Kings and Cities in the Hellenistic Age (From the Book: Political Culture in the Greek City State after the Classical Age)
Volume seven of the first Cambridge ancient history, dedicated to the centuries after Alexander (1928), has on its cover an image of the Roman she-wolf. Thus there can be no doubt that this was the period of the rise of Rome and the decline of Greek civilization. The predominant view of the age by historians of the early twentieth century is outlined in an introductory essay by W.S. Ferguson.  Section IV on “The large state and the polis” is a lengthy complaint about the demise of “the polis ideal,” which was seemingly on the wane even before Chaironeia due to the rise of political and economical elites and royalist oligarchies. The single most important cause of the decline, however, was the loss of political autonomy after Chaironeia: “The fatal weakness of the Greek city-states as the custodian of civilization was their incapacity to form an all-embracing coalition” (p.22); as a result, they were “completely shorn of their statehood, [lacking] municipal rights and a voice in the affairs of the realm of which they formed part” (24-25).
(c) 2011 Rolf Strootman, Utrecht University, History and Art history, Faculty Member
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