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Новая концепция династической истории эллинизма? Размышления по поводу монографии Д. Огдена (Ogden D. Polygamy, Prostitutes and Death. The Hellenistic Dynasties. London; Swansea: Duckworth – The Classical Press of Wales, 1999. XXXIV, 317 p.)


The paper is intended to give a critical analysis (somewhat exceeding the scope and the tasks of a normal review) to the concept of the Hellenistic dynastic history postulated by Dr. Daniel Ogden of the University of Exeter, Great Britain. His book claims to give an exhaustive picture of the subject covering in its first part aspects of the dynastic history of the archaic Argeadai (before Alexander the Great), of Alexander’s reign, of Cassander’s and Lysimachus’ families, of the Ptolemies, the Seleucids, the Antigonids, and the Attalids (the second part of the book dealing with the «Hellenistic royal courtesans», i. e. quite a different subject, is left without special consideration, though it seems that the scholar tends to overestimate the importance of those concubines in the Hellenistic times).

The general thesis of D. Ogden is the importance in the Hellenistic dynastic history of the so-called «amphimetric conflicts», i. e. the claims of kingship by royal sons from different wives of the same king, provided the Macedonian dynastic tradition was originally polygamous. However, the formal character of the Argeadai polygamy is rather doubtful («an easy attitude to divorce» might be a much better description of the situation); at the same time a great part of the «amphimetric conflicts» summed by D. Ogden belong to the transitions of power inside the Argeadai family from Amyntas III to the late 4th century B. C., i. e. a very limited and specific part of the Argeadai dynasty. As for the situation of Alexander’s time, Ogden ignores the Oriental character of Alexander’s marriages making it impossible to consider them a part of Macedonian tradition; for the dynastic history of the diadochoi time he pays no attention to the sacrosanct character of the Macedonian monarchy (as shown by N. G. L. Hammond), which made it initially a prerogative of the Heraclid dynasty of Temenidai/Argeadai and caused the early Hellenistic claimants of kingship to try to join it through marriages with Alexander’s relatives (attempts by Perdiccas, Ptolemy, Lysimachus and Antigonus to marry Alexander’s sister Cleopatra, Cassander’s marriage to his half sister Thessalonike).

For the Ptolemaic history D. Ogden postulates a theory of consanguineous marriage as a mean to avoid the «amphimetric conflict» (once occurred between Ptolemy Ceraunus and Philadelphus); this theory is deflated by the plain fact that the child of a consanguineous marriage inherited the kingship only once throughout the Ptolemaic dynasty (Ptolemy V Epiphanes of Ptolemy IV and Arsinoe III; another consanguineous royal marriage — of Ptolemy II and Arsinoe II Philadelphoi — gave no offspring). Not unusual for a classicist, D. Ogden claims the Ptolemaic consanguineous marriage (confined to the two examples above and therefore to meager to constitute a real dynastic practice) to be based on native Egyptian antecedents (those dating back to the New Kingdom, i. e. about a millennium before the epoch in question and by far not doubtless as for themselves). Ogden’s idea about the legitimating marriage to a predecessor’s wife, with the case of Cleopatra II (the widow of Ptolemy VI Philometor) and Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II as its sole example, is contradicted by the eventual brutal conflict between those consorts.

For the Seleucid history the worst mistake by D. Ogden is his idea that the outbreak of the Third Syrian War was caused by an «amphimetric conflict» between Seleucus II Callinicus and the Ptolemaic heir of Antiochus II deliberately provoked by Ptolemy II. The very fact that the Ptolemaic marriage and inheritance of Seleucid throne allowed by Antiochus II could be a result of some duress from Ptolemaic side is improbable; this situation was rather a result of some agreement between the two dynasties thought necessary by Antiochus II. The levirate legitimacy of several Seleucid kings shown by Ogden could have been inspired by the Elamite influence borrowed via Achaemenids. The idea of later Seleucids’ «legitimating marriages» to Ptolemaic princesses is most improbable: those ladies brought to their husbands not so much the prestige and the status (badly needed sometimes to themselves) but rather real military assistance.

As for the Antigonid history, Ogden’s idea on a special (higher than normal) position of royal concubines at that Hellenistic court is doubtful. For the Attalids of Pergamum Ogden’s idea of Attalus III being a son of concubine seems improbable.

Summing up the impression of Ogden’s study one would say his attempt to delineate a general concept of the Hellenistic dynastic history governed by the «amphimetric conflicts» and their avoidance was no success. This idea is contradicted by specific facts; generally, it is not wise to explain all the Hellenistic dynastic tradition as a direct continuation of the archaic Argeadai heritage. The scholar failed to see in a number of collisions (the antecedents, the course and the consequences of the Third Syrian War; the events of Antiochus VII imprisonment by the Parthians) the effects of a very probable agreement on the inviolability of the leading Hellenistic dynasties founded by diadochoi. At the same time, he omitted the material of too many minor Hellenistic kingdoms (Epirus, Pontus, Bithynia, Cappadocia), which does not allow to consider his approach really comprehensive.

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