Cosmopolis: Imagining Community in Late Classical Athens and the Early Roman Empire

Hardcover | April 29, 2011

byDaniel S. Richter

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This is a book about the ways in which various intellectuals in the post-classical Mediterranean imagined the human community as a unified, homogenous whole composed of a diversity of parts. More specifically, it explores how authors of the second century CE adopted and adapted a particularethnic and cultural discourse that had been elaborated by late fifth- and fourth-century BCE Athenian intellectuals. At the center of this book is a series of contests over the meaning of lineage and descent and the extent to which the political community is or ought to be coterminous with what wemight call a biologically homogenous collectivity. The study suggests that early imperial intellectuals found in late classical and early Hellenistic thought a way of accommodating the claims of both ethnicity and culture in a single discourse of communal identity. The idea of the unity of humankind evolved in the fifth and fourth centuries as a response to and an engine for the creation of a rapidly shrinking and increasingly integrated oikoumene . The increased presence of outsiders in the classical city-state as well as the creation of sources of authoritythat lay outside of the polis destabilized the idea of the polis as a kin group (natio). Beginning in the early fourth century and gaining great momentum in the wake of Alexander's conquest of the East, traditional dichotomies such as Greek and barbarian lost much of their explanatory power. In thesecond-century CE, by contrast, the empire of the Romans imposed a political space that was imagined by many to be coterminous with the oikoumene itself. One of the central claims of this study is that the forms of cosmopolitan and ecumenical thought that emerged in both moments did so as responsesto the idea that the natio - the kin group - is (or ought to be) the basis for any human collectivity.

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This is a book about the ways in which various intellectuals in the post-classical Mediterranean imagined the human community as a unified, homogenous whole composed of a diversity of parts. More specifically, it explores how authors of the second century CE adopted and adapted a particularethnic and cultural discourse that had been e...

Daniel S. Richter is Assistant Professor of Classics at the University of Southern California.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:368 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.98 inPublished:April 29, 2011Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199772681

ISBN - 13:9780199772681

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Table of Contents

Introduction1. Nature, Culture, and the Boundaries of the Human Community2. After Ethnicity: Zeno as Citizen3. The Rhetoric of Unity4. "A Pure World of Signs": Language and Empire5. The Origins of Human Wisdom6. The Unity of the DivineConclusionBibliography