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The sanctuary of Kodros, Neleus, and Basile
IG I3 84 Athens, EM 10616 418/17 Plate 2

Complete stele found in winter of 1884-85 in house construction some distance south-east of Akropolis on left bank of railway to Phaleron. All edges, tenon at bottom preserved. Mouldings above and below relief, most of sculpted surface rough-picked. White, medium-grained marble. h. 1.49, h. of relief 0.41, w. of relief 0.59 (top), 0.605 (bottom), w. of inscription 0.59 (top), 0.64 (bottom), th. 0.195 (top), 0.16 (bottom), h. of letters 0.01.

The decree, passed in the ninth prytany of the archonship of Antiphon (lines 2-3), concerns provisions for enclosing and leasing various parts of the sanctuary of Kodros, Neleus, and Basile in Athens. The stele was to have been set up at public expense in the Neleion, by the ikria (lines 27-28). (For other probable references to this shrine, see Pl. Charmides 1 53a and Agora I 4138: B.D. Meritt, Hesperia 7 (1938) 123-26 no. 25.)

Although the entire stele is preserved, the relief has been systematically rough-picked, probably for reuse of the stone. Only two small areas of very low relief survive undamaged, but the general outline of the original composition is still to some extent visible. At the left a seated figure faces right, its left arm raised high as though holding a spear or sceptre. Both that hand and what appears to have been the crest of the figure's helmet overlapped the moulding above the relief. The figure is usually described as bearded, but this may be only the impression created by damage to the area around the head. At the right, facing the figure on the left, is a figure on a rearing horse whose head and forelegs are clearly visible in outline. The end of the horse's tail and part of the rider's chlamys are still preserved in very low relief at the far right. The chlamys flies out behind the rider in several folds ending in omega-shaped loops at the hem, a motif that occurs in some figures of the Nike Temple frieze (Blümel, pls. V, VI) and on the gently fluttering veil of Hera on no. 5.

Because so little is known about the cult and the relationship between Kodros, Neleus, and Basile, and because both figures are so badly damaged, any reconstruction of the relief must be conjectural. It has sometimes been assumed that the sanctuary was chiefly associated with Neleus because the inscription refers variously to the ‘the Neleion’ (lines 27-28), ‘payments to Neleus’ (lines 21-22), and the ‘temenos of Neleus and Basile’ (lines 12, 29, 32), but it is clear from the text as a whole that these are references only to various parts of the sanctuary and the provisions for them; Kodros is always mentioned first in references to the sanctuary as a whole (lines 4, 14, 30-31).

Neleus is a shadowy figure and difficult to characterize. Most representations of him come from Italy, where he often appears with his mother Tyro and his twin Pelias in the recognition scene from Sophokles' Tyro (L. Séchan, Études sur la tragédie grecque dans ses rapports avec la céramique [1926] 224 n. 9), but he is not depicted as a rider, and these scenes can have nothing to do with the relief in question. It is unclear whether in Athens he was equated with the Pylian Neleus, father of Nestor and ancestor of Kodros, or with the Neleus who was a son of Kodros and founder of Ionian cities (Hdt. 10.97). H. A. Shapiro (Ancient Greek Art and Iconography) has suggested the possible political significance of the Neleids to their descendants the Peisistratids in the Archaic period, but the only Attic representation of Neleus is a late fifth-century vase fragment of the recognition scene (Hesperia 24 [1955] 78-79 and pl. 34a).

Basile, sometimes confused with Basileia, is also obscure; the only fifth-century representation of her is a labelled figure on a late fifth-century rf pyxis that has not yet been fully published (O. Alexandri, ArchDelt 31 B.1 [1976] 30, pl. 35a). She is certainly also the female figure in the relief of a deme decree of Eitea of 332/31 (no. 43), which was to have been set up in a sanctuary of Basile, and she is listed in the sacrificial calendar of Erkhia of ca. 375-50 (G. Daux, BCH 87 [1963] 621). There is nothing in these sources to associate her with either of the figures in the document relief. (The inscription of the so-called Echelos-Basile relief [NM 1783] clearly reads ‘Iasile’: O. Walter, ArchEph [1937] A 113; B. D. Meritt, Hesperia 11 [1942] 284-85. For the distinction between Basile and Basileia, see Shapiro, ZPE.)

Kodros, in contrast, seems to have been a more popular figure in fifth-century Athens. He appears with the Eponymous and Marathonian heroes in Phidias' Marathon monument at Delphi, probably dating from the 450s (Paus. 10.10.1; Kron, Phylenheroen, 215-17; E. B. Harrison, ‘Eponymous Heroes’, 81-83), and as a fully armed warrior on the name vase of the Codrus Painter of ca. 430 (Bologna, Mus. Civ. PU 273: ARV2 1268.1; Kron, Phylenheroen, pls. 15.1, 16.1 and 2). In the late fifth century it is possible that the importance of Kodros, the Athenian king who sacrificed himself to the Peloponnesians in order to save Athens (Lykourg. Leokr. 84- 87), had eclipsed that of Basile and Neleus and that, as the most politically significant of the three cult personages, he would have been the most likely subject for a type of relief that had largely political associations. If the rider in the relief is Kodros, the figure opposite him is as likely to be Athena as either Basile or Neleus. She is present in most fifth-century document reliefs, and the general outline of the figure on the left resembles that of the seated Athenas that were so common in document reliefs of the late fifth and early fourth centuries (cf. nos. 2, 11, 71, 72, 87, 90, 91).

S. A. Koumanoudes, ArchEph (1884) 161-66, pl. 10 (drwg.); A. Frothingham, AJA 1 (1885) 228, 469; E. Curtius, SBBerl (1885) 437 = Gesammelte Abhandlungen I (1894) 459-64; J. R. Wheeler, AJA 3 (1887) 38-49; IG I Suppl. pp. 66-67 no. 53a, 165; IG I2 94, Add. p. 302; SIG3 93; Binneboeßel, 4 no. 8, 20, 23, 32, 43; B. D. Meritt, AJP 57 (1936) 180-82; O. Walter, ArchEph (1937) A 114 n. 1; M. Giffler, Hermes 75 (1940) 215-22; Meritt, CQ 40 (1946) 45-46; SEG 10.103; Dohrn, 17; R. E. Wycherley, BSA 55 (1960) 60-66; SEG 19.18; Sokolowiki, Lois sacrées des cités grecques (1969) 28-30 no. 14; D. Behrend, Attische Pachturkunden (1970) 55-61; A. Kaloyeropoulou, ArchDelt 25 A (1970) 209 n. 14; Travlos, 332-35, figs. 435, 436; SEG 25.36; Mitropoulou, Corpus I, 173 no. 10, fig. 84; H.A. Shapiro, in W. Moon (ed.), Ancient Greek Art and Iconography (1983) 87-96; SEG 33.14; SEG 35.7 and 110; Shapiro, ZPE 63 (1986) 134-36; LIMC III, 674-75, s.v. Echelos (A. Kossatz-Deissmann); SEG 36.15 and 38; N. D. Robertson, GRBS 29 (1988) 224-30; Meyer, 267 A 7, pl. 6.1; SEG 38.5.

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