« A.U.C. 614 = 140 B.C. »

SIG3 674 is a Thessalian inscription recording a senatusconsultum passed on [prid?] Non. Quint. under the praetor C. Hostilius Mancinus to settle a long-standing boundary dispute between two Thessalian cities, Narthakion and Melitaia. It notes that the decree was passed when Thessalos son of Thrasymedes was strategos, but the inscription itself was engraved when Leon son of Hagesippus was strategos. Thus, the decree was passed shortly before the change of Thessalian strategos. As with SIG3 705, we may reasonably suppose that the interval between [prid?] Non. Quint. and the decision to engrave the inscription was about a month, or a little more.

In order to derive a Julian synchronism, we need to know the Roman date of the senatusconsultum, the Julian date at which the strategos changed office, and the year of the inscription.

The Roman date is quite well established. The inscription reads: PRO|[_ _ _ _ _NW]NWNKOINTILIWN where the total number of missing letters is about 6 or 7. The original editor B. Laticheff, BCH 6 (1882) 356, restored the date without comment as PRO|[TERAINW]NWNKOINTILIWN, i.e. prid. Non. Quint., which fits perfectly. R. K. Sherk, Roman Documents from the Greek East 50, is more circumspect, and does not attempt to restore the date, again without comment. This implies that we can only limit the date to the range a.d. VI - prid. Non. Quint., a range of about a week. But the second shortest possible restoration, PRO|[HMERWNEXNW]NWNKOINTILIWN, corresponding to a.d. VI Non. Quint., requires space for 10 letters. Even if the days involved were counted by numeral (PRO|[HMERWN<*>NW]NWNKOINTILIWN) 9 would be needed. It therefore seems to me to be overly cautious to reject Laticheff's reconstruction, and that the Roman date can be safely restored as [prid.] Non. Quint.

The precise date in the Thessalian calendar at which the strategos changed office is not certainly known, though one would naturally expect it to be at the start of Itonios, the first month of the Thessalian year. Strong support for this is given by SEG XXXIV 558, a Thessalian inscription discovered at Larisa in 1976, and discussed in P. Garnsey et al., JRS 74 (1984) 30. This inscription is a decree issued by the strategos Petraios for delivery of shipment to Rome to relieve a grain shortage there, at the request of the aedile Q. Caecilius Metellus Q. f., who had personal and family connections to Thessaly. The decree specified three shipments, due by 30 Aphrios, 20 Thuios and 15 Phillikos "while Petraios is strategos" -- i.e. in months 8, 9 and 12 of the Thessalian year. P. Garnsey & D. Rathbone, JRS 75 (1985) 20 at 26, reasonably identify Metellus with Q. Metellus Balearicus, cos. 123, suggesting a date of c. 130/29 or a little earlier for this inscription.

SIG3 674 implies that the senatusconsultum was issued about a month before the change of Thessalian strategos, which we may now date to 1 Itonios. It remains to determine the Julian alignment of Itonios.

The Thessalian calendar was lunar, but the Athenian equivalent of Itonios is somewhat uncertain. Returning to SEG XXXIV 558, the Julian dates are restricted by the sailing season, which was normally from mid March to mid September. Garnsey et al. argue that the three shipments were due to arrive in Rome in April, May, and August, preceding and boosting the Italian harvest in June and July. The Thessalian harvest season is May in the lower plain and late May-June in the upper plain. Hence the first two shipments were from the previous year's harvest, which was presumably known to be plentiful, while the last shipment was from the incoming harvest. This suggests:

However, two inscriptions from Delphi giving the Delphic equivalents of Thuios give a slightly different picture. The first, SGDI 1720, dating from Priesthood IV (170/69 - 158/7) gives

as in SEG XXXIV 558, but the second, FD III 2, 213, dated c. 133/2, gives

A. E. Samuel, Greek and Roman Chronology, 84, suggested that the difference reflects a lack of a formal alignment between the Thessalian and Delphic calendars. He supposed that there was a net drift of two months between the two calendars in the 40 years between the two inscriptions. This is most unlikely. While the alignment between months in two lunisolar calendars which introduce intercalary months after different lunations in the year may vary by one month from time to time, it will not vary by two (except possibly for a day or two at the very beginning or end of a month), unless one of the calendars is also realigned against the solar year. The fact that SEG XXXIV 558 is only a couple of years later than FD III 2, 213 proves that no such realignment took place.

The most likely explanation was proposed by G. Daux, Delphes au IIe et au Ier siècle, 348 n. 2. He noted that the identification of "Thuos" as a specifically Thessalian month in FD III 2, 213 is a restoration, and that the seller named in the inscription was an Achaian Phthiote from Thaumakoi, not a Thessalian proper. He suggested that the inscription actually refers to an otherwise-unknown month of the poorly known calendar of the seller's home city, and noted other examples of cities in the Thessalian League that had certainly retained their own calendars. Three of the four known month names of the Thaumakoian calendar as listed on A. E. Samuel, Greek and Roman Chronology, 83, are shared with the Thessalian, which adds support to this.

In short, Thessalian Itonios can be safely equated with Athenian lunar Metageitnion, starting on the second new moon after the summer solstice.

The major problem with the decree is to determine the year.

Mancinus was consul in A.U.C. 617 = 137. Under the Lex Villia, one of a set of laws that determined the minimum rate at which a man could run the Roman cursus honorum, a praetor had to wait at least till the second year after the expiration of his office before running for consul. Hence he was praetor in A.U.C. 614 = 140 or earlier.

A terminus post quem comes from the clause of the decree directing Mancinus to order the quaestor to pay the Thessalian embassies gifts of 125 sestertii. At about this time, the government unit of account was changed from the as to the sestertius, also known as the nummus. Aside from SIG3 674, the earliest mentions of the sestertius in government contexts -- Frontinus, Aq. 1.7, Gellius 6.11.9 -- are both dated to A.U.C. 614 = 140. Pliny, NH 33.13, notes that the denarius was retariffed from 10 to 16 asses. Pliny dates this to the Second Punic war, but this is not supported by the numismatic evdence; however, his text does show that this was done before the introduction of the sestertius. M. H. Crawford, Roman Repubican Coinage I 55, 260-262 identifies issues of denarii stamped XVI, evidently reflecting this retariffing, which are dated to A.U.C. 613 = 141 and A.U.C. 614 = 140. Hence the change from the as to the sestertius occurred in or, more likely, after A.U.C. 612 = 142 and no later than A.U.C. 614 = 140. Mancinus' praetorship must therefore have occurred in those years.

However, there is a significant complication: Mancinus held a second praetorship some years after A.U.C. 617 = 137. (Pomponius in Justinian, Digest 50.7.18, Auct. Vir. Ill. 59.4). The date of this second praetorship is unknown but the biennial restriction of the Lex Villia means the earliest possible date would be A.U.C. 620 = 134, while a second restriction, that prohibited a man who had held an office from running for it again for 10 years, means that his second praetorship was in A.U.C. 623 = 131 or (more likely) later. While SIG3 674 does not state that Mancinus was praetor for the second time, this does not prove that the praetorship was his first. Hence the Roman evidence alone does not allow us to fix SIG3 674 to the late 140s.

To resolve this we need to turn to the Thessalian side. SIG3 674 also gives the background to the senatus consultum, and notes that three years before the matter had been judged by a commission from Samos, Kolophon and Magnesia. A second inscription from Philia in Thessaly, describes a judgment by a commission of 6 judges, two each from Samos, Kolophon and Magnesia, in the strategia of Hippolochus, and then mentions Melitaia in a fragmentary section that also mentions the strategos Krateraios. Thus we have the strategial succession:

We first consider whether this sequence can be placed in the late 140s. A strategos Homeros is named as a contemporary of the Delphic archon Eukles in inscription SDGI 2138. Eukles was an archon of the sixth priesthood, which lasted from 153/2 to 144/3. G. Daux, Chronologie delphique, 55f., gives Eukles at least 7 and probably 8 predecessors, dating him to 145/4 or later; he prefers to date him to 144/3. On this basis, the only possible solutions placing SIG3 674 in the 140s date Thessalos to 142/1 or 141/0, implying a date of A.U.C. 613 = 141 or A.U.C. 614 = 140 for the SC; Daux' preferred date for Eukles restricts it to A.U.C. 614 = 140. On the other hand, H. Kramolisch, Die Strategen des thessalischen Bundes, 59, argues that Homeros must have held office before 146, since the rulers of Meliteia named in SDGI 2138 are described as archons rather than tagoi, a change which he dates to 146, the date of its occurence in Achaia Phthiotis. I think this is rather weak, since there is no evidence that the change in Thessaly is synchronised with the change in Achaia Phthiotis, but Daux does note that some of his relative sequencing of Priesthood VI archons is debatable.

Turning to the 130s and 120s: Two collections of manumission decrees from the late 130s or early 120s list the following strategoi:

Leon son of Kleippos is named as Thessalian hieromnemon in Delphi, but not as strategos, in two Delphic inscriptions, SIG3 692 and FD III 2, 213, datable to 134/3 and 133/2 respectively. Philokles was named as strategos, also on FD III 2, 213. We therefore have a set of eight strategoi who should be dated to the late 130s and early 120s. To these Kramolisch added Petraios son of Philoxenides, who can be identified with the Petraios of SEG XXXIV 558, who dates to 130/29 or a little earlier. We also have Amyneas son of Olympiadas, who was very likely strategos in 125/4, and several strategoi are known who should be placed in the next few years.

In light of this, it is clearly difficult to place the block of four strategoi connected to SIG3 674 in the late 130s and early 120s. If we place it immediately after Philokles in 133/2, Thessalos son of Thrasymedes would be dated to 130/29, or a little later. But this leaves no place for Petraios son of Philoxenides, who must be dated to 130/29 or a little earlier, from SEG XXXIV 558. Also, Leon son of Kleippos has different predecessors in the two collections, and in fact Kramolisch dates Diotimos several years before him on other grounds. Since Leon is not named as strategos in SIG3 692, we may infer that there was at least one other strategos between him and Philokles. Therefore it is very likely that these strategoi should in fact be spread out over a slightly longer period than Kramolisch allows, and virtually certain that there is no four year gap in their midst. Thus, the Thessalian evidence supports the dating of the SC in SIG3 674 to Mancinus' first praetorship, in the late 140s.

The following table shows the possible Julian dates for the senatus consultum and the implied number of intercalations between it and 168(R) for each of the years in the range A.U.C. 612 = 142 to A.U.C. 614 = 140, given also that this includes one intercalation of known length, the 22-day intercalation of A.U.C. 587 = 167.

It follows that there were 16 intercalations between A.U.C. 586 = 168 and the date of the senatus consultum in SIG3 674. For all three possible years, this number is more than the 13 to 15 that would be expected if every alternate year were intercalary. We also know that A.U.C. 587 = 167 and A.U.C. 588 = 166 were both intercalary years. The minimum numbers of such pairs of intercalary years after A.U.C. 586 = 168 that would be required to produce the corresponding date for the senatus consultum, given this datum, are 6, 5 and 4 respectively.

This observation is a key result that allows us to reconstruct the regulatory provisions of the Lex Acilia, proposed in A.U.C. 563 = 191. Under this reconstruction, the correct year for the senatus consultum is indeed A.U.C. 614 = 140, and the exact Julian date is prid. Non. Quint. A.U.C. 614 = 11 July 140.

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