A Historical Commentary on St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians

By W. M. Ramsay

Part 1

Society and Religion in Central Asia Minor in the Time of St. Paul

Chapter 10

Galatia as a Roman Client State

AT the pacification and re-organisation of the East in B.C. 64, Galatia was placed by Pompey under the rule of three chiefs, Deiotaros, Brogitaros, and a third unknown, retaining the old triple division according to the three tribes, Tolistobogii, Trocmi, and Tectosages, but discarding the subdivision into tetrarchies. The ruling tetrarchic families had been reduced to three at the great massacre. Moreover, the Romans always liked to have some single head in each district with whom they might conveniently communicate; and it was against their policy to raise up a single king in whose hands the whole power of the Galatian state should be concentrated. But the ambition of the leading Gauls had led to at least one previous attempt at monarchy; and the same cause is discernible in the following period, until from B.C. 44 onwards there was a single king of Galatia.

Pompey did not restore to Galatia the whole of the Lycaonian tetrarchy;1  but apparently he did permanently attach to it the northern part of the tetrarchy, including the country immediately to the west of Lake Tatta, but not (if Ptolemy may be followed) including Savatra. This district retained the name of the “Added Land,”2 and is so described by Ptolemy in the second century after Christ In this way the “Added Land” came to be smaller than the old tetrarchy, which Pliny describes (see p. 64 f.).

It may seem a poor return to the Galatae for their services in the Mithridatic Wars, to deprive them of the best part of the tetrarchy; but there may have been compensation given them, as for example, we know that Deiotaros received Armenia Minor from Pompey, and Brogitaros got Mithridation (which previously had belonged to Pontus).

The tetrarchies now disappeared finally from the political geography of Asia Minor; and, when Pliny speaks of the Lycaonian Tetrarchy given to Galatia, he must be quoting the name from an authority speaking of the period before the Mithridatic Wars. The name might last, as other historical names lasted.3 The term tetrarchy now lost its meaning. There were three chiefs, one for each tribe, and each was called a tetrarch; so that the term tetrarchy could henceforth denote only the territory of a tetrarch, i.e., of a whole tribe. As there is no trace of such usage, probably the tetrarchies ceased to be a political fact in 64.

This corroborates our previous conclusion that the Lycaonian Tetrarchy was attached to Galatia during the second century.

The history of North Galatia during the period 64-40 has its centre in the ambition, prudence and craft of Deiotaros, He had been appointed by Pompey chief and tetrarch of the Tolistobogii, as Brogitaros was of the Trocmi, and an unknown person4 of the Tectosages. In reward for his services to Rome, Pompey also added to Deiotaros’s realm Gazelonitis and part of Armenia Minor.5 Thus the dominions of Deiotaros lay both to east and to west of the other two Galatian chiefs, and were much more extensive. His influence was strengthened by his being far more distinguished than the other two chiefs; and he augmented it by marrying two of his daughters to Brogitaros6 and to Kastor, son of the chief of the Tectosages. He had succeeded his father [Dumjnorix as one of the four Tolistobogian tetrarchs. He was, apparently, among the three tetrarchs who escaped the massacre by Mithridates about 87. He served Sulla, 87-84, Murena, 84-82, Servilius Isauricus, 78-76, Lucullus, 74-66, Pompey, 66-64, Bibulus, 51, and Cicero, 50; and he was honourably mentioned by all of them.

Deiotaros was a remarkable man, and evidently had strongly impressed Cicero, who saw a good deal of him in his Cicilian pro-consulate 51-50. He perceived that the best career for a king in Galatia lay in faithful adherence to the Roman cause; and he earned frequent commendation from the Senate by his zeal. He led his troops, thirty cohorts, 12,000 men, armed in Roman style, in Cicero’s army. He discussed topics of comparative religion and ritual with Cicero. He appreciated and imitated the Roman discipline and arms;7 and, undoubtedly, he carried his imitation into other departments than war. The Gauls had always despised agriculture, and eaten the bread cultivated by others;8 but Deiotaros managed his estates well, practising agriculture as well as pasturage — a great merit in the Roman eyes.

Naturally in 48 he joined Pompey against Caesar. Pompey was actual master in the East; and loomed far greater in the Galatian view than Caesar. Deiotaros led his own troops to Epirus, though he was now very old,9 and had to be lifted on to his horse. We need not credit Deiotaros with any motives of gratitude to Pompey: he was too ambitious to have room for the kindlier and weaker emotion. He was ready immediately afterwards to co-operate with Caesar’s lieutenant Calvinus, and with Caesar himself. It was for the Romans to settle their own affairs: he acted along with the nearest officer or the strongest.

Pompey had not given the three Galatian chiefs the title of king, but only of tetrarch, though he had made Deiotaros king of Lesser Armenia. In 58 P. Clodius passed a law through the comitia tributa, granting the higher title to Deiotaros and Brogitaros. Cicero says that the Senate had often declared Deiotaros worthy of the kingly title; but Brogitaros had merely bought it from Clodius without desert. At the same time Brogitaros induced Clodius to pass a law ejecting the high priest of Pessinus and putting Brogitaros in his place. As Pessinus was in the realm of Deiotaros, this was an interference with his rights, and caused enmity between him and the usurping priest. Within the course of the next year or two, Deiotaros ejected his son-in-law Brogitaros, and recovered possession of Pessinus.10

Cicero’s words might perhaps imply that the rightful high priest, ejected by Brogitaros and restored by Deiotaros, belonged to the old native priestly family; but it is far from probable that Cicero knew anything of such delicate distinctions, and his words cannot be pressed.

Brogitaros died, or was killed perhaps by Deiotaros, some time between 56 and 51; for in 47 we learn that Deiotaros had seized several years ago the country of the Trocmi, thus reducing the number of chiefs from three to two.

It is probable that some shadow of the old common council and festival at Drynemeton still existed at this period. Something like common determination and plan among all the tribes is clearly shown during the Mithridatic Wars and again in the Roman Civil War, for the contingent sent to aid Pompey was evidently fixed at 300 cavalry from each tribe. Deiotaros, as chief of two tribes, led 600 horsemen. Kastor and Domnilaos led 300: they were therefore joint chiefs of the Tectosages.

Now we observe that Kastor’s seat was Gorbeous, whereas Ancyra was indubitably always the capital of the Tectosages. The inference seems clear that Kastor Saokondaros (of Gorbeous) and Domnilaos11 (of Ancyra) were the two sons of the Tectosagan tetrarch appointed by Pompey in 64, and hence they jointly commanded the troops of their tribe.

Further, as Deiotaros was ruler of almost all Galatia in 47, he evidently seized the land of Domnilaos in the end of 48, presumably because Domnilaos was killed at Pharsalos. Deiotaros was then actively aiding Calvinus, Caesar’s lieutenant, on the eve of a serious war; and his usurpation was easily pardoned. Thus in 47, Deiotaros and his son-in-law Kastor were the sole remaining Galatian chiefs. The latter had only a small territory and inferior title, whereas Deiotaros and his son, who was also called Deiotaros, had both been honoured with the title king by the Senate. Kastor seems to have felt his position dangerous, and he employed his son Kastor to bring an accusation in Rome against Deiotaros for attempting to poison Caesar. Thus a bitter enmity arose between Deiotaros and his son-in-law, which had lasted for some time before 45.

In 47 Deiotaros appeared as a suppliant before Caesar on the Pontic frontier. He brought a legion with him to the impending Pontic War; and Caesar restored his royal robes,12  and used his services in the war. Other claimants were contesting his rights; possibly Brogitaros had left sons, certainly Domnilaos had two sons, Adiatorix and Dyteutos. Caesar postponed consideration of some of these questions to a more convenient opportunity; but punished Deiotaros by giving part of his Armenian kingdom to Ariobarzanes of Cappadocia, and the whole of his Trocmian tetrarchy to Mithridates of Pergamos, Caesar’s active and able supporter. The mother of Mithridates was Adobogiona of the Trocmian tetrarchs, daughter of another Deiotaros and sister of Brogitaros. His father was believed to be really Mithridates the Great, though a citizen of Pergamos was husband of Adobogiona.

In 45 the younger Kastor was in Rome prosecuting the case against his grandfather Deiotaros; and Cicero defended the latter. Caesar again postponed his decision; and nothing was settled when he died. Immediately on hearing of Caesar’s murder in 44 B.C., Deiotaros seized all his former realm. He captured Gorbeous, and put to death his own daughter and her husband Kastor Saokondaros. The elder Kastor was still living in 45, when Cicero was pleading the case in Rome; but Deiotaros took advantage of the disorder ensuing on Caesar’s death, to push his own claim to all three tetrarchies, A bribe to Antony and his wife Fulvia ensured him in the enjoyment of his power until his death in B.C. 41. Thus the number of Galatian chiefs was reduced to one.

In order to ensure the peaceable succession of one of his sons, Deiotaros is said by Plutarch to have put all the rest to death. But, in spite of his care, Antony conferred the kingdom of Galatia with the eastern part of Paphlagonia on Kastor in 40. Perhaps his son Deiotaros died before him or shortly after.

The monarchic system must have tended to weaken the tribal feeling and the old free Gaulish character. The monarch in the maintenance of his authority was apt to introduce the administrative devices of more advanced nations. Deiotaros, who armed and trained his soldiers in Roman style, was fully alive to the advantages of “civilised” methods. But the monarchical system lasted barely twenty years; and no serious and permanent effect on national feeling could have been produced before Galatia became a Roman Province in B.C. 25, for the tribal system continued in full force under the Empire.

The preceding and following Sections show how largely Galatia now bulked in the Roman mind. As in the second century the eastern question was summed up in the word “Asia,” so now the Central Asia Minor problem was summed up in the word “Galatia”. In each case, when a regular Province was constituted, the new name was given to it.


Th. Reinach in Revue Numismatique (1891), p. 378 ff.

Niese in Rheinisches Museum (1883), p. 583 ff.

[1] See below, p. 106.

[2] προσειλημμένη (χώρα).

[3] Pontus Polemoniacus lasted as a name in inscriptions long after it ceased in A.D. 63 to be a political reality. Lycaonia Antiochiana ceased to be a real division in A.D. 72, but an inscription dating later than A.D. 166 uses the name. Ptolemy employs both these names.

[4] He was father of Kastor and Domnilaos, see below, p. loo. Now, Bepolitanus was one of the chiefs who escaped the Mithridatic massacre, Plutarch, de Mul. Virt., 46. Only three escaped.

[5] As Pompey’s acts were confirmed by the Senate in 59, this kingdom is often said to have been given by the Senate. Gazelonitis lay immediately east of the Halys in its lower course.

[6] Cicero, de Harusp. Resp., 13, 29, which cannot be taken in the sense advocated by Monsieur Th. Reinach, Rev. Numism., 1891, p. 384 note.

[7] He had two legions for several years before B.C. 48. But he suffered severely at Nikopolis, and brought only one legion to Caesar in 47.

[8] See above, p. 78.

[9] Plutarch, Crass., 17, calls him in B.C. 54 a very old man, πάνυ τηραιόν.

[10] Cicero, p. Sest., 26, de Harusp. Resp., 13, 28 f.)

[11] Called Domnekleios, Strab., p. 543, if the two are rightly identified by Niese, Rhein. Mus., 1883, p. 567 ff., and Th. Reinach, Rev. Numism., 1891, p. 380 ff.

[12] Caesar recognised only tetrarchs in Galatia, but acknowledged Deiotaros’s title as king of Armenia (this had been granted by the Senate in his consulship, when it had confirmed Pompey’s acts in the East).

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