CASTOLUS, a plain east of Sardis, site of the mustering of troops from the satrapy of Sparda (Lydia) during Achaemenid times (Xenophon, Anabasis 1.1.2, 1.9.7, Hellenica 1.4.3; cf. Anabasis 1.2.2-5; Plutarch, Artaxerxes 2; Diodorus, 14.2.8, 19.2.6). The site is attested in Achaemenid times only in connection with Cyrus the Younger’s (son of Darius II) appointment as “karanos of those who muster at Castolus.” The practice of a yearly muster was not confined to Sparda, but is attested in other provinces (cf. Xenophon, Oeconomicus 4.6, Cyropaedia 8.6.16; and discussions in Cook, Hirsch, Briant). The term karanos (attested only in Hellenica 1.4.3) appears to parallel the Greek stratēgos “general” (cf. Anabasis 1.1.2, 1.9.7). I suggest that under normal circumstances (i.e., the absence of a major mobilization for large-scale campaigning) the post of “karanos of those who muster at Castolus” was held by the satrap at Sardis. Cyrus’s holding of the office represents a further distortion of normal administrative practice and a diminishing of the status of Tissaphernes, then satrap at Sardis.

Castolus is attested in post-Achaemenid times (OGIS 488) as village (komē) with civic organs bearing Greek titles.


For a discussion of mustering and the karanos see J. M. Cook, “The Rise of the Achaemenids and Establishment of Their Empire,” in Camb. Hist. Iran II, pp. 267-70 (karanos may be related to OPers. kāra “army”); cf. C. Haebler “Karanos,” in J. von Tischler, ed., Serta Indo-Germanica. Festschrift für G. Neumann zum 60. Geburtstag, Innsbrucker Beiträge zur Sprachwissenschaft 40, 1982, pp. 81-90. P. Briant, L’Asie centrale et les royaumes proche-orientaux du premier millénaire, pp. 82-86, discusses mustering in Bactria and also cites sources for other Achaemenid mustering points. S. Hirsch, The Friendship of the Barbarians, Hanover, 1985, pp. 10-11, defends the historicity of Xenophon and suggests the office of karanos at Castolus is a reflection of a separation of civil and military powers. This defense of Xenophon is taken to an unfortunate extreme in Th. Petit, “Étude d’une fonction militaire sous la dynastie perse achémenide,” Les études classiques 51, 1983, pp. 35-45. See also G. Cousin, Kyros le Jeune en Asie Mineure, Paris, 1905, pp. 15, 17, 18, 25. For post-Achaemenid Castolus see P. Briant, Rois, tributs et paysans, Paris, 1982, pp. 150-51.

(Michael Weiskopf)

Originally Published: December 15, 1990

Last Updated: December 15, 1990

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