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Title: Proxenia : inter-polis networks and relations in the Classical and Hellenistic world
Author: Mack, William Joseph Behm Garner
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis examines the Greek institution of proxenia and uses it to explore how inter-polis institutions functioned in shaping the behaviour of both individuals and communities in the ancient world. In response to continuing debate concerning the nature of proxenia, I demonstrate that, throughout the Classical and Hellenistic periods, it was defined as an honorific status by the practical intermediary role which it performed in facilitating interactions between different poleis. As such proxenia was a central element of a broader system of inter-polis institutions which constituted the dominant interstate discourse in the ancient Mediterranean. This thesis shows that Proxenia with its particularly rich epigraphic record allows us to explore how poleis made use of this institutional language of status and legitimacy to assert membership of an interstate system which was conceived of as a society of poleis. In Chapter 1 I propose a new model for reconstructing how proxenia was understood based on the expectations – of what proxenoi should be and do – which poleis communicated in their stereotypical descriptions of honorands in proxeny decrees. Chapter 2 then explores how this abstract understanding of proxenia worked in practice in the political realities of elite competition in the Greek poleis. In Chapter 3 I use proxeny lists to reconstruct the perspective of the polis on proxenia – in the networks of hundreds of proxenoi which even small poleis amassed as a result of constant interaction. Chapter 4 explores the role of proxenia, within a broader system of institutions, in the construction of communal identity within an anarchic interstate system. In Chapter 5 I develop quantitative methods to explore the epigraphic record for proxeny’s decline, arguing that proxenia, along with the other inter-polis institutions, disappeared because the Roman authorities at the centre replaced inter-polis connections as the source of communal identity and prestige.
Supervisor: Crowther, Charles ; Ma, John Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: History of the ancient world ; International studies ; proxeny ; polis ; Greek epigraphy ; interstate relations ; euergetism