The Greek City from Alexander to Justinian

The Greek City from Alexander to Justinian

The Greek City from Alexander to Justinian

The Greek City from Alexander to Justinian

Excerpt

It has been no easy task to find a title for this book which should at the same time convey to prospective readers some idea of its contents, and not be the despair of librarians and bibliographers. For the benefit of the latter class I have chosen one which is relatively brief. In justice to the former I must in this introduction define my subject more accurately than is possible on the title-page. My theme is there defined as 'The Greek City from Alexander to Justinian'. By the 'Greek City' I mean not only cities Greek by origin and blood, but any community organized on the Greek model and using Greek for its official language. On the other hand, the limitation 'from Alexander to Justinian' is not one of time only. In the first place it defines the geographical scope of my work: the cities with which I deal are those of the near eastern lands ruled both by Alexander and by Justinian. Secondly, it is meant to suggest a restriction of the topics treated. My theme is the development of the Greek city under the rule of kings and emperors; and I therefore do not touch some of the most striking achievements of the independent cities of the Hellenistic age, notably their creation of leagues.

I have divided my matter in the first place according to topics, and secondarily by periods. This scheme has involved some rather arbitrary lines of division. It is difficult, for instance, to say whether the decline of the decurionate more properly belongs to the mutual relations of the central government and the cities or, where I have put it, to the internal political development of the cities, for by the Byzantine period the two were closely intertwined. On balance, however, it has appeared to me that an arrangement by topics gives a clearer picture of the general trends of development than a purely chronological treatment.

Part I deals with the diffusion of civic institutions on the Greek model over the barbarian lands of the near east. Here I devote most space to the Hellenistic age, which is the formative period. On the one hand I trace the activity of the kings, imposing their ideas from above, and on the other the spontaneous urge from below of the educated classes, fast assimilating Hellenism, for the civic institutions of Greece, and I endeavour to assess the relative importance of these two forces. In this field the Roman . . .

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