Urban Life and Local Politics in Roman Bithynia
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Most studies of Roman local administration focus on the formal structures of power: imperial laws, urban institutions and magistracies. This book explores the interplay of formal power with informal factors such as social prejudice, parochialism and personal rivalries in the cities of northwestern Asia Minor from the first to the fifth centuries AD. Through a detailed analysis of the municipal speeches and career of the philosopher-politician Dion Chrysostomos, we gain new in-depth insight into the petty conflicts and lofty ambitions of an ancient provincial small-town politician and those around him. The author concludes that Roman local politics were rarely concerned with political issues but more often with social status and the desire for recognition within an agonistic society.



Publié par
Date de parution 01 septembre 2008
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9788771247527
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 6 Mo

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T nnes Bekker-Nielsen
My first meeting with Dion Chrysostomos took place on a rainy winter s evening in the Classics Library of the University of Bergen. While searching for another text, I came across one of Dion s municipal speeches. This chance encounter led to a deeper interest in this small-town politician. Some years later, the opportunity for a closer study of Dion and his urban environment presented itself as part of a research project on Greeks under the Roman Empire under the auspices of the Danish National Research Foundation s Centre for Black Sea Studies.
Within the Centre for Black Sea Studies, I had the good fortune to work with Jesper Majbom Madsen as supervisor of his Ph.D. thesis, soon to be published as Eager to be Roman (Duckworth, 2008). Together, we organized a workshop on Rome and the Black Sea Region (the proceedings of which were published in 2006 as volume 5 of Black Sea Studies ) and another about Dion himself (published in Danish as Dion af Prusa: En gr sk intellektuel mellem Rom og Sortehavet , 2007).
I am also grateful for the chance to discuss different aspects of Bithynian life under the Roman Empire with other friends and colleagues, especially Pia Guldager Bilde, Jesper Carlsen, Thomas Corsten, George Hinge, Marit Jensen, J rgen Christian Meyer, Eckart Olshausen, Rita Rattenborg, Helle Sejersen, Christian Winkle and Greg Woolf, and with students following courses on Roman Bithynia at the University of Southern Denmark, Esbjerg (2004) and the University of Stuttgart (2007). Thanks are also due to the staff of Konuralp and greater Izmit municipalities, and of the National Archaeological Museum, Istanbul as well as the municipal archaeological museums of Bursa, Izmit, Iznik and Konuralp for their assistance.
Kolding, January 2008
T nnes Bekker-Nielsen
List of Illustrations
1. Map of Roman Bithynia (Inger Bjerg Poulsen)
2a. Nikaian bronze coin showing the city s founder, Dionysos, returning from India in an elephant quadriga (Tom Vossen)
2b. Prusan bronze coin showing Prusias, the founder of Prusa (American Numismatic Society)
3a. Nikomedian bronze coin of the reign of Commodus (Gorny Mosch, Giessener M nzhandlung)
3b. Nikomedian bronze coin of Philip the Arab, showing a square-rigged ship (Alexandre de Barros collection)
4. The southern wall of Prusa (author s photo)
5. Nikaia seen from the east (author s photo)
6. Detail of the Tabula Peutingeriana (Staatsbibliothek, Vienna)
7a. Bronze coin of the Bithynian koinon , struck under Hadrian (M nzen und Medaillen Deutschland)
7b. Nikomedian bronze coin of Valerian, Gallienus and Valerian II (Classical Numismatic Group)
8. Map of Nikaia (Inger Bjerg Poulsen)
9. Remains of the southern wall of Nikomedia s citadel in the Medrese Sokak (author s photo)
10. The course of the late antique east wall (author s photo)
11. Map of Nikomedia (Inger Bjerg Poulsen)
12. Map of Prusa (Inger Bjerg Poulsen)
13. Gate 6 may be a remnant of Nikaia s Hellenistic defense perimeter (author s photo)
14. A negative impression of the Hadrianic walls of Nikaia (author s photo)
15. North (Istanbul) gate of Nikaia seen from the inside (Jesper Majbom Madsen)
16. Elevation of the North (Istanbul) gate of Nikaia (Dalman, Fick Schneider 1938)
17. The east (Lefke) gate of Nikaia, seen from the outside (author s photo)
18. The sarcophagus of Aurelius Vernicianus and his wife Markiane. Izmit museum (author s photo)
19. Inscription honouring the emperor Trajan, dedicated by the city secretary ( grammateus ) T. Flavius Sil n. Bursa Museum (author s photo)
20. Unfinished inscription, now in the garden of Bursa Museum (author s photo)
21. Inscription in honour of Marcus Domitius Paulianus Falco in the ancient theatre of Konuralp (author s photo)
22. The obelisk-like monument of the Nikaian notable Cassius Philiskos (author s photo)
23. Detail of the monument, showing recesses in the side of the vertical stone face (author s photo)
24. Inscription on the rear face of the monument giving the name, age and filiation of Cassius Philiskos (author s photo)
25. The inscription over the east (Lefke) gate of Nikaia. At the end of the second line, the name of Cassius Chrestos in the genitive (author s photo)
26. The sarcophagus of C. Cassius Chrestos in the garden of Iznik Museum (author s photo)
27. Seated statue of a philosopher, Bursa museum (author s photo)
28. Prusan notable of the Roman period. Bursa museum (author s photo)
29. The theatre of Nikaia (Jesper Majbom Madsen)
30. Sesterce from the mint of Rome. The reverse shows the tych of the city kneeling before the emperor Hadrian, restitutor Nicomediae (Leu Numismatik AG)
31. The biography of Flavius Severianus Asklepiodotos, a rich notable of Nikaia in the early third century. Iznik Museum (author s photo)
32. Despite later reconstructions and repair work, the still standing third-century walls of Nikaia give a good impression of the defences of a late Roman city (author s photo)
33. The south gate of Nikaia (author s photo)
34a. Nikaian coin of Gallienus (AD 253-268) showing the new walls of Nikaia, with large towers flanking the gates (Numismatik Lanz, Munich)
34b. Nikaian coin from the brief reign of Macrianus (AD 260-261) showing a similar bird s eye view of Nikaia (Classical Numismatic Group)
35. Justinian s bridge west of Nikaia (Jesper Majbom Madsen)
1. Introduction
The ancient world as we know it would be unthinkable without the city. The world of classical Greece was a world of city-states; the Roman Empire was an empire of cities. From the fourth century BC onwards, most cities were no longer sovereign, self-governing poleis , but they were still governing on behalf of their Hellenistic or Roman rulers. The administrative functions of the city and the readiness of its elite to participate in its administration were crucial to the success of, and crucial to our understanding of, the Roman imperial project.
Hybris and stasis
Aristotle famously defined man as a politikon z on , 1 sometimes translated as a political animal and sometimes as a creature that lives in cities . The exact meaning lies somewhere between the two: man is not political in the modern sense of the English word, but neither is he merely a city-dweller. It would be clumsier, but perhaps more precise to translate politikon z on as a being that participates in a city . To our eyes, ancient Greek cities were characterised by a high degree of citizen participation in the political process, not only because it was perceived as the duty of an adult male citizen, but also because it provided an opportunity for public display of positive personal qualities.
For the majority of the male citizens, a large part of the day was spent in public spaces: the street, the agora , the gymnasium, and a correspondingly smaller part within the confines of the nuclear family, the dwelling or the workplace. The public nature of the social environment favoured the creation of an agonistic urban society where the place of the individual within the group and within the citizen body was continually being defined and redefined through ties of family, friendship, loyalty, patronage and clientage, and where visible personal qualities (honour, face , bearing, speech, education) were very important, tangible but impersonal status markers (wealth, possessions) less important. As the Book of Proverbs expresses it: a good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold . 2
The social environment of a Greek city thus placed the male individual in a sink-or-swim situation: his status or honour had to be displayed on a regular basis, marking his place within the social hierarchy of the community and enabling him to establish advantageous long-term relationships of patronage, clientage, friendship or marriage. On the other hand, the city was not a social jungle where one animal ate another: the ag n took place within a restraining framework of written and unwritten rules, ensuring that conflicts rarely got out of hand. Two central concepts in this connection are hybris and stasis .
The familiar meaning of hybris is intolerable arrogance but in a wider sense, hybris encompasses violent or anti-social behaviour in general. Sailing off to explore the land of the Cyclopes, Odysseus desires to know what manner of men live there, whether they are arrogant men ( hybristai ) that do not have laws, or kind to strangers ( philoxenoi ) and god-fearing in their hearts . 3 The form of life that he finds there is the exact antithesis of the civilized urban lifestyle: the Cyclops lives alone in his cave, follows no laws and does not fear the gods. As if to underline his disregard for Greek norms of social behaviour, which emphasize hospitality to strangers, the Cyclops not only treats his guests badly; he eats them.
Arrogant and self-gratifying behaviour transgressing established norms of social behaviour could not be tolerated within the polis , since it threatened the social cohesion and solidarity of the community, which was vital for survival in a conflict with other poleis . Another threat was stasis , disruptive conflict within the community, which could take the form of extreme factionalism or actual political violence. In the Politics , the clinching argument of Aristotle in favour of his middle constitution is that it is free from stasis ( astasiaskos ) 4 and according to the Memorabilia of Xenophon, Sokrates defined the good citizen as one who puts an end to stasis . 5
The social structure of republican Rome had a good deal in common with contemporary Greek cities, and Romans shared the Greek horror of civic violence. At an early stage, the Republic adopted the Etruscan fasces as an emblem of public office, symbolic of the magistrate s authority to impose order and punish transgressors with beating (the rods) or death (the axe). Such a concentration of power in the hands of the state s leaders ensured stability - but it could be a terrible weapon in the wrong hands. So, firstly, power was always held jointly by two or more magistrates, except in emergencies; secondly, access to the magistracies was restricted to the right sort of people, originally members of certain ( patrician ) families, later those who met a property qualification, the census . 6 There might be a census threshold for entering the urban council of an Italian town (the ordo decurionum ), there was a higher one for the equestrian order and a still higher one for the senate, the real locus of power in republican Rome. The census was not the only social dividing line, however, and within the Roman senate a distinction between members of established consular families and more recent arrivals ( homines novi ) lingered well into the early Empire.
For all its admirable qualities - and despite the admiration lavished on it by generations of classical scholars - the ancient urban community was a fragile social structure, as its members were well aware. Internal tensions within the community were kept in check, after a fashion, by laws and unwritten codes to restrain individualistic behaviour going beyond the bounds of the ag n and threatening the cohesion, hence the survival, of the community. To modern eyes, some of these restrictions may seem peculiar and sometimes comical, for instance, the Athenian institution of ostracism, the Spartan prohibition on embellishing one s front door 7 or Trajan s refusal to permit a fire brigade in Nikomedia because the city was plagued by political factionalism ( factionibus vexata ). 8 But the fear of civil violence among the many or of oppression by the few was real enough, and well founded. Friendly competition and social rivalry within the ag n could easily get out of control and once public order had broken down, it was difficult to restore.
Urban rivalries
The ag n of man and his neighbours in the agora and other public spaces was paralleled at the collective level, where cities battled to maintain and reinforce their position vis- -vis their neigbouring communities. Though the stakes were essentially the same, the arena was different. The province was no face-to-face environment: behaviour and actions counted for less, titles and tangible status markers for more. To enjoy the special favour of the ruler, the Roman governor or the emperor himself was important. So was the status of a city within the formal administrative hierarchy of the province. Monuments and great public buildings, too, played their role, but perhaps less for their own value as for the means to an end: the maintenance of status in the eyes of the ruling power. In fact, it is striking how often the city s place within the ag n appears defined by its relation to the ruling power and its representatives. The rhetor Dion ridicules his fellow Prusans for wanting to preserve an old smithy whose dilapidated condition brings shame on the community on the occasion of the governor s visit, while his opponents claim that Dion has not done enough to win the emperor s favour for Prusa, which in that respect is far behind Smyrna. 9 Among the visible expressions of the city s high standing with the Roman authorities were honorific titles, above all that of m tropolis and first city within the province . The sometimes extreme nature of the urban ag n is illustrated by the persistent rivalry between Nikomedia and Nikaia, continually competing for titles and honours (below, p. 47-48).
The fields of religion and education provided complementary arenas for the urban ag n . In 29 BC, Nikaia won for herself the imperial cult of the Romans in the province, while Nikomedia became home to that of the peregrines, i.e. the koinon . In the mid-fourth century AD, Libanios was enticed away from Nikaia by the offer of a teaching post in Nikomedia. At the council of Chalkedon in 451, the bemused delegates spent a whole day listening to bishop Eunomios of Nikomedia and his colleague, Anastasios of Nikaia, disputing the ecclesiastical jurisdiction over the parish of Basilinopolis. 10
To some degree, Roman domination acted as a stabilising factor. Jealousy and enmity between cities could not be eliminated and indeed might be exploited in the interests of Rome, but at least they could be restrained. Further, the provincial law of Pompey the Great established a minimum age and a census threshold for the city councils, ensuring that urban politics would henceforth be dominated by adult property-owners, the middle class so dear to the theories of Aristotle. As we shall see, the census also had the useful side-effect of compartmentalizing the political arena and putting a brake on social mobility, and thus on conflict potential, within the city.
Formal and informal politics
We know a good deal about formal political life in ancient cities: the names of their leading magistrates as preserved in honorific and funerary inscriptions; visits by or delegations to the emperor; famous sons and daughters who reached high imperial positions; important decisions of their councils that were inscribed on stone for posterity. But we know very little about the day-to-day, face-to-face relationships and conflicts, the undercurrent of urban life. A moment s reflection will make it clear that the formal, visible aspect of urban politics is really the tip of a much larger iceberg, most of which remains invisible to our eyes.
In a city of several thousand inhabitants, not everyone would know everyone else; but the most prominent citizens, those leading in the social ag n and the race for magistracies and places on the city council, would be known to most of their fellow citizens. Since a great part of their social and political interaction took place in public spaces such as streets and squares, their actions and relations to each other would also be known to a wide circle. The street provided a stage for displaying correct behaviour. On the other hand, it was also a fertile environment for rumours and stories that could rapidly erode the individual s position. Because the ancient world assumed that personal qualities were inbred rather than acquired, the personality of a candidate was considered as important as his formal qualifications, and attacks on an opponent s character was an effective informal tactic. The early imperial historians provide many examples of how rumour and denunciation were deployed in the fight for social and political status, and the Apocolocyntosis of Seneca an impression of the innuendo and half-truths circulating in the imperial capital.
Taking Suetonius, Tacitus and Seneca as our sources for early imperial slander, the most common topics seem to be sex and drinking habits. As in other societies, a double standard applied in sexual matters; behaviour that would generally be tolerated or ignored might on occasion be denounced and punished. Stories about the heavy drinking of Roman magistrates and emperors were recorded by later writers. 11 No doubt similar stories were circulating in the smaller cities, viz. the Pompeiian graffiti stating that the late drinkers support candidate so-and-so . 12
Another way to undermine a person s credibility is to suggest that he is overbearing, quick to anger and has little patience with others, implying at once arrogance and lack of self-control - in one word, hybris . We get a glimpse of this type of innuendo in a letter from Cicero to his younger brother Quintus, who held the governorship of Asia from 61 to 59 BC. At the commencement of Quintus third term as governor, Marcus sends him a long letter of advice, warning Quintus that rumours about his conduct as governor are circulating in Rome. According to Marcus, the detractors of Quintus have focused on his iracundia , which Marcus acknowledges as a particularly deplorable weakness in one who exercises summum imperium , the almost unlimited authority of a governor. He goes on to give examples of Quintus behaviour which are presumably drawn from rumours circulating in the capital. 13
From sources such as these, we know how informal political tactics, as well as personal vanity, petty rivalries, graft and corruption played a role in the political process at Rome. We have no reason to suppose that the hundreds and thousands of provincial urbes were so very different; the difference is that for most of these, we have no evidence to work from.
There are a few places, however, where the political process at the personal level can be glimpsed. One is Oxyrhynchus (el-Bahnasa) in Egypt, where verbatim records of council debates of the third to fifth century have been preserved. 14 Another is Pompeii, where the eruption of AD 79 has preserved electoral dipinti , political graffiti and other ephemera. 15 A third is Bithynia, where we are fortunate to possess a unique collection of municipal speeches by the philosopher-politician Dion Chrysostomos and a contemporary collection of letters to and from the provincial governor, Pliny the younger. These sources provide unique insights into the workings of local politics and administration at the personal and informal level.
Dion often needed to defend himself against the stories put about by his opponents. As a young man in Prusa, he faced charges of grain hoarding and lack of public spirit. In the early post-exilic period, the rumours centred on his relationship with the emperor: Dion was not the close friend that he claimed, he had mishandled an embassy to Rome, he had failed to win Prusa the concessions that Trajan granted Smyrna, etc. - an ingenious angle of attack, since it concerned events in far-off Rome that could not be verified or disproved, leaving Dion defenseless. Later, he was accused of tyrannical or demagogical behaviour, and negative rumours were spread about his administration of public projects. He was also taken to task for his too close relationship with the Roman governor and seems to have been suspected of atheism. 16
Perhaps because of the pedestrian nature of their subject matter, the municipal speeches of Dion Chrysostomos have not attracted a great deal of scholarly attention; most students of Dion - with the exception of C.P. Jones (1978) and M. Cuvigny (1994) - have directed their attention to other parts of his oeuvre . In this book, however, we will focus on Dion the local politician and on the political, intellectual and social urban environment of Roman Bithynia. To set Dion and his city within their proper historical and geographical context, the narrative will commence with the foundation of the three cities that formed the background to Dion s career.

Fig. 1. Map of Roman Bithynia (Inger Bjerg Poulsen)
A tale of three cities
Nikomedia, Nikaia and Prusa were important cities in northwestern Asia Minor, located within a hundred Roman miles of Byzantion - later to become the imperial capital of Constantinople - and of each other. Together, they commanded the major highways from Europe into Asia Minor and the Levant. As Hellenistic foundations, they share many common characteristics, and from the Hellenistic period onwards, their histories were intertwined in changing relationships of hegemony and subordination, friendly competition, fierce rivalry or obsessive enmity. Each of them vied for the leading position in their region, and in turn, each of them attained it. Nikaia was the oldest city and the first m tropolis of Roman Bithynia. Later it was eclipsed by Nikomedia, which rose to be an imperial residence under the Tetrarchy. A thousand years later, Prusa, too, became an imperial capital and the residence of the Ottoman sultan.
During the twentieth century, Prusa and Nikomedia have shared in the industrial growth that has characterized the Marmara region. Whereas a large part of the 34,000 inhabitants of modern Nikaia (Iznik) still nestle within its late Roman walls, Prusa (Bursa) has grown to over a million inhabitants, Nikomedia (Izmit/Kocaeli) to some 300,000.
In the scholarly literature and tourist itineraries, on the other hand, little Nikaia looms far larger than her two sister cities. The last decade has seen two monographs on the history of Nikaia (Foss 1996, P. Guinea Diaz 1997) and it is to Nikaia that visitors go for a visual impression of a Roman city, whereas the remains of ancient Nikomedia and Prusa are covered by modern construction. Though some archaeological evidence has come to light accidentally and in the course of rescue excavations, we have no detailed overall picture of these two cities, their topography and their monuments as we do in the case of Nikaia. This does not preclude writing a history of their urban life and development, it merely means that other types of sources and different approaches are required.
1 Pol. 1253a1.
2 Proverbs 22.1.
3 Odyssey 9.174-176.
4 Pol. 1296a7.
5 Mem. 4.6.14.
6 Even Sallust ( Bell.Jug. 86), no admirer of the Roman nobility, echoes a familiar Roman prejudice when writing that Marius recruited proletarians into the army due to inopia bonorum , literally a shortage of good ones (i.e., of propertyowners).
7 Plutarch, Lyk. 13.5; Link 2000, 77-80.
8 Pliny, Ep. 10.34.
9 Or. 40.9; 40.13.
10 Foss 1996, 12-13.
11 Seneca, Ep. ad Lucilium , 83.12-14; Suetonius, Tib. 42; Titus 7.
12 Mouritsen 1988, 67.
13 Cicero, Ad Q.F. 1.1.37-38; cf. Braund 1998, 17-18. In a more positive vein, Pliny ( Ep. 9.5) claims to have heard how well his friend Calestrius Tiro is doing as governor of Baetica; but this may merely be a literary formula to open the letter.
14 Coles 1966; Bowman 1971. Some of the later records (from the third century onwards) appear to be verbatim renderings of speeches in the council, probably taken down by a shorthand writer as they were delivered.
15 Mouritsen 1988.
16 Dion, Or. 43.11, but cf. Vielmetti 1941, 98. In Vielmetti s view, the charge of atheism has no substance but is introduced by Dion to underscore the parallelization of himself with Sokrates in 43.10 and 43.12. Dion evidently intended to answer the charge in 43.13ff, but this part of his oration is not preserved.
2. Before the Romans
Founding fathers
Foundation myths or histories were an important element of Greek urban identity. The oldest cities claimed to find their founders among the gods or heroes of mythology, often among those who fought at Troy. Those that were products of the great period of Greek colonization focused their originidentity on the mother city, literally the m tropolis ; for instance, many Greek settlements along the Black Sea coast claimed a Milesian origin. The more recent foundations identified their founder as an historical person, often as not giving his own name to the city.
The Hellenistic period was a high season for the foundation of cities. It opened with Alexander the Great, who founded dozens of Alexandrias along his marching route to the east; it closed with the naval victory of Octavian in 31 BC, celebrated by the refoundation of Actium as Nikopolis , the city of victory .
The city known to antiquity as Nikaia and to present-day Turks as Iznik was founded in 311 BC by one of Alexander s generals and successors, Antigonos Monophtalmos ( the one-eyed ). It was named Antigoneia to preserve the memory of its founder - not, as it turned out, for very long: by 301 BC it had been captured by another of Alexander s generals, Lysimachos, who renamed it Nikaia after his queen. 1
Bithynia was one of the many minor kingdoms that emerged from the breakup of Alexander s empire. A Bithynian noble, Zipoites, declared himself king and inaugurated a new royal era. 2 In 280, he fell in battle and was succeeded by his son, Nikomedes I. Like his father, the new king was forced to devote most of his energy to wars and dynastic conflicts in an environment of recurrent warfare and constantly shifting alliances. By the 260 s, his foreign policy had proved successful and his dynastic position had been secured by the death of his brothers. In 264 BC, Nikomedes founded a new royal capital bearing his name at the head of what we now know as the gulf of Izmit, easily reached by land or sea from all parts of his kingdom. Such a good position had not gone unnoticed or unexploited, and Nikomedia was not created on virgin soil but through a fusion - synoikism - of existing settlements. 3
Its name suggests that the third great city of Bithynia, Prusa , was founded by a Prusias - as claimed by three ancient writers (Strabon, Arrian of Nikomedia and Stephen of Byzantion) 4 and on a coin of the late second century AD bearing the legend Prusias the founder ( ktist s ) of Prusa (fig. 2). 5 But who was he? According to Strabon s Geography , the city was a foundation of Prusias who fought against Kroisos , echoed by Stephen s identification: Prusias who fought against Kyros . According to a fragment of Arrian, Prusa was founded by king Prusias, grandson of Nikomedes.
The Natural History of Pliny the Elder names Hannibal as the founder of Prusa 6 - thus indirectly supporting the claim of Arrian. Hannibal left Carthage in 195 BC and sought refuge with Antiochos III. When the Romans asked Antiochos to hand over Hannibal, the Carthaginian fled to Armenia and from there to Bithynia, where he served Prusias I as a naval commander in 188-183 BC. He had previously assisted king Artaxias of Armenia in laying out a new city, Artaxata, 7 and may well have advised the Bithynian king on the founding of Prusa. Fearing that Prusias would hand him over to the Romans, Hannibal took his own life in 183 BC.
Strabon, on the other hand, identifies Prusa s founder as Prusias who fought against Kroisos which would imply a foundation date in the sixth century BC, but there is no archaeological or epigraphic evidence for such an early date. One way out of this problem is to assume a lacuna in Strabon s text after Prusias , in which case the king who fought Kroisos (or Kyros, as Stephen of Byzantion has it, copying a corrupt version of Strabon) is an entirely different person from the founder of Prusa. 8
A more probable explanation is that Strabon was reproducing a popular tradition about the origins of Prusa that was current in Asia Minor during his own lifetime. There is little doubt that Prusa was founded by Prusias I, but the historical identity of the founder may have been overlaid by an accretion of legends about a protohistorical and semi-mythical origin. The notion that the founder battled against Kroisos reflects a Prusan self-perception as a frontier city, and the desire to make the city more respectable by moving its foundation date back in time is easy to understand. 9 A parallel process can be observed in nearby Nikaia, where coins and inscriptions proudly identify the city s founders as Dionysos and Herakles; 10 throughout the life span of the Nikaian mint, coins were struck with the image of Dionysos as the ktist s of Nikaia (fig. 2). 11
To Greek thinkers of the classical period, the city, h polis , was also the state, and in a wider sense, society. The founders of a new city could draw on various treatises for advice. Most of these have been lost, but an impression of their content can be gained from a passage in Aristotle s Politics 12 where the practical problems of siting a city are briefly touched upon as prolegomena to a wider discussion about the nature of human society and the relative merits of different constitutions. Aristotle s advice is worth quoting, not because every later city-founder had a copy of the Politics at his elbow, but because they may be taken to reflect prevalent ideas about best practice in city planning during the late Classical and early Hellenistic period.
According to Aristotle, the city should be located on sloping ground with easy access to the sea, the land and its territory 13 and a sufficient supply of good water. 14 An eastward-facing slope is preferable, a northward orientation acceptable. 15 Aristotle discusses the location of the city in relation to the sea at some length: the advantages of being able to transport goods from afar by water are weighed against the corrupting influence of visiting traders and sailors, and he concludes that a city should have a harbour, but at a little distance: not within the city itself yet close enough to be controlled and defended. 16 Concerning the city plan itself, Aristotle assumes as a matter of course that it will be based on the familiar Hippodamian system of rectangular plots divided by rectilinear streets. 17 Walls are indispensable for safety and desirable for the sake of appearance. 18 The agora should be at the centre of the city but conveniently located in relation to the gates, with the temples and government buildings close by. 19 That this is not idle speculation but reflects contemporary town planning practice can be verified by comparing plans of Hellenistic cities with the precepts of Aristotle.

Fig. 2 Left: Nikaian bronze coin showing the city s founder, Dionysos, returning from India in an elephant quadriga. As an assertion of the city s divine origin and seniority over the other Bithynian cities, Dionysos appears on Nikaian coins from the first century right down to the reign of Gallienus. RGMG 1.3 Nikaia 826 similis (Tom Vossen). Right: Fig. 2b. Prusan bronze coin showing Geta on the obverse and on the reverse a figure identified as Prusias, the founder of Prusa : RGMG 1.4 Prusa 116. (American Numismatic Society)
In this respect, a closer look at the map of Nikaia (fig. 8, p. 49) is instructive. Even today, it is possible to discern some basic features of the city s original plan: the rectilinear main streets of the Hippodamian grid meeting each other at right angles in the centre of the city; the four main gates; the lake harbour located close by, but outside the walls; the Aya Sofya Camii at the central intersection. Located by the edge of the lake, with good, level farmland stretching along its shores, Nikaia had easy access to the sea - or at least to water transport - to the land and to its territory . That territory stretched far to the east, probably as far as the Sangarios river (mod. Sakarya). Through it ran the southern of the two main routes from Thrace to Anatolia and the Levant.
In terms of access, Nikomedia, founded half a century later, enjoyed an even more advantageous position at the eastern extremity of the gulf of Izmit, astride the northern route into central Anatolia, with secondary roads branching southward to Nikaia and northward to the shore of the Black Sea. We may take it for granted that the lower city was laid out on a grid plan with the east-west highway as its baseline and some present street alignments may preserve the imprint of the Hippodamian plan. 20 It is not known whether the reticular plan extended onto the slopes - perhaps not: according to Libanios, the residential areas stretched up the hillside like the branches of a cypress 21 which rather suggests an organic pattern adapted to the contours of the hills. Libanios also catalogues the city s magnificent buildings destroyed by the earthquake of 358: colonnades, fountains, squares, libraries, sanctuaries, baths . 22 As at Nikaia, the harbour was located outside the walls, but close to the city. Nikomedia was a major trading port whose ships ranged over the Black Sea and the eastern Mediterranean. 23 That water transport played a large role in the economy of the city and the self-perception of the Nikomedians is evident from the recurrence of ships and other marine motifs on Nikomedian coins 24 (fig. 3) and from the project, proposed in the early second century AD, to cut a canal from lake Sapanca to the sea. 25

Fig. 3. Left: Nikomedian bronze coin of the reign of Commodus. The reverse shows a war galley in the city s harbour, in the background the city s two temples of the imperial cult (cf. p. 47). RGMG 1.3 Nikaia 165 (Gorny Mosch, Giessener M nzhandlung). Right: Nikomedian bronze coin of Philip the Arab, showing a square-rigged merchant ship. RGMG 1.3 Nikaia 387 (Alexandre de Barros collection).
Turning to Prusa, we find a number of significant differences. There is little evidence for synoikism, indicating that the founder had a free choice of site. The one actually chosen would have met with the approval of Aristotle insofar as it is located on the cool northward-facing slopes of the Bithynian Olympos (modern Ulu Da ). Remarkably, however, Prusa is some 20 kilometres, a whole day s journey, from the Sea of Marmara; nor does it have easy access by land and to all parts of its territory - even today, there are few good roads across the Olympos massif to the southeast of the city. Fortunately, the fertility of the low-lying farmland to the north was sufficient to ensure the city s food supply.
The advantages of Prusa s location were primarily defensive. The acropolis was a rocky plateau c. 600 m across, bounded by steep slopes on three sides and on the fourth by the rising flank of mount Olympos. There are few routes by which an army can approach by land. The eastern access roads are easily defended where they pass through the hills, while a force landing on the coast would need a day or more to reach the city, giving the defenders sufficient advance warning to deploy their forces in the plain or on the perimeter of the acropolis. (Perhaps Hannibal s own experience had taught him that with the Roman navy in control of the seas, it was better to be located a little distance inland.) The natural defenses of the acropolis were further strengthened by walls (fig. 4).
A further natural advantage of Prusa was its hot springs, situated just over a mile north-west of the acropolis (in the modern suburb of ekirge). They are mentioned in an inscription of Hadrian s reign 26 and by Athenaios (late second century AD), according to whom they were called basilika , royal , 27 implying not only that the baths enjoyed some prestige in his time but also that their popularity went back to the period of Bithynian independence. The suburb by the baths was - and is - an attractive residential area on a northward-facing slope with a view of the plain below. A Prusan bronze coin of the late Severan period shows a building flanked by two female figures; if Robert s identification of these as the nymphs of the springs is correct, the edifice in the centre may represent the fa ade of the bath complex. 28
Apart from names and royal epithets, what imprint did the founders leave on their cities? In making Nikomedia his capital, Nikomedes I ensured a steady flow of taxes, gifts and revenues into the city, which along with the building programme and ancillary facilities required for a Hellenistic royal residence 29 would ensure the future growth and prosperity of the city. Existing settlements such as Astakos already had economic ties to the countryside; after synoikism these links will have continued, now within the economic system of the new city. By the time of Nikomedes death, Nikomedia was well on its way to becoming a fully fledged Hellenistic city. It furthermore enjoyed the geographical advantage of a location on the main road combined with a saltwater port. For travellers coming from Europe, it would often be more attractive to sail as far as Nikomedia and go on by road, instead of disembarking at the Hellespont or Bosporos.

Fig. 4. Though ravaged by time and reconstructed several times (note the column ends and other spolia protruding at the top), the southern wall of Prusa still stands (author s photo).
Following the Roman annexation, Nikaia became the residence of the governor and provincial capital ( m tropolis ), a status it retained into the first century AD. To these political assets, it could add the advantages of its lakeside location, its large agricultural hinterland and its function as a staging point on the southern highway.
By contrast, the early years of Prusa were precarious. There is no evidence that major settlements were incorporated into the new city through synoikism, and while Prusa had its own territory, this did not generate income on the same scale as the tax and revenue flows into the capital of a kingdom or province. The founders themselves could not do much to assist it, occupied as they were with the ongoing war against the neighbouring kingdom of Pergamon; in any case, within five years of the city s foundation date, both Hannibal and Prusias were dead.
Kings and emperors
The Hellenistic monarchs of the second and first century BC have been harshly judged by history. To some extent, this is because their biographies were handed down by Roman historians or by historians who, with the perspicacity that comes of hindsight, saw the expansion of Roman power as inevitable. Even their apologists, however, would have to admit that the foreign policy of late Hellenistic kings was often oriented towards short-term goals, making them easy preys for a policy of divide et impera .
The clash of interests in Asia Minor was fueled by the conflicting ambitions of three great powers: Macedonia, the Seleucid kingdom, and Rome, and of ambitious medium-sized powers like Pergamon, Rhodes, and at a later date the Pontic kingdom of Mithradates VI. Little Bithynia was too small and weak to be an independent player in this Great Game, but through shifting alliances, her rulers tried to exploit the tensions between her neighbours to their own advantage.
The kingdom of Bithynia was a dynastic monarchy, and violent domestic conflicts were mainly concerned with rival claims to the royal power. Nikomedes I killed his brothers to secure undisputed possession of his throne, and at his death in 255-253 BC, his sons fought over the succession. A century later, Prusias II was deposed and killed by his son, Nikomedes Epiphanes, who invaded Bithynia with support from the neighbouring king of Pergamon.
Bloody and protracted as such conflicts could be, their impact on the village population and on the artisans and small traders of the cities was mitigated by the fact that in most cases, the aggressor was out to secure or expand a territory for himself. It was not in his interest to alienate his future subjects by excessive brutality, nor to weaken his tax base by slaughtering the population or destroying cities. That this was appreciated by the population, or at least by their leaders, is evident from the behaviour of the Nikomedians when the unpopular Prusias II was besieged in 149 BC. The citizens opened the gates to the soldiers of Nikomedes Epiphanes, in effect declaring Nikomedia an open city . Their city was spared the horrors of a long siege and possibly (though the sources do not say so) rewarded in other ways for its change of allegiance. Prusias sought refuge in the temple of Zeus, where his son had him killed in defiance of the traditional right of asylum - parricide and sacrilege were, in the last analysis, less dangerous politically than leaving a rival claimant to the throne alive.
By the late second century BC, Rome had emerged as the winner of the Great Game and under the terms of king Attalos will, the rich kingdom of Pergamon, Bithynia s southern neighbour, was incorporated into the imperium as the province of Asia . Anti-Roman feeling and the prospect of territorial gains led Nikomedes III of Bithynia into an alliance with Mithradates VI Eupator of Pontos. Their aim was to take Paphlagonia and Cappadocia, then divide these territories between Bithynia and Pontos; however, Roman intervention and inter-allied rivalry frustrated the plan. The death of Nikomedes III in 94 BC led to a struggle for the succession between Nikomedes IV, leader of a pro-Roman faction and his half-brother Sokrates Chrestos, the nominee of Mithradates VI. This vicarious conflict between Rome and Pontos eventually escalated into the First Mithradatic War. The struggle was protracted and though Bithynia was on the side of the victor, the Roman intervention was not without ugly incidents: in 85 BC, the troops at Nikomedia mutinied and killed their commander, L. Valerius Flaccus, then plundered the city.
After the defeat of Mithradates, Nikomedes IV returned from Italy to his kingdom. He was well aware that he owed his throne to the Romans and remained consistently pro-Roman throughout his reign, even following the example of the Pergamene king and bequeathing his kingdom to the Roman people.
A young Roman officer, Julius Caesar, was sent by the governor of Asia on a mission to Bithynia c. 80 BC, to summon the fleet ( ad accersendam classem ), according to Suetonius. 30 It was probably no diplomatic mission, for which a twenty-year-old would hardly have been chosen; yet he gained access to the royal circles and spent some time at the court of Nikomedes, so much that it gave rise to rumours of a homosexual relationship. 31 If there is more to the story than that, Caesar may have been on a fact-finding assignment, to sound opinion at the Bithynian court and prepare Rome for the takeover that might come at any moment if Nikomedes IV should die prematurely. The struggle between Nikomedes and Sokrates had revealed the existence of anti-Roman sentiment among the aristocracy, and there was reason to fear that unpleasant memories of the Roman mutiny and pillage might linger in Nikomedia.
At the death of Nikomedes IV in 74, Mithradates VI once more tried to place a puppet king on the Bithynian throne, and once again, war with Rome was the result. The Pontic king won control of the Bithynian cities and pushed across the border into Mysia, where the important port and city of Kyzikos (at modern Bandirma) withstood a protracted siege. In 73/72 BC, a Roman army under L. Licinius Lucullus forced Mithradates to adandon the siege of Kyzikos and retreat eastwards, while the Lucullan forces re-established Roman control over the cities of western Bithynia. 32 During the last stage of the Third Mithradatic War (66-63 BC), Pompey the Great commanded the Roman forces, and after the defeat and suicide of Mithradates, the western part of his kingdom was united with Bithynia. Both territories were incorporated into the empire as the province of Bithynia et Pontus and their administrative structure defined in a provincial code, the lex Pompeia.
1 Strabon 12.4.7; Stephen of Byzantion, s.v. Nikaia (Meineke 474); Leschhorn 1984, 255.
2 Marek 1993, 21-23; H jte 2006, 20.
3 The most important of these was Astakos, on the southern shore of the gulf, which became part of the territory of the new city of Nikomedia but retained its separate identity: in the second century AD, it is named by Ptolemy of Alexandria ( Geogr. 5.1) as a separate settlement. For the location of Astakos, see ahin 1973, 71-73.
4 Strabon, 12.4.3; Arrian, FGrHist 15.6.29 = Tzetses, Chil . 3.963; Stephen, s.v. Prousa (Meineke 537)
5 For coins bearing the image of the founder Prusias, see IK 40, p. 26-28. Only in a few cases, however, is the figure specifically identified as Prusias, the founder of Prusa , e.g. RGMG 1.4 Prusa 48 (Commodus); 116 (Geta).
6 Pliny, NH , 5.148.
7 Strabon 11.14.6.
8 Corsten ( IK 40, p. 22-26) attempts to reconcile the two conflicting traditions by positing two foundations, first by a prince Prus in the sixth century BC, then by Prusias I in the second century BC.
9 Cf. Dion s apologetic remark, Or. 44.9, that Prusa is not the largest of our cities and has not been settled for the longest time .
10 RGMG 1.3 Nikaia 54-55; IK 9.21-30.
11 Kraft 1935, 111; cf. fig. 2.
12 Pol . 1327a11-1331b23.
13 Pol . 1330a34.
14 Pol. 1330b8.
15 The view that a southerly or westerly aspect is to be avoided because the city will be too hot, and therefore unhealthy, recurs in the planning advice given by the Roman architect Vitruvius in the first century AD ( De arch. 1.4.1).
16 Pol. 1330b32ff
17 Pol. 1330b32ff
18 Pol. 1330b32ff
19 Pol. 1331a30
20 ahin 1973, 18.
21 Libanios, Or. 61.7.
22 Libanios, Or 61.17. While the preceding quotation contains a specific reference to the topography of Nikomedia, the generalized list of public buildings may be inspired by Aristides Monody on Smyrna , Or . 18.6.
23 Mitchell 1983, 138-139.
24 E.g., RGMG 1.3 Nikomedia 33 (Domitian); 74-75 (Antoninus Pius); 138 (Commodus); 387 (Philip); also Price and Trell 1977, 213-215. Stephen of Byzantion identifies Nikomedia as an emporion , Nikaia as a polis .
25 Pliny, Ep. 10.41. The port installations themselves have long since been destroyed or built over: Lehmann-Hartleben 1923, 167 n. 1.
26 For the letter, see Robert 1937, 231.
27 Athen. 2.43a.
28 Robert 1946, 97 and pl. 1.
29 Cf. Nielsen 1999, 25-26, 214-215.
30 Suetonius, Divus Julius , 2.
31 Suetonius, Divus Julius , 2; 49.
32 Appian, Mithr. 77.
3. Windows on the Past
As part of the Roman Empire, Bithynia et Pontus was one among many provinces, and the Bithynian cities with which we are primarily concerned in this book were three among hundreds of Roman cities. Any study of urban life in Roman Bithynia will naturally base itself on sources related to Bithynia itself or to Roman Asia Minor, but to interpret them properly, one needs to include evidence from all over the Empire, and to draw on the analogy of other cities and other provinces.
Townscapes and landscapes
There are not many monumental remains to inform us about the topography and appearance of ancient Prusa or Nikomedia. Both are now large cities, their ancient cores overlaid by modern construction and roads. In addition, Nikomedia is plagued by frequent earthquakes - by the late fourth century most of the Hellenistic and early Roman city had been destroyed beyond recognition. Fortunately, neither seismic activity nor modern construction could obliterate the characteristic hillside topography of Nikomedia and Prusa, giving the modern observer some feel of the relation of the city to its environment and useful pointers for interpreting the written evidence. The Acropolis that formed the centre of ancient Prusa remains an oasis of quiet at the epicentre of Bursa s bustling traffic and the Acropolis on the crest above modern Nikomedia still dominates the city. Little is left above foundation level, however; for an impression of the splendours of the imperial residence, one must go to the western imperial capital at Trier or to Diokletian s retirement palace in Split on the Adriatic.
On the face of it, it seems much easier to visualize the ancient appearance of Nikaia. The course of the main streets, the theatre and numerous minor monuments all help the modern visitor create a mental image of the ancient city; but she needs to remember that much of what is visible today is not the Nikaia of Pliny or Dion, but later - even the church where the Nicene council was held in AD 325 has been replaced by a later structure, today s Aya Sofya Camii.
Outside the city gates, archaeological evidence is even scarcer, but again it is Nikaia that offers the most complete picture. A visitor approaching Nikaia from the east, cresting the hill and seeing the city spread out on the lakeshore, then following the road that runs parallel to the aqueduct and skirts the modern cemetery, finally entering the city through the east gate of the Roman walls, will have a fairly good impression of what it was like to approach Nikaia from the same direction some 1,700 years ago (fig. 5). Further afield, few ancient farmsteads or villas have been located, but inscriptions found within the city s territory and naming farm stewards testify to their existence. Even without the bronze sculpture that once adorned it, the extravagant, obelisk-like funeral monument of C. Cassius Philiskos to the north-west (figs. 22-24) is striking evidence of the wealth enjoyed by some Nikaian landowners.

Fig. 5. Nikaia seen from the east (author s photo).
Within the territory of Nikomedia and Prusa, evidence for rural settlement is much sparser. From other parts of the empire, we have evidence for a fairly close-meshed pattern of agricultural exploitation close to the cities; that it has not been recorded in Bithynia so far is perhaps mainly due to the absence of systematic investigation. In the hinterland of Sinope on the coast of Pontos, recent archaeological survey 1 has revealed a pattern of intensive Roman settlement, and a similar research effort might yield comparable results in Bithynia. But time is running out, and in the ever-expanding suburbs of Bursa and Izmit, housing estates and industrial plants are obliterating all surface traces of ancient habitation and rendering systematic archaeological survey impossible. For the time being, perhaps for all time, we must rely on the example of Nikaia and the literary sources for an impression of the cultural landscape of rural Bithynia.
The road network of Roman Bithynia is not well preserved. Although its main outlines are known and key points (city gates, bridges, mountain passes, fords etc.) can be securely located, the roads themselves are rarely preserved in their original state, more often ploughed over or overlaid by modern highways. The third-century Itinerarium Antonini lists only one route through our region, Chalkedon-Nikomedia-Nikaia-Ankyra; the same route is decribed in more detail in the Bordeaux Itinerary of the following century. 2 The Tabula Peutingeriana , a medieval copy of a late Roman itinerary in map form (fig. 6) shows several routes through Bithynia. One, coming from Hadrianoutherai, passes through Prusa, Prusias ad Mare/Kios (which the cartographer has rendered as two distinct places) and along the southern shore of lake Askanios to the port of Kyzikos (which appears as an inland city on the Tabula ). A second route from Anatolia passes through Nikaia and continues eastward along the northern shore of the lake, with a branch road leading north-westwards to the Gulf of Izmit. A third route, coming from Amaseia and Pompeiopolis, leads through Nikomedia to Chalkedon. Some routes can also be identified from remains of late Roman bridges (e.g., fig. 35) and finds of Roman milestones. 3

Fig. 6. Detail of the Tabula Peutingeriana (Staatsbibliothek, Vienna)
Literary sources
In the late Hellenistic age, corresponding to the last century of the Roman republic, Asia Minor was visible to the Roman eye mainly as a trouble spot, and that is how we encounter it in the narrative history of Appian ( The Mithridatic Wars ) and in Plutarch s biographies of Roman commanders and their adversaries. The early Empire, on the other hand, was a period of comparative tranquility in western Asia Minor, which makes only intermittent appearances in the works of Roman historians.
Tacitus or Suetonius tend to focus on events taking place in Italy itself or at the borders of the empire; more detail is sometimes provided by the third-century historian Dion Cassius, who was of Nikaian descent. For the early third century, he is supplemented by Herodian and the notoriously unreliable Historia Augusta . Still, given the emperors-and-battles approach that characterizes most Roman historians, it is not much that we learn about everyday life in distant provinces. It is only with the establishment of a permanent imperial residence at Nikomedia and the transfer of the capital from Rome to Constantinople that Bithynia finds itself within the range of imperial historians such as Lactantius and Ammianus Marcellinus.
For more mundane details, we must turn from the sphere of formal historiography to the slightly less formal sphere of letter-writing. In the Roman world, this was a literary genre in its own right. We possess the collected letters of numerous persons with a direct interest in Asia Minor: M. Tullius Cicero, who served as governor of Cilicia and whose brother, Q. Cicero, was governor of Asia; M. Iunius Brutus, who likewise served as governor of Cilicia; 4 and of course the younger Pliny, governor of Bithynia et Pontus. From the fourth century, we have the letters of Basil the Great, bishop of Kaisareia, and his younger brother Gregory of Nyssa; Gregory of Nazianzos; the pagan sophist Libanios; 5 the emperor Julian, and others. Imperial rescripts (see below under Legal texts ) form a special subcategory that includes some of Trajan s letters to Pliny.
It is worth keeping in mind, however, that ancient letters are, for better or for worse, works of literature and that unlike modern private correspondence, they were composed for a wider audience. It was not uncommon for the recipient of a letter to read it aloud or circulate it among his acquaintances, who might even make copies or excerpts for their own use. For instance, Gregory of Nyssa relates how he has received a letter from Libanios:
as I was going to the metropolis of the Cappadocians [Kaisareia], I met an acquaintance, who handed me this present, your letter, as a New Year s gift. And I, overjoyed at the occurrence, threw open my treasure to all who were present; and all shared in it, each getting the whole of it, without any rivalry, and I was none the worse off. For the letter by passing through the hands of all, like a ticket for a feast, is the private wealth of each, some by steady continuous reading engraving the words upon their memory, and others taking a copy of them upon tablets. 6
Realizing that his letter would come under the close scrutiny of many eyes and ears, the sender would take pains over its composition and perhaps emulate other letter-writers that were considered stylistic models. If he retained duplicates of his correspondence, the writer could later publish the letters, giving himself a second chance to go over their style and content, perhaps even adapting them to changed political circumstances. On the other hand, the awareness that his original letter might have been copied and retained by unknown third parties presumably set a limit on the scope for later revision. If the content of the original letter was politically controversial or cast an unfavourable light on the past activities of its writer, it would be easier and safer to omit it altogether.
In short, when writing a letter, the author is projecting a certain image of himself to the recipient and to the recipient s circle of friends and clients; when editing a collection of his letters for publication, the writer is drawing a selfportrait for posterity. From time to time, the modern reader catches revealing glimpses of the writer s personality - Pliny s indecision, the brash arrogance of Basil, Libanios hypochondriac worries - but it is na ve to assume that the edited correspondence lays bare the entire character of its author.
From a Bithynian viewpoint, the most important of the letter collections at our disposal is the tenth book of Pliny s Letters . The majority of these were composed in Bithynia et Pontus and deal with provincial concerns; they are complemented by the emperor s replies to Pliny s missives. For a detailed discussion of the Letters the reader is referred to the monumental commentary of Sherwin-White (1966) and the recent pr cis of the main problems by Woolf (2006), but it will be useful to summarize some key questions. The date at which the letters were collected for publication is nowhere indicated, but if the first nine books were collected and edited by Pliny himself, and if he died in office in Bithynia, as is often assumed, then the tenth book must have been published posthumously by another. This would explain why book ten differs from the other nine in several significant respects. The first nine books contain letters from Pliny but not those he received. In the published collection, many of Pliny s outgoing letters open with a short summary of the incoming letter to which he is replying. This is a conventional way of opening a letter also found in other writers 7 but Pliny uses it often - 30 % of the letters in the first nine books are prefaced in with a summary of the correspondent s previous message. 8 This obviously makes it easier for Pliny s reader to follow the discussion between Pliny and his correspondents. The correspondents themselves would rarely need such prompting, which is sometimes taken to extremes. For instance, in Ep. 4.10, Pliny not only summarizes the missive he has received from Statius Sabinus but even quotes a phrase from Sabinus letter which Sabinus, in his turn, had quoted from a legal document. 9
One possible explanation is that, intending to publish his correspondence at some future date, Pliny had collected the incoming letters of his friends and copies of his own outgoing letters. He only intended to include the latter in his publication, but if the reader were to appreciate their content, some clues to their context were needed. While reworking a letter for the public, then, Pliny sometimes inserted a summary of the incoming letters, to provide the reader with the minimum of background information required to understand Pliny s replies. In the first half of the collection this is done only sparingly, but in books six, seven and nine, nearly half the letters are provided with such opening summaries, and the trend carries on into the first fifteen letters of book ten.
The composition of book ten differs from the other books not only in including letters to Pliny but also in omitting letters from Pliny to family and friends; all letters in the tenth book are directed to, or received from, the emperor Trajan. The first fifteen letters (1-14) form a separate group antedating the appointment of Pliny to Bithynia, some by as much as ten years; some even antedate the early volumes of private letters. 10 This small group includes three letters from Trajan to Pliny (10.3b; 10.7; 10.9) and three letters by Pliny opening with a summary of three other letters (not included in the published collection) received from Trajan.
The remainder of book ten has an altogether different character. First, the ingoing and outgoing letters are more evenly balanced (though Pliny s letters still outnumber those of Trajan by two to one). Secondly, Pliny s letters are much shorter than in the preceding part of the collection, less literary in character and - except for one 11 - without the opening formula summarizing the content of the incoming letter.
Clearly, from the outset of his publication project, Pliny intended to reserve his correspondence with Trajan for a separate volume, which would in some cases include the emperor s reply, while in others the main outlines of the imperial letter would be incorporated into the edited version of Pliny s reply. The scanty material that he collected during the first decade of Trajan s reign was edited for publication, but the much larger volume of imperial correspondence accumulated during Pliny s term as governor of Bithynia et Pontus was never dealt with in the same manner. Presumably he fell ill and died while still in office, and one of his friends or collaborators combined the provincial correspondence with the edited imperial letters to form a separate volume, a sequel to the nine that had already been published. On this assumption, the letters from 10.15 onwards have come down to us more or less as their copies were found at the time of Pliny s death.
Central to any interpretation of Pliny s letters as historical sources is the nature of the relationship between the emperor and his legate. A first reading generates an impression of familiarity between the two correspondents, perhaps even a personal interest in Pliny on the emperor s part. But these are precisely the images that the respective letter-writers wished to project: the governor as an intimate of the monarch, the emperor as a ruler concerned for the welfare of his subjects and subordinates. That these roles conform to modern positive archetypes render them all the more convincing to our eyes. A closer reading of the individual letters and a comparison with the other nine books of Pliny, and with other ancient letter collections (the letters of Cicero, which served later writers as a model, and Fronto s letters to the Antonine emperors) reveals a rather more asymmetrical relation between the correspondents.
First, it is noteworthy that in the entire collection of Pliny s letters, we find no letters to Trajan that antedate the latter s accession as emperor. Since his personal relationship with Trajan is at the centre of Pliny s tenth book, we may take it that if any epistolary evidence of a personal contact prior to Trajan s elevation existed, it would have been included or at least referred to in the published collection. 12 It is not; thus the conclusion imposes itself that Pliny had no prior personal relationship with the emperor. From start to finish, their relation was one of subject and ruler, reflected in Pliny s consistent use of domine , lord , when addressing Trajan. Domine is the form used by a social inferior when addressing his superior, or of a junior addressing a senior. 13 When referring to Trajan in the third person (in letters to his other correspondents) Pliny likewise uses formal expressions like princeps , Caesar or imperator noster . 14
Writing to Trajan, Pliny takes care to present his ideas as petitions, proposals, suggestions, or queries. This feature and the near absence of personal content is in striking contrast to the style of the letters in books one to nine, where a personal touch is often present. Equally instructive is a comparison with the letters of Fronto: clearly, Fronto enjoyed a closer, less formal relationship with the ruling dynasty than Pliny ever did. 15
Our richest source for the political life of the Bithynian cities is the collection of Orations preserved under the name of Dion Chrysostomos. Dion, a scholar, sophist and philosopher, returned to his native Prusa after an abortive career in Rome and years of exile. He immersed himself in municipal politics and travelled widely across Bithynia and Asia Minor. Dion s contemporaries valued his rhetorical style highly, and many of his speeches were preserved for posterity by his admirers. They did not, however, succeed in preserving the entire oeuvre of their master. The biography of Dion by Synesios and the tenth-century Suda list works by Dion that were lost at an early stage, since they do not appear in the Biblioth ke of Photios. 16 Some of the lost pieces may have been philosophical exercises of a frivolous or sophistic character (e.g., Encomium of a parrot ) but Dion also wrote a larger work, Getika , presumably based on his own travels and observations among the Getae on the northwestern Black Sea coast.
The Dionian corpus that has been handed down to us comprises eighty pieces, in form and style ranging from set speeches to dialogue, myth, and novel, but conventionally all known as orations . Their order is not chronological, but loosely thematical: the collection opens with the four so-called kingship speeches to the emperor Trajan, and the municipal orations are grouped between Or. 38 and Or . 51. 17 The corpus includes two speeches (37 and 64) that are not by Dion himself, possibly by his pupil Favorinus.
One would obviously like to know how the speeches came to be preserved. Were Dion s municipal orations extempore performances taken down in shorthand by city clerks, or noted down by his admiring pupils sitting among the audience? Though a number of commentators, most recently C cile Bost-Pouderon (2006), assume that Dion s orations were taken down in shorthand, the theory is not supported by the evidence of the texts themselves, where we find no traces of different hands or misheard phrases that might point to a shorthand original, nor of interruptions by the audience. 18 Even a skilled shorthand clerk would have found it difficult to render Dion s Atticisms and quotations from the classics correctly. A second problem is the assumption that a shorthand writer would always be available. While shorthand may have been used for the senatorial Acta at an early date, there is no good evidence for shorthand records of municipal council proceeedings in the late early or early second century AD 19 and we have no reason to believe that small-town council secretaries such as T. Flavius Sil n, grammateus of Prusa in Dion s time, 20 had a team of trained tachygraphers at his disposal.
It appears more likely that the texts as they appear in the corpus are based on Dion s speaking notes. This would explain why some orations are mere fragments or introductions to longer speeches, the remainder of which has not been preserved. In these cases, Dion apparently did not require a full manuscript for his speech. He could write out the opening paragraphs and rely on his sophistic training and rhetorical experience to improvise the remainder of the oration and a conclusion tailored to the reactions of his audience. Sometimes, sections of previous orations would be recycled for new occasions, the result being word-for-word correspondence between different speeches; 21 if the speeches had been held extempore or from memory, we would expect some devations in their wording.
In the corpus , each text has a short descriptive rubric, usually indicating either the subject or the audience of the speech in question (e.g., Or. 4: Peri basileias ; Or. 35: en Kelainais t s Phrygias ), or both ( Or. 36: Borysthenitikos en t patridi ). Again, we would like to know when the rubrics were inserted and by whom. 22 Arnim pointed out that the rubrics of some Bithynian speeches den thats chlichen Inhalte der St cke nicht entsprechen suggesting that they are the work of a not very efficient Sammler und Ordner . 23 This argument, however, cuts both ways: even a moderately competent editor could have extrapolated the information required for a short rubric from the content of the oration itself, or replaced a misleading rubric with a better one. Since the imperfect rubrics were retained, they presumably possessed an authority equal to that of the text itself, perhaps being derived from marginal notes by Dion himself or added by a source considered to be reliable, such as Favorinus. Especially important for our purposes are the statements that some Prusan orations were held en ekkl sia or en boul (e.g., Or. 48; 49). Since this information could not be extracted from the text itself, we must assume that it came from a note in the actual manuscript or from a source close to the author.
A possible reconstruction of Dion s modus operandi and the preservation of his municipal speeches is that for most occasions, Dion did not write his speech beforehand. In the council, deliberations had the nature of a discussion with fairly brief interventions by each councillor. As Dion was unable to foresee which course the day s discussion would take, 24 it would be difficult to prepare a text in advance; instead, he would extemporize, perhaps supplementing with scraps of previous orations where appropriate. Taking the evidence of the rubrics at face value, only two of the preserved orations were held en boul , and one of these consists almost entirely of generalities that have clearly been recycled from an earlier speech by way of an introduction to the point at issue. 25
For the longer speeches in the Prusan ekkl sia and in other Bithynian cities, Dion apparently sometimes wrote up his speech beforehand - not necessarily from scratch, but incorporating material from previous occasions; and not necessarily the whole speech, but sometimes only the opening, leaving the rest to be improvised on location or read from another document, such as the letter from the emperor attached to Or . 44 (but now lost).
For the modern reader, Dion s municipal speeches provide a fascinating insight into small-town conflicts, ambitions and trivialities. It needs to be borne in mind, however, that despite their documentary appearance, the orations of Dion are literary works, composed or re-composed with a specific public in mind and intended to convey a very specific image of their author.
Legal texts
When Bithynia was incorporated as a province in the late Republican period, Roman provincial administration was still based on the personal authority of proconsular or propraetorian governors, tempered by the lex Calpurnia of the mid-second century BC which had given provincials the right to file a suit de repetundis at the end of a governor s term of office.
The sphere of action of the governor was further limited by a provincial code - in the case of Bithynia et Pontus, the lex Pompeia - by rules of procedure, by custom and local law and by the governor s edict (below, p. 63-64), creating a complex of legal sources that varied from province to province.
It is useful to distinguish between three main categories of texts that complement the laws themselves: edicts, which are issued on the initiative of the emperor or a magistrate; sententiae or opinions, i.e. jurists exposition of existing law; and rescripts, which are the emperor s response to a specific case or problem which is laid before him.
In the imperial period, a gradual process of legal harmonization and standardisation across the Empire can be observed. Important mileposts are the Constitutio Antoniniana extending Roman citizenship to all free provincials and Diokletian s administrative reorganization in the late third century. One aspect of this process is a proliferation of imperial rulings that apply across the empire, creating a common and (at least in theory) consistent legal basis for its administration. These rulings and other sources of law were collected in the Corpus Juris Civilis , which gives us a detailed picture of late Roman law; it also preserves important relics of older law codes and commentaries on non-Roman law, including the peregrine law of Bithynia.
Being normative texts, statutes, edicts and rescripts need to be handled with some care when used as historical sources. They do not describe the world as it was, but at best, as the emperor intended it to be. Furthermore, like a letter-writer, the legislator was making a statement that would be read and repeated many times, and like a letter-writer, he was concerned to convey a desirable impression of himself (or of the emperor, if he were a jurist in the imperial chancery). In some cases, the primary motive behind a piece of legislation may have been to project a positive image of the ruling power.
The legal sources in turn provide a frame of reference for interpreting the documentary evidence provided by the epigraphic sources. We are fortunate to possess a significant body of Bithynian inscriptions, of which the two most important categories for our purposes are civic inscriptions and funerary epitaphs. The civic inscriptions are often honorific in character; they record the achievements of individuals or groups of persons and usually include a detailed description of the honorand s career as well as the names and sometimes also the status and titles of the dedicant(s). 26 Funerary inscriptions tend to be less detailed and shorter, but may include family relationships and other information not found in the honorific inscriptions; also, they cover a slightly wider social spectrum. A further advantage of funerary inscriptions is that they provide a complete biography of the person up to his death.
Within Bithynia, the civic inscriptions of Prusias ad Hypium (mod. Konuralp) form a special group that must be taken into account in any discussion of Bithynian urban life. In the mid-third century, Prusias ad Hypium was hastily fortified in anticipation of a Gothic siege. 27 Numerous inscribed stones and slabs were incorporated into the walls and thus preserved for posterity, providing the most complete epigraphic record for civic life in Bithynia generally. For instance, of the 64 Bithynian archons whose names have been recorded for posterity, 45 are from Prusias ad Hypium; of 26 Bithynian agonothetes, 22; and eight out of ten censors. 28 Though Prusias ad Hypium was located some distance from the three cities that are at the focus of this study, its inscriptions are indispensable for a deeper understanding of Bithynian municipal government.
This raises the wider question of how, and to what extent, it is possible to draw parallels from one city to another, or even from one province to another. Some studies, such as the recent work by Dimitriev (2005), are based on the assumption that city administration followed similar patterns throughout Asia Minor; hence, information about conditions in one city may - in the absence of evidence to the contrary - be taken to cover all cities in the region. The attraction of this approach is that once it is accepted that city power structures were the same throughout, the fragments of information that we possess can be combined into a standard civic structure. Two problems, however, need to be taken into account. The first is that although certain legal principles and practical procedures apply throughout the provinces of the Roman Empire (e.g., the right of appeal of a Roman citizen), before the third century there were few serious attempts at harmonization of local and regional administrative structures.
The second is that the Roman vocabulary for administrative offices was limited and highly adaptable. The terms legatus, curator, decurio, prafectus or tribunus had a wide range of meanings and could apply to civilian and military positions alike. Unless their nature is specified by the addition of a qualifying noun (e.g., curator civitatis ) one cannot be sure that they refer to identical or similar functions. Greek designations for urban offices such as logist s, epimel t s, prostat s, logothet s etc. likewise cover a fairly wide semantic spectrum; and as noted by D lger in his study of Byzantine administration, titles persist even when the nature of an office changes over time, 29 just as the praetorian prefecture of the fourth century had nothing in common with the office of praetorian prefect under the early empire.
It also needs to be remembered that in what we may call biographical inscriptions - a category that includes both honorific and funerary inscriptions - what is recorded may be exceptional rather than typical, and that there is a strong social bias. Inscriptions on stone or bronze were expensive, and we do not find many working-class heroes in the epigraphic record.
Finally, formal inscriptions provide an incomplete and one-sided view of Greek perceptions of the ruling power: hostile attitudes could be voiced in the agora or elsewhere, but writing them down was a different matter. Only in exceptional cases we do find hostility expressed in the epigraphical record, for instance by a citizen of Kourion in Cyprus who put a curse on the Roman governor in connection with a court case. 30
The ancient world knew only one mass medium: coinage. The main purpose of early coin images and legends was to authenticate the origin, purity and quality of the coin itself, but from the late Republic onwards, Roman moneyers developed and exploited the propagandistic potential of coinage by combining short, abbreviated titles and slogans with images carrying powerful symbolic connotations. 31 The imperial mints were large-scale operations producing coins in gold, silver and bronze, which circulated throughout the empire (with the exception of Egypt, which had its own mint in Alexandria and its own closed currency system). 32

Fig. 7. Left: Bronze coin of the Bithynian koinon, struck under Hadrian (AD 117-138); the reverse shows the facade of the imperial temple in Nikomedia. RGMG 1.2 Commune Bithyniae 44 (M nzen und Medaillen Deutschland). Right: Nikomedian bronze coin of Valerian, Gallienus and Valerian II (AD 256-258). The reverse shows a bird s eye view of the Nikomedian temple precinct with an altar at its centre, flanked by three temples. In the central temple, the artist has omitted two columns, allowing us to see the cult statue inside. RGMG 1.3 Nikomedia 407 = SNG Aulock 860 (Classical Numismatic Group).
At a lower level, regions and cities also struck coins in bronze for local use (fig. 7). From the mid-first to the mid-second century AD, coins were struck in the name of the Bithynian koinon , and the cities of Bithynia continued to strike bronze coins until the mid-third century. Earlier scholars, such as Bosch (1935), assumed that local mints were small-scale counterparts of the large imperial mints, and that each city had its own permanent workshop and mint-master. This would imply the existence of hundreds of local mint workshops in Asia Minor. Since the work of Konrad Kraft (1972), however, it is accepted that most Asian cities had no mints of their own but were supplied from outside, and that at any given time, perhaps no more than a dozen mints were operating in Asia Minor. 33 Some of these were itinerant enterprises, moving from city to city in response to local demand. 34 Since the obverse die did not wear out as quickly as the reverse die, and as the obverse legend and image were not related to a specific city, a mint-master might sometimes use the same obverse die for coin series struck on behalf of different issuers. For instance, an obverse die of the emperor Gordian was used to strike coins for Nikaia, Nikomedia and Prusias ad Mare, with different reverse designs. 35
Like their imperial counterparts, the local moneyers used coinage as a medium to convey a message on behalf of the city or koinon responsible for the issue. Most city coins of Asia Minor follow the same format with a standard portrait of the emperor or another member of the ruling house on the obverse, which thus closely resembles the output of the imperial mints. On the reverse, there was scope for local variation and self-representation. The range of symbols, images and legends on coin reverses reveal how the city elite viewed themselves and their city, and what image they wanted to project. Furthermore, engravers often included depictions of monuments, especially temples, and coins thus provide important pointers to the topography and architectural history of individual cities. 36
1 Doonan 2004.
2 It.Ant. 139-143; It.Burd. 571-575.
3 For an attempt at reconstructing the road network of Bithynia et Pontus, see Marek 2003, map V.
4 On the authenticity of Brutus letters, see, most recently, Moles 1997.
5 Libanios travelled back and forth through Anatolia en route between his home-town Antioch and the capital; he also spent seven years of his life teaching n Bithynia, first in Nikaia (342-344) then in Nikomedia (344-349). Unfortunately from our point of view, none of his letters prior to 350 have survived; Bradbury 2004, 73.
6 Gregory of Nyssa, Ep. 14, adapted from H.C. Ogle s translation in NPNF .
7 E.g. in Fronto s correspondence with Marcus Aurelius; also in some of Trajan s letters to Pliny, cf. Ep. 10.18; 10.34; 10.44; 10.50; 10.66; 10.80; 10.93.
8 For a familiar example, cf. the openings of Pliny s two letters to Tacitus about his uncle s death, Ep. 6.16 and 6.20.
9 Sherwin-White 1966, 6-9, addresses the stylistic aspect of Pliny s letter-openings, but devotes little attention to their function.
10 In Ep. 10.3a Pliny asks Trajan for permission to act as prosecutor of Marius Priscus in a case de repetundis , c. AD 100; the same case is mentioned in Ep. 2.11 and 2.12.
11 Ep. 10.51.
12 Compare Ep. 2.11, in which Pliny recounts how he has been pleading a case before the emperor and takes pains to emphasize the interest ( studium ), attention ( cura ) and concern ( sollicitudo ) shown him by Trajan, with Dion s Or. 45.3, where he claims to enjoy the interest ( spoud ) and friendship ( philanthropia ) of the same emperor.
13 Sherwin-White 1966, 557-558.
14 E.g., Ep . 2.11; 3.18.
15 Millar 1977, 114-115.
16 The corpus of eighty speeches known to us was established by the time of Photios, but in the version he used, the speeches were arranged in a different order, e.g. the Euboicus ( Or. 7) was known to Photios as the 13th oration, and the homonoia orations ( Or. 38-41) as nos. 21-24. On Photios as a source for the life and oeuvre of Dion, see Schamp 1987, 263-270; H gg 1975, 160-183.
17 For a detailed discussion of the arrangement of Dion s speeches, see Arnim 1891.
18 Compare, e.g., the lively to-and-fro of the assembly meeting recorded in P.Oxy. 2407 (late third century)
19 Well into the second century, municipal council proceedings were still taken down in note form and rendered in oratio obliqua , Coles 1966b.
20 IK 39.3; see also p. 103-104.
21 E.g., Or. 32.67 and 33.57.
22 They were certainly in place before the time of Photios, who gives the rubrics in more or less the same form that we find them in the mss. of the corpus ; cf. H gg 1975, 161.
23 Arnim 1891, 368-369
24 The normal order of speaking in Roman city councils, as in the senate, was according to seniority and the rank of one s previous magistracies ( Digest 50.3.1); as a recent arrival who had not held the archontate, Dion would not be among the first speakers of the day.
25 Or. 49; in 49.1-13, Dion provides a wide-ranging discussion of philosophical attitudes to the exercise of political power, with examples drawn from faraway places like Persia and Gaul; then in 49.14-15, he briefly states his reasons for declining the offer of an archontate. The contrast between the two sections is striking.
26 For a discussion of the nature and development of the honorific inscription as a genre, see Quass 1993, 29-35.
27 Ameling, IK 27 p. 17.
28 Fernoux 2004, 321, tab. 14.
29 D lger 1927, 10-11; also 67-71. Some titles used in the fiscal administration of the fourth and fifth century, such as dioiket s , survived the feudalization of the Byzantine empire and remained in use as late as the twelfth century.
30 IKourion , 127-145.
31 Hannestad 1986, 21-27, 56-58.
32 For the Egyptian coinage see, most recently, Christiansen 2003.
33 Kraft 1972, 90.
34 Kraft 1972, 92-93.
35 Kraft 1972, Taf. 102, 38a-b.
36 Price and Trell 1977, 99-106; 201; 213; 215; Kraft 1935, 213-220.
4. The Urban Environment
Civic self-perceptions
To Greeks and Romans of the early imperial period, city life was synonymous with the good life. True, among upper-class Romans, the lifestyle of the country gentleman still enjoyed a certain moral and ideological prestige, but even a self-professed lover of rural life like the younger Pliny spent little time in his Tuscan villa, even less in his native town of Comum, and preferred his villa suburbana at Laurentum, within commuting distance of the capital. Greeks, for their part, regarded the polis and its institutions as the centre of civilized life; regions with a large rural population and few cities - e.g., Boiotia and Cappadocia - were thought to produce sturdy, slow-witted people.
This self-perception of town-dwellers versus country folk may seem surprising, given the fact that in the ancient world, the vast majority lived in the countryside. Perhaps for this very reason, the city-dwellers cherished their urban identity.
What set the city aside from the country? First, legal status. A city, even an unimportant one, was a polis , a self-governing community, unlike a k m , village, which was defined by its subjection to a polis . But of course every polis did not enjoy the same prestige; some were so small that they were not much better than k mai

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