Wealth, Religion, and Early Greek Rulers from the Eighth to Early Fifth Centuries
Jenkin, Stephen Fraser
Date: 10 April 2015
University of Exeter
MPhil in Classics
The extreme wealth of early Greek rulers, their lavish building programmes, and their enthusiasm for athletic competition have often been considered inseparable from accounts of their ‘tyranny’, self-seeking behaviour, greed, and in turn corruption and cruelty. These ’tyrants’, though some were judged by ancient sources to have ruled ...
The extreme wealth of early Greek rulers, their lavish building programmes, and their enthusiasm for athletic competition have often been considered inseparable from accounts of their ‘tyranny’, self-seeking behaviour, greed, and in turn corruption and cruelty. These ’tyrants’, though some were judged by ancient sources to have ruled well, ultimately, we are told, failed. More recent scholarship has tried to address this ‘discourse of tyranny’ in the sources, challenging accepted beliefs of what made a turannos or basileus, and where accounts are perhaps unduly influenced or biased, regenerating topoi which ultimately define a turannos, indeed all ‘tyrants’ perhaps unfairly. This thesis attempts to take things further, and examine the nature of the rule of these men through the lens of philia, in order to show that their use of wealth and religious activity, their temple-building and athletic competition, for example, were intrinsically linked to their pattern of ruling. In order to achieve this I have assessed five rulers, whose rules cover a period of over two centuries, and whose cities span a broad geographical aspect of the Greek world. Moreover I have chosen periods of rule which pre-existed coinage in their city, which oversaw its introduction, and which developed its minting, to examine how this phenomenon relates to the problem. As a result I have indeed found significant patterns of rule, in behavioural use of wealth, association with religious sanctuaries, personal portrayal, and that the introduction of coinage served as an additional medium for this activity. Philia was a fundamental conduit for such patterns of behaviour, a framework within which wealth was acceptably used in exchange with citizens, gods, and even other rulers, and through which, I have argued, a shared kudos benefitted all concerned parties, and ultimately sanctioned the ruler’s position of authority. With this initial research from an original viewpoint for the examination of these early Greek rulers, it is hoped that it paves the way for further and similar analysis.
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