Since Greek states did not send permanent diplomatic representatives abroad, local citizens served as proxenoi to look after the interests of other states in their community. By the beginning of the 5th cent. this ‘proxeny’ system had developed from earlier practices of hospitality under which some relied on hereditary ties with foreign families (see friendship, ritualized) and others on the more general respect for strangers and suppliants. States selected their own proxenoi in other states and, in return for services already rendered and expected in the future, bestowed honours and privileges upon them. Such appointments were much coveted, and many voluntarily assumed the burdens in the hope of gaining the title. The position was often hereditary.
Subjects: Classical Studies.