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Article

What makes Alexander Great? His story has captured the imagination of authors, artists, philosophers, and politicians across more than two millennia. He has provided a point of convergence for religious and spiritual thinkers, he has been co-opted as a champion for gender and sexual openness, he represents a paradigm for would-be charismatic dictators (and their opponents), he gives us scientific imperialism and justification for conquistadorial dreaming, and he exemplifies the risks of cultural appropriation. To understand why Alexander resonates so widely across so many different fields of study, interest groups, and media, is an exercise in reception. This Alexander who has captured the imagination is triumphantly equivocal and it is in the plurality of traditions through which this complexity is expressed that his enduring “greatness” lies. The imaginary quality of Alexander is unsurprising because more profoundly than for any comparable individual from classical antiquity, his history is a product of reception from the start: every encounter with Alexander the Great is part of a conversation that depends substantially on accounts and narrative evidence from long after his death, and at the least at one remove from the historians who first and contemporaneously chronicled his life and achievements.

Article

Appian  

Kai Brodersen

Appian (Ἀππιανός) of Alexandria, Greek historian. Born in Alexandria (1) at the end of the 1st centuryce, died in Rome c. 160ce; the inscription on a particular Roman sarcophagus (IGUR IV 1700) suggests that it may well be his. Appian experienced the Jewish uprising of 116/7ce, became a Roman citizen, moved to Rome as an advocate, and eventually gained, through the influence of his friend M. Cornelius Fronto, the dignitas (“honorary position”) of a procurator under Antoninus Pius, which enabled him to devote his time to writing his Roman History. After the preface and Book 1 on early Rome in the period of the kings, this work is arranged ethnographically, dealing with the individual peoples as Rome conquered them: Book 2 covers the Italians; Book 3, the Samnites; Book 4, the Celts; Book 5, the Sicilians; Book 6, the Iberians; Book 7, Hannibal; Book 8, the Carthaginians (as well as the Libyans and Nomads); Book 9, the Macedonians and Illyrians; Book 10, the Greeks and Ionians; Book 11, the Syrians (Seleucids) and Parthians; and Book 12, Mithridates VI.

Article

Jonathan Coulston

Evidence for Greek and Roman artillery comes from the surviving technical treatises, incidental historical and subliterary references, and, most importantly, finds of both machine-fittings and projectiles. The latter at present date from the 2nd cent. bce to the 4th cent. ce.In 399 bce artificers of *Dionysius (1) I apparently invented the first artillery piece (Diod. Sic. 14. 42. 1). The gastraphetēs shot arrows only, and somewhat resembled an early medieval crossbow. Propulsion force was supplied by a composite bow, which, being too powerful for a man to draw by hand, was bent by means of a slide and stock. Later gastraphetai, some of which were stone-throwers, used a winch and had a stand. Torsion catapults appeared around 340 bce, possibly invented by *Philip (1) II's engineers. Stock, winch, and base remained much the same, but two springs, bundles of rope made from animal sinew and held at high tension in a metal-plated wooden frame, now provided propulsive power. Torsion machines improved continuously in efficiency through the Roman period. From c.

Article

Cos  

William Allison Laidlaw and Susan Mary Sherwin-White

A fertile island of the Sporades, situated in the SE Aegean, on the north–south trading route along the coast of Turkey and onwards to Cyprus, Syria, and Egypt. After Mycenaean occupation, the island was colonized, in the ‘Dark Ages,’ by *Dorians, perhaps from *Epidaurus, whose arrival may be identified with the establishment of the settlement attested by the cemeteries at the Seraglio (c.1050–c.750 bce). It was a member of the Dorian Hexapolis. The Doric dialect continued to be used into late antiquity (e.g. POxy. 2771: ce 323).In the late Archaic period the island was subject initially to Persia and to the Lygdamid (see artemisia(1)) dynasty of *Halicarnassus, which faced Cos across the straits between the island and Turkey, and then to Athens. Cos is not attested as a member of the *Second Athenian Confederacy (founded 378 bce) and perhaps did not join.

Article

Saskia Hin

People’s life courses are shaped by the complex interactions of contextual factors, of individual behavior, and of opportunities and constraints operating at the macro level. Demography studies these processes with a focus on particular transitions in the life course: birth, leaving home, marriage, and other transitions in civil status (divorce, remarriage, and transitions into widowhood), the birth and survival of offspring, migration, and finally the end of the life cycle—death.

Initial work on the ancient world focussed primarily on macro-level data, trying to establish overall trends in population development on the basis of census figures and other population estimates. This approach has received further impetus with the advent of survey demography (see Population Trends). More recently, attention has turned to single events in the life course. Core demographic studies have attempted to establish patterns and rates of marriage, fertility, migration, and mortality. Others have taken a complementary approach with a stronger focus on qualitative data. These support investigation of sociological, cultural, and economic aspects of demographic phenomena. The remainder of this article focusses on a concise evaluation of current understanding of marriage, fertility, migration, mortality, and population trends in the ancient Greco-Roman world.

Article

Emma Cole

Ancient drama has had a vast influence upon the literary, performance, and intellectual culture of modernity. From ancient Greece thirty-two tragedies, eleven comedies, and one satyr play survive, and from ancient Rome ten tragedies and twenty-seven comedies remain, alongside countless fragments from all genres. Many of the surviving plays are staged in contemporary theatre in both literal translation and more liberal adaptation, and today more ancient drama is seen in professional theatres than at any point since antiquity. Although all ancient dramatic genres have a rich reception history, Greek tragedy dominates the field, particularly in the 20th and 21st centuries. Productions of Greek tragedy today range from masked performances in the original language through to radical, avant-garde, immersive, and postdramatic reinventions. Greek tragedy is also frequently used as a touchstone within literary theory and broader intellectual discourse, from the theorisation of the ideal form of performance (Wagner’s Gesamtkuntswerk) to the development of psychoanalytic theory (Freud’s Oedipus complex) and structuralism (Lévi-Strauss). Ancient drama has also provided inspiration for entirely new dramatic forms; the influence of Roman tragedy, for example, can be felt within the revenge tragedies of the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras, while traces of Roman comedy can be felt in slapstick comedy and Italian commedia dell’arte. Current growth areas within both artistic practice, and academic research into the reception of ancient drama, include the performance reception of dramatic fragments, an increased interest in forms such as burlesque and pantomime, and the use of ancient drama as a tool of resistance against oppressive political regimes.

Article

The Greeks and Romans did not develop a concept of “the economy” or discuss economic matters at any length; the study of the ancient economy therefore began only in the late 18th century, in parallel with the developing study of contemporary economic development, and was heavily influenced from the beginning by the question of the relationship between antiquity and modernity. The field has long been dominated by two different but closely connected debates about the nature and degree of development of the ancient economy (was it “primitive” or, on the contrary, proto-modern?) and about the correct theoretical and methodological tools for studying it, with constant anxieties about the dangers of anachronism. A notable trend has been the increasing weight given to material as compared with literary evidence, as archaeologists have accumulated ever greater information about economic activity, leading to calls in recent years to focus on ancient economic performance rather than on the structures of culture and thought that supposedly inhibited ancient development.

Article

Rebecca Futo Kennedy and Katherine Blouin

Natural environments such as the air currents, temperatures, waters, and topography were thought to shape humans, animals, and plants. For humans, the impact was physical, behavioural, and cultural. For animals, the impacts were mostly physical (e.g., oxen in Scythia have no horns because of the cold). This is typically referred to as environmental or climatic determinism. Early explicit examples of this idea include the HippocraticAirs, Waters, Places and occasional comments in Herodotus, but arguments for such a relationship between identity and environment as early as Homer’s Odyssey and Hesiod have been made.1 There is a long-standing tradition beginning with Homer and extending through the Roman imperial period of humans, animals, and their hybrids being associated with geographic distance from an imagined centre, dwelling in designated climate bands, or being earth-born or autochthonous (gēgenēs, autochthōn) that may reflect early forms of environmental determinism. The ideas continue to circulate in much the same form as found in the Hippocratic Airs in Roman authors such as Vitruvius, Manilius, Pliny the Elder, and Vegetius.

Article

Arjan Zuiderhoek

Euergetism is the modern scholarly term, derived from the ancient Greek euergetes (benefactor), to denote the phenomenon of elite gift-giving to cities (or to groups within them) in Greek and Roman societies. The term encompasses benefactions by Hellenistic kings and Roman emperors, but is mostly used to refer to the munificence of local civic elites. Recent scholarship stresses the transactional character of euergetism: benefactors donated or contributed to public buildings (including temples), festivals, and games, or they gave distributions of food or money or organized public banquets in exchange for publicly awarded honours: usually including an honorific inscription recording the benefaction and the accolades awarded to the donor in return, often accompanied by a statue of him or her. In Archaic and 5th-century bce Greece, cities mostly honoured foreign benefactors in this way, but from the 4th century bce onward, it became more and more normal for wealthy citizens to donate to their own city in exchange for public honours awarded by their fellow-citizens. Civic euergetism of this type became increasingly common in Greek cities during the Hellenistic period. Its greatest proliferation, however, was under Roman imperial rule during the 1st, 2nd and early 3rd centuries ce, when we have more inscriptions for benefactors in cities in both East and West than ever before.

Article

Laura Mecella

Eustathius of Epiphania (modern-day Hama, Syria), late 5th–early 6th ce. He authored a lost summary of universal history in Greek, known only from Evagrius Scholasticus, John Malalas, the Suda, and Nicephorus Callistus Xanthopoulos (14th century). It seems likely that both Evagrius and Malalas had direct access to it, while the Suda knew its existence only from Hesychius of Miletus’s Table of Eminent Writers (Onomatologos). We do not know the details of the link with Nicephorus, who quotes Eustathius in a passage concerning Theodosius II’s reign and Attila’s campaigns against the Romans (Historia ecclesiastica 14.57). A Patmos manuscript attests the existence of Eustathius’s work as late as the 13th century, so such direct access by Nicephorus cannot be ruled out.1 However, Nicephorus’s narrative is based on several different sources, and it is impossible to identify what could have been taken from Eustathius.2 Furthermore, the possibility that many fragments of John of Antioch’s Chronological History preserve a large part of Eustathius’s work has little credibility: according to this hypothesis, both John Malalas and John of Antioch would have drawn widely on Eustathius’s history, copying it extensively.

Article

Christopher Pelling

‘Which of the gods was it that brought the two together in strife?’, asks the Iliad as it launches its narrative (1.8); early in the Odyssey*Zeus complains that mortals blame the gods when they are responsible for their own sufferings (1.32–3). Both poems however swiftly complicate any attempt to limit explanations to either the human or the divine level. Achilles and Agamemnon quarrel, Achilles kills Hector, and Odysseus gets home, largely because they are the people that they are, but gods often intervene too. The Greeks win because they are better fighters; they also win because more gods are on their side. The poems also suggest another form of explanation, not tracing events to their origins but relating them to a familiar pattern of human life. Suffering is the lot of humanity (Il. 24.525–6); outrages like those of the suitors are punished. Life is like that, and one should not be surprised.

Article

Paul Halstead, O. T. P. K. Dickinson, Simon Hornblower, and Antony Spawforth

The stone age is divided into the palaeolithic (to c.9000 bce), mesolithic (c.9000–7000 bce) and neolithic (7th–4th millennia bce); *metallurgy began during the neolithic, before the conventional neolithic–bronze age transition.Classical Greece was an essentially agricultural society and as such can trace its origins back to the first farming communities in Greece in the early neolithic (7th millennium bce). Some at least of the domestic livestock and crop species were introduced from the near east, but Greece had long been occupied by palaeolithic and mesolithic gatherer-hunters (e.g. at Franchthi cave, Argolid). It is unclear whether the first farmers were of indigenous, immigrant or mixed stock. Known early farming settlements (e.g. Argissa) are heavily concentrated in the fertile lowlands of the eastern mainland, particularly in *Thessaly. The southern mainland and smaller Aegean islands, the heartland of both bronze age palatial civilization and the Classical *polis, were not widely colonized by farmers until the later neolithic and early bronze age (5th–3rd millennia bce).

Article

Michel Austin and John Stuart Richardson

See carthage.One Greek definition of *freedom included the ability of a state to exercise rule over others (cf. Hdt. 1. 210; Thuc. 8. 68. 4; Arist. Pol. 1333b38–1334a2; Polyb. 5. 106. 4–5). The 5th-cent. bce Athenians justified their rule over other Greeks by appealing to the motives of fear, honour, and interest: ‘it has always been the law that the weaker should be subject to the stronger’ (Thuc. 1. 76. 2). *Thucydides(2) himself interpreted the early history of Greece as the gradual emergence of greater powers with the ability to control superior resources (1. 1–19). It was common for the major states to seek to dominate weaker ones, as *Syracuse in Sicily, especially under the tyrants (see tyranny), and Sparta and Athens on the mainland of Greece and in the Aegean (see peloponnesian league; delian league). Smaller states did the same: for example .

Article

John Weisweiler

The just distribution of social goods was fiercely debated in the ancient Mediterranean and the ideologies of egalitarianism and inegalitarianism developed in Rome and Athens shaped Euro-American political thought from the Enlightenment onward. By contrast, the study of actual income and wealth distributions in ancient societies is a more recent development. Only in the early 21st century have scholars begun to make systematic attempts to quantify levels of inequality in the ancient Mediterranean and Near East. Since we lack the documentary sources on which the study of inequality in contemporary economies is based, most of these reconstructions rely on a combination of modelling and the interpretation of isolated figures found in literary texts. This fragmentary evidence suggests that in the best-attested regions of the ancient Mediterranean and Near East inequality was considerable. In particular, the formation of large territorial states—most notably the empires of Babylon, Persia, and Rome—facilitated the concentration of wealth into fewer hands. But it is unclear whether inequality increased over time. At least, there is no unambiguous evidence that wealth and income were more unequally distributed in late antiquity than in earlier periods of Roman history.

Article

Kelly L. Wrenhaven

In ancient Greece and Rome, masturbation was viewed with good-humored disdain. Although it was not apparently subject to the same kinds of scathing attacks that Greek comedy makes on male same-sex activity, it was certainly connected with a lack of sophistication. In line with sexual subjects in general, references are found primarily in Greek comedy and sympotic art of the Archaic and Classical periods, where it is typically associated with barbarians, slaves, and satyrs, all of whom fall into the category of the “Other,” or the anti-ideal. All were deemed lacking in sophrosyne (“moderation”) and enkratia (“self-control”) and were associated with uncivilized behavior. The Greeks had a varied terminology for masturbation. The most commonly found verb is dephesthai (“to soften”), but several other words and euphemisms were used (e.g. cheirourgon, “self-stimulation”).1The comedies of Aristophanes (1) provide the majority of references to masturbation and largely associate it with slaves. The lengthiest reference is a joke that occurs near the beginning of Knights, when Slave B tells Slave A to masturbate in order to give himself courage.

Article

nomads  

Antony Spawforth

Greek (followed by Roman) writers lumped together as nomads (νομάδες, formed on νομός, ‘pasture’) all pastoral groups for whom wandering was a way of life, without distinguishing (as does the modern concept of nomadism) between semi-nomads—including those practising *transhumance—and fully nomadic societies of no fixed abode, such as the ancients met on the desert fringes of *Libya and *Arabia and in *Scythia. *Homer's portrayal of the pastoral *Cyclopes as uncivilized and savage (Od.9) inaugurates a persistent hostility in Greek literature to nomads, whose lifestyle as ‘cultivators of living fields’ (γεωργίαν ζῶσαν γεωργοῦντες, Arist. Pol. 1256a 34–5), in particular their different diet (see milk) and desert habitat, set them apart from the sedentary communities of Greek farmers and encouraged a stereotyping taken to extremes in *Herodotus(1)'s account of the nomadic Scythian ‘man eaters’ (4. 106). Thus to turn nomads into settled agriculturalists ranked among the self-evident achievements of the Macedonian kings *Philip(1) II and *Alexander(3) the Great (Arr.

Article

P. J. Rhodes

Panhellenism, the idea that what the Greeks have in common as Greeks, and what distinguishes them from *barbarians, is more important than what divides them. The word is not an ancient one, though Panhellenes is used of the Greeks in the Iliad (2. 530) and elsewhere in early poetry (see hellenes). The idea was fostered by the panhellenic sanctuaries (below) and the Greeks' increasing contacts with non-Greeks, and then particularly by the Greeks' resistance to the Persian invasions of 490 and 480–479 bce (see persian wars), and in the *Delian League as a Greek alliance formed to continue the war against Persia. In the 4th cent., after the *Peloponnesian War, the argument that the great days of the Greeks were when they were united against Persia rather than fighting among themselves, and that to recover their greatness they should again unite against Persia, was advanced by *Gorgias (1) and *Lysias and became a recurrent theme in the works of *Isocrates.

Article

Polyaenus (2), a Macedonian rhetorician, dedicated his collection of Strategemata (stratagems) in eight books to Marcus *Aurelius and Lucius *Verus. It is wide-ranging, including exploits by gods, heroes, and famous women, and uses excerpts from earlier collections; some entries are historically valuable, others fictitious. However, the underlying theme is didactic, to expound the methods of protecting an army and overcoming the enemy, and along with traditional clichés of military life, he recounts stratagems employed by historical Greek commanders, with some examples from Roman history, notably *Hannibal, *Caesar, and *Augustus. Polyaenus even claims a practical purpose, to assist the emperors in the Parthian war (ce 162–6): ‘You consider it part of the art of winning victories to study the ways by which commanders in the past triumphed.’BibliographyTextPolyaenus.

Article

Nicholas Purcell

The Greek poleis communicated by professional messengers (hemerodromoi, like *Phidippides, on land; there were also messenger-ships), but developed no other general infrastructure for communications. The Assyrian state (see assyria), however, with its developed and centralized requisitioning system, used relays of mounted couriers. These were the model for the efficient Persian arrangements (see royal road) which were maintained at the expense of local communities. From the first, the carrying of messages, the movement of goods due to the state, and the journeys of the ruler and his representatives were closely linked, and this is the system bequeathed by the *Achaemenid kingdom to the (*Diadochi) Successors of *Alexander (3) the Great, in *Syria and in Egypt, where the Ptolemies (see ptolemy(1)) developed it to a high level of complexity and dependability (here the duty to maintain the post was liturgical (see liturgy), like military service, though it could be commuted into a tax).

Article

Simon Hornblower and Antony Spawforth

Prosopography is a modern term for the study of individuals, and is derived from the Greek prosōpon, one meaning of which is ‘person’. There is no agreed or official definition of prosopography, which goes under different names in different disciplines (to the social scientist, prosopography in one of its manifestations is ‘multiple career-line analysis’: see L. Stone in bibliog. below). Prosopography, as used in ancient history, is a historical method which uses onomastic evidence (see names, personal, greek and roman) to establish (i) regional origins of individuals and (ii) family connections, esp. via marriage-ties but also via *adoption (which leaves traces on nomenclature), between individual and individual and between group and group. (See genos and gens for the basic large *kinship units; but ‘group’ theories of Roman politics, see below, presuppose units made up of more than one gens. Thus Scullard posited a ‘Fulvian-Claudian group’ in late 3rd cent. Rome, see various entries under Fulvius and Claudius.) Conclusions about the origins and family connections of individuals then classically lead to inferences about their likely political sympathies and allegiances.