J. R. ELLIS
BY PHILIP II
Whoever becomes prince of a city or state, especially if the foundation of his power is feeble, and does not wish to establish there either a monarchy or a republic, will find the best means for holding that principality to organize the government entirely anew (he being himself a new prince there); that is, he should appoint new governors with new titles, new powers and new men, and he should make the poor rieh, as David did when he became king,
“who heaped riches upon the needy and dismissed the wealthy empty-handed”.
Besides this, he should destroy the old cities and build new ones, and transfer the inhabitants from one place to another; in short, he should leave nothing unchanged in that provinee, so that there should be neither rank, nor grade, nor honour, nor wealth that should not be recognised as coming from hirn.
He should take Philip of Macedon, father of Alexander, for his model, who by proceeding in that manner became, from a petty king, master of all Greece.
Machiavelli, Discourses I. xxvi
ln Charles Reade’s The Cloister and the Hearth the verb transvaser is used with the meaning “to ’decant’ population”,
that is to transfer people from one region to another (in this instance from a populous to a deserted area).
Transvasement is given elsewhere, in addition to its common meaning, the decanting of liquid (from one bottle to another), the sense of “action de transporter les abeilles d’une ruche dans une autre”.
Since the English language appears to have no equivalent for population-groups of “transhumance”, the action of (usually seasonal) transfer of livestock to another region, “decantation” seems a useful term.
Decantation, as Machiavelli points out, was practised long before his time and examples abound since then.
Probably the most famous in Western history was the captivity of the Jews in Babylon.
Many cases occur in Roman history, most notably in the Dacian area in Trajan’s time, but we may note an earlier inscription, from A.D. 66, which records honours to one Ti. Plautius Silvanus, who brought 100.000 Transdanubians and settled them in Moesia with their wives, children, chieftains, etc.
In Greek history and tradition too decantation is common enough.
Indeed colonization might be considered one of its forms.
Another form, that of the Jewish captivity, is seen in the story of Herakles’ ultimatum to the Mysians: he threatened to ravage their land if they did not discover for him the whereabouts of Hylas.
As surety for the Obligation he took some of their young men, whom he settled in Thrachis.
Homer tells of the decantation of the Phaiakians;
they had once been neighbours of the Kyklopes but had been continually plagued by them until the Phaiakian king Nausithoos “made them migrate” and settled them in Scherie, an unpopulated region.
Thucydides says that sixty years after the Trojan War the Boiotians were driven from Arne by the Thessalians and settled in the now Boiotia (then called Kadmeis):
“...and so... painfully and after a long course of time Hellas became permanently tranquil and its population was no longer subject to expulsion from their hornes”.
Among historic examples the two most famous would be the transfer of the Attic population to Salamis in 481/ 80 and the Athenian action in 431 of evacuating the inhabitants of Aigina, replacing them with Athenian settlers.
Aigina was strategically important, as Thucydides notes, because of its proximity both to the Peloponnese and to Attica.
The Athenian aim was to remove a hostile population from a location where it might damage Athenian interests.
Commentators have distinguished between apoikiai and klerouchiai, and such epoikiai would clearly be different again, since in this case tlie settlers replaced (rather than settled amidst) the local inhabitants.
But all three forms might be considered forms of decantation.
The term “decantation” patently may cover a good range of enforced population-movements under varied circumstances and for a range of reasons.
It involves the addition of new elements to an already populated, underpopulated or deserted region, or the removal of some or all of the original population, or both together. included in the general category, as I have suggested, would be the founding of apoikiai or klerouchiai (or teichismata), the evacuation of a population for Strategie reasons (as from Athens and from Aigina).
Also included would be transplants intended to create a diversity of population or a diversity of citizenship.
(In a more subtle sense, the citizen-population might be altered without any actual transplant but simply by the enfranchisement of new elements of the existing population).
In this note I am concerned mainly with politically or strategically motivated decantation and not with the populating of deserted regions for purely social or economic reasons.
Theoretically we may expect that the type of areas suited for decantation will be those around national borders, especially where definition by natural barriers is not possible, those around lines of communication and those holding concentrations of population for some reason not easily emenable to control as, for example, Orestis and Lynkos in Macedonia, traditionally independent regions whose nobility usually resisted central authority, at least when they themselves were not exercising it.
Before examining what evidence we have for decantation under Philip II it would be well to deal with two examples of synoikisis under this monarh.
The taking of hostages is perhaps a borderline case of decantation, whether they are taken for the common purpose of guaranteeing one’s enemies’ good behaviour or, as in the Macedonian system of hetaireia, when the “hostages” are willing and even honoured to be taken.
According to Arrian :
Philip had ordained that the sons of Macedonian notables who had reached adolescence should be attached to the Service of the king;
and besides general attendance on his person the duty of guarding him when asleep had been entrusted to them.
Again, whenever the king rode out they received horses from the grooms and led them up,
assisted the king to mount in Persian fashion and were his companions in the rivalry of the chase .
The rewards of such Service were considerable:
later promotion to the hetaireia and the perquisites of that rank , and the honour-both as a sign of noble status and as the preparation for even more important association with the king—must have been well appreciated.
But clearly the Institution could be looked upon as more than simply a means of conferring honour and training hetairoi;
it was additionally a means of exercising control over would-be recalcitrant nobles, since their sons were removed from their own influence to that of the court.
They were in fact hostages, albeit perhaps usually willing, and the Institution might well be placed within the limits of decantation.
The second case (less borderline than the first) is that of the Thracian town, Peneropolis (Roguesville), again a case of synoecism.
This city Philip founded, so Theopompos teils us,
in order to remove from the Macedonian population
the criminals, informers and falsewitnesses
—2000 of them in all.
Of course, the story is quite possibly distorted or exaggerated, but in the context of Philip’s other activities in this line it seems likely to contain a kernel of truth .
We may also note in passing that this form of decantation is precisely that recommended to Philip in 346 by lsokrates as a means at once of ridding Greece of her numerous wandering mercenary bands and of creating with them buffer-states between Asia Minor and the bulk of the Persian Empire.
The locus classicus for decantation under Philip—and undoubtedly that on which Machiavelli based his observation—is Justin VIII.5.7-6.2:
On his return to his kingdom [after finally defeating the Phokians], as shepherds drive their flocks sometimes into winter, sometimes into Summer pastures,
so he transplanted people and cities hither and thither, according to his caprice,
as places appeared to him proper to be peopled or to be left desolate.
The aspect of things was everywhere wrethed, like that of a country revaged by an enemy.
There was not indeed that terror of a foe, or hurrying of troops through the cities,
or seizure of property and prisoners. which are seen during a hostile invasion;
but there prevailed a sorrow and sadness not expressed in words,
the people fearing that even their very tears would be thought signs of discontent.
Their grief was augmented by the very concealment of it, sinking the deeper the less they were permitted to utter it.
At one time they contemplated the sepulchres of their ancestors,
at another their old househild gods,
at another the homes in which they had been born
and in which they had families;
lamenting their own fate, that they had lived to that day,
and sometimes that of their children, that they were not born after it.
Some people he planted on the frontiers of his kingdom to oppose his enemies;
others he settled at the extremities of it.
Some, whom he had taken prisoners in war,
he distributed among certain cities to fill up the number of inhabitants;
and thus out of various tribes and nations he formed one kingdom and people.
When he had settled and put in order the affairs of Macedonia...
Some aspects of this account are outside the scope of this note.
The harrowing description of the people affected need not detain us here, though it may be conjectured that the vividness of the picture derives from an eyewitness-account of some such transplant, though not necessarily of any carried out by Philip.
The date of this Macedonian decantation is problematical.
Its position in Justin’s scheme—for what that is worth—limits it by the Pythia of 346 and the Epeirote reorganization of 342, but we find no confirmation elsewhere of such activity at that date (or, for that matter, at any time).
Between 346 and 342, apart from his coverage of Sicilian affairs, Diodoros has Philip attacking Illyria (69.7, under the year 344/3), expelling tyrants in Thessaly (69.8, in the same year) and establishing cities in eastern Thrace (71.1-2) as buifers between a still refractory Kersebleptes and he Hellespontine Greek cities.
Theopompos ends his account of the Sacred War in Book XXX. By BookXLYI he has reached 340 B.C., with the attacks on Perinthos and Byzantion.
In what little remains of the intervening books he makes one reference (F 182, dated by Jacoby to 344) to an Illyrian town, refers to the establishment of tetrarchies in Thessaly (F 208, Book XL1V) and cites one Thracian tribe whose location is unknown (F 214).
Most of the rest is concerned with Sicily and Spain.
However, since no refutation can be based on what is missing from Theopompos and as Diodoros at this stage is no longer using Ephoros, his best source for Macedonian affairs , we need not dismiss Justin’s dating out of hand.
But it seems likely that his source has combined within the space of at most four years a decantation policy that may have been effected piecemeal over a much longer period .
Together with Justin’s account we may note Alexander’s famous speech to the Macedonians at Opis, where he reproaches them for ingratitude , pointing out first what Philip had done for them :
For Philip found you vagabonds and helpless, most of you clothed with sheepskins,
pasturing a few sheep on the mountainsides, and fighting for these with ill success against Illyrians and Triballians and the Thracians on your borders;
Philip gave you cloaks to wear in place of sheepskins,
brought you down from the hills to the plains,
made you doughty opponents of your neighbouring enemies,
so that you trusted now not so much to the natural strength
of your villages as to your own courage.
Nay, he made you dwellers of cities and civilized you with
good laws and customs.
Here Alexander seems to refer—as Justin certainly does—to Macedonia’s borderregions, so susceptible to raids from west, north and east, and it is in this sphere that we may make the first general observation.
The inland borders by 359 seem to have broken down. On the Thracian side interference was common and it is probable that there was much intermixture in the vicinity of the River Strymon,the then eastern limit of Macedonian influence.
Similarly, on the west, north-west and north the Iilyrians and Paionians seem to have come and gone virtually as they pleased .
The Iilyrians, after their defeat of Perdikkas, probably controlled—with the assent of at least some of the Upper Macedonian nobility —much of western Macedonia, including Orestis and Lynkos.
As in the west, there is no single mountain—barrier to the north and the Paionians were able to infiltrate southwards when the opportunity arose, as after the Illyrian victory of 360/59 .
Both Justin and Alexander, as we have noticed, seem to be referring in particular to the borderregions.
It seems that Philip must have amalgamated the dispersed mountain-groups into defensible settlements on the plains in the areas of modern Kastoria, Phlorina, Aridaia and Kilkis, and, further eastwards, Serrai, Drama and Kavala, as he extended the frontier beyond the Strymon to the Nestos.
The aim was perhaps threefold:
to create defensible poleis (which might include teichismata) on the plains that gave access to the centre of the Macedonian realm;
to differentiate, as Professor Dell has suggested , between Macedonian elements in the borderpopulation;
and to split up, in the west at least, the traditional local hierarchies through which such independent nobilities as the Upper Macedonians princely families exercised their authority.
As regards the last motive, if we add the procedure, already discussed, of taking the sons of these local princes to the court at Pella we may begin to see why it was that Philip, although perhaps never free from court-intrigues, was never faced with full-scale revolt in these areas, even though the challenge to their autonomy of his iirmly centralized power was greater and more restrictive than ever bedore.
Probably too, as with many of the peoples beyond the Roman frontiers, those living beyond the limits of Macedonia were offered a greater measure of protection against barbarian raids by resettlement along the borders themselves.
The essance, presumably, of strengthening frontiers is to occupy them with people who have a real stake in maintaining them inviolate.
We may also note, in this general context, a reference in Polyainos to the decantation of (apparently) a whole Illyrian town.
Defeating the Sarmisii by a clever but unpleasant ruse, Philip and his soldiers
“led them off to Macedonia, 10.000 of them”.
Such transplants, however, may not account entirely for all the comingsand-goings mentioned by Justin .
The habitually fractionary Macedonian population made the exercise of central power very difficult. The answer in such a case is clear enough: break up hostile concentrations by shifting keygroups from their location and by settling other groups in the midst of them— just as Gelon did at Syracuse .
Philip may have done this—Justin may imply it when he speaks of the filling up of certain cities —but we have no explicit evidence.
The remaing testimony of our sources is devoted to Philip’s Thracian decantation.
In the west, north-west and north the problem was almost entirely one of fixingthe borders and rendering them, so far as possible, secure.
But to the east, while a defensible border was as necessary as elsewhere (and was provided eventually by the River Nestos) we find Philip throughout his reign devoting much effort to reorganization beyond the Nestos.
Westwards and northwards of Macedonia were tracts of unhospitable, barbariandominated terrain, land that contained no route ever yet found attractive by Greek or Macedonian, whereas to the east lay Thrace, more civilized, more capable of large-scale military mobilization, and, most importantly, providing the land-route to the Hellespont, the Chersonese and Asia Minor.
Philip knew, as every history Student today, that the ultimate weakness of Athens, the major long-term threat to Macedonian security, was her dependence on the Hellespontine corn-route.
Thus not only had the eastern borders to be secure but the Thracians had also to be controlled to a sufficient extent to ensure a safe corridor for Macedonian forces interested in the Hellespont and beyond.
Military victory over Kersebleptes played a part in this process, just as Philip’s great defeat of Bardylis in 358 mitigated the difficulties of implementing his lllyrian and Paionian border-policies, but successful battles were not enough.
For 10 or 11 months between Maimakterion 352 and the following Boedromion , when he feil ill, Philip campaigned in Thrace;
“there he cast out some of the rulers and others he placed on their thrones” .
Diodoros, in a passage he dates to 343/3, when, significantly, a clash with Athens was growing ever more probable, records a campaign
“conceived to win over the Greek cities in Thrace to [Philip’s] side”.
Kersebleptes, the Thracian king,
“had been following a policy of reducing the Hellespontine cities bordering on his territory and ravaging their lands”.
After winning victories in battle Philip subdued the Thracians, imposed the payment of a tithe on them and
“by founding strong cities at key points made it impossible for them to commit any further outrages” .
What amounts apparently—in spite of the tantalizing paucity of references in our sources—to a concerted policy of decantation in several spheres of Madeconian and neighbouring societies clearly did not grow out of a vacuum.
Philip must have been aware of many of the Greek cases of decantation mentioned above and presumably many others besides.
In Macedonia itself, even from the little that remains to us of Information on pre-Philippic times, we learn of two instances, both effected by Archelaos .
But Philip, by such methods as well as conquest, extended and secured the Macedonian frontiers as never before and was with justice hailed by Machiavelli as a model in the techniques of population-transplants.