Impossible Memories of the Lelantine War


Natasha Bershadsky. 2018. “Impossible Memories of the Lelantine War.” Mètis, 16, Pp. 191-213. Publisher's Version


This study offers a solution for a long-standing question concerning the nature and date of the Lelantine War. I propose that in the Archaic period a part of the Lelantine plain was contested in recurrent ritual battles between young aristocrats of Eretria and Chalcis, who reenacted the devastating primordial strife of the bronze-clad Curetes. The contested territory changed hands, providing grazing for the horses of the victorious side; it constituted a sacred space, uniting Eretria and Chalcis in a common cult. The system of the ritual confrontations came to an end with the Athenian conquest of Chalcis in 506 BC. A new historical reading is offered for Theognis’ lines depicting a destruction of the Lelantine plain: they mourn the Athenian takeover and the disintegration of the aristocratic system of mutual support, cursing the Corinthians who failed to deliver military help to the Chalcidian elites.
Last updated on 08/15/2019