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Herodotus 1.64.3 and Alkmeonides' Dedications IG I^3 597 and 1469: A Case for Alkmaionid Exile

Cameron Pearson

            Different narratives of Alkmaionid exile have been constructed on the basis of inscriptional and literary evidence. I argue that the manuscript reading of Herodotus is correct and that Alkmeonides (Megakles II's younger brother) lead the Alkmaionidai into exile after 546 BC. Before the publication of what is now agreed to be an Athenian archon list (Meritt and IG ­I3 1031a), Herodotus' account of the Alkmaionidai going into exile after Peisistratus' coup in 546 BC, provided us with our story. Wesseling's emendation of the manuscript reading of Hdt. 1.64.3 added a "ν" to Ἀλκμεωνιδέω, changing the text so that the accepted reading says, "So Peisistratus was tyrant of Athens, and some Athenians had fallen in battle while others, with Alkmaionidai went into exile from their land."* The manuscript reading (Ἀλκμεωνιδέω) says that the other Athenians went into exile "with Alkmeonides."  Since Herodotus does not mention Alkmeonides elsewhere, Wesseling's suggestion of Ἀλκμεωνιδέων was accepted.

            After the discovery of the archon list which revealed that "[K]leisthen[es]" was archon in 525/4 , scholars questioned the story of Alkmaionid exile. Was it a later invention to portray the family as anti-tyrannical? Or, perhaps, as Jeffery suggests, not all Alkmaionidai went into exile. Lewis sees no reason to question the manuscript of Herodotus but does not elaborate. Dillon has more recently argued that the restoration [K]leisthen[es] is presumptuous and that [P]leisthen[es] could equally be correct and would not contradict Herodotus.

            This paper argues that when we take into consideration Alkmeonides' two surviving athletic dedications (IG ­I3 597 and 1469), the manuscript reading of Herodotus 1.64.3 makes more sense. Davies doubts his own conclusion that if the manuscript of Herodotus, "can be trusted, Alkmeonides had succeeded his brother Megakles (II) as head of the family by 546..." (p.373). Yet, Alkmeonides' new prominent role would explain why we have two dedications by him, both dated by their letter forms: One from the Athenian Akropolis dated to 550 BC (IG ­I3 597) and the other from the Sanctuary of Apollo Ptoios in Boiotia (IG ­I3 1469=CEG 302) dated to 540 BC. These athletic and religious dedications are typical of elite behavior, both in exile and when trying to establish political authority (see Kyle).

            Furthermore, we note that Herodotus refers to Kleisthenes as head of the family in phrasing similar to the passage where the mss. refers to Alkmeonides. Describing events slightly before 507/8, Hdt. 5.70 says that Kleomenes (the Spartan) sent a messenger to Athens to "banish Kleisthenes and a number of other Athenians, because they were under a curse." This is the Alkmaionid curse incurred from the murders committed during the Kylonian conspiracy (Hdt. 5.71). This way of referring to Kleisthenes as leader of the potential Athenian exiles is almost identical to Hdt. 1.64.3 where the mss. reads: "...some Athenians had died in battle and others with Alkmeonides went into exile from their land." In both phrases, the vague term that Herodotus uses elsewhere of "the Alkmaionidai" is replaced by the leader of the Alkmaionidai and other Athenians.

*Καὶ Πεισίστρατος μὲν ἐτυράννευε Ἀθηνέων, Ἀθηναίων δὲ οἱ μὲν ἐν τῇ μάχῃ ἐπεπτώκεσαν, οἱ δὲ αὐτῶν μετ’ Ἀλκμεωνιδέω[ν] ἔφευγον ἐκ τῆς οἰκηίης. (Hdt. 1.64.3)

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