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Alternatives to AthensVarieties of Political Organization and Community in Ancient Greece$
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Roger Brock and Stephen Hodkinson

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780199258109

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199258109.001.0001

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Homeric and Macedonian Kingship

Homeric and Macedonian Kingship

(p.259) 14 Homeric and Macedonian Kingship
Alternatives to Athens


Oxford University Press

It is quite commonplace to say that Homeric and Macedonian institutions resemble each other. According to many historians, they are both examples of the traditional Greek kingship, the basileia, of heroic times described by Aristotle. Some scholars go further: they compare Homeric and Macedonian kings to the kings of the Germanic tribes, and suggest that the Homeric and Macedonian kingships belong to the typically Indo-European form of ‘military kingship’, or Heerk ö nigtum. All these assimilations are very flimsy. Yet most historians assert them in a few sentences, as if theywere obvious. Surprisingly, a systematic comparison between Homeric and Macedonian kingship has never been attempted. This chapter outlines a few observations and hypotheses which are suggested by a comparative examination of the Homeric and Macedonian evidence. It argues that the Homeric kings behave as the poet wants his audience to believe these kings behaved. In other words, even if the poet does not exactly picture any real institution, his description is realistic.

Keywords:   Homeric kingship, Macedonian kingship, Aristotle, basileia

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