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Ancient Greek History and Contemporary Social Science$
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Mirko Canevaro, Andrew Erskine, Benjamin Gray, and Josiah Ober

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474421775

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474421775.001.0001

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Exploring Intercommunity Political Activity in Fourth-Century Greece

Exploring Intercommunity Political Activity in Fourth-Century Greece

(p.405) 14 Exploring Intercommunity Political Activity in Fourth-Century Greece
Ancient Greek History and Contemporary Social Science

Peter Liddel

Edinburgh University Press

It might seem reasonable to take the view that the study of ancient Greek political behaviour could plausibly focus upon exchanges that went on inside the polis: after all, the word ‘politics’ derives from the Greek politika (‘polis affairs’). However, the concerns of ancient Greek polis-communities were not merely introspective: communities (regardless of size or military clout) were obliged to face the consequences of the decisions and activity of other communities. Human representatives of city-states performed necessary interactions with outsiders: they fought as soldiers, and staked political or ideological claims as ambassadors and politicians. On their return to their home communities, these individuals proclaimed to their audiences the significance of their activity away from home. Furthermore, the overlaps in social and cultural structure of different Greek city-states, as well as the existence of shared modes of decision-making, might lead us to anticipate the value of trans-community forms of political activity. At the heart of this question, therefore, is an overall debate about the degree of ‘unity’ of Greek political institutions and behaviour, a debate explored in this chapter with particular reference to the contested transferability of the decree (psephisma) in Greek inter-state politics of the fourth century.

Keywords:   Interstate relations, Greek decrees, political behaviour

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