Marathon Again

12 September 2010

Roman Age?

It was not my intention to blog on Marathon today, because I did not want to resemble those innumerates who believe that today, it’s 2,500 years ago (please wait another year). But chance has a sense of irony: yesterday, I met a colleague who had spent some time in Kynouria, Greece, and had visited the nearby villa of Herodes Atticus (c.102-177). He told me that there was an inscribed column over there that recorded the names of people killed during the battle of Marathon. The alphabet used is the old Athenian one, which was in use prior to 403 BCE, and it is likely that the inscription comes from a monument from the plain of Marathon.

Photo Marco Prins

Herodes Atticus

So far, so good. It is certainly possible that Herodes Atticus, who owned a country estate near Marathon and claimed descent from Miltiades, used part of a fifth-century monument in another villa. However, if  we are to believe this article, Herodes Atticus put something back after he had taken away (parts of) an old monument: he constructed the funeral mound that is now the main monument. This would explain why Pausanias does not mention the tomb, and also fits the antiquarianism of the second century.

To be fair, I think the theory is worth a thought, but nothing more. I would like to see some additional proof.