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date: 08 February 2023



  • Simon Hornblower


In internal affairs it means the state of affairs where a community is responsible for its own laws; in this sense it is opposed to *tyranny (Hdt. 1. 96. 1) and means self-determination, whereas *freedom (eleutheria) means absence of external constraint. But autonomia is also regularly used in the context of interstate relations, where it indicates a limited independence permitted by a stronger power to a weaker; that is, external constraints are relevant to autonomia too. The term first occurs (in the adjectival form ‘autonomous’, αὐτόνομος, and in a personal and metaphorical sense) at Soph. Ant. 821, a play usually but not certainly dated 443 bce.; and it is a plausible hypothesis that ‘autonomy’ was first used in interstate contexts in the *Delian League. It may have been generally guaranteed in the *Thirty Years Peace of 446. Certainly *Aegina's complaint about infringed autonomy featured prominently at the beginning of the *Peloponnesian War.


  • Greek Law

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