The Oxford Classical Dictionary

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The Oxford Classical Dictionary
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The Oxford Classical Dictionary. Edited by Simon Hornblower and Antony Spawforth. Third edition. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.



abacus (abaxabax, abakionabakion), a counting-board, the usual aid to reckoning in antiquity. The Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans alike used a board with vertical columns, on which (working from right to left) units, tens, hundreds, or (where money was in question) e.g. 1/8 obols, 1/4 obols, 1/2 obols, obols, drachmae, sums of 10, 100, 1,000 drachmae, and talents were inscribed. When an addition sum was done, the totals of the columns were carried to the left, as in our ordinary addition. The numbers might be marked in writing or by pebbles, counters, or pegs.

W. D. R.; M. V.

Abaris, legendary devotee of *Apollo from the far north, a shamanistic missionary and saviour-figure like *Aristeas whom *Pindar (fr. 270 Snell–Maehler) associated with the time of *Croesus--perhaps in connection with the king's miraculous rescue from the pyre and translation to the *Hyperboreans. Herodotus, ending his discussion of the latter (4. 36), tantalizes by refusing to say more than that ‘he carried the arrow around the whole world while fasting’ (cf. the mission of *Triptolemus, and *Demeter's search for Persephone). The arrow was a token of Apolline authority, and may have been a cure for disease; later traditions have him present it to *Pythagoras (1), and *Heraclides (1) Ponticus described him flying on it like a witch's broomstick.

A. Lesky, A History of Greek Literature 158 f.; M. L. West, The Orphic Poems (1983), 54.

A. H. G.


Abdera, a flourishing Greek city east of the Nestus river on the coast of *Thrace (Diod. Sic. 13. 72. 2). It was traditionally founded as a colony of *Clazomenae in 654 BC, a date for which 7th-cent. Greek pottery affords some support. It was reoccupied by colonists from Teos (among them *Anacreon) in the second half of the 6th cent. (Hdt. 1. 168; Pind. Paean 2); its site was near Bulustra, a corruption of the name it bore in the Middle Ages, Polystylon. Like *Aenus, Abdera owed its wealth (it was the third richest city in the *Delian League, with a contribution of 15 talents) to its corn production (see the coins), and to the fact that it was a port for the trade of inland Thrace and especially of the Odrysian rulers. Abdera was a resting-place for the army of Xerxes in 480 BC when it was marching to invade Greece (Hdt. 7. 120). In 431 BC Abdera, under Nymphodorus, an Athenian *proxenos (Thuc. 2. 29. 1), was the protagonist in an attempt to unite Thrace and Macedonia with Athens. Nymphodorus arranged an alliance between Athens and his brother-in-law, the Odrysian ruler, *Sitalces. Abdera was subjected to the rule of *Philip (1) II and remained in the hands of the successive masters of Macedonia. Under the Romans it was a ‘*free city’ (Plin. HN 4. 42). The coin type of Abdera reached perfection c.450–425 BC. Though ‘Abderites’ was a by-word for stupidity (Cic. Att. 4. 17. 3, 7. 7. 4), Abdera boasted among its citizens *Democritus and *Protagoras. Extensive excavations continue. See DIOMEDES (1)

S. Casson, Macedonia, Thrace and Illyria (1926); M. Feyel, BCH 1942–3, 176 (bibliog.); D. K. Samsares, Historical Geography of East Macedonia in Antiquity (1976, in Greek); J. M. F. May, The Coinage of Abdera (1966); C. Koukouli-Chrysanthaki, Archaeological Researches in Ancient Abdera (1985, in Greek); AEMQAEMTh 1987, 1988; A. J. Graham, JHS 1992 44ff.

J. M. R. C.; N. G. L. H.


abortion was controversial in antiquity. Doctors taking the Hippocratic Oath (see HIPPOCRATES (2)) swore not to administer abortifacients, but other Hippocratic texts suggest that prostitutes (see PROSTITUTION, SECULAR) often employed abortion. A *Lysias fragment suggests that abortion was a crime in Athens against the husband, if his wife was pregnant when he died, since his unborn child could have claimed the estate. Greek temple inscriptions show that abortion made a woman impure for 40 days (see POLLUTION).

The Stoics (see STOICISM) believed that the foetus resembled a plant and only became an animal at birth when it started breathing. This attitude made abortion acceptable. Roman jurisprudence maintained that the foetus was not autonomous from the mother's body. There is no evidence for laws against abortion during the Roman republic. It was common during the early Roman empire (e.g. Ov. Am. 2. 14), and was practised for many reasons, e.g. for family limitation, in case of *adultery, or because of a desire to maintain physical beauty. *Soranus (Gynaecology 1. 59–65, Eng. trans. 1956) distinguished deliberate from spontaneous abortion, and abortion from *contraception. He accepted abortion if the woman's life was in danger. *Galen and *Dioscorides (2) mention many plant products used, either orally or by vaginal suppository, to provoke abortions (see PHARMACOLOGY). Some plants, e.g. aristolochia and squirting cucumber, can indeed have such effects. Mechanical methods were also used.

The emperors *Severus and *Caracalla towards AD 211 introduced the first definite ban on abortion in Rome as a crime against the rights of parents, and punished it with temporary exile. The spread of *Christianity changed attitudes. The Teachings of the Apostles, the first Christian document to mention abortion, condemned it, as did the Letter of Barnabas, *Tertullian, and many later writers. Christians regarded abortion, once the foetus was fully formed (40 days after conception), as murder of a living being.

E. Nardi, Procurato aborto nel mondo greco-romano (1971).

J. R. S.


Abydos was the best harbour on the Asiatic side of the *Hellespont. In the Iliad (2. 836) an ally of Troy and then a Thracian settlement, it was colonized c.700 BC by Milesians (see COLONIZATION, GREEK; MILETUS). From 514 it was under Persian control and served in 480 as the Asiatic bridgehead from which *Xerxes crossed into Europe (Hdt 7. 34, 43 ff.). Thereafter it was successively part of the *Athenian empire until it revolted in 411 (Thuc. 8. 61–2), a Spartan ally until 394, and under Persian rule again until freed by *Alexander (3) the Great in 334. It put up heroic resistance when besieged by *Philip (3) V of Macedon in 200 (Polyb. 16. 29–34). In Roman times and in late antiquity it was an important customs-station (OGI 521). There are no significant archaeological remains at the site, but its coinage, including early electron issues, is important.

Bean, PECS, 5; Magie, Rom. Rule Asia Min. 752 ff., 1012 ff.; G. Hirschfeld, RE 1. 129–30.

S. M.

Academy, public *gymnasium at Athens, sacred to the hero Academus, north-west of the Dipylon gate. It gave its name to the school founded there by *Plato (1) in the early 4th cent. and maintained by an unbroken line of successors until the 1st cent. BC. The school's private property was never there, but, at least during the 4th cent., at Plato's nearby house.

The Early Academy is the phase of doctrinal Platonism under Plato himself (d. 347) and his successors *Speusippus, *Xenocrates (1), *Polemon (2), and Crates.

The ‘New Academy’ is the phase, from c.269 to the early or mid-1st cent. BC (its further subdivision, Sext. Emp. Pyr. 1. 220, is a later imposition), in which the school, initially under *Arcesilaus (1), interpreted true Platonism as scepticism. Dialectical criticism of doctrines, usually Stoic, was orchestrated to demonstrate akatalepsia, the impossibility of knowledge, resulting in epoche, suspension of judgement. *Carneades, its most influential head (mid 2nd cent.), was a systematic critic of all doctrines. His successors disagreed about his true intentions: *Clitomachus (scholarch c.128–c.110) regarded his arguments as still promoting epoche, but *Metrodorus (3) of Stratonicea and *Philon (3) of Larissa (possibly the last scholarch, c.110–c.79) considered their intent doctrinal, albeit fallibilist, with the ‘convincing’ (pithanon) an adequate basis for both action and philosophical judgement. *Cicero's main philosophical works reflect his allegiance to the Philonian Academy.

In 87 BC, when the Academics were refugees from Athens, Philon was openly challenged by his disciple *Antiochus (11) of Ascalon, whose ‘Old Academy’ claimed to return to the doctrines of the ‘ancients’, meaning especially Plato and *Aristotle. Thereafter the Academy as an institution disintegrated (whether Antiochus ever became scholarch is uncertain), although the title ‘Academic’ lived on (cf. *Plutarch).

H. Cherniss, The Riddle of the Early Academy (1945); J. Glucker, Antiochus and the Late Academy (1978); T. Dorandi (ed.), Filodemo, ‘Storia dei filosofi: Platone e l'Academia’ (1991); M. Ostwald and J. P. Lynch, CAH 62 (1994), ch. 12a.

D. N. S.


Acamas, son of *Theseus and brother of *Demophon (1). Unknown to the Iliad, the brothers are certainly present at Troy in the Iliu Persis (fr. 4 Davies), and free their grandmother *Aethra from her servitude there. They share other adventures in the later mythological tradition; when young, they are sent to Euboea for safety, and on their return from Troy both are connected with the seizure of the *Palladium and involuntary homicide. The usual distinguishing feature of Acamas is his interest in distant places, and as the leader of colonizing settlements he is the heroic prototype for Athenian interests in *Cyprus and the *Chersonesus (1). Acamas was one of the tribal *eponymoi of Athens.

Kron, Phylenheroen 141–70, 269–75, and LIMC 1. 435–46.

E. Ke.

Acanthus (mod. Ierissos) was a colony of *Andros (Thuc. 4. 84) near the narrowest point of the Akte prong of *Chalcidice and thus close to the canal dug in 480 BC on the orders of *Xerxes I of Persia (Hdt. 7. 22; Thuc. 4. 109); at this time it was an important Persian base. It remained loyal to Athens for much of the 5th cent. (paying a normal tribute of 3 talents in the *Delian League), until 424 when it was famously seduced by the rhetoric of the Spartan *Brasidas (Thuc. 4.85–7 for the speech, a tour de force), though Thuc. also drily notes (4. 88) that the Acanthians were concerned for their grape-vintage which Brasidas had threatened to destroy. Thuc. 4. 124. 1 (separate mention of Acanthians and Chalcidians in Brasidas' army) implies that like *Torone, Acanthus was not at this time a member of the Chalcidic League (see CHALCIDICE). In the Peace of *Nicias (1) Acanthus was ‘autonomous but tribute-paying’. In the 380s Acanthus appears in outright opposition to the Chalcidic League (Xen. Hell. 5. 2. 11 ff., cf. Tod 111 for Acanthian independence in the 390s). It was taken by *Philip (1) II of Macedon in 350 and sacked by the Romans in 200 BC (Livy 31. 45. 16; not AD 200, as Miller). Finds from excavations on the site (including a 4th-cent. BC necropolis) can be seen in the museums at Polygiros and Thessalonike.

Thuc. 4. 84 ff.; M. Zahrnt, Olynth und die Chalkidier (1971) 146–150 and in Lexikon der historischen Stätten 89; S. G. Miller, PECS 23; Hornblower, Comm. on Thuc. For the canal, B. Isserlin and others, BSA 1994, 277–184.

S. H.

Acarnan, eponym of *Acarnania. He was the son, with Amphoterus, of Callirhoë (the daughter of Acheloüs) and *Alcmaeon (1) (who had settled in the *Achelous floodplain to escape the *Erinyes). Later, when Alcmaeon was murdered by the sons of *Phegeus, Callirhoë begged *Zeus to age her sons prematurely so they might avenge their father's murder. Their vengeance exacted, Acarnan and Amphoterus gathered settlers and inhabited Acarnania (Thuc. 2. 102; Apollod. 3. 91–3; Strab. 10. 2. 6).

W. M. M.

Acarnania, a district of NW Greece, bounded by the *Ionian Sea, the gulf of Ambracia, and the *Acheloüs river. The district is divided into three main regions: (1) a rugged coast with small bays and small alluvial plains, (2) a mountainous interior range that parallels the coast from north-west to south-east, and (3) small plains between the mountains and the Acheloüs river to the east. Although Neolithic, early Helladic, and late Helladic remains have been located near Astacus (at Agios Nikolaos, Platygiali, Grabes, and Chrisovitsa), evidence for widespread prehistoric settlement is lacking. Homer seems ignorant of the region except as a part of the shadowy ‘mainland’ inside *Ithaca, although names like Melite and Marathus may point to *Phoenician seafarers using this coast for shelter on their westward voyages. Significant Greek influence began during the 7th cent. BC when *Corinth settled Anactorium, Sollium and Leucas and when (soon thereafter?) *Cephallenia settled Astacus. *Thucydides (2) mentions settlements at Alyzeia, Astacus, Coronta, Limnaea, Medion, *Oeniadae, Palaerus, Phytia (Phoetiae), and Stratus, some of which were surely fortified poleis (Oeniadae, Stratus, Astacus, Palaerus). At Stratus, the Acarnanians formed a loose confederacy (koinon), which primarily represented the concerns of the inland cities, and thus did not always constitute the unified will of the entire ethnos (see ETHNICITY). Because of its strategic position along the western sailing route to Italy, the district was involved in many wars: in the 5th cent. Athens helped expel the Corinthians from their Acarnanian colonies and successfully blocked Peloponnesian interference in the region (429–26); in the 4th cent. the Acarnanians capitulated to the Spartan king *Agesilaus (in 390 or 389) and they remained Spartan allies until 375 when they joined the *Second Athenian Confederacy. Acarnanians supported Boeotia in its triumph over Sparta and fought with Athens against *Philip (1) II at *Chaeronea. Subsequently they became dependants of Macedonia. In 314, at the instance of *Cassander, the Acarnanian communities near the Aetolian border agreed to concentrate into larger cities (the largest being Stratus). Frequent frontier disputes with the Aetolians led to the partition of Acarnania between Aetolia and Epirus (c.252–50). After the fall of the Epirote monarchy, the Epirote section recovered their independence (c.230), reorganized their league, and acquired from Epirus the island of *Leucas which became their new capital. They sided with *Philip (3) V of Macedon against the Romans (200), and as a result, Leucas was separated from the koinon; Thyrreion (with its strong pro-Roman faction) became the new capital. Although retaining their confederacy until 31–29 BC, the region suffered severely in the intervening years, first from *piracy, and then from the Roman civil wars. The cities thereafter became dependants of *Nicopolis (3).

Oberhummer, Akarnanien (1887); P–K GL 2. 368–417; J. A. O. Larsen, Greek Federal States (1968), 89–95; W. M. Murray, Coastal Sites of Western Akarnania (Diss. 1982); D. Domingo-Foraste, A History of Northern Coastal Akarnania to 167 BC (Diss. 1988).

W. M. M.


Acastus, in mythology, son of Pelias (see NELEUS); he took part in the Argonautic expedition and the Calydonian boar-hunt (see ARGONAUTS; MELEAGER (1)). When *Peleus took refuge with him, Acastus' wife (variously named) loved him, and being repulsed, accused him to her husband of improper advances. Acastus, therefore, stole Peleus' wonderful sword and left him alone on Mt. *Pelion, where he was rescued by Chiron (see CENTAURS). Afterwards Peleus took *Iolcus, putting to death Acastus' wife and, by some accounts, Acastus himself (Apollod. 3. 164–7, 173; schol. Ap. Rhod. 1. 224; cf. Paus. 3. 18. 16).

H. J. R.
Acca Larentia

Acca Larentia, obscure Roman goddess with a festival on 23 December (*Larentalia or Larentinalia). One tradition (Valerius Antias fr. 1 Peter) makes her a prostitute, contemporary with *Romulus, who left her property to the Roman people; another (Licinius Macer fr. 1 Peter) makes her wife of *Faustulus and hence adopted mother of Romulus. Cato (fr. 16 Peter) initially made the connection of she-wolf (lupa) with prostitute (meretrix); thus the courtesan name Faula is linked with Faustulus (RE 6.2090–1). The long quantity of the first syllable in Larentia (Auson. Technop. 8. 9 Peiper; p. 179 Green) suggests a connection with *Larunda and not Lar (short a), but this is not decisive, and the Lar as family ancestor would be appropriate (see LARES); cf. Ogilvie on Livy 1.4.7. Plutarch implausibly assigned her an April festival (Quaest. Rom. 35 with Rose's notes); cf. E. Tabeling, Mater Larum (1932), 57–8; Latte, RR 92.

Inscr. Ital. 13. 2. 543–4; LIMC 1. 10–11; J. Scheid, Romulus et ses frères (1990), 18–24, 590–2.

C. R. P.

accents, Greek

accents, Greek See PRONUNCIATION, GREEK, § (D).

Accius, Lucius

Accius, Lucius (170–c.86 BC), stage poet and literary scholar of municipal freedman birth. His family's lands were at Pisaurum in Umbria. He attached himself in Rome to D. *Iunius Brutus Callaicus (consul 138). Although of conservative political views, he believed that literary talent demanded in its context more respect than nobility of birth (cf. the anecdote about C. *Iulius Caesar Strabo Vopiscus at Val. Max. 3. 7. 11). He had a touchy sense of his own importance, always avenging insults (Rhet. Her. 1. 24). Contemporaries were amused by the outsize statues of himself he had placed in the temple of the Muses (Plin. HN 34. 19).

Over 40 tragic titles and not one unmistakably comic title are transmitted. (Achilles, Aegisthus, Agamemnonidae, Alcestis, Alcmeo, Alphesiboea, Amphitruo, Andromeda, Antenoridae, Antigona, Armorum iudicium, Astyanax, Athamas, Atreus, Bacchae, Chrysippus, Clytemestra, Deiphobus, Diomedes, Epigoni, Epinausimache, Erigona, Eriphyla, Eurysaces, Hecuba, Hellenes, Medea, Melanippus, Meleager, Minotaurus, Myrmidones, Neoptolemus, Nyctegresia, Oenomaus, Pelopidae, Persidae, Philocteta, Phinidae, Phoenissae, Prometheus, Stasiastae vel Tropaeum Liberi, Telephus, Tereus, Thebais, Troaides). A relatively large number concerned the Trojan cycle of legends. The earliest, probably the Atreus, was performed in 140 (Cic. Brut. 229). The year 104 saw the première of the Tereus. The Brutus dramatized the tyrannical deeds of the second Tarquin (L. *Tarquinius Superbus). It could have glanced at the ambitions of the *Gracchi. The Aeneadae vel Decius centred on the defeat of the Gallo-Etrusco-Samnite alliance at *Sentinum in 295. It must have given prominence to the non-Italian origin of the Romans; possibly in conscious criticism of the demands being formulated by the Italian allies (*socii) in the last part of the 2nd cent.

A lengthy hexameter poem, the Annales, found Greek origins for Roman religious festivals. The trochaic septenarii of the Pragmatica had something to do with the theatre. In the case of the Parerga and the Praxidica neither the style nor the range of content is clear. The Didascalica ran to at least nine books and comprehended among other things the history of both the Athenian and the Roman theatre. Accius cast his discourse here in a mixture of prose and diverse poetical metres. Later researchers demonstrated his dates for the activities of *Livius Andronicus to be too low (Cic., Brut. 72) and disputed his judgement that the Gemini lenones, Condalium, Anus bis compressa, Boeotia, Agroecus and Commorientes then attributed to Plautus were spurious (Gell. NA 3. 3). Various attempts by him to make the Latin orthographical system reflect more closely the actual *pronunciation of the language were not taken up. His desire to kill off the practice of giving Greek names Latin terminations (Varro, Ling. 10. 70) had more influence. Varro admired his learning sufficiently to dedicate to him his De ambiguitate litterarum. More respect for old Roman tradition was shown by his composition in *Saturnian verses of an elogium for his patron Brutus (schol. Bob. Cic. p. 179). Somewhat out of character with his dignified public mien seems a work of obscure content but clearly frivolous form cited by *Gellius and *Diomedes (3), the Sotadica. *Pliny the Younger put him among the Latin erotic poets (Ep. 5. 6).

The grandeur of Accius' tragic style caused some contemporaries to laugh (Porph. Hor. Serm. 1. 10. 53). *Cicero, however, who was proud to have known him personally, admired his plays almost as highly as he did those of *Pacuvius and cited extensive passages in his rhetorical and philosophical dialogues. Performances are known of the Eurysaces, Clytemestra, Tereus, and Brutus on the mid 1st-cent. BC stage. The likes of *Columella and the younger Seneca (see L. ANNAEUS SENECA (2) ) continued to read him. In late antiquity *Nonius Marcellus had access to at least 30 of his scripts, and a writer on old Latin metre could cite four at first hand (*Priscianus, ed. Keil, Gramm. Lat. 3 418 ff.).

FRAGMENTS E. H. Warmington, Remains of Old Latin, 2 (1936), 326 ff. (with trans.); dramatic frs.: TRF 157 ff.; non-dramatic frs.: Courtney, FLP 56 ff. DISCUSSIONS F. Marx, RE 1 (1893), 142 ff.; R. degli Innocenti Pierini, Studi su Accio (1980).

H. D. J.

acclamation vocal expressions of approval and good wishes in ritual form were an important part of Roman life, both private (e.g. at weddings) and public (for actors and the presiding magistrate at public performances, and above all at a *triumph). The title of *imperator was based on the soldiers' acclamation. A magistrate leaving for his province was escorted by crowds shouting ritual acclamations, and his return was received in a corresponding way. (See PROVINCIA §2.) Under the empire, these rituals were magnified, but confined to the emperor and approved members of his family. They were also ritually greeted at public appearances, especially at games and on their birthdays. By the 4th cent. AD such greetings had been made mandatory for certain high officials (Cod. Theod. 1. 6. 6, 6. 9. 2). By the late republic, rhythmical shouting at games, sometimes organized, expressed approval or disapproval of politicians. Cicero takes it very seriously, as expressions of public opinion (which of course counted only in the city of Rome), and P. *Clodius Pulcher organized such shouting at *contiones to simulate public opinion. Under the empire, such acclamations, especially at games, became the only expression of public opinion and they could rarely be suppressed. They were normally combined with ritual greetings of the emperor to express approval or disapproval of prominent persons and demand rewards or punishments for them. Ritualized acclamations spread to *recitations and *declamations and claques could be collected and even paid for this. Nero formed a large claque for his performances, importing the Alexandrian tradition of musical accompaniment to their chants.

In the senate ritual shouts of greeting and approval for the emperor appear very early. They were used to attract the emperor's notice by demanding punishment of ‘traitors’ (see MAIESTAS), and at the death of a hated emperor would demand (probably with more spontaneity) his *damnatio memoriae and punishment for his creatures (see e.g. Tac. Hist. 1. 72. 3; Suet. Dom. 23. 1). On Trajan's accession the acclamations welcoming him were first recorded on published documents (Pliny, Pan. 75. 2) and that practice spread. By this time acclamations also greeted (e.g.) the announcement of the names of designated consuls (ibid. 95. 2). But senate procedure was not basically affected. As the *Historia Augusta frequently attests (showing at least what was taken for granted), recorded acclamations increased in length and frequency. By the 4th cent., discussion and traditional procedure had lapsed and they provided an appearance of senatorial expression of opinion. The development was naturally imitated at the local level and ultimately reached the Church.

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