I apologise to readers for being rather slow to respond to recent posts, due to my being ‘hors de combat’ for the last week or two with an injury that has kept me bed-ridden. Happily, I am slowly recovering.
I had hoped we had bid ‘Adieu’ to the unreliable and frequently error ridden Monsieur Decourt, but it seems Agesilaos preferred ‘Au revoir!’ Unfortunately Agesilaos has posted two examples which demonstrate this propensity only too well.
When it comes to the boundaries of ancient territories, these of course often altered over time, and were sometimes, though not always, marked with ‘boundary stones’. Only IF that was the case, and only IF those stones were still in situ, or if boundaries are referred to explicitly in literature, is it possible to delineate territories with any degree of certainty for any given period. Since such is not the case in this instance, then the boundaries of each city’s territories remain unknown and probably unknowable, as a little thought would demonstrate. One thing is certain, and that is that territory boundaries would not consist of neat straight lined polygons !
Monsieur Decourt is evidently aware of this, because his caption ( omitted by Agesilaos) reads Plate XIV “ Map of theoretical zones of Greek cities in the Enipeus valley” – in other words not intended to be in any way an accurate representation of actual territories. All we can deduce in actuality from Polybius is that Scotussan territory lay somewhere to the north of the Karadag range ( because Philip’s camp was north of the range, at an unknown place called ‘Melambium’), and that the ‘Thetideion’ and Flamininus’ camp lay to the south in Pharsalan territory. A reasonable guess might be that the boundary lay on either the northern or southern side somewhere at the foot of the range, or perhaps down the ridge line, or most likely of all that it was rather ‘fuzzy’, and not sharply delineated at all, unlike modern borders, but simply rather general in nature, i.e.anywhere north of the mountains was Scotussan and anywhere south Pharsalan. ( c.f. vague boundaries to tribal territories ).
The red line demarcates Skotussan and Pharsalian territory, the brown shows the route Decourt notes when he is not concerned solely with the Roman roads. This is the area one needs to look for the battlefield as Polybios puts Thetideion and the Roman camp about it in Pharsalian territory and Melambion and Philip's penultimate halt in Skotussan land, from which he moved but a short distance.
The ‘brown’ line is actually dotted on the original, which Decourt uses to mark “possible ancient routes”, whilst solid black lines mark “certain ancient routes” ( though not necessarily exactly) – see the map I posted Sat April 11, and note too that the western route is not “solely...Roman”, but designated as a certain ancient route.
In any event, the fact that Decourt thinks there might have been a “possible” track roughly along the modern route is not in dispute – there may have been one, as I mentioned earlier. What we know for certain is that there is no evidence for such a route prior to the nineteenth century that I can find, and presumably Agesilaos likewise, and there is no evidence it was a major route/main road capable of supporting large wagons during the Classical/Hellenistic period.I can't find a source, ancient or modern that suggests that such a route/road existed and was the main route over the Karadag range through Thessaly. All agree that the main north/south route was the western pass, even if not all agree the exact route, and that there was an eastern route via Pherae.
This area is also much more likely a site for the 364 battle of the same name (certainly not sourced from Polybios but most likely from Ephoros) as it is between Alexander's base of Pherai and Pelopidas' at Pharsalos.
That is not a logical assertion, it does not follow that the battle necessarily took place ‘between’ Pherae and Pharsalus especially as any number of locations, including the site I propose, can be so described.
Decourt gives the evidence for Thetideion being a town rather than just a shrine.
....which turns out to be no evidence at all, not least because Decourt makes incorrect statements!
The first five references to ‘palace’ and cities are all purely mythical, and there is no evidence such a place ever existed. Even Decourt calls it ‘meagre’, and knows such a ‘city’ did not exist.
This brings us to Polybius, Plutarch and Livy. Decourt says “ We learn from Polybios and Livy that it was not a city but a village, kome in the territory of Pharsalos
This statement is either a bad mistake, or false. Neither Polybius nor Livy ( nor Plutarch) refer to the ‘Thetideion’ as a village/kome. The word translates literally as ‘temple[or shrine] of Thetis’ ( see LSJ), and its exact location is unknown, but cannot possibly be where Decourt and others locate it ( largely following Pritchett)– way too far from the foot of the ridge, many kilometres away, which does not fit with what Polybius and Plutarch write about it and its proximity to the hills. ( Polybius XVIII.20.6 simply says Flamininus camped “round/around the Temple of Thetis/peri to Thetideion
”. [ note: “the
Thetideion”, which is not how one would refer to a village]
Having followed Pritchett to wrongly locate a non-existent ‘village’ called Thetideion, Decourt then proceeds, based on this error, to decide that Palaepharsalus lies at Xylades, a mere 6 or 7 km west of Eretria, ignoring the fact that Caesar fought Pompey at Palaepharsalus in 48 B.C. and that this could not have possibly occurred anywhere in the vicinity of Xylades.
It is all hopelessly wrong, and merely serves to ‘muddy the waters’. The location of all these places must inter-relate with all three battles – Cynoscephalae 364 B.C. and 197 B.C. and also Palaepharsalus 48 B.C. and must fulfil many factors.