Globalization, Hellenism and Population Movement – Georgian Case

Globalization or interconnectedness between the countries, unequal economic development and excessive growth of population have contributed to migratory patterns from Asia to Europe, from East Europe to the Western part. Georgians are no exception. Their mobility can be conceptualized as a complex system of short-term, long-term, short-distance and long-distance movements. Indeed, migration from Georgia takes place to the neighboring countries, further to West European states, or even farther afield – the US. As any other states with large migration population outflow, Georgians will see that a priority in more developed states is placed on migrants with skills necessary for local labor market rather than on migration for humanitarian reasons.

By 2050 it is estimated that 70% of the projected 9,3 billion people in the world will be an urban population. It will be a century of final shift of human populations out of agricultural life and into cities. Much will depend on how cities would be able to provide a necessary economic basis for new settlers. Failure to do so would lead to unprecedented numbers population movement, state-to-state migrations (R. Bedford. “Contemporary patterns of international migration”. Foundations of International Migration Law. Edited by B. Opeskin, R. Perruchoud, J. Redpath-Cross. Cambridge. 2009, pp. 19-20).

But it is also important to bear in mind that migration has always been present throughout history. One example is the period between the 1880s and the outbreak of World War I. Expansion of the international economy, based on free trade and mobile capital, enabled the movement of people across national boundaries. According to some estimates, during the 19th century and the first two decades of the 20th century some 50 million people left Europe for Americas and other territories (R. Bedford. “Contemporary patterns of international migration”, pp. 23).

In more distant past, the Graeco-Roman world perhaps best exemplifies the migration patterns. Back then the Mediterranean received large numbers of population either taken forcefully through wars, or later or was compelled to do so as a result of large flows of barbarian populations from North Europe (the so-called receptio-system). Back then, as is the case in our time, Georgians (Iberians) were an integral part of this Graeco-Roman pattern, first becoming part of lower classes then gradually reached high positions.

Below is a detailed story of Georgians (Iberians) rising in the Roman Empire’s social ladder.

Civil war of A.D. 69 reveals freedman Moschus as admiral of the Roman fleet subordinated to Emperor M. Salvius Otho (Tacit. Hist. I. 87, Историки Античности. т. II. Древний Рим. Москва. 1989, p. 243; Tacitus. In Five Volumes. II. The Histories. Books I-III. With an English Translation by C. H. Moore. Loeb Classical Library. Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University Press. London. MCMLXXX, p. 150).  In the 1st-2nd cc. the Roman citizenship was a prerequisite for enrolment in the legion but not for service in other units, such as the two Italian fleets (T. Dundua. Publicius Agrippa, Flavius Dades and a Dual Citizenship – a Pattern for Europe in Future? Caucasica. The Journal of Caucasian Studies. vol. 5. Tbilisi. 2000, p. 60). That is why Moschus found himself in his position. Romans used to give specific names to the slaves and freedmen, often connected with their original nationality, e.g. Emperor Aulus Vitellius, rival of Otho, had Asiaticus, as a favourite, gradually allotting him with the Roman citizenship and nomen (Tacit. Hist. II. 57, Историки Античности. т. II, p. 281).Having in mind Meskheti (Graeco-Roman Moschicē), a province of Iberia (Eastern and Southern Georgia), one can suggest Iberia, as a mother-land for Moschus or his parent. If so, he could also be called Iberian (Iber), like Gaios the Iberian (see below), mentioned on the bronze plate from Platea in Greece (T. Dundua. Gaius the Iberian – First Ever Recorded Georgian To Be Baptized. Proceedings of Institute of Georgian History. Ivane Javakishvili Tbilisi State University. II. Tbilisi. 2011, p. 425).

In the Roman World a slave or a freedman, Moschus by name, could be only Georgian. Greek case is different, for Moschos is original Greek name with the Greek etymology, employed rather extensively (Древнегреческо-русский словарь. Составил  И. Х. Дворецкий. Москва. 1958. т. II, p. 1110; Greek-English Lexicon, Compiled by H. G. Liddell and R. Scott. New edition completed 1940. Reprinted 1961. Oxford, p. 1148). There are no chances if proving the Georgian origin for Moschos of Elis, philosopher, Moschos of Lampsacos, tragic poet, and Moschos of Syracuse, famous bucolic poet (Der Neue Pauly. Enzyklopädie der Antike. Band 8. Stuttgart. Weimar. Article “Moschos”, pp. 414-415).

Son could have father’s name in the Greek society, but these cases are not frequent if not within the royal dynasties. And, if we have Moschos, son of Moschos, then he must be Iberian, whose father, or grandfather had been taken away from the Iberian province of Meskheti. This duplicity in the name could mean nothing but stressing the ethnicity properly.

Final step for those barbarian slaves and freedmen was a citizenship.

Moschos, son of Moschos occurs, at least, for three times – twice, on the coins, once – in inscription. Magistrate of Smyrna, perhaps, in the 2nd c. B.C., he put his name on the bronze coins of the city, the so-called Homereias (Apollo/Rev. Homer. Greek inscription: Moschos, son of Moschos) (J. G. Milne. The Autonomous Coinage of Smyrna. II. The Numismatic Chronicle. Fifth Series – vol. VII. London. 1927, p. 95 #321). Maybe, that was him again to issue Kybele/Rev.Aphrodite Stratonikis type bronze coins with the legend Moschos, son of Moschos (A Catalogue of the Greek Coins in the British Museum. XVI. Catalogue of the Greek Coins of Ionia. Barclay V. Head. London. 1892, p. 240 #33), and to be mentioned in the Greek inscription of the theatre in Halikarnassos (the 3rd-2nd cc. B.C.) – Moschos, son of Moschos, son of Moschos (T. Dundua. History of Georgia. Tbilisi. 2017, pp. 86-90

We are moving to declare one of the leading families of Smyrna (todays Izmir) in the 2nd c. B.C. to be of the Georgian origin.

For the lower classes in the 1st-3rd cc. there was Christianity as a certain consolation.

Bronze plate from Platea, Central Greece, offers 40 male names, mostly Greek, few Graeco-Roman. The positions are only for some of them and all they are Christian, like presbyter etc. (M. Guarducci. Epigrafia Greca. IV. Epigrafi Sacre Pagane e Christiane. Roma. 1978, pp. 335-336).

The plate, now in the National Museum at Athens, is thought to present early-Christian Community of Platea. The date corresponds to the verge of the 2nd-3rd cc.

For two persons we have special ethnic indicators. They are Gaius the Iberian and Athenodoros the Armenian.

So, Gaius the Iberian – was he Iberian born, only then taken from the country, and thus bilingual? Perhaps, not, he bears Latin praenomen, nobody had it in Georgia. Then how had he found his way to Greece; and who was he socially? Too many questions indeed.

Gaius’ case is more Graeco-Roman, than Georgian. But he is still “Iberian”, not completely assimilated thus claiming for himself to be first ever recorded Georgian as Christian (T. Dundua. History of Georgia. Tbilisi. 2017, pp. 135-137

By Prof. Dr. Tedo Dundua, Dr. Emil Avdaliani

Institute of Georgian History, Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University 

15 September 2020 14:46