University of Tasmania
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Anatomy of a polis-system : Magna Graecia during the archaic period

posted on 2023-05-26, 18:08 authored by Miller, AJ
The aim of this thesis is to examine the development and dynamics of Magna Graecia' s polis-system during the archaic period, and to evaluate the sources, nuances, parameters, and exercising of Italiote power in the context of inter-polis relations for these centuries. Particular attention is given to the rise of large imperialist poleis in this period, and the impact these states had upon the polis-system as a whole. Following thematic studies of the conceptual addition of Magna Graecia to the Hellenic world and the ways in which the earliest Greek presence in southern Italy influenced the parameters of the future Italiote polis-system, the thesis then divides Magna Graecia's poleis into separate geographic regions for detailed examination. Special attention is paid to the way in which the northern, southern, and central regions of Magna Graecia were dominated by Greeks of one particular ethnic identity, be it Euboian, Achaian, or otherwise. Analysis of the maritime interests and strengths of the Euboians and their poleis on the Bay of Naples and the Straits of Messina, is followed by a study of the Achaian hegemony in central Magna Graecia and the enduring preponderance of the senior Achaian polis of the archaic period, Sybaris. Attention is also paid to the considerable effect these hegemonies had upon the pole is of Magna Graecia not of Euboian or Achaian extraction, in terms of their foreign policies and development. The thesis concludes with a study of the last decades of the archaic period and the momentous changes that took place within the Italiote polis-system at this time. Essentially, power within this polis-system experienced long-term and fundamental redistribution. Particular attention is given to the way in which internecine warfare brought about the destruction of many of the props of Achaian Italiote power in Magna Graecia, which in turn ushered in a far less monopolistic era in terms of strength within this polis-system. It is concluded that the collapse of Sybaris and the chain reaction it sparked, facilitated a widespread decline in the political stocks of the Italiote poleis from which it took generations to recover. It is thus maintained that Sybaris was the symbol of archaic Magna Graecia's power and that its demise ultimately exposed the Italiote pole is to numerous hitherto dormant dangers and outside interference. Moreover, it is demonstrated that the parameters of Magna Graecia' s polis-system, so long linked to the stability of its dominant Achaian and Euboian components, were irrecoverably altered during the transition to the classical period.


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Copyright 1999 the author Thesis (MA)--University of Tasmania, 2000. Includes bibliographical references

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