International Arbitration, from Athens to Locarno

By Jackson H. Ralston | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XV
ANCIENT ARBITRATIONS

108. Some early arbitrations . -- Before taking up the more important field of arbitrations among the ancient Greeks, we may refer to scattered instances many years before Christ.

So far were the ancient Greeks affected by the idea of arbitration that they assumed its existence among the gods. Thus, for instance, we are told that Pausanias relates that, a difference arising between Poseidon (the Latin Neptune, god of the sea) and Helios (the sungod) with regard to the possession of Corinthian territory, the hundredhanded giant Briareus (known also as Aegaeon) acted as mediator, awarding to Poseidon the isthmus and its neighborhood and to Helios the height which dominated the city. From that time the Corinthians considered that the isthmus belonged to Poseidon. According to the same writer there was a legend to the effect that Inachus (the mythical king of Argos) arbitrated in the dispute between Poseidon and Hera (the Latin Juno, queen of the gods) as to Argolis, and that he was assisted by Cephisus and Asterion (two river gods). Poseidon, however, did not acquiesce in their decision, which was delivered in favor of Hera, and in retaliation caused their water to disappear.

Again in the case of the conflicting claims of Athena (protecting goddess of Athens, called Minerva by the Romans) and Poseidon as to the possession of Aegina, Zeus was the arbitrator and decided they should hold it in common.1

But passing from the world of gods to that of man, we find from recent discoveries of Hittite archives, that about 400 B.C. a bitter feud raged between the two Sumerian cities situated near each other on a canal; that war having failed to bring about a decision, resort was had to arbitration, and the King of Kish was called in to define the frontier between the two states. A record of the treaty of delimitation has been recently discovered.1a

We learn that in the year 486 B.C., after the death of Darius, conflict arose between his sons, Xerxes and Ariamenus, concerning the succession to the throne, and that they united in submitting the matter to the judgment of their uncle, Artaphernes, who decided in favor of

____________________
1
Phillipson, The International Law and Custom of Ancient Greece and Rome, II, 129.
1a
L. W. King and H. R. Hall, Egypt and Western Asia, 171.

-153-

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