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Creating a Common Polity

Religion, Economy, and Politics in the Making of the Greek Koinon

Emily Mackil

Publication Year: 2013

In the ancient Greece of Pericles and Plato, the polis, or city-state, reigned supreme, but by the time of Alexander, nearly half of the mainland Greek city-states had surrendered part of their autonomy to join the larger political entities called koina. In the first book in fifty years to tackle the rise of these so-called Greek federal states, Emily Mackil charts a complex, fascinating map of how shared religious practices and long-standing economic interactions faciliated political cooperation and the emergence of a new kind of state. Mackil provides a detailed historical narrative spanning five centuries to contextualize her analyses, which focus on the three best-attested areas of mainland Greece—Boiotia, Achaia, and Aitolia. The analysis is supported by a dossier of Greek inscriptions, each text accompanied by an English translation and commentary.

Published by: University of California Press

Series: Hellenistic Culture and Society

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-xi


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pp. xii-xiii

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pp. xiv-xvii

...This book trades in a currency that is not widely accepted beyond the relatively small scholarly circle of classicists, ancient historians, and Greek epigraphers. Yet in the course of writing it I have learned a great deal from work done in fields well beyond theirs, including geography, economics, political science, anthropology...


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pp. xviii-xix


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pp. xx-xxxi

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pp. 1-18

...Federal political structures, characterized by a division of sovereignty among multiple levels of government, have proved tremendously attractive in early modern and modern history for two basic reasons. First, their careful distribution of power gives them tremendous advantages for the governance of extremely large territories...

Part One: Cooperation, Competition,and Coercion

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1. The Archaic Period and the Fifth Century

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pp. 21-57

...Signs of cooperation among communities within particular regions appear at different moments in the archaic and early classical periods. Across regions, however, evidence for an emergent group identity, articulated around descent from a common ancestor and the occupation of a shared territory, tends to precede...

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2. The Fourth Century

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pp. 58-90

...During the first half of the fourth century the loose cooperative practices of the Achaians and Aitolians were transformed into a set of formal political institutions that bound the poleis and communities of each region together into regional states. Although the evidence is not plentiful, it is unmistakable. For Boiotia rich...

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3. The Hellenistic Period

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pp. 91-144

...During the Hellenistic period, the koina of mainland Greece and the Peloponnese were strengthened and expanded both to achieve greater security against powerful enemies and to gain control over greater and more diversifi ed sets of resources. Attempts to retain regional autonomy led to a series of shift ing alliances, especially...

Part Two: Interactions and Institutions

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4. Cultic Communities

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pp. 147-236

...Few would argue with the claim that religion was a powerful mechanism for social cohesion in the ancient Greek world, both within an individual state and between communities that retained distinct political identities. The former is captured, negatively perhaps but quite sharply, by the extreme reactions to perceived religious...

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5. Economic Communities

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pp. 237-325

...Shortly after the conclusion of the King’s Peace, ambassadors from the northern Greek poleis of Akanthos and Apollonia went to Sparta to appeal for help in combatting the expansion of the koinon of the Chalkideis under the leadership of Olynthos...

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6. Political Communities

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pp. 326-399

...If the religious and economic origins of the koinon and the state’s ongoing engagement with those spheres of social action highlight its complexity and suggest that it was more multifaceted than what we tend to think of as a federal state, its political...

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pp. 400-408

...The origins of this book lie in two simple observations. The first is the fact that nearly half the poleis of the classical Greek world for some time participated in koina, a number that certainly increased in the Hellenistic period. The second is that we have had no compelling understanding of why they did so. For membership in a koinon entailed the surrender of partial autonomy by the polis, which can be construed either as a dilution or as a loss of signifi cant state power. Yet refusal...

Appendix: Epigraphic Dossier

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pp. 409-504


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pp. 505-558

Index of Subjects

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pp. 559-586

Index Locorum

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pp. 587-594

E-ISBN-13: 9780520953932
Print-ISBN-13: 9780520272507

Page Count: 624
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Hellenistic Culture and Society
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OCLC Number: 843332423
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Creating a Common Polity

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Subject Headings

  • Greece -- Politics and government -- To 146 B.C.
  • City-states -- Greece -- History.
  • Religion and state -- Greece -- History.
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