Greeks, Romans, and Barbarians: The Cultural Politics of Hellenism

Craige B. Champion

in Cultural Politics in Polybius's Histories

Published by University of California Press

Published in print August 2004 | ISBN: 9780520237643
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520929890 | DOI:
Greeks, Romans, and Barbarians: The Cultural Politics of Hellenism

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This chapter reports the cultural politics of the Greek/barbarian bipolarity, with special focus on second-century Greek and Roman politico-cultural interactions. It establishes an interpretative framework for reading Polybius's collective representations and also reviews some of the broad outlines of ancient Hellenism as a politico-cultural discursive system. A major theme of the chapter is the necessity of rooting both the shifting meanings and applications of Hellenism and barbarism in their particular historical contexts. Hellenistic Athens provides the best evidence for Greek antipathy toward the northern power. Furthermore, the chapter investigates some particularly illuminating Greek reactions to Roman power, commencing with the First Illyrian War (229/228). There is ample evidence for both the politics of cultural assimilation and the politics of cultural alienation in Greek reactions to Rome, and this evidence indicates that Greek opinions on Rome were very divided in Polybius's day.

Keywords: Greeks; Romans; barbarians; Hellenism; cultural politics; Polybius; barbarism

Chapter.  16818 words. 

Subjects: Greek and Roman Archaeology

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