Themistocles’ Family in Magnesia on the Maeander (A Little-Known Episode from the History of Greek Tyranny)

Surikov Igor E.

It is well attested that Themistocles, the hero of Salamis, after his flight to Persia in 465 BC received from Artaxerxes I several Greek cities in Asia Minor. In one of them, Magnesia on the Maeander, he lived and ruled as a vassal tyrant till his death in 459 BC. He also minted coins there; inscriptions on them contain both his own name (ΘΕΜΙΣΤΟΚΛΕΟΣ, ΘΕ) and the name of the polis (ΜΑ, ΑΜ). New numismatic data allow to state with certainty that Themistocles’ son Archepolis (briefly mentioned by Plutarch as Archeptolis) became his heir as a ruler of Magnesia. Narrative sources say nothing about Archepolis’ tyranny, but his coins issued in Magnesia have been discovered (with inscriptions ΑΡΧΕΠΟΛΙΣ, ΑΡΧΕ, ΑΡ), which demonstrate direct continuity with Themistocles’ coinage. Moreover, there is a possibility that a third tyrant of the city existed, Archepolis’ son Themistocles the Junior; in that case Magnesian coins with ΘΕ inscription dated later than Archepolis’ ones should be attributed to him. Thus, a previously unattested dynasty of tyrants, which lasted for two or even three generations can be postulated; it may be labelled as the Themistoclids.

Keywords: Athens, Persia, tyranny, Asia Minor, Magnesia on the Maeander, coins, Themistocles, Archepolis, Plutarch

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