The Anarchic Structure of Interstate Relations in Classical Greece

Arthur M. Eckstein

in Mediterranean Anarchy, Interstate War, and the Rise of Rome

Published by University of California Press

Published in print February 2007 | ISBN: 9780520246188
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520932302 | DOI:
The Anarchic Structure of Interstate Relations in Classical Greece

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Ancient Greek city-states existed in a world that was essentially stripped of international law. The essence of certain informal customs and a limited sense of obligation regarding certain details of conduct among Greek polities are alleviated with the interactions between states. Writers among the Greeks were aware of the chaos caused by constant rivalry and war among the multitude of poleis that constituted the Greek political world. Some veterans of war themselves wrote for an audience of veterans. The Greek city-states hence provide a powerful example of the realist thesis that the tendency toward similarity of units within an interstate anarchy fosters very low levels of interdependence prevailing throughout the entire period covered in this book. Yet their independence is considered by neo-liberal international-relations theorists to be fundamental to ameliorating the pessimistic predictions of realism concerning the impact of the interstate anarchy.

Keywords: customs; polities; realist thesis; veterans; anarchy

Chapter.  18573 words. 

Subjects: Greek and Roman Archaeology

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