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Recent Dissertations (2016-2020)

2020

Gregory Callaghan

Attalid Networks: Seeking Status and Acquiring Authority beyond State Capacity

This dissertation examines how the Attalids, despite-even because of-a fairly limited military capacity, achieved a status in the eastern Mediterranean comparable to the great powers such as the Ptolemies, Seleucids, or Antigonids. I demonstrate that the Attalids pursued this status as an alternative source of influence to compensate for the limits of traditionally defined military- political power. Methodologically, I use network analysis as a starting point for organizing and visualizing Attalid interstate status signaling, drawing on a wide range of evidentiary sources: epigraphy, archaeology, literature, numismatics, and other material sources. My use of networks is fundamentally descriptive, while my analysis is rooted in modern International Relations theories of status, authority, and hierarchies. The dynasty's pursuit of status enabled it to have an outsized role within their interstate system and to expand from a single city to a sizable kingdom spanning most of Asia Minor. This challenges the field's traditional conception of the interstate system, with its disproportionate focus on great powers. In my focus on the middle power of the Attalids, I break through this dichotomy, and demonstrate how status hierarchies were a means by which states besides the great powers claimed a space for themselves on the world stage, and could, in fact, influence interstate behavior despite their lesser material capacities.

 

 

Ryan Pilipow

The Little Men of Law: A Social History of the Late Roman Jurist

Legal experts in the late Roman Empire were ubiquitous, persuasive, and influential creators of legal meaning. Contrary to the traditional scholarly narrative that posits that legal experts of the period were the ineffectual inheritors of Classical Roman law, this dissertation argues that legal experts neither wholly joined the Roman bureaucratic administration nor found themselves suffering from a mass intellectual decline. Rather, legal experts developed and utilized a contextually significant mode of legal argumentation in order to convince their contemporaries about the legal validity of their claims. By adapting a Critical Legal Pluralism approach to the late Roman legal expert, we can come to appreciate the multiple and powerful forms of the creation of legal meaning in the Empire. The Critical Legal Pluralist approach moves us away from a legal positivist or statist model of law and toward a model of law that values and analyzes legal meaning as it is operative in its local contexts. This dissertation builds on scholarship of the social world of Roman jurists and on newer actor-based approaches to legal history. The scholarship on Roman jurists has focused primarily on early imperial jurists and has approached legal history through a prosopographical methodology. The actor-based approaches to legal history focus on the role of the emperor in the creation of law and on the role of litigants in the processes of creating arguments. The actor-based approaches employ a methodology that aims at being more illuminative than exhaustive; this methodology reveals the wide range of strategies for navigating the law. The actor-based approaches, however, overlook the legal experts assisting, complicating, and hindering all forms of social legal practice. This dissertation reveals the integral role late Roman legal experts played in the empire-wide phenomenon of law by focusing on how the legal expert created persuasive arguments in law, what forms of compensation were given for legal expertise, and how legal practice varied over the heterogenous landscape of the Roman Empire. The "little men of law" filled the spaces of the Empire with individuals who were recognized as being capable and adept to creating legal meaning for their local communities.

 

 

Ruben Post

The Achaian Koinon: An Economic History

This dissertation is a study of the economic history of the Hellenistic Achaian koinon, elucidating the ways in which federal structures impacted economic activity in the ancient Greek world and nuancing the analysis of Hellenistic economic history by moving beyond the polis-kingdom dichotomy that has dominated much recent research. It examines both structural factors that would have impacted economic activity, including environment, infrastructure, local cultures, and federal mechanisms, and to what extent these factors actually impacted economic activity. This involves the analysis of datasets from various subdisciplines, including literature, epigraphy, numismatics, ceramic studies, and survey archaeology, in order to evaluate and counterbalance the written sources that have dominated traditional studies of the Achaian koinon. The theoretical approach of New Institutional Economics is employed as a heuristic framework throughout. As a result of its imposition of more robust and expansive legal frameworks, standardized metrological instruments, and a relatively homogeneous monetary system, the Achaian koinon expanded property rights, allowed for greater enforcement of contracts, and reduced transaction costs across a large swathe of southern Greece and beyond. With the reduction of institutional barriers to economic activity, markets both within the koinon and without, in particular the Boiotian and Aitolian koina as well as Athens, would have become increasingly integrated. But while federal politicians were intent on facilitating broader economic exchange in order to ensure that essential goods and services were available to member communities, their material interests led them to limit the intervention of the federal government in issues of economic inequality, especially with respect to the more equitable redistribution of resources. This was especially relevant because embedded forces impelled the consolidation of land holdings in the hands of a relatively small supra-civic elite as the koinon expanded. Furthermore, its physical and governmental structures benefited economically the poleis of Achaia, the northeast, and Arkadia over the rest of the Peloponnese by directing government resources directly to them; by spurring the regular movement of groups to these regions; and by allowing them to mint freely within its decentralized monetary system.

 

 

Cynthia Susalla

Heritage-Thinking and Cultural Destruction in Ancient Rome from the First Century BCE to the First Century CE

This dissertation argues for cultural heritage as a focus of analysis within the contexts of ancient Rome and traces the contours of an evolving cultural heritage discourse within Rome of the first centuries BCE and CE through an examination of literary episodes contesting acts of cultural destruction. Chapter 1 establishes a theoretical foundation for this examination by deconstructing the presumed modernity of "cultural heritage" as a phenomenon and reformulating it into an epistemological construct involving the politically-inflected valuation and regulation of objects, sites, and practices as expressions of culture. Building on the theoretical work of heritage studies scholars who criticize the UNESCO conceptualization of cultural heritage as hegemonic and not representative of the heritage values of many global societies today, this dissertation argues that once cultural heritage is recognized to take various shapes within various societies, there is no logical barrier to studying it in past societies. Chapters 2 through 4 examine negative reactions to cultural destruction in Cicero's In Verrem, Livy's Ab Urbe Condita, and Dio Chrysostom's Rhodian Oration as reflections of Roman heritage thinking. These texts demonstrate not only that individuals within Roman antiquity grappled with ethics concerning the proper and improper treatment of cultural property, such as statues, temples, monuments, and traditional customs, but also that contesting cultural destruction was a political tool within elite discourse long before it manifested as a component in conflict between Christians and pagans in the late antique period-a phenomenon that has received disproportional attention in the scholarship to date. Moreover, analysis of these texts underscores the interrelationship between ideas about the mistreatment of cultural property and a range of stigmatized identity categories, such as barbarians, pirates, and brigands, and corrupt magistrates. That this discourse contesting cultural destruction was both informed by and, in turn, contributed to identity politics within ancient Rome helps us recognize a pre-Christian and pre-modern history to the politics of caring about culture.

 

 

2018

 

Jane E. Sancinito

Merchants in the Later Roman Empire 

Merchants in the Later Roman Empire is an analysis of the social and economic lives of merchants, traders, and artisans in the 2 nd to 4th centuries. It focuses, in particular, on the strategies adopted by merchants participating in small-scale local and regional trade and argues that concerns about social status were the primary determinants of merchant behavior. It expands the traditional application of New Institutional Economics to include informal and social institutions and considers how social norms limited and shaped merchant economic behavior. In doing so, the project moves discussions about the Roman economy away from the effect of the power, and particularly the institutional power, of the state toward a more dynamic model that accounts for the effect of interpersonal relations on the economy. Merchants in the Later Roman Empire argues that the Roman Empire rarely intended to regulate merchant activity in a comprehensive way and was more concerned with maintaining the status quo through its legislation and taxation. It contends that merchants engaged with the state at local levels where personal connections were critical. These ties were structured along similar lines to those between merchants and their peers, competitors, and customers--in short, to the connections they had with individuals throughout their communities. Taking reputation as its focus, this project argues for the institutional power of social norms in merchant social and economic life and analyzes the strategies used by merchants to present and advance themselves. Merchants invested heavily in their reputations and attempted to display their contributions to society, their good characters, and their success in business. These efforts were costly and every form of self-representation relied heavily on the disposition of the audiences to which they were directed. Merchants in the Later Roman Empire considers both the projection and the reception of reputation to conclude that these social norms constrained merchant actions in ways that limited their indiscriminate pursuit of profit but also generated economic opportunities by fostering trust and reducing market volatility.

 

 

Ching-Yuan Wu

The local impact of the Koinon in Roman Coastal Paphlagonia

This dissertation studies the effects that a "koinon" in the Roman period could have on its constituent communities. The study traces the formation process of the koinon in Roman coastal Paphlagonia, called "the Koinon of the Cities in Pontus," and its ability to affect local customs and norms through an assortment of epigraphic, literary, numismatic and archaeological sources. The results of the study include new readings of inscriptions, new proposals on the interpretation of the epigraphic record, and assessments on how they inform and change our opinion regarding the history and the regional significance of the coastal Paphlagonian koinon. This study finds that the Koinon of the Cities in Pontus in coastal Paphlagonia was a dynamic organisation whose membership and activities defined by the eparchic administrative boundary of the Augustan settlement and the juridical definition of the Pontic identity in the eparchic sense. The necessary process that forced the periodic selection of municipal peers to attain koinon leadership status not only created a socially distinct category of "koinon" elite but also elevated the koinon to extraordinary status based on consensus in the eparchia. The koinon, in turn, became a respected organisation and even a potentially useful political instrument for dictating honors and social standing, which could both prolong or accelerate individual and familial prominence at the eparchic or provincial level. As such, the coastal Paphlagonian koinon was a vital political instrument, with socio-political significance beyond the expression of loyalty to the imperial idea. It was an elite commission that determined local hierarchies and local standards based on collective consensus. The legitimacy of this elite commission emanated from the need to worship the emperor, but its power to influence or even control the behavior of individuals and cities originated from the socio-economic standing of the participating elites. In short, the founding of the koinon would have led to a redirection of local resources to the funding of koinon affairs and would have created regionally recognised norms derived from some of the established standards and behaviors among its constituent communities, while altering others.

 

 

2017

 

Jacob Feeley

Josephus as a Political Philosopher: His Concept of Kingship

Scholars who have discussed Josephus' political philosophy have largely focused on his concepts of aristokratia or theokratia. In general, they have ignored his concept of kingship. Those that have commented on it tend to dismiss Josephus as anti-monarchical and ascribe this to the biblical anti-monarchical tradition. To date, Josephus' concept of kingship has not been treated as a significant component of his political philosophy. Through a close reading of Josephus' longest text, the Jewish Antiquities, a historical work that provides extensive accounts of kings and kingship, I show that Josephus had a fully developed theory of monarchical government that drew on biblical and Greco-Roman models of kingship. Josephus held that ideal kingship was the responsible use of the personal power of one individual to advance the interests of the governed and maintain his and his subjects' loyalty to Yahweh. The king relied primarily on a standard array of classical virtues to preserve social order in the kingdom, protect it from external threats, maintain his subjects' quality of life, and provide them with a model for proper moral conduct. While monarchical government depended largely on the personal power of the king, the king was obligated to uphold Mosaic Law, which would affirm his allegiance to Yahweh and prevent him from governing tyrannically. The one area in which the king shared power with another authority figure was in administering cult. Josephus held that the ideal king largely delegated responsibility over cultic rituals to the priesthood. Josephus was therefore not anti-monarchical; he had a hybrid theory of monarchical rule that constituted a substantial component of his broader political thought. In addition to casting light on an overlooked aspect of Josephus' theory of government, my thesis also demonstrates that Josephus' historical writings provide essential information about his political philosophy.

 

Eyal Meyer

The Satraps of Western Anatolia and the Greeks

This dissertation explores the extent to which Persian policies in the western satrapies originated from the provincial capitals in the Anatolian periphery rather than from the royal centers in the Persian heartland in the fifth century BC. I begin by establishing that the Persian administrative apparatus was a product of a grand reform initiated by Darius I, which was aimed at producing a more uniform and centralized administrative infrastructure. In the following chapter I show that the provincial administration was embedded with chancellors, scribes, secretaries and military personnel of royal status and that the satrapies were periodically inspected by the Persian King or his loyal agents, which allowed to central authorities to monitory the provinces. In chapter three I delineate the extent of satrapal authority, responsibility and resources, and conclude that the satraps were supplied with considerable resources which enabled to fulfill the duties of their office. After the power dynamic between the Great Persian King and his provincial governors and the nature of the office of satrap has been analyzed, I begin a diachronic scrutiny of Greco-Persian interactions in the fifth century BC. Chapter four centers on a particular challenge the Persians faced in western Anatolia. On the one hand, the Persian conquest of Ionia in the middle of the sixth century BC triggered a gradual increase in the willingness of mainland Greeks to intervene in the affairs of Asia Minor, while on the other, Xerxes' failure to subjugate European Greece resulted in a dramatic shift from a policy of westward expansion to a policy of entrenchment. The focus of chapter five is the limited interest of Artaxerxes I (r. 465-423 BC) in respect to the western satrapies. The last chapter deals with the machinations of the satraps Tissaphernes, Pharnabazus and Cyrus the Younger. I show that the alliance between Persia and Sparta was the outcome of satrapal action rather than royal initiative or intent. Accordingly, the satraps sought to exploit the power struggle between Athens and Sparta for their own favor while King Darius played a relatively secondary role in this conflict.

 

 

Jacob Morton

Shifting Landscapes, Policies, and Morals: A topographically driven analysis of the Roman wars in Greece from 200 BC to 168 BC

This dissertation offers a new analysis of the activities of the Roman army in the Balkan peninsula between 200 BC, when the Romans declared war on Macedon and took a land army to Illyria, and 168 BC, when the Romans decisively defeated the Macedonians at the Battle of Pydna. This is derived from a close reading of ancient sources (primarily Livy, Polybius, and Plutarch) taken together with personal autopsy of the routes the Romans took in the modern countries of Greece, Albania, and FYROM. Chapter 1 covers the Roman campaign in the Myzeqeja plain during 200 BC. Chapter 2 focuses on the Roman campaign in the border areas between Illyria and Macedon during 199 BC. Chapter 3 covers the Battle of the River Aous, the first battle fought between the Romans and Macedonians, at the border of Epirus and Illyria in 198 BC. Chapter 4 covers Roman activities in Thessaly between 198-170 BC, including new reconstructions of the battles of Cynoscephalae in 197 BC and Thermopylae in 191 BC. Chapter 5 covers Rome's invasion of Macedon in 169-168 BC, culminating in the Battle of Pydna. The results of this dissertation point to a new way to interpret this period, organized around two different but related concepts: theater of war and Roman policy. During this period the Romans operated in three distinct theaters of war: the Myzeqeja plain and its surroundings, Thessaly, and Macedon. In turn, the transitions from one theater of war to the next coincided with the development of three distinct phases of Roman policy towards Greece: first to protect the Adriatic ports and gradually extend the buffer zone to the east, continuing the regional policy Rome had established and maintained since 229 BC; second to reduce the influence of each of the Hellenistic kingdoms while maintaining a balance of power in Greece; third to invade Macedon for the first time and permanently alter how it was administered. While the first two policies both acted to maintain some type of status quo in Greece, the third policy looked to actively change it.

 

 

2016

 

Kyle Mahoney

The Royal Lykaian Altar Shall Bear Witness: History and Religion in Southwestern Arcadia

This dissertation surveys the history of the sanctuary of Zeus on Mt. Lykaion and its environment, from the Late Bronze Age (ca. 1600-1100 B.C.) to the Roman imperial period (ca. A.D. 200). I begin with a review of the myth traditions attached to the landscape, suggesting that these were familiar to Greek speakers all over the Mediterranean from early times. We can see their influence in our earliest poets, Homer and Hesiod, who indirectly acknowledge the birth of Zeus on Mt. Lykaion and other local myths. The remainder of Chapter 1 discusses Mt. Lykaion through a comparative mythological and linguistic lens. In Chapter 2, I argue that during the Bronze and Early Iron Ages Mt. Lykaion was closely connected to the mountainous area defined by the Alpheios, Neda, and Pamisos rivers. This fact is evidenced by shared cults and toponymy, conventions which are documented as early as the Pylian Linear B documents (ca. 1200 B.C.). From here I survey Mt. Lykaion in the Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic periods. I argue that Sparta’s incursions into northern Messenia, Arcadia, and Kynouria during the Archaic period pushed Mt. Lykaion into the orbit of the eastern Arcadian cities. The myths and heroic genealogies of the two regions were eventually fused, and by the mid-fourth century B.C. the traditions of Lykaion came to predominate. Chapter 3 concludes with a discussion of the relationship between the Arcadian League and the sanctuary of Zeus Lykaios. Chapter 4 is a history of the Lykaian Games from ca. 600-200 B.C. All literary and epigraphical sources documenting the festival are reviewed, and I maintain that it was held every four years in April or early May of the fourth Olympiad year. Chapter 5 investigates the relationship between Mt. Lykaion and Rome. I argue that around A.D. 1/2 the Lykaia were supplemented by games in honor of the Roman emperor (the Kaisareia) based upon the mythical pedigree of the Roman festival of the Lupercalia, which was said to have been a reproduction of the Lykaia.