The Chronology of the Asylia Dossier from Kos Revisited in Light of Some Recent Epigraphic Discoveries

Altay COŞKUN  29–46

Doi: 10.36991/PHILIA.202102 

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Abstract: While the Third Syrian War was raging, the Koans deployed substantial diplomatic efforts to have the asylia of their Asklepieion and the panhellenic penteteric games recognized throughout the Mediterranean world. In the 1950s, Günther Klaffenbach and Mortimer Cham-bers presented what was to become the consensus chronology: they saw the theoroi visit sev-eral royal courts and many more Greek poleis largely in summer 242 BCE, before the first games were held at Kos around May 241 BCE. This consensus has now been challenged by Dimitris Bosnakis and Klaus Hallof (Chiron 50, 2020, 287–326), who suggest dating the events one year earlier, based on six recently-found documents. These include a letter of king ‘Zigelas’ (sc. Ziaelas of Bithynia), dated to year 39 of an uncertain era. The present article tries to argue instead that the grant of asylia by several kings likely happened in 243, whereas the campaign in support of the Asklepieia unfolded from spring to autumn 242, before the first Asklepieia were held in 241 BCE. This chronological revision has important ramification for other aspects of 3rd-century BCE history, such as the biography of Antigonos Gonatas (whose basileia began in 283/82 BCE) and the start of the first dynastic era of Bithynia (281 BCE). Moreover, queen Laodike, the author of another new letter, should be identified with the wife of Antiochos Hierax, and further with the author of the anonymous royal letter earlier attributed to Seleukos II. The letter previously assigned to the Bosporan king Spartokos IV may rather be from Mithradates II of Pontos. The epigraphic evidence shows the Koans steadfast in their loy-alty to Ptolemy III Euergetes, whereas the second letters from the courts of Nikomedeia and Sardeis may hint at a gradual shift of Ziaelas and Hierax towards Seleukos II.

Keywords: Kos, Asklepieia, asylia, theoroi, dynastic Bithynian eras, Ziaelas of Bithynia, Laodike (wife of Antiochos Hierax), Ptolemy III Euergetes, Antigonos II Gonatas, Spartokos IV of the Bosporos, Mithradates II of Pontos.



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