Aegean Greece in the Fourth Century BC

Aegean Greece in the Fourth Century BC

Aegean Greece in the Fourth Century BC

Aegean Greece in the Fourth Century BC

Synopsis

This book covers the political, diplomatic, and military history of the Aegean Greeks of the fourth century BC, raising new questions and delving into old disputes and controversies. It includes their power struggles, the Persian involvement in their affairs, and the ultimate Macedonian triumph over Greece. It deals with the political concept of federalism and its relations to the ideal of the polis. The volume concludes with the triumph of Macedonian monarchy over the polis.

In dealing with the great public issues of fourth-century Greece, the approach to them includes a combination of sources. The usual literary and archaeological information forms the essential foundation for the topographical examination of every major site mentioned in the text. Numismatic evidence likewise finds its place here.

Excerpt

“When you set out for Ithaka, pray that your way be long”. With all due apologies for this plebeian translation of Cavafy's beautiful poetry, his lines aply describe the way of this book with its various difficulties and many delights. It unrepentantly takes its place among other treatments of traditional political, diplomatic, and military history. It does so because so much work in these areas yet needs to be done. The effort is long overdue for several reasons. Despite the able efforts of the scholars who created the second edition of the Cambridge Ancient History in 1994, no single historian since K.J. Beloch in 1922–1923 has written a coherent history of this period. In scope this work concentrates on the Greek Aegean with only slight notice given to the Greeks of the west and the non-Greeks in the peripheral areas of Asia Minor and Egypt.

Discoveries and advances in several fields also demand a new and comprehensive study of this time. Quite important among them include the numerous inscriptions found since the publication of Beloch's monumental work. Of interest in themselves their unique importance as historical sources can best be felt when combined with other material, notably the new research on literary sources and the ever-growing number of archaeological discoveries. Historical studies have likewise kept pace. Topographical investigations have also proven vital to the understanding of these events. “What historians need is not more sources but stouter boots”. Being innately selfish, I should like both. A.L. Rowse's lengthier advice on the value of topographical investigation inspired my aphorism but the idea really needs no defense. The regions under study are still lands of mountains, valleys, plains, rivers, and the sea. Not even good maps, which are few, can adequately substitute for personal investigation of the terrain itself. Therefore, since 1970 the lands of Greece and Turkey have provided my routine haunts. Likewise, T.R. Holmes in his magisterial treatment of Caesar's campaigns in Gaul wrote that “It is of no use to visit battlefields, unless it is certain that battles were fought upon them”. Consequently, no military operations receive detailed treatment here without personal inspection of the land upon which they were fought.

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