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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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Exchange and Stasis in Archaic Mytilene

Exchange and Stasis in Archaic Mytilene

(p.68) 4 Exchange and Stasis in Archaic Mytilene
Alternatives to Athens


Oxford University Press

The papers presented in the Leeds–Manchester seminar series, which constitute the chapters of this volume, are an indication of the increasing debate in recent years concerning the plurality of constitutional forms in ancient Greece. Scholars have signalled a growing awareness that in certain regions developed social and political systems which might have fundamentally differed from one another, with the discussions trying to assess what these differences might have meant in terms of an area's settlement and society. This chapter also focuses upon this theme of variation in state-forms, but does so on a scale different from many other studies, comparing not simply states from different regions, but also neighbouring ones within the same region. In the same way that few people now would assume that a polis (or indeed an ethnos) in one region of Greece was necessarily like another elsewhere, it is proposed that no such assumption should be made simply because the geographical scale is smaller and one is dealing with independent polities which shared borders, in this case within a single island, Lesbos in the north-east Aegean. Using archaeology as well as historical sources, the chapter suggests that one polis in the island (Mytilene) actually seems to have differed fundamentally from the others, and goes on to suggest why this might have been the case.

Keywords:   Mytilene, polis, constitutional forms, state-forms, Greece

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