A Tale of Two Kings: Competing Aspects of Power in Aeschylus’ Persians

This is an incomplete draft (draft of the first half of the article only)


Aeschylus’ Persians, according to Edward Saïd, “obscures the fact that the audience is watching a highly artificial enactment of what a non-Oriental has made into a symbol for the whole of the Orient.”[1] Through the work of Edith Hall, and other scholars who have adopted post-colonial/Orientalist approaches, this has become the dominant interpretation of Aeschylus’ Persians especially, but of most other representation of Persians by Greeks as well. There are flaws in this approach to the Greeks, and to Aeschylus and Athenian drama in particular. Saïd emphasizes in his discussion of Orientalism that he is studying Orientalist texts “as representations” and not as “natural” depictions  of “the East.”[2] The “dramatic immediacy” of Aeschylus’ tragedy, he suggests, makes the Persians on stage appear somehow “natural” and Hall’s own analysis tends to look for ways in which this naturalness is emphasized.[3] The effect is thus the obscuring to which Said points. In effect, Aeschylus’ Persians become, according to Said’s theory, “real” Persians for the audience.

The Athenians in the audience,[4] however,  knew quite well that the Persians on the stage before them at the Great Dionysia in that early spring of 472 BC were highly artificial enactments of their eastern brethren. In fact, they required that the play be highly artificial. The rules of tragic performance in 5th century Athens dictated constructed, artificial, unreal, and mythical representations. Xerxes was no more “natural” than Agamemnon, Oedipus, Herakles, Clytemnestra, Phaedra or other mythical figures would have been to them.[5] We should not let the historical subject of the play fool us into thinking otherwise; the Persians on stage were mythologized and rendered as artificially as possible to meet the standards of dramatic performance. If anything, instead of rendering the “very far distant and often threatening Otherness” of the Persians “into figures that are relatively familiar,”[6] Aeschylus’ play renders the familiar and close as something distant and rather alien.

Nor should we, along with Said (and Hall), suggest that these particular Persians embodied for the Athenians the “whole Orient.” It is very doubtful that at such a date the Athenians had a conception of “the Orient” let alone the whole of it. To call Persia the “Orient” or the “East” to Athens’ “West” is highly anachronistic. It leads us to assimilate the Athenian performance of Persians with 19th century British use of or, perhaps, willful interpretation of the play in order to support their own imperialist ventures. The Athenians may have been imperialists in their own way, but to call them Orientalists and to tout Aeschylus’ Persians the “first unmistakable file in the archive of Orientalism”[7] suggests more about our own extra-scholarly investments than it does of Athenian attitudes toward Persia. Indeed, it is as if Saïd, Hall and other scholars who adopt this anachronism viewed one too many ethnographic showcases at the World’s Fairs—and mistook Aeschylus’ Persians for one of them.

We should consider the position from which Said, Hall and other post-colonial scholars are arguing when they picture what the Persians looked like on stage and how the audience was primed for it. Who is the audience these scholars imagine for Aeschylus’ Persians? And can that audience participate in a concept like Orientalism, which is really a modern phenomenon? Is the fact that Persians lived on the other side of the Aegean Sea from the Greeks on the continent they designated as Asia to their Europe enough to render any mention of them, description of them or attempt to represent them “Orientalizing”? By the rules of the game laid out by Said, any attempt by a European to describe an Asian is an act of Orientalism because the European is “speaking for” the Other.[8] It matters not that the terms European and Asian did not have the same hard and fast racial or ethnic distinctions in antiquity that gained currency in the 18th and 19th centuries CE as the European colonial powers invaded, controlled, manipulated, dominated and invented “the East,” a combination of the modern Near and Middle East, India, China, Japan, the Pacific Islands, and even Africa.  What matters only is that these are the terms we use now and we apply them to antiquity while attaching our own distinctions to them.[9]

The distinctions developed in the colonial period were hard and fast and were reinforced by foreign policy, trade policy and in popular entertainments. The ethnographic tableaux created for the World’s Fairs between 1851 and the mid-twentieth century popularized racial theories based on social Darwinian ideas.[10] They showcased the various conquered or “lesser” (i.e. non-white, non-European) people of the empires of the British, French, Germans and Americans. Those showcases were staged by anthropologists and ethnologists with the sanctioning of the governments and explicitly linked the technological and economic advancements of the “West” (under the heading of “progress”) with the racial superiority of the Anglo-Saxon European.[11] The images and ideologies represented at these fairs had a lasting impact on popular and scholarly imaginations; the prejudices and classifications continue to exist today even as some people have become more critical of them and work to expose them as ideological constructs. Classics and the classically educated leaders of the West were intimately bound up with these ideologies and their manufacture.[12] The Orientalizing label thus is intimately bound to European imperialism and colonialism and, by extension, to the developing field of classics in the 19th century, but it is not something that applies to the Greek themselves except by assimilation of Greek with 19th century imperialist. Under the influences of these regularly reinforced ideologies, it is no surprise that when, in the 1970s modes of inquiry emerged that directly attacked the imperialist ideologies, they fought the imperialists within an imperialist discourse. There was no attempt to overturn or dispossess or rupture the discourse, only to challenge—and challenges can only function within the same discourse.

Greeks considered themselves, for the most part, ethnically the same.[13] Greeks, Ionians and Dorians alike, lived not only in “Europe” but in Asia and even Africa (if we count them as three distinct continents as Herodotus did). They even recognized kinship and ethnic similarity with the Persians, Lydians and other such groups in Asia Minor whome they lived side by side with for centuries—not only in mythology, but in Aeschylus’ Persians itself where the Greek and Persian women of Atossa’s dream are sisters of the same genos). As for the conflation of Athenian imperialism and modern imperialism (thus allowing Athenians to participate in Orientalism, according to the theory), the two were not similar.  While the Athenians did create a mini-Ionian empire for themselves, it was only ever an empire over other Greeks. To call it an empire in the sense of the modern word is an over-determination since one of the definitions of empire in the modern era is rule over ethnic (or racial) foreigners. It was even one of the hallmarks of ancient imperialists like the Persians and the Romans. The Athenian archê never incorporated non-Greeks and scarcely even included non-Ionian Greeks. This distinction should warn us already that the application of theories of empire that are specifically associated with modern imperialism should be done carefully.

One of the difficulties of working with theories or comparisons that come from or relate to the 19th century is that we as scholars find it difficult to recognize at times where the 19th century ends and our own work begins; our field was developed in that period, and the thinking of that period and the influences on scholars of that thinking are pervasive today in our modes of inquiry and the classifications and categories that structure our approaches to texts. Our reliance on the authority of scholars of the past, our unconscious adherence to modes of thought from the beginnings of our academic development and even our engagement with theories that question those modes of thought like Marxism, feminism and post-colonialism keep the conversations we are having embedded in the discourses of the 19th century.  We pretend to be illuminating the past through new theories and comparisons, but rarely questions the complicity of our approaches in skewing our evidence and results toward illuminating the modern world, not the ancient one. Because post-colonial approaches are in dialogue with and bound to the imperialism of the 19th century, we have often unconsciously used the ancient Athenians (or the Romans to a lesser extent) to critique European imperialism instead of truly trying to understand the imperialist impulses and dynamics of the past. We use the language, methods and mentalities of the colonial/post-colonial world and stick it on ancient Athens.  And, conversely, we find ourselves dismissing any Greek evidence we may have to help reconstruct and understand the nature of Achaemonid Persia because we have tarred and feathered the Greeks with the sins of our imperialist present. I would like to offer a different approach to Persian-Greek relations in the past and a different comparative model as well.

There are other difficulties in using a theory like Orientalism in reading ancient Greek texts beyond those mentioned already—such as the fact that it was the Persians and not the Greeks who were the imperialist aggressor in the fifth century, who incorporated, taxed, enslaved and even relocated those whom they conquered. These are more particular concerns which I will address during the course of my own arguments here along with addressing specific Orientalist readings of Aeschylus’ play. Additionally, despite the fact that I seem to be suggesting we steer away from with Said and other post-colonial theories in general, engagement with them can be very fruitful. I suggest, however, that we should be more particular in our selection of comparative models and more cautious and transparent in our evaluation of them as models. They are not necessarily tools to be applied to our ancient materials like cookie-cutters shaping the interpretation, but self-sufficient entities that can illuminate otherwise obscured aspects of the ancient sources by setting them side by side those sources.

I propose here a model premised upon Persian familiarity instead of foreignness and engages Persian not as the-exotic-Other-on-display (as with the ethnographic showcase model that seems to underlie post-colonial discourses), but as a mythologized known entity. Post-colonial theory has its place in scholarship, but not necessarily in the study of non-Greeks in Athenian drama. Instead, I would like to work to re-establish a trust in using Greek (and especially Athenian) sources to understand real aspects of Greco-Persian interactions in the fifth century by using what we have learned of Achaemonid Persian independently of the Greeks and integrating that into an analysis of Aeschylus’ Persians. I also propose a comparative model, the tableau vivant, as a way of understanding the highly artificial and mythologized way in which this particular “historical” tragedy was staged. The play, I argue, is a meditation on aspects of power. The staging of the kings, the locuses of power, present those various aspects and their relative desirability.

This article examines the representations of Darius and Xerxes in Aeschylus’ Persians through comparison with tableau vivant, a performance art popular in the 19th century that brought painting and sculptures to life on the stage, a popularized, risqué and unofficial type of tableau in comparison with the government sponsored ethnographic showcases of the Fairs. I will use the comparison to help investigate possible forms of audience reception of the various staged moments within the play. For this tragedy, more so than even other Aeschylean tragedies, was static; the unmoving or slowly figures, faces static beneath masks, clothing such that it was unchanged even when the character changed all contribute to a feel of high-artifice, of staged art, a particular type of art, in fact.

I begin first with Aeschylus’ representation of Darius. I argue that it is a tableau vivant based on the image of Darius as carved on his tomb and at Behistun and brought to life on stage, a staging which transports onto that stage the underlying message of positive hegemonic power found in official Achaemenid art.[14] The conventional staging of tragedy, Aeschylean tragedy in particular, shares much with the conventions of ancient painting and relief sculpture. Although we often view vase painting especially as following drama, we should consider the exchange as moving in both directions. Tragedies are sometimes staged paintings, tableaux vivants as much as painting are illustrations of the action on the stage. Second, I look at how this message is set in contrast to the tableau of Xerxes and his power. The Xerxes-tableau does not represent the “official” version of the king, but an exaggerated one, king as tyrant.[15]

This exaggerated representation of kingship on stage has been the main argument for the Orientalist approach to ancient Greek literature in general and not just this play. But we should be cautious, as noted above, because that interpretation elides out various other modes of representation by insisting on positioning Xerxes and Persians as a metaphorical objects of imperial conquest; scholars are often left baffled as to how they should account for Darius within the dynamics they structure for the play by approaching it as an Orientalist text. This may be because they privilege the threat and “hatred” of Persia and tyranny[16] they see within Xerxes and de-privilege the desirability of his power and position. Tableaux vivants frequently displayed people as objects of conquest—sexual or imperial. The figures in tableaux were often viewed as both a threat to socio-cultural or military-political orders and simultaneously as locuses of desire and nostalgia by audiences.[17] The same tableaux, however, could also be acts of empowerment.[18] The staging of the Persian kings by Aeschylus functions in the same manner.  Through the figures of Darius and Xerxes, the play illuminates tensions between competing realities and ideologies, between competing desires—Darius as a hegemonic leader versus Xerxes as imperialist tyrant. The former power is useful and desirable, the latter is dangerous.

Staging these tensions within a tragedy sets the post-war political debates over Athenian-Persian relations into the realm of popular entertainment, thus opening up the engagement with Persia on a competing plain. Darius as tableau vivant underscores the positive aspects of Persians-Athenian cultural exchange[19] while Xerxes’ tableau maintains the military threat and political fiction of Persian ethnic alienation.  Ultimately, the power of the kings is constrained within a safe space that allows the desirable aspects of this power—leadership as a “cooperative effort of voluntary support for the king by the subject people”[20] —to be viewed as useful and beneficial, especially beneficial and useful as a model for an emerging hegemonic leader of a voluntary League, such as the Athens. The play therefore participates in imperialism but does so in a rather different way than does the official art of the Persian King or the colonial discourses of the modern world.

Athenians and Persians—Enemies or Frenimies?[21]

“The frequent assumption that they [the Persians] were as greatly concerned on these levels [historically, culturally, strategically] with Greece [as they were with the east] is a misconception which stems from our own western view of the world and from the unfortunate fact that Greece has given us our main literary sources of information on the Achaemenids. It was the Greeks who were fascinated by Persia, by Persian mores, and, yes, by Persian court art and luxury goods—not the reverse. If only the Persians has spawned the likes of Aeschylus and Herodotus, our perceptions of their preoccupations would be quite different.”

Thus wrote Margaret Root.[22] I will make the case in the following pages that one aspect of this Athenian fascination with Persia manifested itself in Aeschylus’ Persians specifically through the figures of the Persian kings within the play.  That fascination was both cultural and political. Although we will see a hard demarcation between the ‘democratic’ and ‘free’ Greeks and the tyrannical or ‘enslaved’ Persians, there is a political pull to Persia’s monarchy.  The kings ruled over a vast empire, larger than any the world had yet seen. They sought in their iconography and building to exert a particular identity for themselves and the Achaemenid dynasty. Although the Athenians were not imperialists of the type we see in Persia, Rome or the figure of Alexander, they did build for themselves a small, Hellenic empire and they adopted any number of Persian mechanisms of power and artistic modes for representing their power.[23]  I am interested in how Aeschylus’ Persians, produced in 472 BC, helps us understand that developing empire, specifically how the representations of the two Persian Kings in the play helped the Athenians differentiate and define their power vis a vis the Great Persian Menace and, more importantly, but often lost in discussion, the rest of the Greeks.

The idealized image of Darius in the play represents the positive aspects of imperial power—he is the Great King as the Great King wished to be viewed. The Athenians actively borrowed from the mechanisms he developed for controlling his empire and actively borrowed from the king’s official iconography as well when it suited them. The image of Xerxes in the play, however, embodies the negative values of imperial power that the Athenians wished to disconnect from their own rule. By displacing those negatives (such as the master/slave dynamic inherent in imperial rule) onto the figure of Xerxes within the play, the Athenians could embrace the freedoms and power associated with being imperialists without viewing themselves (or being viewed by others) as tyrannical. It is a feel good moment for the blossoming Athenian empire to present the contrast between the freedom they provided the Ionian Greeks and the enslavement the Ionians once suffered under Xerxes. [NOT THAT I VIEW THE PLAY AS JINGOISTIC. IT IS FAR MORE SUBTLE THAN THAT;].

Before looking at the play proper, I must address the issues of 1. plausibility of influence of Achaemenid  official representations on Athenian culture as early as 472 BC and 2. what I mean by “the Great King as the Great King wanted to be viewed.”

First: Plausibility of influence.

According to various art historians and historians of the Achaemenid period intensive contacts between Greeks and Persians dates back to Cyrus’ conquest of the Lydians some time between 554-547 BC. Under Darius, Ionian Greeks were employed in great numbers in the cities like Susa and Persepolis as artisans, engineers, traders, irrigation workers, mercenaries, doctors, political agents, even priests (Balcer, 1983: 261).  As both Margarets Root and Miller emphasize, these Ionians did not remained in Susa, Pasagardae or Persepolis, but returned back to Anatolia and their coastal homes and surely shared stories with their fellow Ionians and their mainland visitors of the splendors they both worked on and saw in the Persian capitals. They also, as subjects of the Persian kings, regularly viewed many images on coins, seals and in smaller monuments that mirrored the great official monuments in the Persian capitals.

Athenian involvement in the Hellespont region and the Chersonese and then the Ionian Revolt only increased engagement with Persia. As Miller again points out, Herodotus’ comment that the Athenians and Plataians were the first Greeks to endure the sight of the Mede is “a poetical rather than historical truth” (5).

Miller, especially, as well as Balcer and Raaflaub, make clear that there was a steady stream of back and forth between the mainland Greeks and Persians and ample opportunity for the Athenians especially to see and engage with official royal representations of the Great Kings between the 540s and 472 BC. Aeschylus himself demonstrates precise knowledge of the geography of the western part of Xerxes empire, even placing the capital at Susa, which was Darius’ administrative capital and where he received embassies, including Greek embassies, and which had a royal palace where he and his heir, Xerxes would have lived for part of each year. Despite some minor inconsistencies, as Garvie writes, the representation of Darius in the play “is certainly  not inconsistent with Darius’ picture of himself and his power.” He, unlike Xerxes, is not an alienating, anti-Greek, “Other” as scholars like Edith Hall argue.

 Enter Darius, King of Kings, Stage Center

How exactly was Darius representing himself to his subjects? As Root argues very persuasively (and Margaret Miller provides more evidence for), Achaemenid official art was a “visual expression of a particular relationship of the king to the peoples of his realm, to the peoples whom he has brought under his control.” That relationship was one of “cooperative effort of voluntary support for the king by the subject people.” There is also an element of a “sacral covenant” between king and subjects (131) [EXPAND ON ARGUMENT-REFER TO PP 144-161 ].  In essence, a fine model for a hegemonic leader, like the Athenians, of a volunteer league, such as the Delian League, formed just a few years early in 478 BC.

How is this image of Darius found in his official art manifested in the ghost of Darius in Persians?  I build here, in part, off of Mark Griffith’s work in “The King and Eye: The Rule of the Father in Aischylos’ Persians.” But where Griffith remains in the realm of a paternalistic relationship between aristocratic elites and other members of Athenian society, I move the dynamic to Athens and her Ionian “children.” Griffith describes Darius as he appears on stage as “perfect king-and-father, master-and-god.” He is, again as Griffith remarks, recuperated and idealized; his real flaws and imperfections as a leader and general, ignored or passed over. The reason for this, Griffith argues, is that Darius establishes his power in direct connection with the power granted kings by Zeus. Zeus, the king of the gods, grants power to kings and it is good power—the appearance of Darius, Griffith demonstrates, is cased in sacral language (122). This emphasis on a sacral relationship is similar to the representation in Achaemenid official art on the king as a representative for, descendant of and soon to be god. (I’ve included an image on the handout of the sacral poses on a sculpture of Darius and his subjects).

But Darius does not represent, as Rosenbloom suggests, a critique of imperial power despite his apparent warning against it at 823-824. In Darius’ ghost resides the positive aspects of such power, power which the Athenians have begun wielding in actual practice in the years prior to this play’s production. The list of Darius’ former Ionian possessions at 864-900 are presented as positive conquests and are, not coincidentally, all locations which the Athenians themselves had recently “liberated” from Persia.[24] And, as both Balcer and Raaflaub have clearly demonstrated, the Athenians utilized a number of imperial instruments, like the  tax structure and the King’s “Eye” (the Athenian episkopos/overseer) in their own administration of these Ionian cities. Such reminiscences of reality would not be missed by those allies in the audience who had recently traded Persian taxes for Athenian tribute or Persian “Eyes” for Athenian “overseers.”

Darius as he emerges from the tomb, is not the human Darius who lost at Marathon or in Scythia. He has shed his human flaws and become god-like. He has dominion in the underworld (ὅμως δ᾽ ἐκείνοις ἐνδυναστεύσας ἐγὼ ἥκω; 690), he also speaks repeatedly, as a god would, of “the lives of mortal men” (e.g. ἀνθρώπεια δ᾽ ἄν τοι πήματ᾽ ἂν τύχοι βροτοῖς.; 706 or ἀλλ᾽ ὅταν σπεύδῃ τις αὐτός, χὠ θεὸς συνάπτεται; 742). He positions his own achievements and the failure of Xerxes within the context of earlier Medio-Persain kings (773-787), a typical practice of Cyrus, Darius and Xerxes (Root, passim). And just as in official Achaemenid art, Darius was represented in Persians, as the unifier of the Persian state (called the polis in 682). Beyond this, Darius in Persians is omniscient—he knew Xerxes would fall and how it would happen (739-741).[25] He is god-like, all-powerful, unfavorable to war (853-857), his armies are help in high-repute (858-859), his laws, a bulwark (πύργινα), govern all (860). He also always provides a nostos to his armies (861-2). Darius ruled the Ionians specifically φρεσίν, with reason. and had strong multi-ethnic army—made up not of subjects, but of allies (ἐπικούρων; 899-906).[26] In other words, Darius is a model governor and general with the Ionian Greeks as his model “allies.” All of this shows the positive aspects that can come from the cooperative rule of one over many—of a hegemon over smaller allies, or of Athenians over Ionian Greeks.

By separating Darius the human king from the image of Darius as Darius wanted to be viewed, we can account easily for the contradictions between Darius’ words and historical fact and between Darius’ self-representation as ghost and the recognition earlier of his own defeats by chorus and queen (243-244). Need it be a direct reference to official Achaemenid art? Not necessarily, but having that representational genre as a reference point makes the division and the role of Darius in the play clearer. It also works in tandem with the adoption of Persian governance practices or “instruments of empire.” The Athenians borrowed not only the imperial apparatus, but the marketing of those apparatuses to their allies/subjects.


[1] Saïd, 1979:21

[2] ibid.

[3] Hall’s discussion especially of the use of language that mimics the sound of Persian seems to function in this manner (PP).

[4] And I will speak only of Athenians here. There is an over-tendency in scholarship to conflate “Athenian” with “Greek” and to generalize from the particular instantiation (as in a single play) to the broad sweep of all Greek history. This type of generalization leads one to ignore that even within the subset of the Athenian population who would have been in the audience at the Dionysia, the reactions to the play would have been varied. The plays contain within them myriad possible receptions, though some are more prominent and likely than others, of course, and some scholarly interpretations of those reception are inevitably invalid.

[5] The representation of women on stage is also a controversial area. Scholars frequently treat these representations as “real” and as windows into the lived experiences of women in classical Athens. This is highly problematic. Even removing the fact that the women were played by men, the nature of dramatic performance renders the women unnaturally. While the need to try to discover attitudes toward women makes tragedy a necessary and fruitful source, we should be more cautious when trying to understand a reality behind those representations. Tragedy was not real life and it was performed in a manner that emphasized its distance from reality.

[6] Said, 1979:21.

[7] Hall, 1989:99

[8] “Orientalism is premised upon exteriority, that is, on the fact that the Orientalist, poet or scholar, makes the Orient speak, describes the Orient, renders its mysteries plain for and to the West” (Said, 1979:20-1).

[9] The distinction between Asia and Europe is one that appears as early as the 6th century in ancient Greece, presumably in the work of Hecataeus, but it is not a matter of ethnic or racial distinctions (the Greeks do not appear to have a concept of “race” as we understand it; see Isaac 2004:15-39 esp.), but of geography. The Hippocratic Airs, Waters, Places creates a series of distinctions between Asia and Europe based on environmental and climate concerns, but the axis is not vertical between East and West. Europe and Asia divide on a diagonal with Greeks living in Asia and non-Greeks like the Scythians living in Europe. Not even the Romans divided the world between Asia and Europe. For them, the “East” included large portions of Europe, like Greece, and the barbarians that worried them most were European, not Asian. It is not a simple matter of East versus West as the modern discourses would have everyone believe (see especially Anthony Pagden’s strongly biased Worlds at War: The 2500-Year Struggle between East and West (New York, 2008), which Gruen (2011:2) refers to as a reductio ad absurdum of the idea.  For the non-racialized distinction between Asia and Europe in the Hippocratic texts as well as in other works in the same cultural milieu, see Thomas 2000:28-101; Calame 2005:135-156; Tuplin 1999:47-75; see contra Isaac 2004:55-109.

[10] The Crystal Palace Expo in London was the first World’s Fair and was staged to highlight the wonders of Victoria’s British Empire for the people of England. See Greenhalgh 1988 on the origins, funding and politics of the Fairs. See Mackenzie 1988 on the Fairs as propaganda for empire.

[11] See Rydell 1984 for a general examination of the ethnological displays at American World’s Fairs; see Corbey 1993 for those at European Fairs. See Muccigrosso 1993 on the Chicago Columbian “New World” Exposition of 1893 specifically; see Brownell 2008 on the use of racial imagery in promoting American imperialism at the St. Louis Exposition and the 1904 Olympics, held in St. Louis simultaneously with the Fair.

[12] See Turner 1981 and now the essays in Bradley 2010 for the importance of Classical education and the model of the Greeks in British imperialism and colonialism. For a longer view of this entanglement, see Grafton 1992 which discusses the way classical texts shaped the way the New World was assimilated into European culture. See Edwards 1999, Hingley 2000 and Stray 2010 for the impact of Rome in the formation and maintenance of the British Empire.

[13] NOTES: J. Hall, Herodotus, etc.  The exception to this seems to be the Athenian ideology of autochthony which is premised on a closed circle of citizenship based on birth from two citizen parents and which posited that the Athenians, unlike other Greek, where not only the original inhabitants of their land but were actually born from it (See Rosivach 1987 for a discussion of evolution of term and its use to include both distinctions).  Lape (2010) has argued that the myth of autochthony, which manifested in the citizenship laws of the city, was racialist and posited a genetic as opposed to ethnic distinction between the Athenians and other Greeks. Ethnicity in this view, and in the majority of ancient Greek authors, is a cultural distinction (though with a birth component), but it is not exclusive—as Herodotus tells us (Her. XXX), to adopt the Greek language as ones own makes on ethnically Greek. The premise of ethnicity as culture was an important factor in the Hellenization process of the Near East and Egypt in the Hellenistic period. TO speak Greek, worship at Greek cults, participate in Greek athletics, and participate in Greek cultural events like attending the tragic theaters qualified one as “Greek.”  In the Roman period, one could be “Roman” and be ethnically Greek or Syrian or Egyptian. Citizenship came to define “Roman” and ethnicity became distinct, unlike in Athens.

[14] Root 1979 NOTE.

[15] Hall 1989 esp.; see Farenga on the tyrant and the ideology of the proper.

[16] Hall 1989 and 2006; EXPAND

[17] NOTE.

[18] NOTE.

[19] Miller 1997 EXPAND

[20] Root 1979:131.

[21] The term “frenemy” was coined, it seems, in 1953 to denote the relationship between the US and Russia (W. Winchell in Nevada State Jrnl. 19 May 4/4   “Howz about calling the Russians our Frienemies?”). According to the OED (3rd edition 2008, on-line) it means, “a person with whom one is friendly, despite a fundamental dislike or rivalry; a person who combines the characteristics of a friend and an enemy.”  A far more apt description of the complex relationship with Athens and Persia in the fifth century BCE than “enemy.”

[22] 1979:41.

[23] See below on the specific mechanisms of power adopted by the Athenians. See X on the artistic influence on later Athenian public art, especially the Parthenon frieze.

[24] Some of these islands were hostile to Athenian liberation and were, thus, conquered and subjected to Athens. See Thuc. 1.xx on Andros, especially, but also 1.xx on other islands who resisted “liberation.”

[25] This status as prophet in keeping with Greek views of the raised dead (Ogden) and with the god-like status he is granted within the play.

[26] This is not the technical term for Greek ally in the League, which is summachos. Nor is it the word used for subject-ally, hupekoros. It is typically used in Homer for barbarian allies of the Trojans.


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