Cultural Perceptions of Violence in the Hellenistic World  book cover
1st Edition

Cultural Perceptions of Violence in the Hellenistic World

ISBN 9781472486417
Published April 21, 2017 by Routledge
282 Pages

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Book Description

Violence had long been central to the experience of Hellenistic Greek cities and to their civic discourses. This volume asks how these discourses were shaped and how they functioned within the particular cultural constructs of the Hellenistic world. It was a period in which warfare became more professionalised, and wars increasingly ubiquitous. The period also saw major changes in political structures that led to political and cultural experimentation and transformation in which the political and cultural heritage of the classical city-state encountered the new political principles and cosmopolitan cultures of Hellenism. Finally, and in a similar way, it saw expanded opportunities for cultural transfer in cities through (re)constructions of urban space. Violence thus entered the city through external military and political shocks, as well as within emerging social hierarchies and civic institutions. Such factors also inflected economic activity, religious practices and rituals, and the artistic, literary and philosophical life of the polis.

Table of Contents



List of Contributors


1 ‘War is the Father and King of All’: Discourses, Experiences, and Theories of Hellenistic Violence

Michael Champion and Lara O’Sullivan

2 Violence, Public Space, and Political Power in the Hellenistic Polis

Christopher Dickenson

3 Ideology of War and Expansion? A Study of the Education of Young Men in Hellenistic Gymnasia

Andrzej Chankowski

4 Poleis on the Brink: Violence and Greek Public Finances in Pseudo-Aristotle’s Oeconomica II

Kai Brodersen

5 Kings and Gods: Divine Narratives in Hellenistic Violence

Lara O’Sullivan

6 Violence in the Dark: Emotional Impact, Representation, Response

Angelos Chaniotis

7 Compassion and Violence in Hellenistic New Comedy: The Case of Terence’s Self-Tormentor

Susan Lape

8 Violence in Hellenistic Sculpture

Craig Hardiman

9 ‘A Pleasure to Gaze on Great Conflicts’: Violence and Epicurean Philosophy

Michael Champion

10 Eros and the Poetics of Violence in Plato and Apollonius

Eva Anagnostou-Laoutides

11 Violence in an Erotic Landscape: Catullus, Caesar, and the Borders of Empire and Existence (carm. 11)

Robert Kirstein

12 Epilogue: Violence and its Emotional Representation in the Hellenistic World

Michael Champion and Lara O’Sullivan



Index locorum

General Index

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Michael Champion is a senior research fellow in the Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry at the Australian Catholic University. He is the author of Explaining the Cosmos: Creation and Cultural Interaction in Late Antiquity (2014) and co-editor of Understanding Emotions in Early Europe (2015).

Lara O’Sullivan is a lecturer in Classics and Ancient History at the University of Western Australia. She is the author of Demetrius of Phalerum: A Philosopher in Politics 317-307 BCE (2009). Her main research interests lie in classical and Hellenistic Athenian history and culture.


"The twelve chapters, penned by a cast of senior scholars and younger colleagues commissioned by the editors, cover a fair amount of ground: from discussions of public spaces which served to nurture and incite the military spirit among the youth, through visual representations of violence in Hellenistic sculpture, to philosophical, religious, and socioeconomic discourses that in some way justified patterns of violence and the seemingly unavoidable quotidian presence of war in a Hellenistic city, and finally to literary reflections on violence in Hellenistic poetry and drama, to end, somewhat surprisingly, with an interesting chapter on Catullus, carmen 11. While the volume is understandably selective in its scope, many papers offer food for thought." - Andrej Petrovic, Uinversity of Virginia