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36.3.Low

Scholarship on the Athenian epigraphic habit has increasingly emphasised the role played by inscribed monuments in both reflecting and shaping the collective memory of the polis (see, for example, Oliver 2003, Shear 2007). It has been observed that, while inscribed monuments (and especially inscribed decrees) memorialise individuals (proposer, secretary, honorand, etc), this commemoration is inextricably embedded in the commemoration of a collective action: the decision of the people (Osborne 1999). This paper argues that these acts of commemoration were less stable, and the relationship between collective and individual memory more complex, than has previously been recognised, and that this complexity becomes particularly visible when inscribed monuments are destroyed and recreated.

The paper concentrates on a small group of inscriptions -- largely but not exclusively honorific decrees --- which were destroyed at the end of the fifth century (in many cases as a result of the actions of the Thirty), and which were (re)-created in the early years of the fourth. The fact that these monuments were restored has long been recognised (Walbank 1978: 8; Wolpert 2002: 87f), and the motivation for their destruction has also been analysed (see e.g. Flower 2006: 23-31), but there has been no systematic analysis of the process by which they were recreated, its motivations, or its implications.

These inscriptions adopt various approaches to advertising, or concealing, their status as restorations: in some cases, the original decree is reproduced in full, sometimes together with the later decree which authorises its republication (e.g. IG ii2 12, 32 [= IG i3 228]); in other cases, the new monument seems to have stood alone, only alluding to the existence of an earlier version (e.g. IG ii2 6, 52); in other cases again, the act of reconstruction is not explicitly marked at all, but can only be inferred from the content or style of the text (e.g. IG ii2 27 [= IG i3 92], 5224). This variety is itself telling: there is little obvious sign here of the degree of co-ordination or control which has been identified in other areas of Athenian epigraphic practice (contrast, for example, the methodical approach to the destruction and emendation of inscribed treaties argued for by Bolmarcich 2007).

Two of the best preserved inscriptions in this group are particularly revealing. In the restored honours for Heracleides of Clazomenae (IG ii2 8), the original decree of the demos is repeated in full, and the full history of the relationship between city and honorand is thus preserved. Here (as in other honorific decrees) the commemoration of the honorand's activities preserves not just the memory of Heracleides' actions, but also the -- equally honourable -- record of the city's response to euergetism. But this model of commemoration cannot be applied to a near-contemporary inscription: in IG ii2 6 (which records the restoration of the proxeniaof five Thasians) all that is explicitly commemorated is an act of destruction (the removal of the original stele by the Thirty) and an act of restoration; the focus throughout is on stelae rather than substantive psephismata. The result is a monument which seems to commemorate not an event or a decision but another monument; it seems safe to assume that this focus is dramatically different from that of the original. This shift in focus reflects a shift in agency (above all, the increased prominence of the honorands as instigators of the creation of the monument) and in function: the past of the city, as a community, becomes far less important here than that of these five individuals, and recent events are remembered through the prism of their impact on those individuals. The paper argues, therefore, that this diversity of practice is not random, but reflects different attitudes to the commemorative function of inscribed texts; this, in turn, is shaped by competing agendas and agents involved in the recreation of these monuments.

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