Saturday, August 18, 2012

Lion of Chaeronea - Monument

The Lion of Chaeronea

It is sure, this monument was build after the battle of Chaeronea. But, we don't know of which army is dedicated this monument. On one side at battle of Chaeronea were Macedonians with their allies, and on other side was Greek city-state coalition (Athens, Thebes and allies). In this battle, also participated the Sacred Band of Thebes. Plutarch suggests that all 300 of the Sacred Band were killed at the battle, having previously been seen as invincible. Modern excavations found the remains of 254 soldiers underneath the monument; it is therefore generally accepted that this was indeed the grave of the Sacred Band, since it is unlikely that literally every member was killed. According to Pausanias, the monument was erected by the Thebans in memory of their dead. According to him, Macedonians did not erect trophies:

In the territory of Chaeroneia are two trophies, which the Romans under Sulla set up to commemorate their victory over the army of Mithridates under Taxilus. But Philip, son of Amyntas, set up no trophy, neither here nor for any other success, whether won over Greeks or non-Greeks, as the Macedonians were not accustomed to raise trophies. [7] The Macedonians say that Caranus, king of Macedonia, overcame in battle Cisseus, a chieftain in a bordering country. For his victory Caranus set up a trophy after the Argive fashion, but it is said to have been upset by a lion from Olympus, which then vanished. [8] Caranus, they assert, realized that it was a mistaken policy to incur the undying hatred of the non-Greeks dwelling around, and so, they say, the rule was adopted that no king of Macedonia, neither Caranus himself nor any of his successors, should set up trophies, if they were ever to gain the good-will of their neighbors. This story is confirmed by the fact that Alexander set up no trophies, neither for his victory over Dareius nor for those he won in India. [9] As you approach the city you see a common grave of the Thebans who were killed in the struggle against Philip. It has no inscription, but is surmounted by a lion, probably a reference to the spirit of the men. That there is no inscription is, in my opinion, because their courage was not favoured by appropriate good fortune. [10] (Pausanias, Description of Greece; 9. 40. 7, 8, 9, 10.)
But Diodorus of Sicily, says that Philip erected a trophy on the battlefield:
Likewise, many of the Boeotians were killed and not a few taken prisoners. After the battle Philip raised a trophy of victory, yielded the dead for burial, gave sacrifices to the gods for victory, and rewarded according to their deserts those of his men who had distinguished themselves. (Diodorus of Sicily, World History; XVI, 86, 8)
Also there is copy of this lion monument in Amphipolis. In the reign of Alexander, Amphipolis was an important naval base, and the birthplace of three of the most famous Macedonian Admirals: Nearchus, Androsthenes and Laomedon whose burial place is most likely marked by the famous lion of Amphipolis.

According to many scholars, the lion of Chaeronea is replica from the lion of Thespiae (ancient Boeoteia). In 1882, the remains of a communal tomb (polyandrion), including a colossal stone lion, were discovered on the road to Leuctra. The tomb dates from the 5th century BC, and is usually identified as that of the Thespians who fell at the Plataea, as those who fell at Thermopylae were buried on the battlefield. There is no photo from this lion, but there are many evidences that this lion exist.

The Architecture of ancient Greece by W. B. Dinsmoor, 1950, pg. 212

Archaic and Classical Greek Epigram - edited by Manuel Baumbach, Andrej Petrovic and Ivana Petrovic, 2010, pg. 123

Conclusion is that lion as symbol and testimony can be found in Proto-Greek cultural traditions. Cultural depictions of lion are found in many places in Greece. Depictions of lions are found on the gate of Mycenae. "Lion of Menecrates" is the work of the famous Corinthian sculptor of Archaic Greece. Lion is another Pan-Hellenic symbol which connects Macedonia with other Greek regions where is revered the cult of lion. The symbolism of the lion usually is the courage. And if the monument of Chaeronea was erected by Philip and dedicated to death Theban soldiers, it is clear sign of respect to his enemies with the cultural tradition of Philip II of Macedon and all Macedonian Greeks.


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