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Alexander the Great, reception of  

Diana Spencer

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.



Phillip Harding

Atthis was the title given in post-*Alexandrian scholarship to the genre of Greek *historiography that narrated the local history of *Attica. The title, derived from the name of the daughter of the mythical king Cranaus (Strabo 9. 1. 8), was probably invented by *Callimachus (3) for cataloguing purposes. The authors themselves used a variety of titles (Protogonia, Attika, Attikē Syngraphē) or none. The genre was probably created by *Hellanicus (1) in the late 5th cent., though *Pausanias (3) (10. 15. 5) credits *Cleidemus. It was most popular in the 4th cent. when Atthides were written by Cleidemus, *Androtion, *Phanodemus, and perhaps *Melanthius (3). *Demon and *Philochorus, the last and most respected atthidographer, wrote in the 3rd. Later *Ister compiled an epitome of these Atthides.In structure the Atthis was a chronicle, based upon a hypothetical list of kings (for the mythical period) and, after 683/2 bce, on the eponymous archons.


drama, reception of  

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.



Catherine A. Morgan and Peter Heather

In social science usage, a term coined (in 1953) to describe that condition ‘wherein certain members of a society in a given social context choose to emphasize as their most meaningful basis of primary extrafamilial identity certain assumed cultural, national or somatic traits’ (O. Patterson in Glazer and Moynihan, 308); a socio-political strategy of selective advantage enacted within a dominant political organization, which rests on insistence upon the significance of group distinctiveness and identity, and the rights that derive from it. Ethnic identity is not a ‘natural’ condition, but rather a self-conscious statement using selected cultural traits as diacritical marks. Ethnic groups are thus mutually exclusive, and are more usually constituted with reference to kinship than to territory. Dynamic and strongly contextualized, ethnic expression is characteristic of complex societies.In the ancient Greek world, ethnic terminology is found from Homer onwards. Ethnicity, in the above sense, is of importance in two principal areas. First, in the context of the ethnos, a category of state which existed alongside the *polis, but which is only rarely treated by ancient sources.


explanation, historical  

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.


founders, city  

Antony Spawforth

Founders were chiefly important before *Alexander (3) the Great in the case of colonies (see apoikia), founded under the leadership of an oikist (οἶκιστής), whose achievements frequently led to his posthumous worship as a hero (see hero-cult). In 5th-cent. bce Athens oikists were state officials who returned home after completing their task, as with Hagnon at *Amphipolis. Among Hellenistic founders of cities (ktistēs was now the preferred term) kings naturally loomed largest, although not all attended in person the founding rituals like Alexander the Great (Arr.Anab. 3. 1. 5). As a device for asserting a Hellenic ancestry compatible with the cultural and ethnic preferences of the ruling power, city-founders acquired a new significance in the Hellenistic and Roman empires: thus Cilician Mallus gained tax-exemption from Alexander (Arr. Anab. 2. 5. 9) on the strength of mutual kinship through *Argos (1).



Rosalind Thomas

Genealogy, the enumeration of descent from an ancestor. Legendary pedigree was particularly important in Greece. Before fighting, *Homeric heroes boast of their ancestry, citing between two and eight generations of ancestors (e.g. Il. 6. 145–211, Glaucus (3)). *Hesiod's poetry is preoccupied with legendary ancestry (Theogony, Catalogue of Women); even aristocrats in Classical Athens (which put more stress on recent achievements) claimed descent from important local and Homeric heroes, and thence from the gods: cf. the Philaid genealogy (Marcellin.Life of Thucydides 3; see cimon; miltiades); *Andocides was descended from *Odysseus and therefore *Hermes (Hellanicus, FGrH 323a F 24), *Alcibiades from Eurysaces (and *Zeus) (Pl.Alc. 1. 121a), *Plato (1) from *Solon and *Codrus (Plut. Sol. 1. 2). Other groups, cities, colonies, or tribes (see ethnicity), might trace descent from a single legendary figure (see founders, city), and genealogies were sometimes akin to king-lists (e.


Hellenism, Hellenization  

Simon Hornblower

Greek culture (cf. hellen; hellenes) and the diffusion of that culture, a process usually seen as active. The relation between the two modern words is controversial: should the longer word be avoided (see orientalism) because of its suggestion of cultural imperialism? (Cf. Bowersock (see bibliog. below): ‘Hellenization is…a modern idea, reflecting modern forms of cultural domination’.)The ancient terminology is interesting but treacherous. The earliest use of the verb ‘Hellenize’ (Gk. ἑλληνίζειν) is in a linguistic context: Thucydides 2. 68 says the Amphilochian Argives were ‘Hellenized as to their present language’ by the Ambraciots. But the extra words ‘as to…language’ perhaps (though see CR 1984, 246) indicate that the word normally had a wider, cultural sense. Nevertheless, ‘Hellenism’ in the Classical period is not quite on all fours with *Medism, which has a political tinge. The asymmetry is interesting because it underlines the absence, in the evidence which has come down to us, of a non-Greek point of view from which political sympathy with Greece could be expressed (see persian wars: the persian viewpoint).



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.



Denise Eileen McCoskey

Contrary to the assumptions of previous eras, since the late 20th century, race has been widely regarded as a form of identity based in social construction rather than biology. The concept of race has experienced a corresponding return to classical studies, although this approach gives it significant overlap with terminology like ethnicity and cultural identity. The ancient Greeks and Romans did not consider human biology or skin color the source of racial identity, although the belief that human variation was determined by the environment or climate persisted throughout antiquity. Ancient ethnographic writing provides insight into ancient racial thought and stereotypes in both the Greek and Roman periods. Race in the Greek world centered in large part around the emergence of the category of Greek alongside that of barbarian, but there were other important racial frameworks in operation, including a form of racialized citizenship in Athens. Modes for expressing racial identity changed in the aftermath of the campaigns of Alexander the Great, a figure whose own racial identity has been the subject of debate. In the Roman period, Roman citizenship became a major factor in determining one’s identity, but racial thought nonetheless persisted. Ideas about race were closely correlated with the Roman practice of empire, and representations of diverse racial groups are especially prominent in conquest narratives. Hellenistic and Roman Egypt provide an opportunity for looking at race in everyday life in antiquity, while Greek and Roman attitudes towards Jews suggest that they were perceived as a distinct group. Reception studies play a critical role in analyzing the continuing connections between race and classics.


reception in historical novels  

Tom Stevenson

Reception in historical novels set in ancient Greece and Rome differs fundamentally between the 19th and the 20th/21st centuries. In the 19th century, reception was governed heavily by imperial attitudes and religious controversies, particularly in regard to claims about the true Christian faith under the Roman Empire. Hence, novels set in Rome or the Roman Empire dominated the field. In the 20th century, attitudes to empire and religion were drastically revised in the wake of World War I. The growing authority of academic history in an age of scientific progress was another factor which helped to produce a decline in the reputation of historical fiction. Other changes, however, were more stimulating in nature, including the use of ancient Greece as a setting, more impressive source analysis, the rise of female novelists, different subjects and perspectives, and new social and sexual attitudes. These and other developments lifted the reputation of historical fiction once more.


West, Western Greeks  

Modern expressions for the Greeks of Italy and Sicily, cf. magna graecia. (But ‘western Greece’ can mean the western part of Greece proper.).