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dr. M. (Manolis) Pagkalos

Lecturer in Ancient History & Research Fellow
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Anchoring Roman Power in the Greek World: The Political Culture of Roman Athens

with Prof. Dr O.M. van Nijf

The project examines the political culture of Roman Athens, focusing on the political discourse and language of the polis to respond to the critical question: how did the Athenians anchor Roman rule to their political culture?

The city of Athens is well-documented (epigraphic, textual, numismatic and archaeological data) and therefore an ideal candidate for exploring how the Athenians embedded the new political reality into their cultural memory and contemporary political discourse. To address the question of how the Athenian political imaginary incorporated the Roman rule into its narrative, we work under the expanding methodological and conceptual framework of the ‘Anchoring Innovation’ research agenda while incorporating a memory theory studies background. The Athenians had, not unlike what contemporary societies do, a long tradition of appropriation of socio-political changes in their civic narrative and self-image and perception. If this was the case for the Athenian political culture during the Classical and Hellenistic periods, how did the Athenians react to the Romans entering the political scene in the second century BCE? 

We approach the use of the past and the integration of the present into the Athenian political discourse during the Roman period under a perceived dichotomy between soft and hard power. This approach supports the investigation of the processes of anchoring Roman rule in Athens, first, during the period of the Republic, with a focus on the first century BCE and significant events (Mithridatic War and Sulla’s intervention in Athens). Second, during the first years of the Empire and the role that Athens occupied in the political agenda of Augustus. This perspective, in turn, creates the fertile ground for exploring the longue durée of Roman rule in Athens, reversing the model towards a Roman focus – i.e. how the Romans incorporated the rule over Athens in their language, self-image and political discourse.

Last modified:25 June 2022 11.12 a.m.