The Periegesis of Dionysius of Alexandria has often been read as an idealized, literary geography. This paper argues instead for a political reading. The main north-south axis of Dionysius’ world runs through the Aegean Sea, connecting Alexandria, center of Hellenistic learning, to the Black Sea and its epic heritage. This creates not merely a Greek, but also a distinctly eastern, perspective on the space of empire. Furthermore, the Aegean axis is the point of convergence for all the poem’s recognized acrostics, including the one that names the emperor Hadrian. By placing the emperor’s name neither at Rome, nor at Athens, but in lines that describe the Cycladic islands of the Aegean, Dionysius assigns Hadrian a place in an oikoumenē shaped by and for the politics of second century Hellenism.


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pp. 163-186
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