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The Dance of the IslandsInsularity, Networks, the Athenian Empire, and the Aegean World$
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Christy Constantakopoulou

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199215959

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199215959.001.0001

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Islands and imperialism

Islands and imperialism

(p.90) 4 Islands and imperialism
The Dance of the Islands

Christy Constantakopoulou (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that Athenian control over the Aegean transformed the very concept of insularity. Athenian attempts at justification of their control over the Aegean islands resulted in projections of such control onto the mythical past. The lists of thalassocratic powers, which we know from Diodorus' lost seventh book, originated in the 5th century. Such lists show that control of islands became an essential element for any power that had claims to thalassocracy in the past. Imperial control also generated a series of other images that became synonymous with insularity. Islands were portrayed as ‘weak’ and therefore prone to control, ‘poor’ (especially Seriphos), ‘dangerous’, or ‘safe’. These images generated contempt for islands, which is evident in 5th-century sources, and more particularly, tragedy. The understanding of insularity as a well-defined place also resulted in islands being ‘netted’ or used as exile by an outside power.

Keywords:   thalassocracy, poverty, weakness, Seriphos, contempt, dangerous, safe, exile

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