2 bro has eloquently argued. In the case of the well-
650-600 0 0 6 6 known kore Phrasikleia, for example, the accom-
600-550 18 0 24* 45*
panying inscription does much more than merely
550-500 389 78 64 531
identify the girl commemorated.40 The words of the
500-480 93 61 20 174
inscription, when read out and so spoken aloud,
* Some vases have both kinds of that
evoke associations dipinti, but
constantly refer back tothey
the h
been counted twice in the total figures.
imagery of the statue, features of whose iconography
Sources: Various, chiefly ABV; ARV2; J.D. Beazley
(1932) 167-204; M. Lang,in turn allude to the
Agora XXI language of the inscription. 19
Immerwahr 7-97.
Image and inscription are ineffective without the

7 As Immerwahr 24 shrewdly observes, "their purpose 40 Svenbro 1993 (supra n. 15) 8-25; C.W. Clairmont,
[i.e., the purpose of the inscriptions] is not so much to clar- "Gravestone and Epigram," AA 1974, 219-38, esp. 220-23;
ify the scenes as to accompany them in an independent Jeffery 138-39 no. 46; and LSAG2 78 no. 29. The inscrip-
tion is usually dated to 540 B.C. For the context of the stat-
3 As argued by Stewart (supra n. 36). ue, see E.I. Mastrokastos, "Myrrhinous: La kore Phrasikleia,
19 See C.G. Thomas, "Greek Geometric Art and Orality,"oeuvre d'Aristion de Paros et un kouros de marbre," AAA
Art History 12 (1989) 257-67; J.M. Hurwit, "The Words in5 (1972) 298-324. Though the statue was found much later
the Image: Orality, Literacy and Early Greek Art," Word
than the inscription, the association between the two is
and Image 6 (1990) 180-97; and Brownlee (supra n. 35).not seriously in doubt.

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Fig. 2. The Erskine Dinos, by Sophilos. London, British Museum

Fig. 3. Detail of the Frangois Vase, showing the spring in the

FR II [1901] pl. 11, courtesy Museum of Classical Archaeology,

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other. In Archaic More

significant is thetomb inscri
general frequency of persona
nerary images had names on ainscriptions
symbiotic in Archaic Attica. Of relathe 8
the same can be or so inscribed bases
said of from the
tombstones that date to
Hippias's brother before 500 B.C., we know the names
Hipparchos set of 61up
tica.41 These are composite
commemorated and 14 family members monum
who helped
with inscriptions,to erect which
the monument. Twelve were
of these works are inte

of moral instruction. Here

signed by sculptors.47 again
A similar text
pattern is evident
have worked on the 295 marble dedications
together if from the Athenian
to be served. Acropolis that date to before 480 B.C. Most of these
name the dedicator, and many name the sculptor
If oral, literate, and visual culture were not clearly
demarcated in Archaic Attica, what does this tell us who executed them (table 1).48
about the level of literacy in the population at large? There are four points to emphasize here. First,
Certainly the positioning of sixth-century funerary alphabetic literacy (albeit in a rather elementary
monuments and herms beside roads or tracks sug- form) was widespread in Archaic Attica, such tha
gests that they were meant to be read by passersby. we can confidently speak of Archaic Athens as a so-
Sometimes the language of the funerary inscription, ciety where craftsmen's literacy prevailed. It is im-
possible otherwise to account for the variety and
addressing a casual wayfarer or passerby, indicates
as much.4" A literate audience that could read thequantity of inscriptions found during this period
inscription, rather than merely appreciate Second, that Athenian literacy was almost obsessively con-
the monument had been inscribed, must be cerned pre- with naming and commemorating the action
sumed. There are other indications that literacy and achievements of named individuals-fame (or
widespread among many sectors of the Athenian at least the need for public recognition and respect
[Ttnll]) appears to be the inspiration for hundreds
population. Certainly many craftsmen were literate.
Sculptors such as Phaidimos and Aristodikosof dedications and scores of funerary monuments.
in the habit of signing their works.43 We know Literacy
from took both informal and public forms, but
the signatures on 407 pots the names of at least it 51
was above all else personal. Third, Attic literacy was
painters and potters who lived in the sixth century
inextricably bound up with the oral, narrative, and
(table 3).44 Potters' and painters' signatures arevisual
par- culture of the time. In the Frangois Vase the
ticularly common on the so-called Little-Master skill
Cups,of writing and the development of complex vis-
ual narratives are closely intertwined. In the kore
which date to the middle of the sixth century B.C.45
Here inscriptions have taken on a central role in
Phrasikleia, word and image constantly reinforce one
another. Oral, visual, and literate culture were not
the decoration of pots used in Attic symposia.46

41 On Hipparchos and the herms, see Ps-Plato, Hippar- cient Greek Culture (Cambridge 1994) 12-27; and Lissarague,
chus 228b-229a, discussed by R. Osborne, "The Creation "Around the Krater," in O. Murray ed., Sympotica: A Sym-
and Mutilation of the Hermae," PCPS 211 (1985) 47-73. posium on the Symposion (Oxford 1990) 196-209.
One of these herms is still extant: see IG IP, 1023 (= LSAG2 47 For figures, seeJeffery; and E Willemsen, "Archaische
78 no. 35) and can be dated to between 525 and 514 B.C. Grabmalbasen aus der Athener Stadtmauer," AM 78 (1963)
42 As argued by S.C. Humphreys, "Family Tombs and 104-53; Willemsen, "Stelen," AM 85 (1970) 27-28; E Stav-
Tomb-Cult in Ancient Athens: Tradition or Traditionalism?"
ropoullos, ArchDelt 20 B, Chronika (1965) 86-87, pl. 51;
JHS 100 (1980) 96-126, esp. 103-104. Examples include the
P. Themelis, ArchDelt 26 B, Chronika (1971) 33-35, figs. 3-4,
epigrams of Xenokles (Jeffery 118-19 no. 3), Thrason pl. 43g; Clairmont (supra n. 40) 223-32; A.M. Matthaiou,
(Jeffery 132 no. 33), Tettichos (Jeffery 133 no. 34), and
"Argo apXaiK&g anttig Ecit1teq ori'XEg," Horos 4 (1986)
Kleoitos (Jeffery 147 no. 67). 31-34, pls. 4-5; see now also IG 13, nos. 1194-1236, 1240-
4~3For Phaidimos and other sculptors, see Jeffery 49, 1251-53, 1255-69, 1271-73, and 1274-78. E.A. Meyer,
151-53; and for Phaidimos in particular, Jeffery 137 no.
"Epitaphs and Citizenship in Classical Athens,"JHS 113
44; see also G.M.A. Richter, The Archaic Gravestones of Attica
(1993) 99-121, relied for her count of inscribed gravestones
(London 1961) 157. in the Archaic period solely onJeffery. Her figures should
44 Figures from ABV, ARV2, and Paralipomena. For early
therefore be revised upward.
dipinti, see Immerwahr 9-10 and 20-22. For dipinti from48 See A.E. Raubitschek, Dedications on the Athenian Acrop-
the Agora, see M.B. Moore and M.Z.P. Philippides, Agora olis: A Catalogue of the Inscriptions of the Sixth and Fifth Cen-
XXIII: Athenian Black-Figured Pottery (Princeton 1986). turies B.C. (Cambridge, Mass. 1949); Raubitschek, "Early
45 See J.D. Beazley, "Little Master Cups," JHS 52 (1932)Attic Votive Monuments," BSA 40 (1939-1940) 17-37; and
167-204; ABV 159-97. IG IP, pp. 489-607. For the inscriptions on bronze, see also
46 For literacy, vase inscriptions, and the symposium, A.G. Bather, "The Bronze Fragments of the Acropolis,"JHS
see E Lissarague, "Epiktetos egraphsen: The Writing on the 13 (1892-1893) 124-30.
Cup," in S. Goldhill and R. Osborne eds., Art and Text in An-

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separate realms of skill or knowledge, butthe

legal inscriptions from interde-
Archaic period in Ath-
ens isthat
pendent performative practices odd. If wetogether
exclude the various dromos decrees
an essential part of Archaic Athenian culture.
(which are really records Last,
of individual achievements,
there is little contemporary admittedly
epigraphic evidence
achievements in the servicetoof the pub-
suggest that literacy was putlic),
to widespread
there official
are no legal texts inscribed on either stone
use in the Archaic period. or bronze from Archaic Athens until about 520
This last point raises a number of
B.C., 53 andissues, for
it is only after this there
time that other forms
is plenty of contemporary and later
of public literary
inscriptions, evidence
such as horos stones, become
to support the traditional view thatThis
common.54 bothis not Dracon
a trivial fact,and
nor merely a
Solon were responsible for the matter of the accident of survival.
promulgation ofAthenians
writ- went
ten law in the period between 640
to considerable and
trouble 560 B.C.
to commemorate themselves
Dracon's laws are known from their
in public later
places. republica-
They inscribed their names both
tion, and contain a number of archaisms that are on expensive funerary monuments and on highly
difficult to explain except as direct copies of an ear- visible marble dedications, but, in the Archaic period
lier original.49 Though the epigraphic evidence for at least, did not make great efforts to monumentalize
Solon's legislation is slight, and many of the laws their laws. Law may have been made public in Ar-
claimed in later times as "Solon's" must be seen as chaic Athens, but there seems to have been no de-
examples of "the invention of tradition,"5o there is sire to make of law a monumentum aere perennius.55
no reason to doubt that Solon was responsible for
a set of laws that were then publicly displayed. Solon
himself indicates as much in one of his poems.5' Sparta is usually considered to be the very opp
The axones and kyrbeis of Dracon and Solon, what- site of Athens in virtually every respect. Everyt
ever their precise physical form, seem to have been
that Athens was-- literate, democratic, and cultu
real enough, and the existence of public, written lawSparta was not. This view (which can be inverted
accessible to all who could read cannot seriously beSparta's favor) derives as much from ancient co
doubted.52 In this light, the paucity of survivingtutional theorists (Plato and Aristotle) as from m

49 For Dracon's law, see R.S. Stroud, Drakon's Law to on Ho-

between 565 and 558 B.C. Their context and language
micide (Berkeley 1968); see now IG 13, no. 104 (EM make6602).
it clear that these must be thought of primarily as
This seems to corroborate Arist. Ath. Pol. 7.1. dedications. Though they record actions taken on behalf
5o See, e.g., the discussion in M.I. Finley, "The Ancestral
of the public and at public expense, their principal pur-
Constitution," in Finley (supra n. 26) 34-59. See now also pose is to record the names of the officials involved. No
R. Thomas, "Law and the Lawgiver in Athenian Democ- statement with any legal force is made in either of these
racy," in Osborne and Hornblower (supra n. 4) 119-33. decrees.
51 See Solon fr. 36.18-20 (West), quoted in Arist. Ath. Pol. 54 For early horos stones, see G.V. Lalonde, M.K. Lang-
12.4. R.S. Stroud, "State Documents in Archaic Athens," don, and M.B. Walbank, Agora XIX: Inscriptions: Horoi, Pol-
in W.A.P. Childs ed., Athens Comes of Age: From Solon to Soc-
etai Records, Leases of Public Lands (Princeton 1991) 27 nos.
rates (Princeton 1978) 20-42 has argued that the quantity
H25, H26, and H27; Themelis (supra n. 47) 31-32; A.G.
of written public documents in Archaic Athens was quiteKalogeropoulou, "Opog Aiou lapveooiou," Horos 2 (1984)
111-18; 0. Alexandri, "TornoypawptK6i AO1v6v," AAA 1 (1968)
101-103. All these horos stones date to ca. 500 B.C.
52 See R.S. Stroud, The Axones and Kyrbeis of Solon and Dra-
kon (Berkeley 1979). Stroud argues that the axones were55 In a sense Athenians did not bother to codify and
wooden boards, square in section and mounted horizon- monumentalize their laws before 410 B.C. See now P.J.
tally, which could be rotated, and were originally located
Rhodes, "The Athenian Code of Laws, 410-399 B.C.,"JHS
in a building on the Acropolis to protect them from 111 the (1991) 87-100; Robb (supra n. 11) 125-56. Whether or
weather. The kyrbeis, on the other hand, were bronze notpil-some laws of Dracon and Solon were monumentalized
lars, which were set up outside at a later date. Plutarch
before this remains an open question. Stroud (supra n.
recalls seeing these objects himself; see Plut. Sol. 25.52)
H.41-44 argues that the laws inscribed on the wooden
Immerwahr, "The Date of the Construction of Solon's Axo-
axones (which can hardly be seen as monumental in form)
nes," Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 22 (1985)
were reinscribed on bronze kyrbeis before 461 B.C. at the
123-35, however, argues that the monumental kyrbeis were
latest, and probably before 480 B.C. But, even if this were
earlier, and were only replaced by the wooden axones the
at acase, their monumentalization would be no earlier than
later date. I do not find Immerwahr's arguments convincing.
the appearance of other surviving official public inscrip-
5 The inscriptions IG 13, 1-5 and 230-32 are the only
tions (see supra n. 53). It is perhaps no coincidence that
"legal" inscriptions that survive and can be dated to before
most public inscriptions in Athens date to around the time
480 B.C., the earliest being IG I, 230, dating to betweenof Kleisthenes' reforms. For a different view, see Immer-
520 and 510 B.C. They are legal only in the broadest sense
wahr (supra n. 52).
of the term. The dromos decrees, IG I, 507 and 508, date

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Table 4. Spartan (Laconian) I

Date Inscribed Inscribed
Range Dedications Graffiti Dipinti Tombstones Laws
750-650 1 0 0 0 0
650-600 8 0 0 0 0
600-550 31 0 1 0 0
550-500 27 0 6 0 0
500-450 12 0 0 1 0

Sources: Various, chief

353-55, 367-74; A.M. Woodward, BSA 14 (1907-1908) 135-40; Woodward, BSA 26
(1923-1925) 271-73; Woodward, BSA 27 (1925-1926) 249-53; WG. Cavanagh et al. eds.,
Continuity and Change in a Rural Greek Landscape II (London 1996) 213-25; and C.M. Stibbe,
Lakonische Vasenmaler des sechsten Jahrhunderts v. Chr. (Amsterdam 1972).

ern scholarship. Some scholars have recently tried nian inscriptions than Athenian, partly because the
to explore the relationship between the nature of archaeological evidence itself is more difficult to
literacy in these Greek states and the nature of their date.58 Second, the figures probably underestimate
respective politeiai. If many people of many different the numbers of Archaic Laconian inscriptions. With
walks of life were literate in the Athenian democ- the exception of dipinti on vases, I have included only
those inscriptions found within Sparta and the area
racy, it follows that in the Spartan "oligarchy" a more
immediately around it-that is, from a rectangle
restricted form of literacy must have existed.56 Does
whose extremities are Sellasia in the northeast and
the surviving inscriptional evidence support this
hypothesis? the Amyklaion in the southwest.59 The reason for
At first glance, the answer to this question appears this is that I am concerned primarily with evidence
to be "no." Jeffery's select catalogue of Archaic La- of Spartan literacy- the literacy of the Spartiate
conian inscriptions is by no means as brief as one caste - and not with the kinds or degree of literacy
might expect if the skills of writing were indeed sim- that might have prevailed in perioecic communities
ply the preserve of only a very small segment of the such as Geronthrai or Kythera.
population.57 On the other hand, the number of in- As table 4 shows, Archaic Spartan inscriptions are
scriptions is far fewer than those found in Archaic for the most part dedicatory in character. Inscribed
Attica. Table 4 lists all known inscriptions from the dedications have been found in many sanctuary sites
Sparta area. Two caveats should be entered here. First, in the area of Sparta. The earliest come from the
the dates that have been given for all Archaic La- Sanctuary of Helen and Menelaus at Therapne (the
conian inscriptions should be viewed with a degree so-called Menelaion).60 A considerable number have
of caution. It is much more difficult to date Laco- been found in the Sanctuary of Artemis Orthia61

56 For Athens, ED. Harvey, "Literacy in the Athenianat De-

least two new Archaic inscriptions (214 no. 1 and 225
mocracy," REG 79 (1966) 585-635; for Sparta, P.A. Cartledge,
no. 23). Shipley (supra) 213 notes that "there is a very marked
"Literacy in the Spartan Oligarchy,"JHS 98 (1978) 25-37.
fall-off in the concentration of epigraphic material with
See also the monograph by TA. Boring, Literacy in Ancient
increasing distance from Sparta."
Sparta (Memnosyne Suppl. 44, Leiden 1979), reviewed by L.H.
60 For excavations at the Menelaion generally, see A.J.B.
Jeffery inJHS 101 (1981) 190-92. Wace, M.S. Thompson, and J.P. Droop, "Excavations at
57 LSAG2 183-202, 446-48. Sparta 1909: The Menelaion,' BSA 15 (1908-1909) 108-57;
5S For epigraphic difficulties in dating Laconian inscrip- H.W. Catling, "Excavations at the Menelaion, Sparta,
tions, see LSAG2 186-89; L.H. Jeffery, "The Development 1973-76," AR 23 (1976-1977) 24-42, esp. 36-37 for the in-
of Laconian Lettering: A Reconsideration," BSA 83 (1988) scriptions. For the inscriptions in particular, see A.M. Wood-
179-81; andJeffery (supra n. 56) 191. For the stratigraphic ward, "Laconia: Excavations at Sparta, 1909: Inscriptions,"
evidence from Artemis Orthia, and its relevance to chron- BSA 15 (1908-1909) 86-88; H.W. Catling, "Archaeology in
ology, seeJ. Boardman, "Artemis Orthia and Chronology," Greece, 1975-6," AR 22 (1975-1976) 14; H.W. Catling and
BSA 58 (1963) 1-7. H. Cavanagh, "Two Inscribed Bronzes from the Menelaion,
59 I have also included in my tabulations all inscriptions Sparta," Kadmos 15 (1976) 145-57; H.W. Catling, "Excavations
found within the area of the Laconia survey, which includes at the Menelaion, 1976-77," Lakonikai Spoudai 3 (1977)
the Menelaion and the Sanctuary of Zeus Messapeus at 408-16, esp. 415; and R.W.V. Catling, "Excavations at the
Tzakona. See G. Shipley, "The Epigraphic Material," in W.G. Menelaion, 1985," Lakonikai Spoudai 8 (1986) 205-16, esp. 212.
Cavanagh et al. eds., Continuity and Change in a Greek Rural 61 A.M. Woodward, in Dawkins 353-55, 367-74; H.J.W
Landscape: The Laconia Survey II: Archaeological Data (BSA Tillyard, "Laconia: Excavations at Sparta: Inscriptions from
Suppl. 27, London 1996) 213-34. The survey has located the Artemisium," BSA 12 (1905-1906) 353; J.J.E. Hondius

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and in other sanctuaries within Sparta

reflects the itself,
personal qualities in par-of
and achievements
ticular the Sanctuary of Athena Chalkioikos.62
the individual concerned.67 Spartan prideDed- in athlet-
icatory inscriptions have also been
ic achievement found
also manifests itself inat the
a peculiarly
Amyklaion,63 the shrine to Alexandra
Laconian and
form of dedication, theAgamem-
stone stele listing
all the contests
non close by,64 and the recently that the victor had Sanctu-
discovered won, both in La-
ary of Zeus Messapeus at conia Tzakona.65
and elsewhere inMost
Greece.68of these
Spartans were,
dedications follow the standard Greek formula for moreover, far from hesitant in reminding other
such inscriptions, with the dedicator's name, the verb
Greeks of their athletic victories in panhellenic
cVO8KE, and the name of the deity in the dative case.
games, as the many Laconian dedications in Delphi
As in Athens, the proportion of personal names to
and Olympia attest.69 Nor did Spartans shrink from
inscribed dedications is quite high.66 using expensive materials. The marble "Dioskouroi"
There are other similarities to Archaic Athenian reliefs characteristic of Archaic Sparta70 and the in-
practice, in particular the tendency evident in bothscribed marble perirrhanteria from the Sanctuary of
Athenian and Spartan society to use inscriptions toArtemis Orthia are as ostentatious (and as personal)
make a public display of personal prowess. Often as any marble pillar or basin dedicated on the Athe-
the choice of object used- especially the halteres ded-
nian Acropolis.71
icated by those who had won athletic contests- Dedications were by no means the sole medium

and A.M. Woodward, "Laconia: Inscriptions: Votive Inscrip-

84 (1989) 187-200; H.W. Catling, "A Sanctuary of Zeus Mes-
tions from Sparta," BSA 24 (1919-1921) 90-117; R.M. Daw- sapeus: Excavations at Aphyssou, Tsakona, 1989," BSA 85
kins, "Laconia: Excavations at Sparta, 1907: The Sanctuary
(1990) 15-35, esp. 32.
of Artemis Orthia," BSA 13 (1906-1907) 100-104; Dawkins, 66 Most, if not all, dedications by Spartans are inscribed
"Laconia: Excavations at Sparta, 1910: Artemis Orthia: The
with the name of the dedicator. See supra ns. 60-65.
Excavations of 1910 and the History of the Sanctuary," BSA 67 For inscribed halteres, see Catling (supra n. 65) 32
16 (1909-1910) 15-53; I. Kilian, "Weihungen an Eilythuia (from the Sanctuary of Messapian Zeus). Woodward 1925-
und Artemis Orthia," ZPE 31 (1978) 219-22; and C. Rolley, 1926 (supra n. 62) 251-53 no. 39; Woodward 1907-1908
Les vases de bronze de l'archaisme r&ent en Grande-Grece (Na-(supra n. 62) 137 no. 64 (both of these from the Sanctuary
ples 1982) 59. of Athena Chalkioikos). There is at least one inscribed halter
62 For the excavation of the Sanctuary of Athena Chal- dedicated by a Spartan Olympic victor at Olympia; see
kioikos, see G. Dickins, "Excavations at Sparta 1907: The R. Hampe and U.Jantzen, "Die Grabung im Frfihjahr 1937,"
Hieron of Athena Chalkioikos," BSA 13 (1906-1907) 137-54; OlBer I (1937) 82-84, pl. 25.
Dickins, "Laconia: Excavations at Sparta 1908: The Hieron 68 For victory dedications, especially stelae and lists, see
of Athena Chalkioikos," BSA 14 (1907-1908) 142-46. For IG V, 1.720 (= LSAG2 200 no. 31); Dawkins 354 no. 139a-c;
the inscriptions from this site, see A.M. Woodward, "La- IG V, 1.2, victory relief from Mistra; IG V, 1.238 (see also
conia: Excavations at Sparta, 1908: Inscriptions: Inscrip- H. Dressel and A. Milchhoefer, "Die antiken Kunstwerke
tions from Other Sites," BSA 14 (1907-1908) 135-40; Wood- aus Sparta und Umgebung," AM 2 [1877] 433-34); Wood-
ward, "Excavations at Sparta, 1924-5: The Acropolis: The ward 1925-1926 (supra n. 62) 249-50 no. 37 and 253-54
Finds," BSA 26 (1923-1925) 271-73; Woodward, "Excavations no. 40; Woodward 1908-1909 (supra n. 62) 81-85 no. 87;
at Sparta, 1926: The Inscriptions," BSA 27 (1925-1926) von Massow (supra n. 63) 40-47, the victory relief of
250-53; Hondius and Woodward (supra n. 61) 117-19; and Ainetos. I have excluded all dedications that could be later
J.P. Droop, "Excavations at Sparta: The Native Pottery from than 450 B.C. See also remarks by Jeffery in LSAG2 185.
the Acropolis," BSA 28 (1926-1927) 71. For other, largely 69 For dedications at Olympia, see Hampe and Jantzen
votive inscriptions from the Acropolis (which may be re- (supra n. 67); and W. Dittenberger and K. Purgold, Olympia
lated to this sanctuary), see Woodward, "Excavations at V: Die Inschriften von Olympia (Berlin 1896) nos. 244, 252,
Sparta, 1924-8: The Inscriptions," BSA 29 (1927-1928) and 263. For dedications at Delphi, see P. Perdrizet, FdD
45-48; and Woodward, "Excavations at Sparta, 1924-7: Vo- V.1: Monuments figures, petits bronzes, terres-cuites, antiquites
tive Inscriptions from the Acropolis," BSA 30 (1928-1930)
diverses (Paris 1908) no. 258, fig. 228a.
7o The only Dioskouroi relief of Archaic date within the
63 For dedications at the Amyklaion, see W von Massow,
Sparta area is one dedicated to these heroes by one Pleis-
"Die Stele des Ainetos in Amyklai," AM 51 (1926) 41-47;
tadas; see A. Furtwaingler, "Archaische Sculpturen," AM 8
E. Buschor and W. von Massow, "Vom Amyklaion," AM 52 371-73, pl. XVIII.2. For Dioskouroi reliefs gener-
(1927) 1-85, esp. 63-64. The dedicatory inscription to see nowJ.M. Sanders, "The Early Lakonian Dioskouroi
Poseidon published by L. Robert, Collection Froehner I: In-
Reliefs," in Sanders ed., iZAoAd2atcov: Lakonian Studies in
scriptions grecques (Paris 1936) 26-27 no. 23, may not be
Honour of Hector Catling (London 1992) 205-10.
from the Amyklaion but from the sanctuary on Cape 71 For inscribed marble perirrhanteria from the Sanc-
tuary of Artemis Orthia, see Woodward (supra n. 61) 353
64 C. Christou, "Ava0KaKp1i Aj1UKX6U," Prakt 1960, 230, pl.
nos. 136-37; Woodward, "Laconia: Excavations at Sparta,
1908: Inscriptions: Inscriptions from the Sanctuary of Or-
65 R.W.V. Catling and D.G.J. Shipley, "Messapian Zeus:
thia," BSA 14 (1907-1908) 111.
An Early Sixth-Century Inscribed Cup from Lakonia," BSA

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chosen by Spartans to record

majority ofLaconian publicl
inscriptions are personal. Ded-
and ications in particular are
personal qualities,72 but overwhelmingly
they concernedwer
the principal one. with commemorating
Theretheare, qualities of individual
for ex
scribed gravestonesSpartiates. The use of writing
from in Sparta is thus every-
Laconia unti
the Archaic period, and
thing we would none
expect from from
a typical Greek aristo- t
until well into the cratic society of the
fifth Archaic period. Second,
century as in
and in certain others,
Athens, we have noSparta
public inscriptions fromdoes
Sparta n
the Athenian model. until late Signs
in the Archaic period,
of andinforma
no epigraphic
rare. There are a number
evidence for written law. Spartanof dipint
public inscriptions
vases,which show occur
thatvery late insome
the sequence. The
earliest, a treaty, a
ably from one of can
thebe dated no earlier than 400 B.C.79 Thiscommu
perioecic inscrip-
tion relates to the
write.74 In some cases, extraordinarydipinti
these circumstances in fu
which Sparta found itselfscene,
ify or explain a narrative in sustaining a long aswar th
Attic vases.75 We do not,
against Athens however,
with sometimes reluctant allies. This kno
of any of the does not necessarily
potters orimply that no written laws ex-
painters who
sible for the production of
isted in Sparta in the Archaic period, Lacon
as some of
our literary
pottery- and Sparta was, sources would suggest.80 It seems
after likely
that, for example, the Greatproduction
the third most important Rhetra mentioned by
chaic Greece.7" NoPlutarch is a genuine document,
graffiti aredating to known
some time
Sparta, other thanin the sevenththose used
century or earlier.8 It is not, however,as d
merely naively positivist
There are no obscenities, noto suppose that, as in Ath-
any signs (such asens, soabecedaria)
in Sparta there was no overwhelming reason
that e
or the to make law
were perioikoi
ininto a the
public monument.
habit In Sparta of
at p
least, the presumed
writing skills. Nor are there any ind relationship between the mainte-
nance of a secretive, oligarchic on
as owners' names scratched elite and pottery
the absence
of public, written law does seem to hold.
was put to any commercial use. But the cor-
logical evidence is in harmony
ollary of this--links between literacy and democracy,with
on thesuggests
record, as Plutarch one hand, and oligarchy thatand illiteracy,liter
the other-does not.
skill in which Spartans took particul
There are, however, two our epigraphic evidence suggests that many
which the Spartiates records
epigraphic were literate, and, asof
Plutarch implies, as
Archaic Athens resemble one another. First, the vast
literate as they needed to be.82 Plutarch's choice of

ative importance of Laconian pottery production, see R.M.

72 Other Archaic inscriptions in the Sparta area include
a hydria with the name Telestas (K.A. Neugebauer, "Die
Cook, Greek Painted Pottery2 (London 1972) 93-101, esp. 100.
Bronzehydria des Telesstas," AA 1938, 329-38); the Chilon 77 With the one possible exception of a graffito on the
relief (A.J.B. Wace, "A Spartan Hero Relief," ArchEph Vix Krater,
100 which may be an abecedarium; see LSAG2 202
[1937] 217-20; Woodward 1908-1909 [supra n. 62]no.80-81 66.

no. 87); and two dedications to Artemis Limnatis from thePlut. Mor. 192B-C, concerning the saying of the
7 See
Mistra area, IG V, 1.225 and 226. Spartan Antalkidas (the same story repeated in Mor. 217D
73 The earliest inscribed Spartan gravestone is actually and 231D); see also Plut. Lyc. 20.8.
from Malea near Megalopolis in Arcadia, datable to ca. 79 For this treaty, see W. Peek, "Ein neuer spartanischer
500 B.C.; see G.A. Pikoulas, "Erntypap6i aCt6 OTrv ApKa6ta," Staatsvertrag," AbhLeip 65.3 (1974) (= LSAG2 447 G). Other
Horos 3 (1985) 85-91, esp. 85-86 (= LSAG2 447 F). inscriptions of fifth-century date have, at one time or an-
74 For inscriptions on Laconian pots, see C.M. Stibbe, other, been claimed as "laws," see IG V, 1.1316; IG V, 1.722;
Lakonische Vasenmaler des sechsten Jahrhunderts v. Chr. (Am- and A.J. Beattie, "An Early Laconian Lex Sacra," CQ n.s.
sterdam 1972). There are eight inscribed vases, by three 1 (1951) 46-58. But these identifications are extremely
(or maybe four) painters (the Boread Painter, the Hunt doubtful; see LSAG2 186.
Painter, and the Arkesilas Painter); see Stibbe (supra) nos. 8s Though Plut. Lyc. 13.1 and 4 records Lycurgus's al-
184, 194, 206a, 207, 219, 221, 252, and 257. There are, how- leged ban on "written law" (vojioi ~yypacpot).
ever, no dipinti on later Laconian red-figure vases; see I. 81 For the Great Rhetra, see Plut. Lyc. 6. I agree with
McPhee, "Laconian Red-Figure from the British Excavations Jeffery's interpretation of this as an inscribed manteia; see
at Sparta," BSA 81 (1986) 153-65. L.H. Jeffery, "The Pact of the First Settlers at Cyrene," His-
75 Especially the Arkesilas cup and a hydria in Rhodes toria 10 (1961) 139-47, esp. 145-46.
by the Hunt Painter (Stibbe [supra n. 74] 279 no. 194 and 82 Plut. Lyc. 16; Mor. 237B: Fpcitara A vsKca fiq Xpsctaq
281 no. 219).
gdtveavov. Contra Harris 112 n. 210, I do not think that
76 There are no potters' or painters' names on any of the epigraphic evidence supports the notion that this phrase
the vases in Stibbe's (supra n. 74) catalogue. On the rel- is a polite euphemism for illiteracy.

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words is not, I would contend, Table 5. Legal Inscriptions

a polite way of from Crete
ing Athenian popular prejudice that Spartans were
Separate Minimum Number
completely illiterate. Rather he implies Legal that literacy
of Separate
was restricted in its use for those
Date purposes
Range Fragments most
Legal Texts nec-
essary in Archaic Greek aristocracies- for the com-
750-650 0 0
memoration, in the eyes of gods and men
650-600 8 3
alike, of
the actions and achievements of individuals. In this
600-550 38 7
respect, Spartans resembled Athenians quite closely,
550-500 85 16
and Cretans not at all. 500-450 34 12


8.2; ICr I, 10.1-2; ICr I, 28.1-15; ICr II, 5.1-14; ICr II,
How does either of these cases compare12.1-19;
with ICrtheIII, 6.1, 4; ICr IV, 1-72; G. Manganaro, Rend-
situation in Archaic Crete? Crete had Linc 20 (1965) 295-307; P. Demargne and H. van Effen-
a reputation
terre, BCH 61 (1937) 5-32, 333-48; van Effenterre, BCH
in Archaic times as a source of wisdom that Greeks
70 (1946) 588-606; van Effenterre, BCH 109 (1985) 157-88;
thought necessary for Esvogia. There are a number van Effenterre et al., Eleutherna II.1 (Rethymnon 1991
17-23, 73-74; L.H.Jeffery,JHS 69 (1949) 25-38; andJeffery
of early Cretan sages, and "Cretan law" was, it seems,
and Morpugo-Davies.
famous from very early times.83 Is it, then, surpris-
ing that the most striking feature of the Cretan evi-
inscriptions are early, and often do not appear to
dence is the rarity of all other forms of inscription
of Archaic date apart from legal fragments (tablebe5)?in Cretan script.86 Kommos was in any case a site
There are no abecedaria, no signs of private indi-frequented, if not inhabited, by non-Cretans, a per-
fect example of what Polanyi would have called a
viduals feeling a need to practice the skills of writ-
ing. Graffiti, sensu stricto, are rare: early examplesport
are of trade.87 Kommos is clearly an exception, for
known from Prinias and Knossos, one or two later elsewhere in Crete signs that literacy was put to any
inscriptions from Gortyn, and some from the very personal use are rare. Tombstones inscribed with the
eastern extremity of Crete near Itanos - a total per- name of the person commemorated, for example,
haps of 10 cases.84 There are, to be sure, a number are uncommon. Apart from one seventh-century stele
of identifiable owners' names inscribed on pots. Two from Prinias, all inscribed tombstones are late and
vessels datable to the late eighth-seventh century, have a marked coastal distribution."8 The majority
one from Knossos and one from Phaistos, probably (three out of five) come from Kydonia in western
fall within this category.85 Recent excavations at Crete. They date from a time when we know from
Kommos have revealed several inscriptions on pot- Herodotos that Kydonia was being fought over be-
sherds of eighth- and seventh-century date. But these tween Samians and Aeginetans, and perhaps it is

83 Crete was famed for its laws and constitution well 85 For Knossos, see LSAG2 468 no. B; for Phaistos, see
before the time of Plato and Aristotle (see P1l. Leg.; Ps-Plato,
D. Levi, "Un pithos iscritto da Festos," CretChron 21 (1969)
Minos; Arist. Pol. 1271b and 1329b). Seventh-century Cre- 153-56; see also LSAG2 468 no. 8a.
tans such as Epimenides and Thales (or Thaleatas), if they86 See E. Csapo, "An International Community of Trad-
were not actually lawgivers, were clearly thought of as "wise
ers in Late 8th-7th c. B.C. Kommos in Southern Crete,"
men." Thales (or Thaleatas) appears to have had an influ-ZPE 88 (1991) 211-16; and Csapo, "A Postscript to'An Inter-
ence on some of the early lawgivers in the West (Arist. Ath.
national Community of Traders'," ZPE 96 (1993) 235-36.
Csapo argues that most of the inscriptions are owners
Pol. 1; Arist. Pol. 1274a.28-29). Archil. fr. 232 (West) (vd6ioq
6' Kpl-tiKoq 8tS60KSTat) seems to know about Cretan laws. names on cups, and are in Boiotian, not Cretan, script.
The context in which this line is quoted (Arist. Fragments For the context, see A. Johnston, "Pottery from Archaic
611.14 [Rose]) suggests that Cretan law was associated with Building Q at Kommos," Hesperia 62 (1993) 339-82.
Cretan constitutions from a very early date. 87 See K. Polanyi, "Ports of Trade in Early Societies," in
84 For graffiti from Knossos, see J.N. Coldstream, P. Cal-
G. Dalton ed., Primitive, Archaic and Modern Economies: Essays
laghan, andJ.H. Musgrave, "Knossos: An Early Greek Tomb of Karl Polanyi (Boston 1968) 238-60; for Kommos as an
on Lower Gypsadhes Hill," BSA 76 (1981) 141-65, esp. 157 international community, see J.W. Shaw, "Phoenicians in
no. 117, fig. 5 (eighth-seventh century B.C.); and L.H. Sack-
Southern Crete," AJA 93 (1989) 165-83. See also supra n. 86.
ett, Knossos: From Greek City to Roman Colony: Excavations at88 For the tombstone from Prinias, see A. Lembessi, Al
the Unexplored Mansion II (BSA Suppl. 21, London 1992) artjAS rov Iplvia (ArchDelt Suppl. 22, Athens 1976) 21-22,
141-42 no. X.32 (graffito of sixth-century date). For the stele no. Al. For tomb inscriptions from Kydonia, see ICr
seventh-century graffito from Prinias, see ICr I, 28.1. ForII, 10.7, 10, and 13; for the example from Chersonisos, see
"graffiti" of early fifth-century date from Gortyn, see ICrO. Masson, "Cretica," BCH 103 (1979) 57-82, esp. 64-65 and
IV, 50 and ICr IV, 71; for graffiti of similar date (ca. 500
fig. 6 (= LSAG2 314 no. 20).
B.C.) from the Itanos area, see ICr III, 7.2-4.

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Fig. 4. Inscribed bronze helmet from Af

[Mainz 1972] no. H2, pl. 9; courtesy H

not surprising thatfrom

they the are sanctuary
written no a
to have two names inscribed
but in Aeginetan script.89 Moreon it.91 An inscribed
stone dipinti,
complete absence of base from Afrati seems to be a dedication
and the to ext
of dedicatory Artemis.92 The well-known
inscriptions. Twoinscribed pieces of
bronze armor
from sanctuaries, one from also from Gortyn,
Afrati (fig. 4) are not, how-
Praisos, are inscribed on their
ever, dedications reverse
in a strict sense, but records of per- si
sonal victories over opponents in
function of these inscriptions isbattle.93
not There cle
of a bronze vessel, datable
only two dedicatory to the
inscriptions sixth
that follow the stan-ce

89 For Aeginetans and Samians in Kydonia in the late inscribed dedications of similar date from this site, but
sixth century B.C., see Hdt. 3.44.1 and 3.59; for the Aegi- gives no precise figures.
netan letterforms of the inscriptions from Kydonia, see 92 For the stone dedication from Afrati, see ICr I, 5.4.
LSAG2 314, 316 nos. 29a-c. 93 For this collection of armor, see Hoffmann, especially
90 For the inscribed figurine from Praisos, see E Halb- the discussion of the inscriptions by A.E. Raubitschek,
herr, "Report on the Researches at Praesos," AJA 5 (1901) 15-16; see also A. Lembessi, "A5o girppq Trlq coulloyil;
371-92, esp. 386 and pl. X; see also ICr III, 8.1, where it MEracdt," CretChron 21 (1969) 97-118. Their provenance is
is wrongly attributed to Sitia (see LSAG2 316 no. 18). For not seriously in doubt; see Hoffmann 1; I. Sakellerakis, Arch-
the Gortyn figurine, see G. Rizza and V.S.M. Scrinari, II Delt 20 B, Chronika (1965) 554, fig. 2 and pl. 697a-b; and
santuario sull'acropoli di Gortina (Rome 1968) 187-88 no. 257, S. Alexiou and A. Lembessi, ArchDelt 24 B, Chronika (1969)
pl. 37. 415-18, fig. 1 and pls. 425-26. The associated finds from
91 For this sixth-century inscription, see A. Lembessi, Lembessi's excavations at Ai-Lian are dated securely to the
seventh century B.C.
"Ispou Eplo6 uKat Apporirq; 8tqS EIiyjv Biawvvou," Prakt 1973,
188-99, esp. 191 and pl. 193y. Lembessi mentions more

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Table 6. Cretan Inscriptions

Inscribed Dedications

Date Inscribed Inscribed

Range Inscriptions Armor Graffiti Dipinti Tombstones* Laws
750-650 0 0 5 0 0 0
650-600 2 13 2 0 1 3
600-550 0 0 0 0 0 7
550-500 2 0 4 0 1 16
500-450 2 0 2 0 3 12

* Separate single texts.

Sources: Various, chiefly LSAG
28.1-15; ICr II, 5.1-14; ICr II, 1
III, 8.1; ICr IV, 1-72; G. Manga
Effenterre, BCH 61 (1937) 5-32
terre, BCH 109 (1985) 157-88;
17-23, 73-74; L.H. Jeffery,JH
and E. Csapo, ZPE 88 (1991) 2

dard Greek dedicatory formul

sonal names are not common.95 We know the names
the dedicator of no more
in the than 32 Cretans for the whole Archaic
and then the name of
period up until the time of the the deit
Gortyn Law Code,
is the inscribedlessbase
than 10% of thefrom
number of names from Archaic
The other is a bronze
Attica.96 cauldro
Whether we take the incidence of graffiti,
Tharios to Apollo and
dedications, or personal names as found
our index, it is
Heraklion. It is dated to ca. 500 B.C. and it too is
clear that signs of informal literacy are rare in Ar-
written in Aeginetan script.94 chaic Crete. Another point to emphasize is that the
If we turn to the incidence of personal names, variety
we of inscriptions is, if anything, greater in
can detect another significant difference from Attic
the earlier period than the later (table 6). The num-
practice. With a few notable exceptions, Cretan per-
ber and types of inscriptions in eighth- and seventh-

94 For the Panormos inscription, see S. Alexiou, "Une Persians (Thuc. 1.110); P. Perdrizet and G. Lefebvre, Les
nouvelle inscription de Panormos-Apollonia en Crete," in graffites grecs du Memnonion d'Abydos (Paris 1919) nos. 405
C. Nicolet ed., Aux origines de l'hellenisme: La Crete et la Grace: and 445; and 0. Masson, "Nouveaux graffites grecs d'Abydos
Hommage i Henri van Effenterre (Paris 1984) 323-27. For the et de Bouhen," ChrEg 51 (1976) 305-309 nos. 1-2. Of these
script of this dedication, see Johnston, in LSAG2 468 no. inscriptions only Perdrizet and Lefebvre (supra) no. 405
H and his remarks on 469. There is perhaps one doubtful is certainly Cretan, in fact Kydonian, though Masson (supra)
early dedicatory inscription from Crete, from the Cave of produces good arguments that "Hyperballon" is at least
Lera near Kydonia; see A. Guest-Papamanoli and A. Lam- a Cretan name. The date of these inscriptions could be
braki, "Les grottes de Lera et de l'Arkoudia en Cr&te as early as 460 B.C., but it is more likely that they date to
occidentale aux epoques prehistoriques et historiques," around 400 B.C., in which case they fall outside the scope
ArchDelt 31 A (1976) 178-243, esp. 235-37. Previously these of this article. See arguments concerning dates in Perdrizet
dedicatory inscriptions have been claimed for the Archaic and Lefebvre (supra) p. ix; and LSAG2 314.
period by P. Faure, "Cavernes et sites aux deux extremites 96 The Cretan personal names found on inscriptions
de la Crete," BCH 86 (1962) 36-56 (= SEG XXIII, 579a-b). of the Archaic period (750-450 B.C.) can be easily summa-
But Guest-Papamanoli and Lambraki (supra) make clear rized: 1) marking personal property (5 examples): Levi
that most of these inscriptions are on black-glaze pots that (supra n. 85); Csapo (supra n. 86); LSAG2 468 B; 2) on
date mostly to the fifth and fourth centuries, and only one tombstones (5 examples): Lembessi (supra n. 88); ICr II,
inscription, IN 7, and none with the crucial word &V~vOKs 10.7, 10, and 13; Masson (supra n. 88); 3) on dedications
in it, can be dated to before 450 B.C. (see also LSAG2 468 (3 examples): Lembessi (supra n. 91); ICr I, 5.4; Alexiou
no. 31). I have excluded one inscription from my figures, (supra n. 94); 4) on armor (13 inscriptions, 9 names):
namely the kerykeion, published in G. Ortiz, The George Ortiz Hoffmann 1-14; 5) from graffiti (6 examples): ICr I, 28.1;
Collection (London 1994) no. 129, said to be from Polyrrhe- ICr III, 7.2-4; ICr IV, 50 and 71; 6) mentioned in legal texts
nia. This, according to Johnston LSAG2 443 no. 26a, is in (3 examples): ICr IV, 64; Jeffery and Morpugo-Davies
Argive script, and is therefore probably an import. (Spensithios); Willetts col. V, lines 5-6. This list yields a
95 The chief exception being graffiti of personal names total of 31 names from 35 inscriptions. If the Kydonian
thought to be those of Cretan (chiefly Kydonian) merce- mercenary inscriptions (supra n. 95) date to ca. 460 B.C.,
naries helping the Egyptian prince Amyrtaios against the the total would be 36 names from 39 inscriptions.

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century Crete do be found
not on contemporary
differ greatlyCretan metalwork,
from such
temporary Attica (see
as the oneabove,
on the Rethymnontable
mitra.100 1). Bu
Even there,
in sixth-century Attica, both
however, the case the
for narrative numbe
is hardly overwhelm-
of inscriptions ing, since it
steadily is not clear whether
increase, the scene
the oppis an
to be true in Crete. excerpt from a story or a generic episode from a
The most striking difference between Attica andparticular Cretan ritual. Some might argue that I
Crete in this period is the total absence in Cretan
am here taking the absence of evidence for narra-
art of inscriptions that play a role in narrative-
tive art as positive evidence of its absence, and in
whether the narrative be in stone, bronze, or on the
a sense they would be right. It is worth emphasizing,
however, how unusual Crete is in this respect, and
surface of a vase. This is not merely to say that there
how odd it is for writing and narrative art not to
is no evidence for literate craftsmen, but to empha-
appear together. In other regions of Greece where
size the apparent disconnection between literacy, oral
we have difficulties similar to those we encounter
performance, and visual art that appears to have pre-
vailed in Crete. Crete was, to be sure, hardly famed
in Crete in understanding the pottery sequence, such
for its poetry in this period-in fact, there is as nothe Argolid in the early sixth century, narrative
known Archaic Cretan poetry apart from the Song scenes accompanied by inscriptions are nevertheless
of Hybrias.97 But it is still odd that, while Cretanfound.""l
art Crete is unique in Archaic Greece in thi
had long made use of images, none of these images respect: there is no narrative scene accompanied
by any inscription in any medium that can con-
seem either to form a part of, or in some sense "syn-
optically" to represent, the whole of a story. fidently be dated to either the seventh or the sixth
The best candidates for narrative art in Archaic century.102
Crete are some of the votive bronze shields and What do survive in large numbers from Archaic
tympana from the Idaean Cave. These dateCrete
to the
are fragments of laws, or at least inscriptions
eighth century, a time when the alphabet was
legal character in stone or (more rarely) in bronze
just being adopted in Greece. Of these, the Hunt
Many of these fragments are very small, amountin
Shield is by far the most elaborate.98 If this to is no more than one or two lines or letters, and a
an example of narrative art then nothing in comparison
Archaic between the number and types of legal
Cretan art deserves the name. But these shields had inscriptions from individual Cretan cities would in
remarkably few artistic descendants. By the end some of respects be misleading (but see table 5). More-
the seventh century most Cretan figurative art is, over,
as Cretan stone inscriptions are difficult to date
Hoffmann rightly pointed out, heraldic.99 It is fullas we cannot, as we can for Attica, associate chang-
of single figures or antithetically opposed groups
ing letterforms with a series of datable artifacts. None-
of humans or animals. Certainly nothing more elab-
theless, it is clear that legal inscriptions are widely
orate appears on the bronze armor from Afrati distributed in both time and space. The earliest, from
(fig. 4), though there are more complex scenes to
Dreros, dates to around 650 B.C.;103 some date to the

97 For the Song of Hybrias (quoted in Ath. 15.695f- 151-74, 443-45.

696b), see C.M. Bowra, Greek Lyric Poetry: From Alcman to 102 There are no dipinti on any seventh-century Cretan
Simonides (Oxford 1961) 398-403. vessels in any well-documented site such as Knossos (for
98 For the Hunt Shield, see E. Kunze, Kretische Bronze- which seeJ.K. Brock, Fortetsa: Early Greek Tombs near Knossos
reliefs (Stuttgart 1931) 8-12 no. 6. For general discussion [Cambridge 1957]) or Afrati (see D. Levi, "Arkades: Una
of this period in Cretan art, seeJ.N. Coldstream, Geometric citta cretese all' alba della civilta ellenica," ASAtene 10-12
Greece (London 1977) 286-88; Boardman 138-39; and [1931]). There are certainly no dipinti on sixth-century Cre-
Blome, esp. 15-23. tan pottery; for sixth-century Cretan pottery from colo-
99 See Hoffmann 34-40. For a different view on Archaic nial sites, seeJ. Boardman andJ. Hayes, Excavations at Tocra
Cretan art, see Blome 105-108; and Boardman 129-59. 1963-65: The Archaic Deposits I (BSA Suppl. 4, London 1966)
100 For the Rethymnon mitra, see E Poulsen, "Eine kre- 78-80; Boardman and Hayes, Excavations at Tocra 1963-65:
tische Mitra," AM 31 (1906) 373-91 and pl. XXIII; Board- The Archaic Deposits II and Later Deposits (BSA Suppl. 10, Lon-
man 142-44; and Hoffmann 25-26, 31-32. don 1973) 36-38; andJ. Boardman and E Schweizer, "Clay
101 See, e.g., the Argive "shield bands" dedicated at Olym- Analyses of Archaic Greek Pottery," BSA 68 (1973) 267-83,
pia; E. Kunze, OlForsch II: Archaische Schildbdnder (Berlin esp. 280. For sixth-century pottery from Knossos, see P.J.
1950) 212-14; P.C. Bol, OlForsch XVII: Argivische Schilde (Ber- Callaghan, "Archaic to Hellenistic Pottery," and J.N. Cold-
lin 1989) 88-89 and no. CXVIII H44; and Bol, Antike Bronze- stream, "Early Hellenic Pottery," in Sackett (supra n. 84)
technik: Kunst undHandwerk antiker Erzbildner (Munich 1985) 67-136, esp. 84-87, 90-93, and 133.
63, fig. 38. For Argive inscriptions generally, see LSAG2 103 Supra n. 5, esp. LSAG2 315 no. la.

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Sea of Crete


S ,... Rhethymnon
S.Eleutherna Apollonia Amnisos

A.ii.Ax 0 s ?. hroas
Knossos Chersonasos

Rhizenia"(Prinias)* : ........ :Laito

::.. ; . ... Lyttos ): D,( Diktaion"
ero Itanos
Phaistos Gortyn Afrati e Praisos.
Kommos, Biannos
Symi .


Mediterranean Sea 0 50km

Fig. 5. Map of Crete, showing the cities of Crete and

sixth century, and there is into the Templecluster

a large of Apollo Delphinios
dated at Dreros.
to It
ca. 500 B.C. For my purposes,is not the
entirelyGortyn Law
clear whether these Code,
are separate laws,
usually dated to ca. 450 B.C.,
is thedisplayed
last together,
in this or fragments
series. from
Legal fragments are found ain single law code of
most (see below).
the The laws include
major Ar- the
chaic cities, and it is convenient to list them here kosmos decree mentioned earlier (LSAG2 315 no. la;
by the city with which they are normally associated, see above, fig. 1) and a "bilingual" inscription."16 All
moving from east to west across the island (fig. 5). eight fragments are generally dated to the latter half
Praisos. Two Archaic legal inscriptions are known of the seventh century.1"7
from Praisos, capital of the Eteocretans.104 Both Afrati (ancient Arkades or Dattalla?). There are no
were found close to the Third Acropolis, or Altar legal inscriptions from Afrati with absolutely secure
Hill. Both are in Greek script but not, apparently, provenance. But there are good grounds for suppos-
in Greek; and both are dated to between 550 and ing that the "Spensithios" inscription (see below, fig.
525 B.C.105 10) came from this site.1s8
Dreros. Eight fragments of laws were found built Lyttos (or Lyktos). There are at least eight frag-

"14 For Eteocretans, see Horn. Od. 19.172-77. For Eteo- e6tocretoise?" Revue de philologie 20 (1946) 131-38; Jeffery
cretans and Praisos, see Hdt. 7.170-71; Strabo, Geography (supra n. 105); M. Lejeune, "Linscription Isaluria de Dreros:
10.4.6-12. Eteocretois ou cr6tois?" REA 49 (1947) 274-85; see now also
us1 For the inscriptions themselves, see ICr III, 6.1 andDuhoux (supra n. 105) 28-32. For the other legal frag-
4; and D. Comparetti, "Iscrizioni di varie citta cretesi ments (LSAG2 315 nos. Ic-h), see van Effenterre, "Inscrip-
(Lyttos, Itanos, Praesos, Knossos)," Museo italiano di antichitations archaiques cr6toises," BCH 70 (1946) 588-606; and
classica II (Florence 1888) 673-76. For the language of theW.A. McDonald, "Note on a Fragment of an Archaic Inscrip-
inscriptions, see R.S. Conway, "The Pre-Hellenic Inscrip-tion from Dreros," Hesperia 25 (1956) 69-72.
tions of Praesos," BSA 8 (1901-1902) 125-56; and now Y. 17 For the date of this inscription, see LSAG2 311, 315
Duhoux, Les iteocritois: Les textes, la langue (Amsterdam 1982), (nos. la-h).
esp. 208-311. For the date of these inscriptions, see LSAG2 108 For the Spensithios decree, see Jeffery and Morpugo-
316 nos. 19a-b; and L.H.Jeffery, "To ypditita ige trv KplrTvV,"i
Davies. For the other inscriptions, all dedications, from
CretChron 3 (1949) 143-49. this site, see ICr I, 5.4; and Hoffmann 15-16. It has recently
'"0 For the earliest of these inscriptions (LSAG2 315 no. been argued, persuasively to my mind, that Afrati should
la), see Demargne and van Effenterre (supra n. 5). For the not be identified with Arkades, but with ancient Dattalla;
alleged bilingual (Greek and Eteocretan) inscription see Viviers 230-34, 238-43.
(LSAG2 315 no. Ib), see H. van Effenterre, "Une bilingue

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ments of laws from Gortyn

from than from anywhere
Lyttos, whichelse in Archai
550 and 475 B.C. Crete.
They are
The earliest legal all,
texts from with
Gortyn come from
exception, the Temple of Apollo Pythios."6 A number of lat
very fragmentary.109
Eltynia. Two legal inscriptions"' were found,
inscriptions as well as
small city of Eltynia,
many dating toabout
the first half which v
of the fifth century
is known.11 TheB.C."8
first is little
All these inscriptions--which formor
the mos
ment."' The second,
part are lawslater inscript
or treaties- antedate the Great Code
longer legal text regulating
itself"'9 the
and provide unambiguous cond
evidence for the
youths."'2 progressive elaboration of legal texts throughout
Knossos. Knossos must have been one of the more the sixth and fifth centuries.

important cities of Archaic Crete, but the evidence Phaistos. Two legal fragments are known from
from there is very fragmentary. It is clear that lawsPhaistos; they date to ca. 500 B.C. or a little later.120
were written down on stone in the sixth century at Axos. Many legal fragments have been traced to
Knossos, but we cannot determine the purpose ofAxos, which seems to have been fairly important in
these laws."11 It is quite likely that much of the evi- Archaic times.'121 Some fragments may be as early
dence for written law in Archaic and Classical Knos- as the early sixth century B.C.122 The majority of
sos has been removed, and is now somewhere in the finds, however, date to the very end of the sixth cen-
walls of Herakleion. tury1'2 and some to the early fifth.'24
Prinias (Rhittenia or Rhizenia). There are 14 legal
Eleutherna. Numerous legal fragments have been
fragments from Prinias, all of which appear to recovered
date from the large and important city of
to the earlier part of the sixth century B.C."114 Of
Eleutherna, which is now being reinvestigated by the
these, only one gives any real indication of its University
con- of Crete at Rethymnon. As at Axos, a few
tent. Although described byJeffery as a "legal code,"
fragments may date to the early sixth century, 25 but
it appears not to be a code but a single law."15
the majority of epigraphic finds whose legal character
is not in doubt date to between 525 and 500 B.C.126
Gortyn (Gortys). There are more legal fragments

109 The more fragmentary inscriptions from Lyttos were (= LSAG2 315 no. 5) are from "the Odeion and elsewhere."
collected by M. Guarducci and date to between 550 and See also now SEG XXIII, 585, a lex Gortyniorum that may
525 B.C.; ICr I, 18.1-7 (pp. 183-86). A lengthier legal text, date to around 460 B.C.
dating to ca. 500 B.C., has since come to light; H. van Effen- 119 Willetts; ICr IV, 72. I have excluded from my discus-
terre and M. van Effenterre, "Nouvelles lois archaiques de sion all inscriptions from Gortyn that date to after the
Lyttos," BCH 109 (1985) 157-88. For the context of this dis- composition of the Great Code (i.e., ICr IV, 73-140 =
covery, see N. Platon, "XpovtKd: H QapXatoXoytLtKI Kivrlotq LSAG2 315 no. 8).
Ev Kpi'rJ KaTdI to ~zTo 1950," CretChron 4 (1950) 534-35. 120 G. Manganaro, "Nuove iscrizioni della Creta centrale
110 All that we know about Eltynia is given by M. Guar- ed orientale," RendLinc 20 (1965) 295-307, esp. 296-97 no.
ducci, ICr I, 10, pp. 89-92. Al, an inscription from "Chalara"; E. Cantarella and A.
111 ICr I, 10.1, datable to the seventh or sixth century. di Vita, "Iscrizione arcaica giuridica dAi Festos," ASAtene 56
112 ICr I, 10.2, datable to ca. 500 B.C. (1982) 429-35.
11 There are only three stone inscriptions from Knos- 121 As is clear from Hdt. 4.154, where the city is referred
sos, all dating to the late sixth century: ICr I, 8.2; L.H.Jeffery, to as Oaxos.
"Comments on Some Archaic Greek Inscriptions,"JHS 69 122 ICr II, 5.12-14; LSAG2 316 no. 21. It is difficult to be
(1949) 25-38, esp. 35-36; and A.K. Orlandos, in To Epyov sure that these are really legal in character, as they are
trrl ApXalo,0oylK7g EralpEiag 1972, 129-30, pl. 122. so fragmentary.
"114 ICr I, 28.2-15. The other inscriptions from Prinias 123 ICr II, 5.1-8 and 11 (=LSAG2 316 no. 22); Jeffery
include a graffito (ICr I, 28.1; LSAG2 315 no. 12) and an in- (supra n. 113) 24-36 and figs. 10-14.
scribed tombstone; Lembessi (supra n. 88). 124 ICr II, 5.9, which dates to the early fifth century.
11"5 ICr I, 28.7; LSAG2 315 no. 10.
Other legal fragments published in Manganaro (supra n.
"6 ICr IV, 1-40; LSAG2 315 no. 2. 120) 304-307 are later than 450 B.C. and so fall outside
"117 ICr IV, 62-64; LSAG2 315 no. 3. There are very few the scope of this article.
inscriptions from Gortyn that are not treaties or laws in 125 ICr II, 12.1 (= LSAG2 316 no. 26); H. van Effenterre
the strict sense of the term. Apart from the inscribed
et al., EevO6pva Top'a; II: Eriypa(po ard6 to HI6pyl Kal to
Daedalic figurine from the Acropolis (see Rizza and Scri-
Nroi (Rethymnon 1991) 74 no. E12, pl. 10b.
nari, supra n. 90), these are: ICr IV, 64 (which appears to 126 ICr II, 12.2-19 (=LSAG2 316 no. 27); T. Kalpaxis
grant privileges to a certain Dionysios); ICr IV, 50 (a kalos and A.B. Petropoulou, "Tp'iazaT 60o ~atypaxpc00v C6 zTrlv
inscription on stone); and ICr IV, 71 (a simple graffito of E4Xu0pva," CretChron 26-27 (1988-1989) 127-33, esp. 130
a name). no. II; van Effenterre et al. (supra n. 125) 17-23 nos. El
"11 ICr IV, 41-49 and 51 (= LSAG2 315 no. 4) come from and E2 (pls. 1-2) and 72-73 nos. E8, E9, and Ell (pls. 9-10).
the "North and East walls"; ICr IV, 52-61 and 65-70 All these fragments should date to between 525 and 500 B.C.

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A few can be dated to the first half of the fifth "Cretan democracy" is almost a contradiction in
century. 127 terms. Cretan cities remained obstinately oligarchic
The above "laws" seem for the most part to have throughout the Archaic and Classical periods.'34 Ar-
been very specific regulations written down in re- istotle indicates that Cretan kosmoi took very little
sponse to a specific problem. The earliest inscrip- notice of written law; they made judgments not KTdT
tion from Dreros, for example, decrees that no one
ypdalatra but airoyv6, ovaq.135" Finally, no evidence
can serve as a kosmos more than once every 10 points to a literate, critical public, capable of notic-
years.'28 Such decrees rarely leave room for much ing contradictions and able to press for improve-
ambiguity, and sometimes include considerable de- ments to the law. Indeed, most of our available in-
tail. The recently published inscription from Lyttos formation seems to indicate the opposite. Epigraphic
regulating pasturage rights specifies the limits of evidence for informal literacy, such as personal
common land for pasture, defined by particular names, owners' names,jokes, graffiti, and abecedaria,
roads.'2" Where their context can be reconstructed, is slight. Such signs of informal literacy tend to
these laws seem to have been displayed in public occur early in the period and are often- as is the
places, often in sanctuaries. The majority of sixth- case with the inscriptions from Kommos-not writ-
century legal fragments from Gortyn come from the ten in Cretan script. These general facts become
walls of the Temple of Apollo Pythios.130 Most of clearer when the evidence is tabulated and mapped
the fragments from Dreros come from the temple (tables 5-6, figs. 6-9). Table 5 above shows the raw
there;'"3 and the Eteocretan fragments from Praisos count of legal fragments, and provides an estimate
(which are probably laws) were "cast down" from the of the minimum number of separate legal texts that
open-air temple on the Third Acropolis, or Altar must once have existed. Table 6 summarizes all the
Hill.'"2 Moreover, Gortyn provides good evidence epigraphic evidence from Archaic Crete. Figures 6
for the gradual elaboration and codification of these and 7 show the occurrence of all nonlegal inscrip-
various decrees during the sixth and early fifth cen- tions, both in the earlier period (750-600 B.C.; fig. 6)
tury, a process that was eventually to lead to the Great and in the later period (600-450 B.C.; fig. 7). Figures
Code itself.'33 In these respects, Cretan laws con- 8 and 9 illustrate the distribution of the legal inscrip-
form to the expectations of those who would see the tions (or rather all the legal fragments) from the
production of written law and its codification as a same periods. It is a remarkable fact that the heyday
progressive measure, gradually placing law in the of public, written law in Archaic Crete- the sixth
public domain. century-coincides with the virtual absence of all
There remain a number of paradoxes or difficul- other forms of writing. This is exactly what we would
ties with such an interpretation. If law was placed expect in a situation where few were literate, per-
in the public domain, it clearly did not help to bring haps because literacy was the preserve of a scribal
about democracy in Crete. For Plato and Aristotle, class. What little literary evidence we do possess tends

127 van Effenterre et al. (supra n. 125) 73-74 nos. E10 cavations at Praesos I," BSA 8 (1901-1902) 231-70, esp
and E13 (pls. 9-10); I.A. Papastolou, "Heptouxxoyil apx aicv 254-57.
ozrl 6UDtKil Kpirlj-," Prakt 1975, 516-17, pl. 329g, fig. 1. 133 The Great Code seems to have been set up in its own
128See Demargne and van Effenterre (supra n. 5) special building; see Willetts 3; and ICr IV, pp. 123-71.
(= LSAG2 315 no. la; Meiggs-Lewis 2-3, no. 2); also dis- 134 For Cretan oligarchies, see in particular Arist. Pol.
cussed by Gagarin 81-86; and L.H. Jeffery, Archaic Greece: 1271b, line 20-1272b, line 23. Both Aristotle in the Politics
The City-States c. 700-500 B.C. (London 1976) 189-90. and Plato in the Laws seem to take it for granted that all
29 van Effenterre and van Effenterre (supra n. 109). Cretan constitutions are either oligarchic or aristocratic.
: (o ICr IV, 1-40. Only nos. 1, 3, 8-14, 16, 18, 19, and 21-26 135 Arist. Pol. 1272a, lines 33-39. There is of course a
were actually found in or around the Temple of Apollo question as to how much Aristotle is likely to have known
Pythios; for description of contexts, see ICr IV, pp. 42-87. about Crete. That he refers to a "Cretan constitution" rather
1 See Demargne and van Effenterre (supra n. 5); for than to a constitution of a particular Cretan city is trouble-
the context in particular, see P. Demargne and H. van Effen- some, since it is clear from the epigraphic evidence that
terre, "Recherches A Dreros I," BCH 61 (1937) 5-32; S. Mar- the public institutions of Cretan cities differed quite widely
inatos, "Le temple geometrique de Dreros," BCH 60 (1936) from one another; see P. Perlman, "One Hundred-Citied
Crete and the Cretan toXitsia," CP 87 (1992) 193-205. But
132 For the context of the Archaic inscriptions even
from if Perlman is right in thinking that Aristotle's "Cretan
Praisos, see Halbherr (supra n. 90); Halbherr, "American
constitution" refers mainly to the situation in Lyttos, and
Expedition to Crete under Professor Halbherr,"AJA 9even
if Aristotle was relying too much on information at
538-44; Comparetti (supra n. 105) 673-76; ICr III, 6.1 andor third hand, the Cretan magistrates' reputation
4; Duhoux (supra n. 105) 57-58; and R.C. Bosanquet,for"Ex-
arbitraryjudgment is still a fact that has to be explained.

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Sea of Crete

..... ".-..:.:
.. .... ..' ..'2 . ,.. .. . .... ..... . " - -
~ ??..

... .:.:: :.: 1 ...."
,::".....:..... :_. -;....: . '...
_d r - -
* 2-7
? :::
...:. ....::
....?... . i :.: : ::: .....
* 8-20


Mediterranean Sea S50km

Fig. 6. Distribution of nonlegal inscrip

to confirm this view, last

since pieceone of of evidence
the fragm I w
sithios literacy
Aristotle indicates that decree. was not a hig
garded accomplishment Thein Crete
Spensithios decree even
(fig. 10) is in the
a bronze mitraf
inscribed on both sides in boustrophedon script
century B.C.'36 The hypothesis that scribal lit
prevailed in Archaic Crete
and dated byJeffery and Morpugo-Davis to
is also supported 50

Sea of Crete

..... ...

... .. . ....
'.. ......

.... . .. ... ...


s 2-7

0 8-20



Mediterranean Sea 0 50km

Fig. 7. Distribution of nonlegal inscriptions in Cret

136 Arist. Fragments 611.15 (Rose).

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Sea of Crete

. .. . ....... .....

*2-7 *

0 8-20


M ta51S

Mediterranean Sea 05k

Fig. 8. Distribution of legal inscriptions in Crete, 750-600 B.C.

B.C.'37 It sets out the terms, in the manner

mentof is
a written
con- down, and his dues to the and
tract rather than a law, of the man Spensithios, who The decree gives Spensithios a
oly in
is to become the "remembrancer and scribe" public writing, that is, "all writing con
public and divine affairs."'42 Of course
and rotvtKaodiq) of this community.' 8 fotvttKaord;i
(scribe) is a term found predominantly, if not exclu-
scribes are not found exclusively on Crete in
sively, in Crete.'39 Spensithios's office is chaic
to be period.
hered- There were scribes in Athens w
itary, and he is to be awarded privilegesto have
and been responsible for the public ded
that put him and his family on a par with those fam- known as the "dromos decrees."
ilies from whom the kosmoi were taken.140 His pay-
lycrates' ypapogatonilq seems to have been a

137Jeffery and Morpugo-Davies 120-22; for noun

the date see
notvucaotrdq may also be found (restored)
chaic inscription
also L.H.Jeffery and A. Morpugo-Davies, "An Archaic Greek from Eleutherna (ICr II, 12.11)
Inscription from Crete," BMQ 36 (1971) 24-29;
of LSAG2
the term468
qpotvtKoypd6qstv, meaning to write (as
no. 14b. This inscription has been much discussed, and
is known from only one instance outside Crete,
a range of interpretations have been offered. Seefifth-century
early in par- inscription from Teos; see P. H
ticular A.E. Raubitschek, "The Cretan Inscription
"Teos undBM
Abdera im 5.Jahrhundert v. Chr.: Ein ne
1969.42.1: A Supplementary Note," Kadmos 9 (1970)
ment 155-56;
der Teiorum Dirae," Chiron 11 (1981) 1-30,
Raubitschek, "A Mitra Inscribed with a Law," in Hoffmann
and 12. Hermann's article discusses two inscript
47-49; H. van Effenterre, "Le contrat de travail duinscribe
noted LSAG2 345 no. 62 and 474 N.
140 Side A,
Spensithios," BCH 97 (1973) 31-46; A.J. Beattie, "Some lines 5-10; side B, lines 1-10. See discussion
on the Spensithios Decree," Kadmos 14 (1975)by 8-47; Thomas
Jeffery and Morpugo-Davies 148-52.
(supra n. 22); and Viviers 235-43. 141 Dues to the andreion: side B, lines 10-12; see com-
138 We do not know to which community Spensithios
mentary in Jeffery and Morpugo-Davies 143-44 and 151.
belonged. It must have been either Lyttos or TheAfrati,
social andand
political importance of the andreion in
I agree with Viviers 243-49 when he arguesArchaic
that times
the is clear from a number of other Cretan in-
scribed mitra itself is most probably associated with
scriptions: theAxos (ICr II, 4.1), Gortyn (ICr IV, 4), and
finds of other mitrai looted from a building (probably
Eltynia (ICr I, 10.2). The most recent discussion of the Ar-
the andreion) of Afrati, and that Afrati should be Cretan
chaic identified
andreion is by Viviers 243-49.
with the "Dattalla" or rather "Dataleis" in the 142
Side A, lines 4-8; see commentary by Jeffery and
(side A, line 1; but seeJeffery and Morpugo-Davies 126-27). 131-32.
43 G IG 3, 508
139 For a discussion of the meaning and etymology of and 509, datable to between 562 and 558
notvctKacard and notvtKdtasv (side A, lines 5-6; side B, line
1), see Jeffery and Morpugo-Davies 132-33, 150-51. The

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Sea of Crete


..........I. ??.

* 2;7 :::: ::'

0 8-20


Mediterranean t
0 sokm

Fig. 9. Distribution

of some importance.14
aristocrat). Crete is clearly an exception to this rule,
neither Samos and it may be worthnor pausing to considerAthwhether
have a monopoly this may be due to some special in relationship with
officials as we would understand the term. Nowhere the Near East in general and North Syria in partic-
else in Greece were scribes given such an explicit ular. There are certainly many indications of reg-
and public political role, and nowhere else did theyular contact between northern Syria and Crete dur-
form a part of the ruling oligarchy. ing the Early Iron Age.145 This contact manifests
Limited literacy among craftsmen and the popu-itself in imports, art, and one early inscription in
lation at large, a prevalence for public and partic-a Semitic language.146
ularly legal inscriptions, and positive evidence forCrete is one of the regions of Greece where some
scribes are all features we normally associate with inscriptions can be dated to before 700 B.C., and there
Near Eastern societies, not with Archaic and Clas- have always been grounds for arguing that Crete was
sical Greece. It was once thought that the invention the "home" of the Greek alphabet.147 Whatever the
of an alphabetic script that included vowels had merits of this particular case (and I would argue that
finally put an end to the need for scribal literacy, it is possible that the Greek alphabet had more than
and placed the skills of writing firmly within reach one point of origin), the use of the words notvmtKd?v
of the common Greek (or at least the common Greek and rotvtKaoztd; does demonstrate that the Phoeni-

144 Hdt. 3.123. Public scribes in Ionia are also known 145 For arguments to this effect, see Boardman 129-59;
from Teos; see Hermann (supra n. 139). For scribes gen- J. Boardman, "The Khaniale Tekke Tombs II," BSA 62 (1967)
erally, see E Ruze, "Le pouvoir de l'6crit dans la cite6' 57-75;
in Boardman, "Orientalen auf Kreta," in Dddalische
Detienne ed. (supra n. 19) 82-94. Ruz6 treats Spensithios Kunst aufKreta im 7.Jahrhundert v. Chr. (Mainz 1970) 14-25;
Shaw (supra n. 87).
as if he were representative of scribes as a class in Archaic
Greece as a whole, and so, in my view, exaggerates the im- 146 For art, supra n. 145. For the inscription in a Semitic
portance of scribes and secretaries. The political career language, see M. Snycer, "Einscription ph6nicienne de
of Polycrates' ypaplplartacri Maiandrios, as recounted Tekke,
by preis de Cnossos," Kadmos 18 (1979) 89-93.
Herodotos (3.120-24, 142-46), tells us more about tyranny147 For early inscriptions, see Levi (supra n. 85). For ar-
guments about Crete as the "home" of the Greek alphabet,
than about the position of scribes in general, pace Detienne
(supra n. 19) 73-81. Maiandrios does not seem to have beensee Y. Duhoux, "Les et6ocr6tois et l'origine de l'alphabet
a person of high status, or even a worthy man, as fargrec," as AntCl 50 (1981) 287-94.
many of his fellow citizens were concerned (Hdt. 3.142.5).

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Fig. 10. The Spensithios decree. London, British Museum, B

cian and "Oriental" associations societies,of

and lacked
writingthose features commonre-
were in other
tained longer in Crete than parts in of Archaic Greece.
many other parts of
Greece. 48 Cretan inscriptions, moreover,
The development contain
in the scope atook
of literacy that
number of features that are reminiscent of certain place in Corinth, Ionia, Athens, and even Sparta dihi
classes of Near Eastern public inscriptions, chieflynot occur in Crete. The reason for this is not that

the practice of invoking the gods at the beginning Crete was equipped with an inferior script, a blunter
of a decree, as found in Gortyn, Lyttos, and perhaps"technology of the intellect." Rather, Cretan culture
and society were radically different from those of
also Dreros.149 It is not, however, necessary to argue
other regions of Greece, and so Crete selected a
that Cretan writing was more directly and profoundly
different range of ideas and practices from a com-
influenced by the Orient than other parts of Greece.
It would clearly be absurd to propose that the com-mon Near Eastern source. Cretan polities were clearly
not normal Greek aristocracies, composed of indi
position of law codes in Crete was directly inspired
by the example of Mesopotamian law codes of a mil- viduals competing for respect (Ttg'i) among thei
lennium earlier.'15 The presence or absence ofpeers and then taking trouble to commemorate
Oriental influence is immaterial. My point is rather their deeds in writing on bronze or stone. In Crete,
that, in a social and cultural sense, Archaic Cretan the aristocratic individual obstinately failed to rise,
writing retained many of the features that we asso- or at least to leave any lasting trace that the archae-
ciate with the function of writing in Near Eastern ologist or historian can recover. Equally, Cretan cul-

148 See Jeffery and Morpugo-Davies 132-33. It is from

true, the doubtful case of the Dreros decree (supra n. 5)
however, that Crete is not the only region of Greece
the earliest inscription with a heading of this kind comes
where scribes are associated with "Phoenician writing"; see Gortyn, ICr IV, 64.
Hermann (supra n. 139) where the words (potviKta 150
and The last in the series of great Mesopotamian law
codes can be dated no later than 1250 B.C. See G.R. Driver
(potviKoypdtcps occur.
14" For this practice, see R.L. Pounder, "The Origin andJ.C.
of Miles eds., The Assyrian Laws (Oxford 1935) 4. These
OEof as Inscription Heading," in K.J. Rigsby and A.L. law codes are often not quite what they seem; see J.J. Fin-
kelstein, "Ammisaduqa's Edict and the Babylonian 'Law
gehold eds., Studies Presented to Sterling Dow on His Eightieth
Birthday (GRBS Monograph 10, Durham 1984) 243-50. Apart Codes',"JCS 15 (1961) 91-104.

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ture seems curiously disconnected

general population? If the Gortyn Law Code was not
currents in poetry and
written down, the
and displayed visual
in its own special build- a
where in Archaic Greece. For Cretans, Homer was ing, so that Gortynians could know their own law,
a "foreign poet," and it is perhaps no coincidence what was it for? Most work on the Gortyn Law Code
that no narrative scene from epic can be securely has concentrated on the code as document, as evi-
identified on any piece of Cretan art.'" The most dence for Greek law and Cretan society. Such close
elaborate forms of Cretan art, those that could be readings of these inscriptions are, of course, essen-
described as narrative, look toward North Syria rather tial, and sometimes lead to surprising results. The
than the rest of Greece. Narrative art occurs early, most recent work on the public inscriptions from
but if it develops, it develops only into a kind of Gortyn has placed the code firmly in what might
heraldry, and not in the direction of the complex be called the local tradition of monumental law en-
visual narratives we see on the Frangois Vase or on graving, and has simultaneously exposed the incon-
the frieze of the Siphnian Treasury. sistencies and uncodelike character of this supposed-
ly definitive document. As Davies writes, "the legal
material from Gortyn ... shows two contradictory
To the committed Hellenist, it longprocesses,
seemed ob-
that of codification or systematization, and
that of continuous
vious that widespread literacy, the publication of amendment or decodification
via of
law codes, and the gradual development generalized
democ- case law, in operation at the same
time."152 a part
racy must go together. But Crete is as much
of the Near East as it is of Greece, and Cretan
The Great laws
Code is thus less of a code than its phys-
were no more intended to be read byicaltheformaverage
would lead a casual observer to suppose.
inhabitant of Dreros or Gortyn than Itwas
is mythe Code
contention that, from the point of view of
of Hammurabi by the average Babylonian.
most of the To the of Gortyn, this would not
Hellenist there is still a presumption that the public
have mattered. For the code was as much an impos-
display of law in Gortyn must have been ingin
"the pub-as it was a definitive text, or rather
lic interest," and so in the interest of most of the I should say that it was first a monument and then
people there. Why else is the writing so clear and a text. The Gortyn Law Code is the largest structure
so carefully inscribed, if not to be read by the gen- known to have been built in fifth-century Gortyn.
eral populace? Why else are the terms of each law It is, in a sense, the Gortynian equivalent of the
so specific, if they are not to be read, and, once read, marble temples of mainland Greece, a Gortynian
adhered to? I would contend that the purpose of suchcounterpart to the Parthenon. Like the Parthenon,
inscriptions is as much symbolic as practical. Even it was partly a means of representing in symbolic
if it is conceded that the decree from Dreros and form that for which the community as a whole stood.
others like it were inscribed partly to regulate aris-It was there to represent the majesty of The Law, and
tocratic competition, to write down in stone immu- to represent the law to a population that was largely
table laws to which others could appeal if any oneilliterate. It was intended to present the particular
person became excessively ambitious or powerful,regulations and practices of a small city-state as eter-
this regulatory effect would only have operatednal and immutable- permanent and beyond criti-
within the small group that ran Cretan city-states. cism, like some platonic form existing above and
The ruling families could probably read, and for beyond the day-to-day concerns of the average Gor-
these families written law did serve a practical pur- tynian. From the point of view of the families from
pose. But what was the effect of such decrees on thewhom the kosmoi were taken, it could serve this role

1I, For Homer as the author of a ESVtK6V noiftl~a as far tans represented themselves to themselves, but it is no less
as the Cretans were concerned, see the astonishing ad- remarkable for that. For a discussion of scenes from myth
mission by the Cretan Kleinias in Pl. Leg. 680c, which is in Archaic Cretan art, see Blome 98-104.
worth quoting in full: "Eot1K yE 6 0toutNl t Uiv o0toG0 '52J.K. Davies, "Deconstructing Gortyn: When Is a Code
y&yov&vat XapiLtq. Kai Yap 6Ti Kai ahc a artoO 6l8ts~fcjy0a v a Code?" in L. Foxhall and A.D.E. Lewis eds., Greek Law
46dV' oYtr.ia, o5 4flyv nokk&d y~- o0b y&p op668pa Xp04L0a o 0 in Its Political Setting:Justifications not Justice (Oxford 1996)
KpfiTsq Toi4 qsvtK0oiq nouiFactv (the Athenian stranger had 33-56, esp. 56. For a contrary view, see M. Gagarin, "The
just quoted from the Odyssey). Of course this quotation tells Organization of the Gortyn Law Code," GRBS 23 (1982)
us how the Cretans appeared to Athenians, not how Cre- 129-46.

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just as effectively incoherentof

asthe code would be read
coherent, well represented
as un- by the adage
read. Not being able to read its
that specific
some terms,
men are equal, an
but some are much mor
unfree or only partially free Gortynian
equal than others. (such as
an apetairos) could not notice the disparity between
the punishment that would SCHOOL
be meted out to him,

were he to commit adultery orP.O.

BOX 909 and the punish-
ment that a free man would receive.'53 He would not UNIVERSITY OF WALES, CARDIFF
be able to criticize the fact that offenses to him CARDIFF CF1 3XU WALES
would, under the law, receive only a small recom-

pense. He would not be able to notice that the spirit


m For the rights (or otherwise) of the apetairos, see Willetts col. II, lines 4-45, and disc

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