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Achaean League

Achaean League

The Achaean League (or Achaian Confederacy) was a federation of Greek city-states in the north and central parts of the Peloponnese in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BCE. With a combined political representation and land army, the successful early years of the League would eventually bring it into conflict with other regional powers Sparta, Macedon, and then later Rome. Defeat by the latter in 146 BCE brought the confederacy to a dramatic end.

Founding & Membership

The League was formed in c. 281 BCE by 12 city-states in the region of Achaea who considered themselves as having a common identity (ethnos). Indeed, several of these states had already been members of a federation (koinon) in the Classical period but this had broken up c. 324 BCE. The principal founding members of the League were, then, Dyme, Patrai, Pharai, and Tritaia, all located in western Achaea in the northern Peloponnese of Greece. More Achaean cities joined in the following decade and the stature of the League grew when Sicyon, a city outside the region, joined in 251 BCE. From then on, membership steadily grew to encompass the whole of the Peloponnese.

Members enjoyed the strength in numbers of the League whilst maintaining their independence. Their primary obligation was to contribute a quota of warriors for the League's collective army. Cities also sent representatives to meetings of the League in proportion to their status - smaller cities sent one, and larger ones could send three. Of these, the original founding and larger members continued to exert more influence and their representatives certainly carried more stature as regional statesmen. The representatives met, perhaps four times each year, on a federal council and there was also a citizen's assembly. Up to c. 189 BCE meetings were held at the sanctuary of Zeus Homarios at Aigion and thereafter at individual city-states, presumably on a rotation basis.

The League gave its members a better defence and brought such benefits as access to a common judicial process and a common currency.

The representatives sent by city-states were led by the strategos (general), a position which was introduced in c. 255 BCE and held for one year. To better ensure one state did not overly dominate, the position could not be held for consecutive years. However, this did not stop some notable figures such as Philopoimen (from Megalopolis) and Aratos (from Sicyon) holding the position several times in their careers. Other important positions included the cavalry commander (hipparch), ten damiourgoi officials, and a League secretary.

The League not only gave its members a better defence against outside aggression but also brought several non-military benefits such as access to a common judicial process and the use of a common currency and system of measurements.


As the League expanded and became more influential, so too its relations with other regional powers increased in intensity. Local rivalries existed in particular with Sparta to the south and the Aitolian League across the straits of Corinth. Even distant Macedon and Egypt began to take an interest in the League's affairs. These relations became ever more strained as the League became more ambitious. In 243 BCE Corinth was attacked and forcibly made a member of the League. The effect of this acquisition was to weaken the Macedonian presence in the region and so allowed the League to assume more member cities, notably Megalopolis in 235 BCE.

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The Macedonian Wars

Trouble was brewing, though, as Cleomenes III of Sparta (r. 235-222 BCE) sought to expand his own influence in the region. This forced the League to seek help from Antigonos III of Macedon. Together the two allies defeated Sparta at the Battle of Sellasia in 222 BCE. As payment for their support, the acropolis of Corinth, the Acrocorinth, was given back to the Macedonians.

Then a new heavyweight power entered the scene of Greek inter-state politics: Rome. The League remained loyal to Macedon in the First Macedonian War (212-205 BCE) between the two powers. This was an unwise move as Philip V's Macedonian army was defeated. The Achaeans then pragmatically switched sides in the Second Macedonian War (200-196 BCE) and supported Rome. This time finding itself on the winning side, the League had to carefully balance its ambitions with the new wider political situation. Around 196 BCE Rome and the League signed a treaty of alliance, quite a distinction at the time.

Conflict with Rome & Collapse

Sparta, Elis, and Messene were made members of the League while Rome was distracted by another war, this time against Antiochos III, the Seleucid king. Again the Romans were unstoppable and their defeat of Antiochos at Thermopylae in 191 BCE and Magnesia in Asia Minor in 190 BCE left Greece ever more vulnerable to Roman dominance. A Third Macedonian War (171-167 BCE) brought another Roman victory and Greece was well on the road to become nothing more than a Roman province.

Already not best pleased by the League's acquisition of Sparta, Rome became suspicious of its ambiguous political stance. As a consequence, Rome took 1,000 prominent Achaean hostages back to the Eternal City and in 146 BCE there was open war between the two powers in what is sometimes referred to as the Achaean War. Predictably, the Roman war machine prevailed again; Corinth was sacked and the League in its current form disbanded. The confederacy was, though, later permitted to function in a more limited way and on a more local basis. It survived as such into the 3rd century CE and perhaps beyond, occasionally forming alliances with other such groups within the Greek region of the Roman Empire.

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The Romans under Lucius Mummius defeated the Achaeans, razed Corinth and dissolved the league. G.T Griffith said the Achaean war 'was a hopeless enterprise, badly led and backed by no adequate reserves of money or men'. Lucius Mummius received the cognomen Achaicus ("conqueror of Achaea") for his role.

Hopeless for whom? Evidently not for the Romans. This is unclear presumably 'hopeless' from the Achaean POV, but the sentence is placed between two others that deal with the successful Romans. Cynwolfe (talk) 22:16, 11 March 2010 (UTC)

Text and/or other creative content from Achaean Federation was copied or moved into Achaean League with [permanent diff this edit]. The former page's history now serves to provide attribution for that content in the latter page, and it must not be deleted so long as the latter page exists.

The Archaean shield used by the Achaeans was probably not Celtic. Achaea and their known affiliates had no contact with Celts. Proto-Celtic culture as conservatively understood did not extend even into Central Europe except in controversial Indo-European linguistic theory. Language tables show no demonstrated progression between "Insular Celtic" languages and the unknown "Indo-European language". — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:28, 20 January 2012 (UTC)

The text is referring to the Thureos, a celtic shield, the celts invaded greece and settled in Galatia, and most western hellenistic kingdoms adopted celtic armament in one way or another. I'm removing the Citation Needed on the article. — Preceding unsigned comment added by JirisysKlatoon (talk • contribs) 02:02, 16 December 2012 (UTC)

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The link to Megalopolis is incorrect, it links to the general term “Megalopolis” and not to the correct article which is “Megalopolis, Greece” Patsyjasper (talk) 08:22, 17 January 2020 (UTC)

Formation of the Achaean League

The first Achaean league was founded in the fifth century BCE, and it was made up of city-states from northwestern Peloponnese. The league waned around the fourth century with the destruction of Helike, which was the capital, by a tsunami and an earthquake in 373 BCE. This was known as the Classical League. The second league was established in 280 BCE by the Patrae, Dyme, Tritaea, and Pharae communities and was known as the Hellenistic league. Aegium joined the founding communities in 275 BCE. The confederation was made up of several mainland cities, but some Mediterranean island city-states like Kydonia decided to join. The league grew over time to include the whole of the central Achaean region and had about 11 members by the end of ten years. Aratus was the leading politician in the league. The capital of the league was Aigion, and the languages spoken were Achaean Doric Koine and Koine Greek.

Polybius, Histories

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The First Achaean League

Ζεύς ὁμάριος or ἀμάριος.
B. C. 405-367.
B. C. 371.

1 The Pythagorean clubs, beginning in combinations for the cultivation of mystic philosophy and ascetic life, had grown to be political,—a combination of the upper or cultivated classes to secure political power. Thus Archytas was for many years ruler in Tarentum ( Strabo, I.3.4 ). The earliest was at Croton , but they were also established in many cities of Magna Graecia. Sometime in the fourth century B. C. a general democratic rising took place against them, and their members were driven into exile. Strabo, 8.7.1 Justin, 20, 4 Iamblichus vit. Pythag., 240-262.

2 The MS. vary between ὁμάριος and ὁμόριος. The latter form seems to mean "god of a common frontier." But an inscription found at Orchomenus gives the form ἀμάριος, which has been connected with ἡμάρα "day."

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Achaea, Modern Greek Akhaï´a, perifereiakí enótita (regional unit) and historic region of Greece on the north coast of the Peloponnese (Modern Greek: Pelopónnisos), south of the Gulf of Corinth (Korinthiakós). In ancient times it was bounded on the west by Elis (modern Ilía), on the south by Mount Erymanthus and Arcadia (Arkadía), and on the east by Sicyon (modern Sikión). The highway and railway from Athens (Athína) to Pátrai follow the north coast of the Peloponnese.

Early in the 4th century bce the 12 cities of Achaea formed the Achaean League, a military alliance. In Hellenistic times, the league admitted non-Achaean allies and became the chief political power in Greece. It went over to Rome in 198 bce but was dissolved by the Romans in 146 bce , after which it was annexed to the Roman province of Macedonia. In 27 bce it became the centre of the Roman senatorial province of Achaea, which included all of Greece south of Thessaly. After various invasions and dismemberments in the Middle Ages, Achaea was conquered by the Turks in 1460. It was in the monastery of Ayía Lavra near Kalávrita in this province that the standard of the Greek Revolution was raised in March of 1821. Achaea was liberated from the Turks in 1828.

The name Achaea was also applied in antiquity to a region west of the Gulf of Pagasae (Pagasitikós Kólpos) in southern Thessaly (Thessalía), which was known as Achaea Phthiotis. In Mycenaean times the name referred to the whole Peloponnese. Pop. (2001) 318,928 (2011) 309,694.

This article was most recently revised and updated by Richard Pallardy, Research Editor.

Vices of the Constitution.

It happened but too often that the Deputies of the strongest Cities awed and corrupted those of the weaker, and that Judgment went in favor of the most powerful party. Id. see also Plutarch’s Themistocles.

Greece was the victim of Philip. If her confederation had been stricter, & been persevered in, she would never have yielded to Macedon, and might have proved a Barrier to the vast projects of Rome. Code de l’Hum Philip had two votes in the Council. Rawleigh Hist: World. lib 4. c. 1. Sec. 711

The Execution of the Amphyctionic powers was very different from the Theory. Id.—It did not restrain the parties from warring agst. each other. Athens & Sparta were members during their conflicts. Quer. whether Thucidides or Xenophon in their Histories ever allude to the Amphyctionic authority which ought to have kept the peace?—See Gillies Hist: Greece—particularly Vol. II. p. 34512


The regional Achaean League was reformed in 281/0 BC [1] (on the basis of a looser alliance of the founding city-states extending back to the 5th century BC), and soon expanded beyond its Achaean heartland. It was first joined by the city of Sicyon in 251, [1] which provided it with its first great leader, Aratus of Sicyon. The League soon grew to control much of the Peloponnese, considerably weakening the Macedonian hold on the area. It acquired Corinth in 243 BC, Megalopolis in 235 BC and Argos in 229 BC. [2] The increased size of the league meant a bigger citizen army and more wealth, which was used to hire mercenaries. However the league soon ran into difficulties with the revived Sparta of Cleomenes III. Aratus was forced to call in the aid of the Macedonian King, Antigonus Doson, to defeat Cleomenes in Sellasia. Antigonus re-established Macedonian control over much of the region.

In 220 BC, the Achaean League entered into a war against the Aetolian League, which was called "the second Allied War". The young king Philip V of Macedon sided with the Achaeans and called for a Panhellenic conference in Corinth, where the Aetolian aggression was condemned.

After Aratus's death, however, the League was able to reap much of the benefits of Macedon's defeat by Rome in 197 BC. Under the leadership of Philopoemen, the League was able to finally defeat a heavily weakened Sparta and take control of the entire Peloponnese.

The League's dominance was not to last long, however. During the Third Macedonian War (171–168 BC), the League flirted with the idea of an alliance with Perseus, and the Romans punished it by taking several hostages to ensure good behavior, including Polybius, the Hellenistic historian who wrote about the rise of the Roman Republic. In 146 BC, the league erupted into an open revolt against Roman domination, the Achaean War. The Romans under Lucius Mummius defeated the Achaeans at the Battle of Corinth, razed Corinth and dissolved the League. G.T. Griffith has written that Achaean War was a hopeless enterprise for the Achaeans, badly led and backed by no adequate reserves of money or men. [2] Lucius Mummius received the agnomen Achaicus ("conqueror of Achaea") for his role.

Roman era

The original name koinon of Achaeans (Achaean League) continues to exist in epigraphy, denoting either the previous Peloponnesian members (see koinon of Free Laconians) or the whole of Roman Achaea. In c. 120 BC Achaeans of cities in the Peloponnese dedicated an honorary inscription to Olympian Zeus, after a military expedition with Gnaeus Domitius against the Galatians in Gallia Transalpina. [3] In Athens, AD 221-222 the koinon of Achaeans, when the strategos was Egnatius Brachyllus, decided to send an embassy to the emperor Caracalla [4]


An inscription from ancient Orchomenus dating to 234–224 BC states that members of the Achaean Federation must invoke Zeus and Athena. [5]

The Achaean army was an army of the traditional hoplite type. From the 270s onwards however, much like the rest of Greece, the emergence of the Celtic shield known as the thureos was incorporated into Greek warfare and a new type of troop was developed. Reforming their troops into thureophoroi, the Achaean army was now composed of light troops. The thureophoroi were a mixture of evolved peltasts and light hoplites, carrying the thureos shield, a thrusting spear and javelins. Plutarch tells of how they could be effective at a distance, but in close combat the narrow thureos shield disadvantaged them. He also describes how they would form a formation of sorts, but it would be ineffective, as it would not have inter-locked shields or a ‘leveled line of spears’. [6] Aratus, one of the major Achaean strategoi and statesmen was known for his use of light forces for irregular operations, a type of warfare suited to the thureophoroi but not suited to operations in the open field. [7]

The League in 217 decided to maintain a standing force of 8,000 mercenary foot and 500 mercenary cavalry, added to a picked citizen force of 3,000 infantry and 300 cavalry, of which 500 foot and 50 horse would come from Argos and the same amount from Megalopolis. [8] Aratus also obtained 500 foot and 50 horse each from Taurion and the Messenians for defence of parts of the League open to attack via Laconia. [8] The citizen infantry would have been armed as thureophoroi, apart from the citizen light troops who would have been archers and slingers etc. This picked citizen force may well have existed before these so-called reforms, at least on an official basis, as we know of a similar elite force of the same size as Sellasia in 222. However, it was the Achaean general Philopoemen in 208 who changed the Achaean fighting style and weaponry to the Macedonian fashion. This was due to the influence of Philip V of Macedon, who supported Philopoemen. Philip, at the time of Philopoemen's reforms, was in a full-scale war and could not support or finance the League. He realized that the League had to become militarily self-sufficient but also kept in the Macedonian sphere, lest the League join Macedon's rivals. Philip V probably supported Philopoemen for strategos for the year 208/07 and in doing so was able to get what he wanted. [9] According to Plutarch, Philopoemen ‘persuaded them to adopt long pike and heavy shield instead of spear and buckler, to protect their bodies with helmets and breastplates and greaves, and to practice stationary and steadfast fighting instead of the nimble movements of light-armed troops’. [6] These ‘reforms’ were not necessarily new to some of the constituent cities of the League, the city of Megalopolis had been given bronze shields and armed in the Macedonian fashion by Antigonus Doson for the Sellasia campaign many years before. Philopoemen then trained the new army how to fight with the new weapons and tactics and how to co-ordinate them with a new mercenary corps that was hired. He spent nearly 8 months in his term as strategos visiting, training and advising cities in this capacity. [10] At the Battle of Mantinea in 207 BC the Achaean phalanx was positioned with intervals between the companies with lighter troops. This was obviously a major attempt by Philopoemen to increase the flexibility of his phalanx. [11] He too may have picked this tactic up from his experience at the Battle of Sellasia, where the phalanx of Antigonus Doson was also divided up with light/medium troops in between them. As well as reforming and re-organizing the infantry, Philopoemen also did this with the citizen cavalry. The cavalry was recruited, much like in other Greek states, from the rich and noble classes. Philopoemen organized the cavalry in lochoi, which usually in ancient military treatises means ‘files’, most probably of 8 men, grouped into dilochiai, a formation of double-files of 16 and so forth. However by the time of the Achaean war in the 140s BC, the League's army had decreased in strength and efficiency. The League was even reduced to freeing and arming 12,000 slaves. This was probably due to the 2nd century BC decline in population. This may well account for the increased hiring of mercenaries, especially Cretans and Thracians. [12]

1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Achaean League

ACHAEAN LEAGUE, a confederation of the ancient towns of Achaea. Standing isolated on their narrow strips of plain, these towns were always exposed to the raids of pirates issuing from the recesses of the north coast of the Corinthian Gulf. It was no doubt as a protection against such dangers that the earliest league of twelve Achaean cities arose, though we are nowhere explicitly informed of its functions other than the common worship of Zeus Amarius at Aegium and an occasional arbitration between Greek belligerents. Its importance grew in the 4th century, when we find it fighting in the Theban wars (368–362 B.C. ), against Philip (338) and Antipater (330). About 288 Antigonus Gonatas dissolved the league, which had furnished a useful base for pretenders against Cassander's regency but by 280 four towns combined again, and before long the ten surviving cities of Achaea had renewed their federation. Antigonus' preoccupation during the Celtic invasions, Sparta's prostration after the Chremonidean campaigns, the wealth amassed by Achaean adventurers abroad and the subsidies of Egypt, the standing foe of Macedonia, all enhanced the league's importance. Most of all did it profit by the statesmanship of Aratus (q.v.), who initiated its expansive policy, until in 228 it comprised Arcadia, Argolis, Corinth and Aegina.

Aratus probably also organized the new federal constitution, the character of which, owing to the scanty and somewhat perplexing nature of our evidence, we can only approximately determine. The league embraced an indefinite number of city-states which maintained their internal independence practically undiminished, and through their several magistrates, assemblies and law-courts exercised all traditional powers of self-government. Only in matters of foreign politics and war was their competence restricted.

The central government, like that of the constituent cities, was of a democratic cast. The chief legislative powers resided in a popular assembly in which every member of the league over thirty years of age could speak and vote. This body met for three days in spring and autumn at Aegium to discuss the league's policy and elect the federal magistrates. Whatever the number of its attendant burgesses, each city counted but one on a division. Extraordinary assemblies could be convoked at any time or place on special emergencies. A council of 120 unpaid delegates, selected from the local councils, served partly as a committee for preparing the assembly's programme, partly as an administrative board which received embassies, arbitrated between contending cities and exercised penal jurisdiction over offenders against the constitution. But perhaps some of these duties concerned the dicastae and gerousia, whose functions are nowhere described. The chief magistracy was the strategia (tenable every second year), which combined with an unrestricted command in the field a large measure of civil authority. Besides being authorized to veto motions, the strategus (general) had practically the sole power of introducing measures before the assembly. The ten elective demiurgi, who presided over this body, formed a kind of cabinet, and pethaps acted as departmental chiefs. We also hear of an under-strategus, a secretary, a cavalry commander and an admiral. All these higher officers were unpaid. Philopoemen (q.v.) transferred the seat of assembly from town to town by rotation, and placed dependent communities on an equal footing with their former suzerains.

The league prescribed uniform laws, standards and coinage it summoned contingents, imposed taxes and fined or coerced refractory members.

The first federal wars were directed against Macedonia in 266–263 the league fought in the Chremonidean league, in 243–241 against Antigonus Gonatas and Aetolia, between 239 and 229 with Aetolia against Demetrius. A greater danger arose (227–223) from the attacks of Cleomenes III. (q.v.). Owing to Aratus's irresolute generalship, the indolence of the rich burghers and the inadequate provision for levying troops and paying mercenaries, the league lost several battles and much of its territory but rather than compromise with the Spartan Gracchus the assembly negotiated with Antigonus Doson, who recovered the lost districts but retained Corinth for himself (223–221). Similarly the Achaeans could not check the incursions of Aetolian adventurers in 220–218, and when Philip V. came to the rescue he made them tributary and annexed much of the Peloponnese. Under Philopoemen the league with a reorganized army routed the Aetolians (210) and Spartans (207, 201). After their benevolent neutrality during the Macedonian war the Roman general, T. Quinctius Flamininus, restored all their lost possessions and sanctioned the incorporation of Sparta and Messene (191), thus bringing the entire Peloponnese under Achaean control. The league even sent troops to Pergamum against Antiochus (190). The annexation of Aetolia and Zacynthus was forbidden by Rome. Moreover, Sparta and Messene always remained unwilling members. After Philopoemen's death the aristocrats initiated a strongly philo-Roman policy, declared war against King Perseus and denounced all sympathizers with Macedonia. This agitation induced the Romans to deport 1000 prominent Achaeans, and, failing proof of treason against Rome, to detain them seventeen years. These hostages, when restored in 150, swelled the ranks of the proletariate opposition, whose leaders, to cover their maladministration at home, precipitated a war by attacking Sparta in defiance of Rome. The federal troops were routed in central Greece by Q. Caecilius Metellus Masedonicus, and again near Corinth by L. Mummius Achaicus (146). The Romans now dissolved the league (in effect, if not in name), and took measures to isolate the communities (see Polybius ). Augustus instituted an Achaean synod comprising the dependent cities of Peloponnese and central Greece this body sat at Argos and acted as guardian of Hellenic sentiment.

The chief defect of the league lay in its lack of proper provision for securing efficient armies and regular payment of imposts, and for dealing with disaffected members. Moreover, owing to difficulties of travel, the assembly and magistracies were practically monopolized by the rich, who shaped the federal policy in their own interest. But their rule was mostly judicious, and when at last they lost control the ensuing mob-rule soon ruined the country. On the other hand, it is the glory of the Achaean league to have combined city autonomy with an organized central administration, and in this way to have postponed the entire destruction of Greek liberty for over a century.

Chief Sources .—Polybius (esp. bks. ii., iv., v., xxiii., xxviii.),who is followed by Livy (bks. xxxii.-xxxv., xxxviii., &c.) Pausanias vii. 9-24 Strabo viii. 384 F. Freeman, Federal Government, i. (ed. 1893, London), chs. v.-ix. M. Dubois, Les ligues Étolienne et Achéenne (Paris, 1885) A. Holm, Greek History, iv. G. Hertzberg, Geschichte Griechenlands unter den Römern, i. (Leipzig, 1866) L. Warren, Greek Federal Coinage (London, 1863) E. Hicks, Greek Historical Inscriptions (Oxford, 1892), 169, 187, 198, 201 W.. Dittenberger, Sylloge Inscriptionunn Graecarum (Leipzig, 1898–1901), 236, 282, 316 H. Francotte in Musée Belge (1906), pp. 4-20. See also art. Rome , History, ii. “The Republic,” sect. B(b). ( M. O. B. C. )

Achaean League

Achaean League (əkē´ən) , confederation of cities on the Gulf of Corinth. The First Achaean League, about which little is known, was formed presumably before the 5th cent. BC and lasted through the 4th cent. BC Its purpose was mutual protection against pirates. The Achaeans remained aloof from the wars in Greece until they joined the opposition to Philip II of Macedon in 338 BC The confederation was dissolved soon after. The Second Achaean League was founded in 280 BC Sicyon was freed from the rule of its tyrant in 251 BC, and it soon joined the confederation under the leadership of Aratus. Other cities outside Achaea were incorporated on terms of equality, and in 247 BC the Macedonians were driven from Corinth. There was some promise of liberating all Greece, but unfortunately the interference of Cleomenes III of Sparta threatened the Achaean League, and in 227 BC he began a war. The Achaean League then requested (224 BC) Macedonian aid against Sparta and the Aetolian League. The result was the eclipse of the confederation until the wars between Macedon and Rome. In 198 BC the Achaeans went over to Rome and with Roman aid won practically the whole Peloponnesus, forcing Sparta and Messene to join. Later suspecting the Achaeans of again looking toward Macedon, the Romans deported (168 BC) their leaders (including Polybius) to Italy. In 146 BC the Romans waged a war against the Achaeans and easily triumphed at Corinth. The Romans dissolved the confederation, thereby ending Greek liberty.

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Review: Coinage of the Achaean League

In 1895, General Clerk, basing himself on Rudolph Weil and other earlier researchers, published his exhaustive and convenient study of the coinage of the Achaean League. For the silver, which rarely bore a clear inscription denoting where it was struck, he collected and listed the combinations of letters, monograms, and symbols found on the coins that enabled them to be attributed to specific mints as for the bronze, which bore clear mint names, he collected all the variants then known (including some that did not exist!). The coins were all dated to the broad period running from the restoration of the League in 280 BC by Dyme and Patrae to the destruction of Corinth by the Roman general Mummius in 146 BC, after which the League itself was believed to have fallen into abeyance. However, in 1959 a hoard appeared that was to have profound implications for the study of this coinage, though a massive mistake in its cataloguing was to obfuscate the situation for a generation.

The Agrinion Hoard (IGCH 271) was unearthed in or around Agrinion, a city founded by the Macedonian king Cassander in 314 BC as a bulwark against the Aetolians they captured it shortly later and it remained theirs from then on. The hoard contained a total of 1,348 silver coins: the largest component was of Achaean League hemidrachms, followed by a considerable number of hemidrachms of Megalopolis, Aetolia, and a variety of other Greek states there were also, and this was terribly important, two discrete groups of Athenian New Style tetradrachms and Roman republican denarii. Since a distinctive form of corrosion covered all the coins, we can be certain they were all found together: there are no intrusions (eight coins were dispersed before the hoard was acquired by the ANS, but they were recorded). In her publication of this hoard (The Agrinion Hoard, ANSNNM 159, 1968), the late chief curator of the ANS, Margaret Thompson, came to a number of conclusions:

(1) She believed that, with the exception of some anonymous issues that had to date to the third century, all of the mass issues of the Achaean League must have been struck c. 196–146 BC. She placed the start after the Roman Flamininus’s proclamation of the freedom of Greece and the end with the destruction of Corinth. In fact, the ostensible start date could be slightly lowered since a number of cities only joined the league in the later 190s (like Elis and Lakedaimon).

Corinthia: Achaean League, Corinth. AR drachm, Thompson (1968), 242 (ANS 1963.31.367, purchase, from the Agrinion hoard).
Corinthia: Achaean League, Corinth. AR drachm, Thompson (1968), 584b (ANS 1963.31.376, purchase, from the Agrinion hoard).

(2) She divided the League coinage in the hoard into two groups by wear and style, an early series and a late series almost every previously recorded variety of the two series was in the hoard. However, no coins of what she termed the final series were present in Agrinion, though they were not uncommonly found in other hoards or in public or private collections. Thus she concluded that the final issues were struck after the League component of Agrinion was closed.

(3) Thompson also observed that while earlier issues of Sicyon, Argos, and other cities were in Agrinion, later ones were not she concluded that the later issues were contemporary with the final issues of League and that they too must have been struck after the League component in the hoard was closed.

(4) The Athenian tetradrachms were dated following Thompson’s chronology and ranged from 190/189 BC to 162/1 BC. They thus had no relevance for the hoard’s date of deposit but were contemporary with the hemidrachms.

Attica: Athens. AR tetradrachm. Thompson (1961), 407 (ANS 1963.31.270, purchase, from the Agrinion hoard). The latest issue to appear in the hoard.

(5) Thompson believed that the denarii were the key to the date of the hoard and, following Michael Crawford and Rudi Thomsen’s analysis of them, placed the burial in 135 BC. Since she firmly believed that the Achaean League coinage must have ended in 146 BC, she had to find a reason for the lack of all the final Achaean League coins and contemporary or earlier civic issues. What she did was to maintain that the final issues of the League and all the later civic issues were struck in a massive outpouring of coinage produced in the run up to the war with Rome, c. 150–146 BC. The fact they were not in a hoard interred at least ten years later than she believed the coins were struck was explained by her theory that, with the exception of the denarii, all the remaining coins in the hoard dated to before c. 150 BC and that Aetolia was so remote that newer coins had not arrived there in time to be buried in this deposit.

Rome. AR denarius, Q. Philipus. Crawford 259.1 Thompson (1968), 717 (ANS 1963.31.39, purchase, from the Agrinion hoard). The latest denarius to appear in the hoard.

This reconstruction can no longer stand today.

The major change is in the dating of the New Style tetradrachms of Athens. As is well known, Thompson was convinced that these coins were first struck in 196/5 BC and that they continued without a break until the Sullan sack in 86 BC. Her arrangement of issues was unchallenged, but her chronology was seen by most scholars to be impossible (for example, it resulted in a small issue signed by one King Mithradates being assigned to 121 BC on the occasion of an unknown visit of Mithradates V to Athens, rather than to 87/86 BC, when Mithradates VI held the city). In the end, Thompson’s chronology was revised downward by a generation: the coinage began in the 170s and ended c. 40 BC with some breaks in the series, especially in the years after 86. So now, when we turn to the tetradrachms in Agrinion, we find that the last is dated to 130/129 BC and is accompanied by coins mostly dating to the 140s and 130s: while the earlier pieces are worn, the latest are fresh. Astoundingly enough, by 1974, when Crawford’s Roman Republican Coinage was published, his revised dates for the denarii in Agrinion resulted in a group primarily from the 130s, with a closing piece that also dated to 129 BC (these coins are virtually unworn). Thus the hoard’s date of deposit has to be lowered to the mid-120s at the earliest, and the lack of any of the final Achaean League issues or any of the late issues of other mints, all supposedly struck c. 150–146 BC, becomes even more perplexing (it should be noted that these are not small, rare issues, but very extensive ones). If numerous Athenian and Roman issues of the 130s could manage to get to “remote Aetolia,” why couldn’t Peloponnesian coins of the 140s get there too?

The obvious answer is that these coins had not yet been struck.

This answer was first proposed by the eminent German scholar Christof Boehringer (for references, see the bibliography and discussion in the auction catalogue LHS 96, Coins of Peloponnesos: The BCD Collection, May 8–9, 2006) who made the startling proposal that the final issues of the Achaean League, as well as the latest civic issues from a number of cities (Sicyon, Patrae, Messene, Korone, Lakedaimon, Argos, and Megalopolis), were primarily struck during the first century, some around the time of the Roman general Sulla and others down until the battle of Actium in 31 BC. After all, not only is there ample proof that the League continued to exist after 146 BC, but the reissue of coins of an earlier type for trade purposes was often done in antiquity (as the posthumous Alexanders). Boehringer based himself on Agrinion and on the Poggio Picenze Hoard (IGCH 2056), in which datable coins of the first quarter of the first century BC were combined with mint-fresh Peloponnesian material. His theory was initially met with some skepticism, but it rapidly received a great deal of support, most enthusiastically, perhaps, from Jennifer Warren, an expert on the coinage of the Peloponnesos. She provided a good deal of supporting evidence, including epigraphic, prosopographic, and stylistic links, and produced a number of articles building on Boehringer’s foundations (again, see LHS 96 for the bibliography and commentary, and also, most recently, C. Boehringer, “Quelques remarques sur la circulation monétaire dans le Péloponnèse au IIe et au Ier siècle a. C.,“ in Le Péloponnèse d’Épaminondas à Hadrien, ed. C. Grandjean, 2008).

However, not everyone is convinced. A number of scholars, especially in Greece, strongly disagree with Boehringer’s and Warren’s “new landscape” and prefer to see all the final League issues and all the late Peloponnesian civic issues in silver as having been struck in a single burst of frenzied activity c. 150–146 BC in preparation for the Roman attack thus, in their view, no silver was produced anywhere in the Peloponnesos after 146 BC other than two issues that must have been struck by Patrae in the 30s BC.

Oeconomides, Lakakis-Marchetti, and Marchetti are proponents of this early dating and their publication of the Zougra Hoard (IGCH 261) presents that point of view. Zougra is the site of ancient Pellene, and it was there in 1859 that one of the largest hoards of ancient silver coins ever found in Greece was discovered. It consisted of 9,171 pieces, virtually all hemidrachms the total weight of the hoard when found was 17.25 okas, or 22.8 kg. The coins were presented to Queen Amalia of Greece, who in turn gave them to the Numismatic Museum in Athens. More than half of the coins were of the Achaean League, but there were small groups from central Greece and civic issues from some Peloponnesian mints. However, between 1859 and 1967, when Mando Oeconomides, then the director of the Numismatic Museum, began to search for the coins from this hoard in the vaults of the museum, the vast majority of the pieces presented by the queen had disappeared. Were they disposed of as duplicates? Were they melted down? No one knows. Were the coins that were kept retained as a representative sample of the hoard’s original contents, or were they held simply because they were coins that the then curator felt the museum needed? No one knows. In any event, there are only 771 identifiable pieces left, and it is on this small fraction of the original hoard (around 8.5 percent) that the three authors have based their theories I admire their confidence, but I certainly cannot share it.

The present inventory is as follows (the figure in parentheses refers to the number of coins when found as given by Noe in A Bibliography of Greek Coin Hoards, 2nd ed., ANSNNM 78 [1937]: 1186):

Ainianes 1 (“Thessaly” 13)
Lamia 1 (“Thessaly” 13) Epirus 0 (1)
Aetolia 15 (421)
Locris 6 (146)
Boeotia 31 (289)
Aegina 1 (14)
Corinth 1 (0)
Sicyon 11 (0)
Elis 0 (1)
Messene 2 (3)
Argos 91 (1409)
Megalopolis 45 (“Arcadia” 1185)
Achaean League 564 (5689)

The coins have been carefully described and a considerable number have been illustrated. One surprise is the presence of the eleven coins from Sicyon: Noe does not mention any in the list he took directly from J. de Witte’s original notice of the coins in the Revue Numismatique of 1862 (pp. 170–71: the information came from A. Postolacas, who had been charged with the publication of the hoard by Queen Amalia). It is impossible that nineteenth-century numismatists such as Postolacas or de Witte could have mistaken them for something else—so how could they have missed them? Could they have been misfiled in modern times? Another surprise is the way the Achaean League issues have been treated: rather than ascribing them to the mints to which they have long been attributed, the authors have, without any explanation, simply listed them in thirty-three series. These are, presumably, taken from a rather revolutionary study of the Achaean League coinage that Lakakis-Marchetti is preparing, but it would have been helpful had some inkling been given to the reader. If she thinks none can be ascribed to individual mints, she should say so: otherwise, why not note, for example, that those pieces marked ϜΑ were from Elis, those with ΛΑ from Lakedaimon, and those with ΩΝ from Aegium? In any case, the coins include early, late, and final Achaean League issues, as well as both earlier and later issues from Sicyon, Messene, Argos, and Megalopolis. Thus, we can be sure that Zougra has to be later than Agrinion—the question is how much later.

Unfortunately, unlike in Agrinion where the Athenian and Roman republican contents date the deposit to the 120s, or in Poggio Picenze, where the date in the mid 80s is provided by the Pontic, Cappadocian, and Sullan issues, there are no coins in Zougra that are independently datable. For the authors there is no problem: the date of the hoard has to be 146 BC, as it is for every other hoard containing Achaean League coins. Lakakis-Marchetti categorically dismisses the chronological relevance of Agrinion and Poggio Picenze, as well as any other hoard that seems to support the arguments of Boehringer and Warren, by saying that since they turned up in trade their value as evidence is null (see M. Lakakis-Marchetti, “A propos du monnayage achéen et des trésors qui le font connaître,” in ΧΑΡΑΚΤΗΡ, Athens 1996, for a blanket condemnation of all opposing theories). She assumes the Athenian and Roman parts of Agrinion were simply added to it by the finders or by local middlemen to make it more attractive financially, yet she does not deign to explain how these locals could have managed to produce two groups with exactly the same closing date, especially in the 1950s, when those dates had not yet been determined by scholars!

In the catalogue of the Zougra hoard, opposing dates are either dismissed without comment or ridiculed. For example, on p. 386 they mention, and then ignore, the fact that Grandjean dated the two Messene hemidrachms in Zougra to the late second–first century. Turning to p. 390, in their note 20 to coins 4349–4350, late Argive hemidrachms signed by Lydiadas, they imply that the cataloguer of the BCD Peloponnesos collection must have been an idiot, because they say that he claimed that this magistrate (see BCD lot 1174), with a good, old Greek name, was possibly a Roman (thus supporting the date of c. 80s–50s used in BCD for this series). And the cataloguer would have been, had he done so: in fact, had they bothered to read the commentary correctly in BCD (p. 279, note to lot 1161), they would have discovered that the magistrate identified as a Roman had the decidedly Roman sounding name of Leukios (Lucius) and that the BCD cataloguer had made no comments about Lydiadas whatsoever. Rather intriguingly, magistrates named Leukios only seem to turn up in relatively late contexts on Greek coins and almost certainly indicate a Roman, or at least Italic, origin: one appears as the first magistrate on an early post-Sullan New Style tetradrachm of Athens struck in the 70s (Thompson 1227 see also for an earlier case, S. B. Zoumbaki, “Prosopographie der Eleer bis zum 1. Jh. v. Chr,” Μ40, Athens 2005, A114, pp. 111–113 and M16, pp. 256–257, for a notorious Roman mercenary named Leukios who was in Elis during the 270s). They also (p. 423 and n. 55) dismiss Kroll’s dating of the late silver of Aegium, which is, in fact, firmly connected with the late bronze, which is, in turn, firmly dated to the 30s (see BCD pp. 120–121), by using the amazingly circular argument that since one piece is still in Zougra (p. 396, 3365) and Zougra has to date to 146, it has to be earlier.

Despite all the effort put into resurrecting the Zougra Hoard, basing conclusions on a mere 8.5 percent of its original contents strikes me as unwise ignoring and belittling any evidence that goes against some deeply held ideas does not make those ideas any righter. Yes, there are good historical reasons for thinking that the League coinage ended in 146, but the actual physical evidence makes it clear that it did not: dismissing that evidence will not make it go away. Two perfect parallels for these problems caused by holding on to preconceived ideas both come from Margaret Thompson, one of the great classical numismatists of the twentieth century. The first was, of course, Agrinion. As we have seen, since she firmly believed that the League coinage had to have ended in 146, she had to bend over backward to create a reason (the supposed remoteness of the site) why all the final League and all the late Peloponnesian coins were not in Agrinion, a hoard she dated to 135 BC. She managed to get away with that idea as long as the Athenian material was dated to the 160s but, as we have seen, the whole scheme collapsed when the latest Athenian coin was redated to 130/129 BC. The second parallel comes from the famous Dipylon Hoard of 1875 (IGCH 339), which contained Athenian New Style tetradrachms going down to the issued signed by King Mithradates (T 1143–1146), along with four tetradrachms of Mithradates VI dated to 87: to maintain her chronology, Thompson was forced to postulate a simply impossible gap of thirty-four years between the last Athenian coin and those of Mithradates VI! In any case, nothing in the Zougra Hoard can be used as any kind of proof for the validity of the high chronology.

J. Warren’s study of the bronze coinage of the Achaean League is on quite another level. It consists of an astonishingly detailed catalogue and commentary on the 929 known legible examples of League bronze coins (from forty-five or forty-six mints): every coin is individually described with die links noted and, in a second list, given its full provenance. This catalogue is amazingly complete: it includes all legible and illegible examples from public and private collections and commercial catalogues and scholarly publications going back to 1682, when the first piece, which is now in the British Museum, was published by G. Wheler (A Journey into Greece, London 1682). She even goes so far as to include some unillustrated pieces from earlier publications that can now no longer be traced (though not all: she has left out lots 2421–2423 and 2425–2427 in Rhousopoulos while those are surely all unidentifiable, 2422 was an extremely rare piece from Hypana that sold to Froehner—might it be Warrens’s 334 = BCD 700?), as well as misattributions and one forgery (it is hard to believe anyone would fake one of these things, but it was possibly made in the nineteenth century, when a number of collectors avidly competed to find rarities and new mints in this series). A fascinating section is what Jennifer Warren terms a “chronological bibliography, [a] survey of interest in the bronze coinage of the Achaian Koinon”: the books and articles range from 1644 to 2006.

Arcadia: Achaean League, Megalopolis. AE fraction (ANS 1944.100.40160, bequest of Edward T. Newell).

In her commentary, she points out that the original coinage was immense: the fact that the survival rate is much lower than it is for other ancient bronze coinages seems to indicate that the coins were actively withdrawn from circulation (probably after 146 BC, when its status as a nonintrinsically valuable fiduciary coinage would have become anomalous). Neither the reason why the coinage was produced nor the date when it was issued is clear. It was certainly partially for military reasons and partially to ensure that there was a uniform bronze coinage throughout the League. In addition, while the coins were surely valued as hemiobols it would have cost much less than that to make them thus, the towns that struck them would make a nice profit. Warren discusses how the coinage was made, rightly assuming that official instructions were sent out describing how the coins were to look and what the legends were to be her analysis of which mints struck first and how mint practice developed supports her theories in this regard. As to when they were minted, Warren is such a cautious scholar that she does not clearly state when this took place. She opts for c. 167–164 BC, but I was only able to find this out by writing to her directly! I know that many scholars are loath to ascribe absolute dates to coins about which they are unsure (even only a little bit, as with the early ANS Sylloge volumes), but since this kind of scholarly diffidence will drive the reader crazy, I think Warren should have bitten the bullet and put a clear statement into the text. The reader should also be warned that unlike other classical scholars who use notes solely for references, Warren seems to adore putting vast amounts of extremely interesting information into them. She is notorious for this, but luckily in this volume they appear as footnotes rather than endnotes, and thus the reader will not have to constantly flip back and forth to read them (and read them one must).

Even more than the Achaean League silver, which normally only bears an abbreviated name or symbol to denote its origin, the Achaean League bronze truly symbolizes the political union of the League’s members: the types are uniform and the ethnic is a double one, with the name of the individual city and of the Achaeans in the genitive. While unprepossessing and not particularly attractive, these coins are of real historical and numismatic importance for our understanding of the Hellenistic world. This is definitely not a book for everyone it is only for specialists. As a work of scholarship, however, it is outstanding, and Warren must be congratulated for producing it one hopes that soon we will be able to congratulate her when she completes her study on the silver coinage of Sicyon!