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One The Study of Attic Fortifications
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The discussion of forts in the passage from Xenophon's treatise on revenues quoted above points the way toward an understanding of Attic garrison forts that is well-grounded in literary and epigraphic sources. In a state as large as Attica, forts in the outlying regions were needed as surrogates for the fortified urban center. Hence, as noted above in the case of Plato and other sources, forts and the urban center are comprehended together as fortified positions,

, the concerns of which are always distinguished from the military affairs of the , the open countryside.[54]


The direct relationship between rural forts and city defenses is explicitly described in a decree found in the text of Demosthenes' oration On the Crown , 37-38. By Demosthenes' own account, the decree enacted the evacuation of the Attic countryside as part of a general mobilization for war in 346. The original decree, however, was not recorded in the text of Demosthenes. Like all such decrees in this speech, the text that has come down to us is the invention of a Hellenistic editor, inserted to provide verisimilitude to the reading of this masterpiece of rhetoric. Specific details, therefore, cannot be trusted as accurate references to the events of 346, but there is no reason to doubt that the role of rural forts has been accurately represented:

Kallisthenes . . . proposed that no Athenian be allowed upon any pretext whatsoever to pass the night in the country, but only in the city and Peiraieus, except those stationed in the garrisons; that the latter keep each the post assigned to him, leaving it neither by day nor by night . . . . All property in the country shall be immediately removed, if within a radius of 120 stades, to the city and Peiraieus; if outside of this radius, to Eleusis and Phyle and Aphidna and Rhamnous and Sounion.[55]

Although the urban center, ultimately, was the proper refuge for the population of Attica, garrison forts were essential for the protection of both property and populace in outlying areas. Hence their locations were dictated primarily by the presence of both sizable communities and significant economic resources. So, in addition to the agricultural resources local to Eleusis, Oinoe, Aphidna, and Rhamnous, the agricultural and pastoral resources of Parnes and the Skourta plain were protected by Phyle and Panakton, and the capital resources in the mining district, as discussed by Xenophon, were secured by the forts there. The


maritime forts of Attica, by safeguarding the sea lanes that brought essential goods to Athens, also conform to these criteria, with the understanding that their strategic importance to the Athenians differed from that of inland forts just as the importance of imported goods differed from that of local resources. It would be a mistake, however, to attempt to explain the protective value of these fortifications in purely economic terms. The social and political importance, for the cohesion of the state, of protecting the property of its individual citizens irrespective of the strategic and economic value of that property was the overriding criterion for the establishment especially of the inland forts.

In the face of the main force of the enemy in wartime, the safety provided by garrison forts consisted in their security as points of refuge. They were, in effect, independent nodes of local security, not links in any chain of regional defense. The invasion of an enemy in force, however, was at most a periodic or occasional event. A more prevalent condition of wartime was the threat posed by small raiding parties and freebooters. Under such conditions, forts near the frontiers could serve the defensive interests of the greater territory of Attica by the ability of their garrisons to sound a warning and, in some cases, to challenge and repel such raiders. It is certainly significant, however, that Xenophon regards the city itself as the primary base for troops to repel even small parties of the invading enemy (Poroi 4.47). Too often, the garrisons of small towns and forts were ambushed and destroyed when lured out by raiding parties, so that restraint and caution, even against apparently minor incursions, must have always been urged as the wisest policy to garrison commanders. Their first and foremost duty was to hold their post and to remain, like the fortified city itself, impervious to the storms of war that might rage outside the walls. Their fundamental passivity rendered urban and rural forts alike anathema to the principles of manly resistance embraced by Plato in his formulations of an idealized state. But given the ease with which the devices and strategems of an attacker could deceive or overwhelm a defender who regularly sallied forth in response to an attack, the prudent defender had to rely at least as much on circuit walls as on upright virtue in planning his response. In a territorially extensive state such as Attica, if defensive forces concentrated in the urban center could not always march to the defense of any threatened quarter, then it was necessary to fortify and garrison strong points wherever communities and resources in outlying areas were most vulnerable. Rural forts thus were essential to the preservation of the territorial integrity of a large state during war and to the restoration and maintenance of economic integrity and civil authority after war.

The garrisons of Attica exercised their protective

on two levels, corresponding to the routines of peacetime and the emergencies of wartime. Since standing forces represented preparedness for war at all


times, their duties in times of peace and in times of war were by no means mutually exclusive. Warlike actions could occur in what were nominally times of peace, and likewise peaceable activities went on in wartime. At all times, then, the responsibilities and activities of garrisons in the countryside could and did range across a spectrum of conditions between the two extremes of peace and war.

Garrisons and patrols routinely provided a local armed presence to protect the citizenry against animal theft or other forms of raiding or brigandage that might be attempted at any time in remote areas.[56] In practical terms, these functions became indistinguishable from civil police duties, which were concerned with disputes of the sort likely to arise between fellow citizens as well as between neighbors across a state boundary. Hence Aristotle associates

, "watchposts," often a term for garrison forts in the countryside (e.g., AthPol . 42.4), with the seats of , "forest-wardens," and , "field-wardens," who exercise their (Politics 1331b). More strikingly, Plato identifies his , the "garrison commanders" who lead young citizens in patrolling the countryside and building defensive barriers, as , "field-wardens," and most of the routine duties he assigns to these officers and their charges are best described as police and civil engineering duties (Laws 760a-763c; cf. 842e-846c).

It is not certain that such complete civil service normally fell within the purview of Athenian garrison commanders and their men, although it is clear that, in voting honors to the ephebic and mercenary garrisons of Attica in the later fourth and third centuries, the communities in which they were posted commended them in general terms for their civic spirit and good citizenship, reflecting something more than just keeping watchful eyes open while posted on the battlements and patrolling the countryside.[57] In a real sense, these men brought civic order to


the countryside, and by enforcing the laws of the state among their own citizens and offering them its protection against would-be despoilers, especially those dwelling just across borders, they sought to protect the state as a whole against the consequences of unchecked feuds or property disputes, "whence the deadliest hostilities ensue" (Plato Laws 843a). Plato and Aristotle, and the Athenians generally, were well aware of the potentially inflammatory nature of such purely local matters when they arose in the context of interstate relations (Plato Republic 373d-e, Laws 955b-c; Aristotle Politics 1330a; Demosthenes For the Megalopolitans 11, On the Embassy 326; Plutarch Phokion 9.4).

The distinction between conditions of war and the state of peace as they affected a rural populace in outlying areas was often irrelevant in the context of encounters with strangers (potential brigands) and foreign neighbors (potential foes). Aeneas Tacticus describes the reaction of a city to news of a robbers' conspiracy in the countryside (

), which differs in no way from a military operation in wartime (23.7-11; cf. 15.1-10). Except as regulated by explicit conventions, the Greek ideals of autonomy and independence implied a potential or actual state of war with all who were not members of the community or state. Despite the proliferation of treaties and the elaboration of the conventions of what came to be called the Common Peace () during the fourth century, this potential state of war applied as much to Attica as to any other part of the classical Greek world, especially during times of uncertain relations and open hostilities with the Boiotians. So Xenophon's advice about the utility of light-armed Athenians protecting countrymen and avenging themselves on foemen (Memorabilia 3.5.25-27, quoted at the beginning of this chapter) has the Boiotians particularly in mind and ignores the distinction between peace and war. It is modeled, as Xenophon admits, upon the practices of the Mysians and Pisidians, who freely plundered lands belonging to the Persian king while maintaining their independence within their mountain fastnesses (cf. Xenophon Anabasis 1.1.11, 1.2.1, 1.6.7, 1.9.14, esp. 3.2.23;


Hellenika 3.1.13; cf. also Isokrates Panegyrikos 161, 163). Similarly, Xenophon mingles Greek and alien experience in his imaginary account of the war of mutual raids (

) carried out between the neighboring Armenians and Chaldaians, which Cyrus brought to a close by establishing a garrison in a strategically placed fort (Cyropaedia 3.2.1-3.4). The blurred distinction between the hostilities of wartime and potential robberies of peacetime, and the relationship of a standing armed force in the countryside to both conditions, is exemplified in another of Xenophon's epideictic fantasies, his Hieron :

If therefore the first duty enjoined on the mercenaries [hired as the bodyguard of a benevolent despot] were to act as the bodyguard of the whole community and render help to all  . . . the citizens would know that this is one service rendered to them by the mercenaries  . . . . For naturally the mercenaries would also be able to give fearlessness and security in the fullest measure to the labourers and cattle in the country, and the benefit would not be confined to your own estates [i.e., those of the despot], but would be felt up and down the countryside. Again, they are competent to afford the citizens leisure for attending to their private affairs by guarding the vital positions [

]. Besides, should an enemy plan a secret and sudden attack, what handier agents can be found for detecting or preventing their design than a standing force, armed and organized? Or once more, when the citizens go campaigning, what is more useful to them than mercenaries? For these are, as a matter of course, the readiest to bear the brunt of toil and danger and watching. And must not those who possess a standing force impose on border states a strong desire for peace? For nothing equals an organized body of men, whether for protecting the property of friends or for thwarting the plans of enemies. Further, when the citizens get it into their heads that these troops do no harm to the innocent and hold the would-be malefactor in check, come to the rescue of the wronged, care for the citizens and shield them from danger, surely they are bound to pay the cost of them with a right goodwill. At all events they keep guards in their homes for less important objects than these.[58]

Athenian practices are best documented at those times when war threatened Attica, and although we lack detailed information even then, their practices generally conformed to those recorded in handbooks such as that of Aeneas Tacticus and in philosophical treatises such as the works of Plato and Aristotle that have been cited above. When war loomed on the borders of Attica, the garrison forts were the first recourse of the local populace as a refuge for both themselves and their movable property, as with the forts of the mining district described by Xenophon (Poroi 4.43-44). This was mostly an emergency function,


however, for whenever war was foreseen, the evacuation of the rural populace to the city was the normal procedure (as it was in the pseudo-decree from Demosthenes On the Crown 37-38 quoted above; the large slave population of the mining district posed a special problem, which Xenophon addressed by his proposal for the employment of another fort in Poroi 4.43-44).[59] Likewise, while the garrison forts were readied for war, the rural populace moved to Athens in 431 (Thucydides 2.13.2, 14, 16, 17, 18.2), in 346 (Demosthenes On the Crown 36-38, On the Embassy 86, 125; Aischines On the Embassy 139, Against Ktesiphon 80), in 338 (Lykourgos Against Leokrates 16), and in 335 ([Demades] On the Twelve Years 14; Arrian Anabasis 1.10.2).

Even at such times, under martial law, as long as the enemy was not on the move in the vicinity, citizens could work in the countryside during the day, at which time the augmented garrisons, patrols, and lookouts were responsible for providing protection against raids.[60] Such protection is envisioned by Xenophon when he describes the destruction of a small hostile force by the cavalry and the peripoloi (Poroi 4.47). Moreover, forces based in the forts, including the cavalry wherever feasible, were expected to carry out raids against enemy forces and neighboring hostile territory, as they had during the Peloponnesian War.[61] Perhaps the most important function of the rural garrisons of Attica, both in times of open war and of nominal peace, was to assure that no fortress should fall into the hands of the enemy and thus become an outpost for hostile operations against Attica, an epiteichismos , as the Peloponnesian fort at Dekeleia had been and, furthermore, constitute a loss of Athenian territory. That commitment was solemnified in the oath of Athenian ephebes to stand to their posts and not to allow the fatherland to be diminished. The commitment was made vivid and tangible by the appearance of "the


boundaries of the fatherland" and the chief produce of Attic land, "wheat, barley, vines, olives, figs," among the witnesses to the oath.[62]

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