Eric Driscoll

Tuesday, December 4, 2018 - 18:00 to 19:00
École française d’Athènes, Didotou 6
Event Description: 

Eric Driscoll (ASCSA / University of California, Berkeley), "“Un ensemble à géométrie variable”: Territory and Fiscality at Miletos"

We are most familiar with a Greek world defined by our concept of the polis: one city center controlling a defined territory. This paper conjoins a more extended vision of the organization of Greek communities to the political history of Athenian imperialism, arguing that the territorial integration of Miletos was inadvertently fostered by Athenian tributary exaction, with consequences long after the collapse of the empire. I sketch out a spectrum of what might be called “midlevel” governmental structures, that is, communal systems for managing political issues at a scale intermediate between households and hegemonic states, on evidence throughout Greek antiquity. Interpreting Miletos through such a lens is complicated by the scarcity of direct evidence for Milesian civic organization before the Hellenistic period, but it is also necessitated by the large size and dispersed nature of Milesian territory, which comprised several islands as well as a large chora. The specific historical problem on which I turn this perspective is how, beyond the idea of “imposing a democratic constitution,” Athenian power altered Miletos’s government in conceptual and practical ways. In the first Athenian tribute list, Milesians are recorded as paying at different times and from multiple places—the island of Leros and a place called Teichiousa as well as the city itself—a scheme that recurs in the 420s. The problematic nature of Milesian presence in the tribute lists has normally been seen as having something to do with a revolt from Athens or at least some kind of stasis, but I argue instead that it should be connected to the inevitable dispersal of fiscal functions across the city’s large territory. >From this perspective, the development of Leros and Teichioussa 500 to 300 BC, from local nodes within the variegated network of Milesian and Aegean interactions into centers of taxation and expenditure, can be seen as in part the result of their obligation to pay tribute to Athens.