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Homeric and Macedonian Kingship

Pierre Carlier
Texte édité par Christian Bouchet et Bernard Eck

Paru dans Alternatives to Athens: Varieties of Political Organization and Community in Ancient Greece,
R. Brock & S. Hodkinson dir., Oxford, New York, Oxford University Press, 2002, p. 259-268.

It’s quite commonplace to say that Homeric and Macedonian institutions resemble each other. According to many historians1, they are both examples of the traditional Greek kingship, the basileia, of heroic times described by Aristotle2. Some scholars go further: they compare Homeric and Macedonian kings to the kings of the Germanic tribes, and suggest that the Homeric and Macedonian kingships belong to the typically Indo-European form of “military kingship”, or Heerkönigtum3.

All these assimilations are very flimsy. Yet most historians assert them in a few sentences, as if they were obvious. Surprisingly, a systematic comparison between Homeric and Macedonian kingship has never been attempted. In this paper I shall not undertake an exhaustive comparison, but shall outline a few observations and hypotheses which are suggested by a comparative examination of the Homeric and Macedonian evidence.

Macedonian kingship before Alexander the Great is very obscure: the main pieces of evidence are brief allusions in historians like Herodotus and Thucydides and polemic statements in the Attic orators. Modern pictures of Macedonian kingship are mainly retrospective constructions built on the accounts of the Alexander historians of the first and second centuries ad, or on the accounts of the last Antigonids by Polybius and Livy4. In comparison, we have much more details on Homeric kingship, but as everyone knows, the Homeric poems are not constitutional descriptions, but poetic creations (“Die Ilias ist kein Geschichtsbuch” – “The Iliad is no history book” – is the famous title Franz Hampl gave to one of his studies (in Serta philologica Aenipontana, R. Muth dir., Innsbruck, 1962, p. 37-63). The extent of reality and fiction in the world of Homer is hotly debated, and historical interpretation of the Homeric account is the subject of widely divergent theories. I do not want to discuss the Homeric question here, and shall content myself with a minimalist statement which everyone may accept: that the Homeric kings behave as the poet wants his audience to believe these kings behaved. In other words, even if the poet does not exactly picture any real institution, his description is realistic5.


Let us first consider whether the Homeric evidence cannot suggest hypotheses for solving some problems about the Macedonian political system.

  1. One of the main results of archaeological and epigraphical investigations in Macedonia has been to prove the existence of many Macedonian poleis whose institutions were very similar to those of southern Greece and also the rise of regional districts, merides, during the Antigonid period, if not earlier6. Some historians have felt surprise in face of this evidence; for them, a strong king should not have tolerated the emergence of poleis inside his kingdom. Such a superimposition of local, regional, and royal power was quite well known in the Achaemenid and Seleucid kingdoms7, but those kingdoms were empires including heterogeneous populations, while Macedonia has normally been considered as a national kingdom. For a reader of the Catalogue of Ships in Iliad 2, however, the Macedonian situation looks quite familiar. The map of the Achaean world described in the Catalogue mentions three political levels: (1) the boroughs – sometimes called poleis – and the small ethnē enumerated within each contingent, more than 300 in all; (2) the 29 political entities corresponding to the military contingents, mostly (but not always) kingdoms ruled by one king and very often named by a global ethnic such as “Phocians” or “Arcadians”; (3) the pan-Achaean community whose supreme leader was Agamemnon. At each of these three levels there are similar political institutions which work in a similar way. It is worth pointing out that this Iliadic superimposition of communities has no confederate character: not all the kings leading a contingent belong to the pan-Achaean council, but only those who are acknowledged as the most powerful, the bravest, or the wisest by the whole pan-Achaean community. In Macedonia it is probable that some evolution towards confederacy8 began during the Antigonid period, but the phenomenon is much later than in Thessaly and in Epirus. A non-federal coexistence of several levels of political entities, analogous to the situation described by Homer, may have prevailed for a long time in Macedonia.

  2. One of the most vexed questions in Macedonian studies is the composition of the assembly. Fr. Granier (Die makedonische Heeresversammlung…, p. 49-52) has dogmatically asserted that the Macedonians, like the ancient Germans, had an assembly of the army (Heeresversammlung) but no civil assembly of the people (Volksversammlung). P. Briant (Antigone le Borgne…, p. 279-296) has rightly criticized Granier’s theory for contradicting the clearest ancient text (Curt. 6. 8. 25: “exercitus – in pace erat vulgi”), but he suggests a sharp distinction between the assembly of the army and the assembly of the people which is not convincing9. In the Homeric poems the agora (“convening of the people”) is one of the main institutions of every civilized community (only savage people like the Cyclopes have no assembly: Od. 9. 112-115), and the agora takes place in the same way, at home and abroad, in times of peace and in times of war; in both cases, all the members of the community who happen to be nearby are convened. One may wonder whether such a rule did not prevail in Macedonia: it is the simplest way of taking account of the evidence.

  3. The meaning of the title hetairos in Macedonian society is a very complex problem. According to Theopompus (FGrH 115 F 224, 225), there were in Philip’s reign about 800 hetairoi who received lands from the king, some of them being Greeks; these hetairoi probably fought as horsemen in the “cavalry of the hetairoi”. It is probable, however, that when the ancient texts say that a dignitary is “one of the hetairoi” they refer to a much narrower group, those who can take part in the royal council, who can serve as ambassadors, who receive the high military commands and the satrapies in Alexander’s empire: according to H. Berve’s prosopographical studies (Das Alexanderreich auf prosopographischer Grundlage, I, Munich, 1926, p. 30-37), these high dignitaries called hetairoi were about 80 in number. Hetairos can also designate the closest friend of a king (Hephaestion, for instance). But in addition the title was somehow extended to the whole army: when a certain Alexander – perhaps Alexander the Great – reorganized the Macedonian phalanx, he gave to the infantrymen the name of pezetairoi10. Some historians have tried to explain the various meanings of the word in terms of historical evolution: they suppose, for instance, that the title originally belonged to the companions who lived in the house of the king (his Hausgefolgschaft), and that, with the rise of Macedonian power, the name was inherited on the one hand by those who advised the king and helped him to govern, and on the other by those who fought with the king11. Such reconstructions are not necessary. In the Homeric poems hetairos already has several meanings: (1) the closest friend of a hero (Patroclus for Achilles); (2) the noble young men who serve a king or an important warrior by preparing his meals, driving his chariot, taking back the booty he has won, and protecting his body (most of them have their own independent household and do not live in the king’s house in time of peace); and (3) sometimes all the laoi, i.e. all the subjects of a king who fight or travel with him12. The word hetairos always conveys the idea of a close link of friendship and loyalty, but it can be used in various contexts for smaller or wider groups.


It cannot be denied that Homeric and Macedonian kings have in some ways similar functions: they have religious duties, they lead the army, and they act as judges in some circumstances. A closer examination, however, reveals important differences.

  1. The Homeric kings have to see that all the traditional sacrifices of the religious calendar are celebrated, they may decide to hold exceptional sacrifices to gain the favour of a divinity, they normally preside over the ceremonies, and they deliver the ritual prayers13. The Macedonian kings also play a very important part in the religious rites of their kingdom, in the cult of Zeus Olympios at Aigai, of the Muses at Dion, and in the cults of Heracles, the ancestor of the dynasty14. In one of his ill-inspired predictions Demosthenes even maintained that young Alexander would not move from Pella and that his only activity would be to accomplish the traditional sacrifices and look at the victims’ livers (Aeschines 3. 160). It is worth noting, however, that the Homeric kings, while sacrificing, are generally surrounded by the elders, who pray with them and throw barley on the victims. Ancient texts do not tell us about a Macedonian group playing a similar role in religious rites. Such an argumentum ex silentio is weak, but it is tempting to suggest that the religious pre-eminence of the king is stronger in the Temenid kingdom of Macedonia than in the Homeric communities.

  2. Macedonian kings, like Homeric kings, lead the army, inspect the troops before battle and harshly punish anyone who does not fight with enough energy. If we believe the historians of Philip and Alexander, the Macedonian kings at least used to fight in front of their warriors and to win battles thanks to their own personal bravery. They are much better warriors than Agamemnon, leader of the Greek forces at Troy and the “most kingly” of the Achaeans in the Iliad, who does not very often appear in the thick of battle15; it is well known that Alexander’s own model of a fighter was Achilles rather than Agamemnon, and the Conqueror’s life is often described as a permanent aristeia. At least partially, these narratives reflect the propaganda of the kings themselves: they show that the monarch’s virtues and his victories are more magnified in Philip’s and Alexander’s Macedonia than in the Homeric poems.

  3. In the Homeric world the decision to make war, to conclude a peace agreement or a truce, and the main strategic choices are prerogatives of the king; but before the royal decision there are lively discussions among the elders, usually in front of the assembled people. When the Trojan herald Idaeus comes to the Achaean camp, he transmits the Trojan proposals of peace – restitution of Menelaus’ treasures, but without Helen – to the assembled Achaeans. Diomedes energetically protests and asks the Achaeans to continue war until they win. The Achaeans loudly approve Diomedes. Agamemnon asks the Trojan messenger to listen to the popular opinion, but emphasizes that the final decision rests with himself: ἐμοὶ δʹἐπιανδάνει οὕτως, “that is also my good pleasure” (Il. 7. 407).

    Macedonian practice in military and diplomatic affairs varies according to the situation. After the death of Alexander, Perdiccas had the last plans of the Conqueror cancelled by the assembly (D.S. 18. 4. 1): this does not mean that the Macedonian people is sovereign in military and diplomatic affairs, but only that at this moment the “epimelētēs [guardian] of the kings” preferred to share with the Macedonians the responsibility for abandoning Alexander’s projects; the only obvious conclusion one can draw from this event is that the weight of the assembly grows when there is no strong king. On the banks of the Hyphasis in India Alexander himself experienced the opposition of his army: the soldiers refused to go further east. This refusal is not proof of any constitutional power of the assembly; Alexander had to give up, but it was only the acknowledgement of a necessity. Even the most absolute monarchs, even the most hard-hearted tyrants, cannot force soldiers to campaign against their will. Alexander tried to conceal his loss of face by pretending to obey oracles which ordered a return towards the west (D.S. 17. 94; Arrian 5. 25-8); it is more honourable for a Macedonian king to make concessions to the gods than to the dēmos. During the expedition in Asia Alexander tried to obtain the approval of most members of his council: to convince his Companions more easily, he was even suspected of having falsified a letter from Darius (D.S. 17. 39. 1). Such an attitude proves that Alexander wanted to get the support of the dignitaries of his army, not that there was any vote in the council meetings and still less that Alexander considered the opinion of the council as binding upon him. We are very well informed about the negotiations before the Peace of Philocrates of 346: neither Aeschines nor Demosthenes mentions any Macedonian institution besides the king. Both Philip’s admirers (like Isocrates) and his opponents assume that the Macedonian monarch is free to do whatever he wants in foreign affairs. Greek authors in Philip’s time had perhaps little precise information about Macedonian institutions, but their silence about the royal council and the assembly would be very surprising if those institutions played a decisive official role in foreign affairs: sudden, unexpected decisions of the king alone are frequently contrasted with the collective decisions of the Greek cities, prepared by long public discussions16. The comparison of Macedonian institutions with Homeric ones already reveals part of the same contrast. In Macedonia foreign affairs are often discussed secretly by the king and some of his philoi. The king and the dignitaries sometimes ask for the people’s approval, but the Homeric rule of free discussion of the elders in front of the assembly does not exist among the Macedonians.

  4. The Homeric poems twice mention the possibility of direct actions by the dēmos against those who bring misfortune to the whole community. Hector once regrets that the Trojans did not dare to stone Paris to death (Il. 3. 56-57). After a private expedition of Eupeithes, Antinous’ father, against the Thesprotians, the people of Ithaca wanted to kill him and to confiscate his property, but King Odysseus managed to save him (Od. 16. 424-430)17. These popular interventions are not trials: they look like lynching. Judging is one of the main duties and privileges of the elders (one of their titles is δικασπόλοι, “judges”), but also of the king: when Sarpedon dies, Glaucus says that he has protected Lycia “by his judgements and by his strength”, Λυκίην εἴρυτο δίκῃσί τε καὶ σθένεϊ ᾧ (Il. 16. 542). The only indications we have about judicial procedure come from the famous trial scene on Achilles’ shield (Il. 18. 497-508). The interpretation of this unique text is notoriously difficult, and I shall merely summarize the analyses I have developed elsewhere18. Three institutions are mentioned in this trial. The laoi (“people”) listen to the discussion and shout loudly in favour of the litigant they support; the gerontes (“elders”) give their opinion one after another; the histōr says which of the elders has given the best advice, and consequently which of the litigants is right. The text does not say that the histōr is a king, but we may note that his role is exactly parallel to that of the king in political discussions. In both cases the decision is reached in the same way: after listening to the elders, in front of the assembled people, one man finally decides.

In Macedonia it seems that most trials were judged by judges appointed by the king, but that all free Macedonians had a right to appeal to the king19. In capital affairs, according to some ancient authors, a traditional Macedonian custom ordered that the accused should be introduced before the assembly: “De capitalibus rebus vetusto Macedonum modo inquirebat exercitus – in pace erat vulgi – et nihil potestas regum valebat nisi prius valuisset auctoritas” (Curt. 6. 8. 25)20. The exact role of the assembly is not easy to determine, and it may have varied according to the circumstances. Sometimes, perhaps, the end of the investigation took place before the assembly, the king managed to convince the people that the accused was guilty, and the Macedonians immediately stoned to death the so-called traitor, acting as a collective executioner. In other cases, however, Diodorus says that the Macedonians condemned (κατέγνωσαν) a defendant, which suggests that some sort of vote – probably by acclamation – took place21.

Very often Macedonian kings chose to kill rivals or opponents without any trial. This suggests that strong kings held trials before the people only when they thought it convenient for their propaganda, to share with the Macedonians responsibility for the elimination of a powerful opponent. Some Macedonians, however, influenced by the Greek way of thinking, probably maintained that the right of life and death lay with the Macedonian dēmos, and that each accused man should have the right to defend himself in conditions which were fair. Both attitudes can be taken by the same persons in different circumstances: Olympias, who had Cleopatra and her child assassinated without any trial in 336, protests against Cassander’s unfairness in 317 because she was not given the opportunity of defending herself before the Macedonians (D.S. 19. 51. 1-4).

It is undeniable that in judicial matters the Macedonian assembly sometimes has much more power than the Homeric laoi, but it would be excessive to speak of a democratic evolution: the riotous lynching has become a pseudo-trial manipulated by the king. There is no trace in Macedonian judicial practice of a debate between elders, and the procedural rules established in many Greek cities in order to make trials fair are not common practice in Macedonia22.

As the Homeric poems do not relate any accession of a new king, we have no description of the ceremonies on such an occasion, and we cannot say whether the new king was acclaimed by his people. What is certain is that the poet justifies the power of the kings by the possession of an inherited sceptre. It is true that in the Odyssey the suitors refuse to acknowledge Telemachus as the successor of his father, but the victory of Odysseus is the triumph of dynastic legitimacy (P. Carlier, “Les basileis homériques sont-ils des rois ?”, Ktèma 21, p. 11-15). The idea that primitive Indo-European kings all had to be elected is without foundation. Macedonian kings had to be acclaimed by the assembly, but in normal conditions the Macedonians merely acknowledged by their acclamation the dynastic legitimacy of the king and his ability to reign23 – and especially to lead the army. Of course, many usurpers tried to gain the kingship by being acclaimed, but such phenomena are quite common in all monarchies. It is only when the royal family of the Temenids became extinct that the Macedonians acclaimed kings outside the royal house, and they acclaimed those who had already gained power by themselves and won great victories. The Macedonians did not elect their kings, and there is nothing even remotely democratic in the acclamation of the new king24.

Homeric kings and Macedonian kings were both hereditary, claiming a divine origin. They both have very wide powers, and the ultimate decision stays with them. Neither the Macedonian nor the Homeric kings can be considered as absolute monarchs25, because they are not the only institutions of the community. In both cases there is also a popular assembly. The Macedonian assembly sometimes takes decisions by acclamation, which the Homeric agora never does, but the pressure of the king on the dēmos is much stronger in Macedonia, and free discussion is much rarer (the common people have no right to speak in the Homeric poems, but they can listen to very straightforward discussions between the elders). Moreover, Homeric kingship is often called geras, which suggests that this honourable privilege is given by the people, or at least acknowledged by the dēmos.

Both in Macedonia and in the Homeric poems there are institutions called “councils” in modern languages, but the two “councils” have different names in Greek (while synedrion is the usual term for the Macedonian council, the Homeric elders are called gerontes, boulēphoroi, or basileis – this last term underlining that, as a group, the elders are narrowly associated with the royal functions); their composition, their functions, and above all their political significations are quite different. The members of the Macedonian council are all chosen by the king to advise and help him; a young king cannot immediately get rid of the most powerful aristocrats or the highest dignitaries named by his father, but he can promote to his council whomever he wants, even foreigners: the members of the council are the philoi, the hetairoi of the king. On the other hand, the Homeric elders, even if they hold a hereditary position, are considered – like the king – as having received their geras, their honourable privilege, from the dēmos. The Macedonian council advises the king in his palace or tent, but does not play any role as such in the assemblies. In contrast to this, the Homeric gerontes take part in all the meetings of the assembly, they sit in the middle of the agora, and they speak in front of the common people, who may express their opinion by shouting. Here is probably the main difference: in Macedonia, under normal circumstances, there is no link between the popular assembly and the royal council26.

Macedonian political evolution

We have no direct information on the Macedonian kingship of the seventh century, when a group of Macedonians was beginning the conquest of the higher Haliacmon valley under the direction of kings who claimed to be Temenids from Argos, but it is a reasonable hypothesis to suggest that it was not completely different from the kingships of early archaic Greece. Homeric kingships are probably amalgams of traditional images about heroic kings and – principally – of political practices familiar to the poet and his audience. It is not absurd to suppose that the first Temenids resembled the Homeric kings. Some similarities were retained later.

If we accept this hypothesis, we have also to admit that Macedonians and southern Greeks had quite divergent political evolutions during the archaic and classical periods. While in Greece collective decision by vote was replacing monarchic decision27, and at least in the democracies the council was becoming a committee preparing the projects to be voted on by the assembly, the power of the Macedonian king was growing, and the council becoming more and more dependent on the king. Those who suppose that the political evolution of all communities should take the same direction are surprised by the strength of the Macedonian kings. For A. Aymard (“Sur l’assemblée macédonienne”, 1950, = Études d’histoire ancienne, Paris, 1967, p. 162) there were many seeds of democracy in Macedonia, but the Macedonian assembly did not try to use its potential powers because the Macedonians had to fight frequent wars, and the anxiety of self-preservation created among them a strong loyalty towards the family of the war leaders. This military factor was important, but there were others as well.

The control of the Thracian mines gave great wealth to the Temenid kings, and money increases power. As Thucydides observes, tyrannies appeared in Greece with the increase of monetary wealth; previously, there were only traditional kingships with limited prerogatives (I. 13. 3 πρότερον δὲ ἦσαν ἐπὶ ῥητοῖς γέρασι πατρικαὶ βασιλεῖαι). Similarly, the considerable wealth of the Macedonian kings allowed them to build roads and fortifications, to pay mercenaries, to give magnificent gifts to many people, and to live in a brilliant court: it strengthened their hold on their subjects.

Macedonian society before Alexander is little known, but it seems that the Macedonian upper class was too heterogeneous – petty kings of upper Macedonia, landlords of the newly conquered territories, Greek hetairoi – to constitute a united group facing the king; moreover, the gap between the aristocracy and the common people of peasants and shepherds was apparently so wide that any co-ordinated action of the aristocratic royal council and the dēmos was impossible. To these factors we should add the geographical scale of the Macedonian kingdom. The comparatively large distances and considerable time involved in travel will have slowed communications and inhibited the emergence of collective discussion, thereby making monarchic decision-making a more viable practice.

Last, but not least, the influence of the Persian model, during the period of Persian domination of Macedon from 510 to 479 BC and afterwards, must not be underestimated28. For every king in the Mediterranean world, the Great King was a fascinating example.

At least from the reign of Alexander, some upper-class Macedonians adopted certain Greek political ideas: nomos (law) as opposed to bia (might), freedom of speech, hatred of tyranny. This Greek influence compelled the Antigonids to pretend to be constitutional kings reigning with moderation over free citizens. During the reigns of the Temenids, however, the main trend of evolution seems to have been towards autocracy. This evolution was completed in the oriental Hellenistic kingdoms. Hence Macedonian kingship is not only a case of non-democratic politics, but also of non-democratic evolution.


  1. For instance, among many others, V. Costanzi, Studi di storia macedonica sino a Filippo, Pise, 1915, p. 4-7; Fr. Granier, Die makedonische Heeresversammlung. Ein Beitrag zum antiken Staatsrecht, Munich, 1931; Fr. E. Adcock, “Greek and Macedonian Kingship”, PBA 39, 1953, p. 163-180; A. Aymard, “Sur l’assemblée macédonienne”, REA 52, 1950, p. 115-137; Ch.F. Edson, “Early Macedonia”, in Ancient Macedonia, I, Thessalonique, 1970, p. 22-23.
  2. Pol. 1285b 4-5 τέταρτον δʹεἶδος μοναρχίας βασιλικῆς αἱ κατὰ τοὺς ἡρωϊκοὺς χρόνους ἑκούσιαί τε καὶ πάτριαι γιγνόμεναι κατὰ νόμον. The view, expressed e.g. by N.G.L. Hammond (N.G.L. Hammond, G.T. Griffith & F.W. Walbank, A History of Macedonia: 336-167 B.C., II, Oxford, 1972-1988, p. 158), that, according to Aristotle, Macedonian kingship belongs to this type of kingship, is rightly criticized by Ed. Lévy, “La monarchie macédonienne et le mythe d’une royauté démocratique”, Ktèma 3, 1978, p. 210-213.
  3. That is one of the leitmotivs of Fr. Granier, Die makedonische Heeresversammlung…, p. 1-3, 13-15, and passim. Fr. Hampl, Der König der Makedonen, Weida, 1934, uses the notion of Heerkönigtum but does not insist on the parallel with ancient Germans.
  4. For a detailed up-to-date bibliography see M.B. Hatzopoulos, Macedonian Institutions under the Kings, Athènes, 1996, p. 17-33. Among the most influential studies which have not been already quoted in n. 1-3, one may mention P. de Francisci, Arcana Imperii, II, Milan, 1947-1948, p. 345-435; P. Briant, Antigone le Borgne : les débuts de sa carrière et les problèmes de l’assemblée macédonienne, Paris, 1973, p. 237-350; R.M. Errington, “The Nature of the Macedonian State under the Monarchy”, Chiron 8, 1978, p. 77-133; P. Goukowsky, Essai sur les origines du mythe d’Alexandre, Nancy, 1978, p. 9-15; N.G.L. Hammond, The Macedonian State. The Origins, Institutions and History, Oxford, 1989, p. 16-29, 49-70; E.N. Borza, In the Shadow of Olympus: The Emergence of Macedon, Princeton, 1990, p. 231-252.
  5. For more details see P. Carlier, La Royauté en Grèce avant Alexandre, Strasbourg, 1984; for second thoughts, P. Carlier, “Les basileis homériques sont-ils des rois ?”, Ktèma 21, 1996, p. 5-22.
  6. For a full discussion of the evidence see M.B. Hatzopoulos, Macedonian Institutions…, p. 51-216.
  7. The most illuminating study remains E. Bikerman, Institutions des Séleucides, Paris, 1938.
  8. The most detailed book on “Greek federalism” is J.A.O. Larsen, Greek Federal States. Their Institutions and History, Oxford, 1968 – though see the comments in the Introduction to this volume (Alternatives to Athens: Varieties…, p. 22-23 and 27-30 with n. 57, 62). For a good concise analysis see P. Cabanes, “Recherches sur les États fédéraux en Grèce”, Cahiers d’Histoire 21, 1976, p. 391-407; see also, most recently, H. Beck, Polis and Koinon: Untersuchungen zur Geschichte und Struktur der griechischen Bundesstaaten im 4. Jahrhundert v. Chr., Stuttgart, 1997.
  9. P. Briant is rightly criticized by Ed. Lévy, “La monarchie macédonienne…”, p. 207-209, and by J. Tréheux, “Koinon”, REA 89, 1987, p. 46.
  10. Anaximenes of Lampsacus (FGrH 72 F4) quoted by Harpocration, s. u.
  11. On the Macedonian hetairoi, one of the most balanced studies remains G. Plaumann, RE VIII 2, 1913, col. 1374-1380, s. u. Ἑταῖροι.
  12. For a brief analysis of the Homeric hetairoi see P. Carlier, La Royauté…, p. 178-182; among the more detailed studies see H.J. Kakridis, “La notion de l’amitié et de l’hospitalité chez Homère”, dissert., Thessalonique, 1963; G. J. Stagakis, Studies in the Homeric Society, Wiesbaden, 1975.
  13. For more details see P. Carlier, La Royauté…, p. 162-165. The typical scene of sacrifice in the Homeric poems has been studied by W. Arend, Die typischen Scenen bei Homer, Berlin, 1933.
  14. On the religious functions of the Macedonian kings see e.g. N.G.L. Hammond, The Macedonian State…, p. 22-24. We lack a systematic study of Macedonian religion to replace W. Baege, De Macedonum sacris. Dissertationes philologicae Hellenses, XXII 1, Halle, 1913.
  15. On the character of Agamemnon and the ideology of royal imperfection in the Iliad see P. Carlier, La Royauté…, p. 195-204.
  16. e.g. Dem. 1. 4; 4. 17.
  17. It is interesting to note that one of these popular executions exists only as a wish, and that the other was not carried out.
  18. P. Carlier, La Royauté…, p. 172-177. H. van Wees, Status Warriors: War, Violence and Society in Homer and History, Amsterdam, 1992, p. 34, agrees with my interpretation. Among other recent analyses see R. Westbrook, “The Trial Scene in the Iliad”, HSPh 94, 1992, p. 53-76 and É. Scheid-Tissinier, “À propos du rôle et de la fonction d’histor”, RPh 68, 1994, p. 187-208.
  19. G.T. Griffith, in N.G.L. Hammond, G.T. Griffith & F.W. Walbank, A History of Macedonia…, p. 393-395.
  20. In his 1867 edition of Curtius Ed. Hedicke added two words to the text of the manuscripts: “inquirebat (rex, judicabat) exercitus”. This correction, which has been accepted by Granier, Briant, and many other historians, clarifies the respective roles of the king and the assembly, but precisely for that reason it arouses suspicion. Such a “palaeographical” correction reflects a modern historical hypothesis.
  21. D.S. 17. 79 (Philotas); 18. 36. 4 (Perdiccas); 18. 37 (Eumenes); 19. 51. 12 (Olympias). It is inexact to say that Philotas’ friend Amyntas was acquitted: the assembly asked Alexander to spare the young man, which is not the same thing (Curt. 7. 1. 18).
  22. For more details see Ed. Lévy, “La monarchie macédonienne…”, p. 213-218.
  23. The two required qualities do not always coincide, and that is why the Macedonians sometimes prefer the adult brother of the late king to his infant son.
  24. For a more detailed discussion see P. Briant, Antigone le Borgne…, p. 303-325; R.M. Errington, “The Nature of the Macedonian State”…, p. 92-99.
  25. A. Momigliano, “Re e popolo in Macedonia prima di Alessandro Magno”, Athenaeum 13, 1935, p. 3-21, and Ed. Lévy, “La monarchie macédonienne…”, have rightly reacted against the “democratic” interpretations of Granier and Briant, but they have gone too far in calling Macedonian kingship an “absolutism”. If traditionally there had been the same gap between the king and the Macedonians as between the Achaemenid monarch and his subjects, no Macedonian would have protested against the orientalizing despotism of Alexander. Moreover, even the barbarian kingship of the Persian king is not considered as a pambasileia by Aristotle (Pol. 3. 14), because even Persian kingship is somehow κατὰ νόμον (“legally established”).
  26. Historians of Macedonia familiar with archaic and classical Greek history have strongly asserted that there was not in Macedonia anything similar to the boulē or the gerousia of Greek cities (N.G.L. Hammond, G.T. Griffith & F.W. Walbank, A History of Macedonia…, p. 395-397; N.G.L. Hammond, The Macedonian State…, p. 53).
  27. For more details see P. Carlier, “La procédure de décision politique du monde mycénien à l’époque archaïque”, in La transizione dal Miceneo all’alto arcaismo: dal palazzo alla città. Atti del convegno internazionale, Roma, marzo 1988, D. Musti dir., Rome, 1991, p. 85-95.
  28. On the imitation of the Achaemenids by the Temenids, which did not, however, lead to a complete assimilation of the two types of kingship, see P. Goukowsky, Essai sur les origines…, p. 9-12; D. Kienast, Philipp II. von Makedonien und das Reich der Achaimeniden, Munich, 1973.
EAN html : 9782356134202
ISBN html : 978-2-35613-420-2
ISBN pdf : 978-2-35613-487-5
ISSN : en cours
Posté le 01/07/2022
Publié initialement le 17/05/2022
10 p.
Code CLIL : 3385; 4031
licence CC by SA
Licence ouverte Etalab

Comment citer

Carlier, Pierre (2022) : “Homeric and Macedonian Kingship”, in : Bouchet, Christian, Eck, Bernard, éd., Pierre Carlier, un esprit de finesse. Recueil d’articles, Pessac, Ausonius éditions, collection B@sic 2, 2022, 289-298 [en ligne] https://una-editions.fr/homeric-and-macedonian-kingship/ [consulté le 01/07/2022].
Illustration de couverture • Vision de la fontaine Aréthuse (Syracuse), aquarelle originale (crédits des éditeurs, 2022).
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