Christy Constantakopoulou

in The Dance of the Islands

Published in print October 2007 | ISBN: 9780199215959
Published online January 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191706868 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Classical Monographs


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This chapter provides the methodological context for the research of this book. Using the discipline of geography, it examines insularity within the context of the Aegean Sea. Although islands can be seen as moving between integration and isolation, isolation was a relatively unknown phenomenon for the lives of the insular Greeks. It then proceeds to show that the definition of an ‘island’ in ancient Greek thought was not a straightforward process: islands were not simply ‘pieces of land surrounded by water’ but an ideological construction, which put emphasis on their small size (therefore Sphacteria is an island but Sicily is not). It then investigates the importance of connectivity in the history of the Aegean islands, achieved because of the patterns of navigation, the winds and currents of the Aegean. Island interaction is beautifully illustrated in Callimachus' image of the islands dancing around Delos.

Keywords: Aegean islands; insularity; isolation; navigation; winds; Sphacteria; Callimachus

Chapter.  11157 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Classical History

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