B. Lukács



Matter Evolution Subcommittee of the Geonomy Scientific Committee of HAS

H-1525 Bp. 114. Pf. 49. Budapest, Hungary



Part of the Sequence "Methodical Aristotle Studies"

Motto: The History of Science Is Not Science But Scholarship


A surprising similarity can be observed between the organisations of the States of Macedon and Atarneus.


The organisation of the Macedonian state differed from the Greek ones; and the great or middle-sized Hellenistic states evolved from the Macedonian State. Differences are manifold; but a very important one of them is the existence of a Body around the ruler: the Companions (Hetairoi). Although now we may first remember the pun originating perhaps from Theopompus when describing the hetairoi of Philip II as hetairai [1], the Hetairoi were an important Macedonian organisation. It was founded by Alexander I after 480; he formalised the aristocrat horsemen into a Body accompanying the King in battle. However later the Hetairoi start to operate also as a Royal Council.

This evolution is natural enough. On the South the small city-states are generally already republics. We may take Athens as an example, being the best documented state. There is the Assembly with theoretically all the male citizens. For special or small but numerous tasks there is a Council, the Bule, with 500 members. While the Council was not elected, it represented the phyles with 50 members from each phyle.

Sparta remained a (dual) Kingdom, but the Kings are mainly military leaders. Above the Assembly there is a Senate, the Gerusia, of 30; the 2 Kings and 28 other members elected for life. The Kings must not have carried out international negotiations, financial matters & such, and the Assembly could have not. The Senate could.

We do not know too much about the archaic Northern states in the IVth century. So we cannot discuss the analogon of Bule or Gerusia in Epirus. However there are informations about Macedon. It seems that the Companions are discussing there problems which would belong to the Bule in Athens and to the Gerusia in Sparta; the final authority is the King (or the Assembly in some matters military; or both). Obviously the Companions is not so a formalised body than the Bule or the Gerusia; still an existing and working body. If we remember Theopompus' text, or any other Greek opinion from the time of Philip II, it is not strange at all. The King is eating and drinking, not alone, but with his company, and during that they can discuss problems.

Now, the Companions are not elected, if not by the King. However they are "country lords", traditional leaders of local groups. In accord with them a thinly populated but big (in Hellene sense) territorial state can be governed.


With and after Alexander III big states are present in the Greek part of the Oikumene, between Macedon and Bactria. The biggest or most stable ones are Macedon herself, the Ptolemaid Egypt, the Seleucid Asia, Bactria and Pergamum. The polis organisation is strongest in the Seleucid Empire, but clearly state organisations are needed too.

The story narrated here starts in 170 BC. Antiochus IV Epiphanes of Asia defeats Ptolemy VI Philometor of Egypt, wins and captures Ptolemy VI. Obviously he could not occupy and pacify Egypt, so he wants a good, profitable peace. He starts the siege of Alexandria; then the population of the capitol (and almost the only polis) put down Ptolemy VI Philometor and elects Ptolemy VII Physcon. (I do not give here the exact kinship of the Ptolemys: on one hand it is not trivial in a massively incestous dynasty, on the other we concentrate on Antiochus.) Then Antiochus carries Ptolemy VI to Memphis, makes a peace agreement with him, goes home, but leaves a garrison in Pelusium.

So now Egypt and Alexandria are independent of each other. Then they cannot cooperate and the Pelusium garrison can help any of them against the other. So the Physcon makes peace and recognises the Philometor. Then Antiochus IV again marches in.

In the meantime Rome and Macedon fight the Third Macedonian War. (Florus [2] counts it as Second.) On 22 June, 168 Rome wins at Pydna, this is the end of Macedon, and a few days later Popillius, ambassador of Rome, presents Antiochus in Egypt a protocol of the Roman Senate. The senatusconsultum is against the Egyptian war. Needless to say, the Senate of Rome had no rights in Egypt, still Antiochus reads the protocol and tells that he first has to pass it to his companions, to be able to consult with them [3].

Popillius forces out an immediate answer, but now we are not interested in the power balance. The importance of the episode is to demonstrate that the 300 year old Macedon organisation is still in use in 168 BC. On the Roman side the analogous body is the Senate herself with more formalised (although not elected) membership and without a King above. For a short philological discussion see the Appendix.


In the time of Philip II of Macedon the Greek Oikumene contained dominantly polis states. Maybe the biggest of them was Attica, formally the polis Athens but from the Thesean and Kleisthenean reforms a hybrid of the city and country farmers. The Athenian state was cca. 3,000 km2; the others much smaller, with the exception of Laconia (Sparta), which, however, was a central city plus lots of subjugated cities. Small city-states existed outside of "European Greece" too, with the following exceptions:

Macedon, discussed above, not Greek according to the majority of Greeks.

Epirus, not discussed in the lack of data. (The neighbour Illyria was not Greek according to linguists.)

The Bosporus Kingdom around Maiotis Sea.

Atarneus State in Aiolis.

While the Bosporus Kingdom might deserve attention, it will not be discussed here; I call the attention of Ukrainian, Georgian and Russian colleagues. The territorial State of Atarneus existed cca. 20 years until the treacherous Mentor of Rhodes (according to the Delian inscription of Aristotle against Divine law, or "broke[n] through the laws of God" [4]) occupied her. Maybe he installed a Quisling government, but when Alexander III of Macedon liberated the Asian Greeks, the State of Atarneus dissociated. If you want, you may consider Pergamum the inheritor; and Pergamum was also a territorial state containing several autonomous cities.


The territorial State of Atarneus evolved from the significant city Assus and from the insignificant city but strong fortress Atarneus, both Aeolian. Assus was the foundation of Methymnians of Lesbos, and the first mention of Atarneus is connected with the Persian-Lydian war in 547. In the next year some Pactyas revolts against the Persian King, and Persia gives the territory of Atarneus ton Chius in exchange for the rebel. But gradually Atarneus evolves into a small city. According to some Aristotle biograhies, after the death of father Nichomachus, a relative or paternal friend Proxenus of Atarneus takes the child Aristotle and raises up for some years. Atarnean documents are not yet available about the events.

Sometimes before 365 an Eubulus of Bithynia, banker, gets power in Assus; details are unknown but you may use the Medici scenario in Florence as analogon. Henceforth you can use Aristotle [5] and Strabo [6] for general information. Note that there was a successful excavation in Assus in the 1880's, and that city is being now developed by Turkey as a turist center.

In 365 starts the Satrap War; on the Aegean shore of the Persian Empire everybody fights everybody but of course with the name of the Great King on his lips. Eubulus starts to fortify Assus, which in itself is not weak, being on the top of a more or less conical hill, and the resulting walls are substantial; you can see them even now. So when Satrap Artaphrenes challenges, Eubulus can discuss the question on economic basis, and Artaphrenes goes away. Then Eubulus and his best disciple Hermeias annex several smaller cities (the biggest being Adramytteum), and form a territorial state from Assus to Atarneus along the shore of the Bay of Adramytteum.

About 360 Hermeias spends some time at Plato's Academy, in Plato's absence, and becomes the friend of Aristotle. About 355 Hermeias inherits the leadership, and in 347 Aristotle & Xenocrates leave the Academy and go to Assus. There Aristotle founds a smaller counter-Academy and gets the daughter of Hermias as wife. (Moderns generally believe Pythias a niece and adopted daughter, however see lexicon Suda [7] at headwords A)ristotel/hs and (Ermi/as. The orthography fluctuates between Hermeias and Hermias.)

Aristotle remains in Assus until c. 343, then goes for a while to Mitylene, and from 342 he is Alexander's tutor and Atarneus' secret proxenos to Philip of Macedon [8]. Note that King Philip is coeval with Aristotle and they are friends from common childhood in Pella, where the father of Aristotle was court physician of the father of Philip.

The secret embassy is connected with a secret agreement of Macedon and Atarneus. This agreement surely was verbal, but half of an analogous agreement between Erythrai (Ionia) and Atarneus is extant and you can find it in [9]. I have the Magyar (Hungarian) translation of the text and so I translate to English through Hungarian, so I will not give mirror translation here.

[Unknown number of lines missed.] If because of the war 1 the Erythraians deposit something on the territory of Hermias and his companions, that is tax-free including progeny [ll. 1-4] excepting selling; for selling the tax is 2 %. [ll. 5-6] When peace is restored the owner must carry away the goods in 30 days, after that the usual taxes apply. The deposit needs rightful notification. [ll. 7-10] Hermias and his companions may deposit with the same conditions [in Erythrai] if they want to. [ll. 11-12] Let the Erythreans swear to Hermias and his companions with the text: I help Hermias and his companions on land and sea with all my power and according to the possibilities, and I shall fulfil all the other conditions too according to the agreement2. The oath be sworn before the envoys of Hermias and his companions, offering together with the strategoi of Erythrai; the sacrificial animals are furnished by the city. [ll. 13-24] In similar manner let also Hermias and his companions swear via the envoys that they will help the Erythraians on land and sea with all their powers according to the possibilities, and they will fulfil the other conditions of the agreement2 too, and let they call the gods of oaths as witnesses. [ll. 25-30] Let the texts be written into stone tables, and let the tables be erected by the Erythreans in the shrine of Athene, and by Hermias in the shrine of Atarneus3. [ll. 31-33]

I emphasized a repeated formula with boldface and some points with superscripts. Let us see first the superscripts.

1 because of the war: Obviously the rebel Satraps, sub-Satraps and brigands; but the agreement can be applied in future wars too.

2 the other conditions too according to the agreement: For these other points the agreement is discreetly verbal.

3 in the shrine of Atarneus: So Atarneus is a local hero; and small Atarneus with the mountain fort is the capitol of the State.

The cautious conclusion is that the parties are expecting some other disturbances too, maybe armies of Greece or Macedon but of course keep this as obscure as it is possible.

And now the repeated formula: Hermias and his companions. Remember the Polyby text above and the Macedon titles. The formula is surprisingly similar.

Is it the product of an independent social evolution around the Bay of Adramytteum? It is possible; but Macedonian connections did exist. The inscription is dated "c. 350". From 347 the childhood friend of Philip II of Macedon is in Assus (who is a friend of Hermias since c. 360), and in c. 343 the secret Macedon-Atarnean agreement is effective.

Obviously if somebody is organizing a "suprapolitean" territorial state, he needs some organisation. But Hermias differed from all other leaders (with the exception of the Kings of Macedon and maybe of the Kings of Bosporus) in his success, not disqualified by later treason and raw force of Persia.


In 341 Hermeias wanted to repeat the Erythraian agreement on bigger scale. He tried to make an agreement with Mentor of Rhodes who was not the leader of Rhodes but a general of Persia and temporary Lord of some cities and/or fortresses on the shore. It was a daring attempt, but might have brought much; Philip II was already the Hegemon of Thrace. The freedom of Asian Greeks was at reach, and the world might have spared the mad rush of Alexander III to India & Egypt.

But General Mentor of Rhodes did not play the ball. He secretly arrested Hermeias, took away his signal ring and started a correspondence with the companions telling that he can get a pardon from the Great King for the Lord of Atarneus. In this way he took over step by step in the State of Atarneus and finally sent the Lord of Atarneus to Susa. Here after Persian Royal tortures he was crucified; his last sentences are recorded as: "Tell my friends & companions that I die as a philosopher: I did not confess anything" [10].

Aristotle refers to breaking through the law of God; and mentions the awe of the Xenian Jove. Now, Mentor of Rhodes was not a political traitor; he was the general of the Great King of Susa. But he was a traitor of the Hellene Cause; he preferred a barbarian to a Hellene; and he offended Zeus Xenios, the God of Hospitality indeed.

Were he not crucified, now the Balkans would be the center of power and the West backward [11]. (The point deserves another publication.) So Hermeias died on the cross for us.

Mentor believed that he was clever. In several years his chosen Lords were in the dust and Macedon and Greek armies marched through the ruins of an Empire which crucified Hermeias, Lord of Atarneus and Hero of Aeolian Freedom. In more 10 years Eurymedon, priest of Demeter, and probably son of Speusippus, the unworthy successor even of Plato (the latter being the inventor of myriad year old winged spirits, ideas on the wall of a cave and planner of impossible and terrifying Ideal States) denounced Great Aristotle for declaring Hermeias a Hero, so demigod. Aristotle, of course, was not stupid to follow Socrates' example and participate in his mock asebeia trial (he was metic so could expect even less Justice than citizen Socrates), but this base vengeance took away possible fruitful years from the Evolution of Science, and was definitely much more harmful than the problems of Galileo for defending Copernicus. If Tartarus is still working I hope that not only the spirit of Mentor is suffering proportionally, but base Eurymedon as well.


We have an alternative. One may believe that our present science is seriously wrong, e.g. a castrated man can procreate if he is otherwise excellent (in Ancient Greek terms specially if his thymus is very strong [12]). Then there are no problems with the Hermeas-Pythias-Pythias branch: a superman and a superwoman, with a carrier between. But those grappling the second horn of the alternative, accepting that the Laws of Biology hold also for heroes, need some explanation for the anomalies told above.

I would suggest first to try with the discussion of the ways of political propaganda, ancient, medieval & modern. Namely, Hermeias was the leader of a nation, but, as a tyrannos, also of a "party". The opposition surely told dirty stories about him, some true, some not. Maybe experts of modern political propaganda could show some analogons of the Hermeias (and Philetairos) stories (maybe in Southern Italy?).


Several colleagues & friends of me declined to participate in this topics; an almost ready Chrestomathia Atarneana in Hungarian is waiting for transcription from ChiWriter. However discussions about Aristotle & Hermeias with K. Martinás are acknowledged.


Polybius’ Book XXIX is preserved in fragments. I gave a somewhat canonical numbering of the locus, however the Chapter number varies. E.g. in a Loeb Classical Library edition, [13], it can be found at XXIX, 27. However I took the text in Hungarian translation [14] and translated that to English. The process gets its explanation immediately.

The persons, to whom Antiochus wants to pass the protocol for discussion are "his friends" in Paton’s translation. In the Hungarian translation the critical expression, however, is "társainak kell átadnia", so in mirror translation "he must give it to his companions", "társ" being exactly "companion". "Hetairos" has double meaning: it is rather "companion" but can be read as "friend" too. See too the story at Livy [15]: there the gentlemen are friends = barátai = amici. But Livy is Roman, with less affinity to Macedonian state organisation.

Popillius is of course Caius Popillius Laenas, not his son P. Popillius Laenas, consul in 132 BC. The name sometimes is written as Popilius too, but I think the first form is more authentic, since modern Polla preserved that name.



[1] You can find it as a fragment, see Fr. 225a in FGrH; the respective Theopompus book is not extant. But we do know that pseudo-Theopompean works were falsified even in Theopompus’ life, for political purpose; and this one sounds spurious if we take into consideration that Theopompus had been Isocrates’ pupil and Isocrates hoped Philip to become the Liberator of Hellas. Still the pun is good and deeply Indo-European.

[2] O. Rossbach (ed.): L. Annaei Flori Epitomae de Tito Livio Bellorum Omnium Annorum. Teubner, Leipzig, 1896

[3] Polybius: Historiai XXIX, 11

[4] Diogenes Laertius: The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers; Life of Aristotle. Transl. by C. D. Yonge, H. G. Bohn, London, 1853

[5] Aristotle: Politics, about Bekker N° 1267a & Economics N° 1351a

[6] Strabo: Geographica. In 8 Volumes. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass.

[7] Suda On Line: http:/

[8] W. Jaeger: Aristoteles. Grundlegung einer Geschichte seiner Entwicklung. Berlin, 1923

[9] M. N. Tod: A Selection of Greek Historical Inscriptions. London, 1948-51, Vol. II, 145

[10] F. Copleston: Felsefe tarihi. Yunanistan ve Roma Felsefesi. Part 1, Vol. 2a. Idea Yaynevi, Istanbul, 1997

[11] B. Lukács: Mi lett volna ha… Harmadik Szem, Aug. 1999. (N° 97), p. 22

[12] B. Lukács, K. Martinás & Sz. Bérczi: Symmetry and Katachi in the Works of Aristotle. Forma 15, 173 (2000)

[13] Polybius: Histories. Loeb Classical Library, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1922-27, transl. by W. R. Paton, XXIX, 27

[14] Borzsák I. (ed.): Rómat történeti chrestomathia, Tankönyvkiadó, Budapest, 1963: #31. Popillius követsége Antiochosnál.

[15] T. Livius: Ab urbe condita libri. Teubner, Leipzig, 1902-30, Book XLV, Chap. 12

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