This paper deals with three aspects, among the most debated ones, of the newly published "Athenian Grain-Tax Law of 374/3 BC" (alias ‘Agyrrhios' Law’, from the name of its proponent: editio princeps R. S. Stroud, in Hesperia Supplement, 19, 1998). As for the nature of the taxes of the “twelfth” and of the “fiftieth” and the contents of the final clause of the inscription (ll. 55-61), a careful analysis of these difficult lines and of some other passages of the text allows us to arrive at a different interpretation than that suggested by Stroud (who thinks that the law prescribes that both taxes previously paid in cash should now be paid in kind). Indeed, whatever the original nature of these taxes, the “fiftieth” (the customs dues on the maritime grain trade) will be paid also in future in cash, while the dispositions of the law concern exclusively the management of the wheat and barley coming as tax in kind from the Athenian kleruchies of Lemnos, Imbros and Scyros. The second problem is the relation between the polis and the tax farmers (lit. “buyers”, priamenoi), that is the private merchants or businessmen that ‘bought‘ from the State the right of collecting the “twelfth” and transporting it to Athens. Surely the procedure of selling this right was similar to that of tax-auction, with adjudication to the highest bidder (or bidders), with the sole difference that the auction was not won by those who offered the highest sum of money but those who committed themselves to collect and transport the highest number of the “portions” (merides, defined as four hundred medimnoi of barley and one medimnos of wheat) into which the grain from the islands was divided. On the other hand, a comparison with the financial measures about tax-auction (Ps.Arist., Oeconomica, 3, 1350a15-22) implemented in the Macedonian kingdom under Perdiccas III by Callistratus of Aphidna (an Athenian statesman who was nephew of Agyrrhios) may suggest that the division of the grain of islands into several ‘portions’ might boost the participation to the auction of a plurality of ‘buyers’, each one of these being formally liable for his ‘portion’. This law perhaps laid bare the tension between the unavoidable trend of the bidders in the auction to associate in trusts and the State's interest in avoiding this. However, the issue of what exactly made the profit of the tax farmers is still relatively obscure. In the third place, the weighing out of the cereals attested by the Agyrrhios' Law is analysed against the background of ancient evidence concerning the measuring of the grains and the testing of their quality. As a result, the extremely low values of the weight of barley and wheat attested by the Agyrrhios' Law (much lower than the weights attested in some literary sources, mainly Plinius the Elder) suggest that the procedure of weighing the cereals out (ll. 21-27), with a fixed equivalence between a stated round quantity of grain and a stated round weight standard (obviously different for barley and for wheat), aimed at making easier and quicker a procedure of measurement which otherwise could be much longer and open to challenge (the round standards seem to suggest that the polis was satisfied with a rough equivalence). Finally, the destination of the proceeds of the sale of the grain-tax to the Athenian military fund (stratiotika) testifies to an Athenian policy which, given the financial difficulties of Athens in the first half of the 4th century, is likely to have been practised in other occasions too; for instance in 357/6 BC, when Demosthenes (20, 33) reports that a certain amount of grain coming from the Bosphoran king Leukon granted the polis, surely through the sale of that grain, an income of 15 talents that was administered by a certain Callisthenes: he is likely to have been the manager of the military fund.
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