Skip to main content


Between Ethnicity and Culture

In today’s cosmopolitan world, ethnic and national identity has assumed an ever-increasing importance. But how is this identity formed, and how does it change over time?

With Hellenicity, Jonathan M. Hall explores these questions in the context of ancient Greece, drawing on an exceptionally wide range of evidence to determine when, how, why, and to what extent the Greeks conceived themselves as a single people. Hall argues that a subjective sense of Hellenic identity emerged in Greece much later than is normally assumed. For instance, he shows that the four main ethnic subcategories of the ancient Greeks—Akhaians, Ionians, Aiolians, and Dorians—were not primordial survivals from a premigratory period, but emerged in precise historical circumstances during the eighth and seventh centuries B.C. Furthermore, Hall demonstrates that the terms of defining Hellenic identity shifted from ethnic to broader cultural criteria during the course of the fifth century B.C., chiefly due to the influence of Athens, whose citizens formulated a new Athenoconcentric conception of "Greekness."

336 pages | 5 maps, 6 line drawings | 6 x 9 | © 2002

Ancient Studies

History: Ancient and Classical History

Table of Contents

List of Maps and Figures
List of Abbreviations Used in Notes and Bibliography
Note on Nomenclature and Orthography
1. Theory and Method in Studying Ethnicity
Defining Ethnicity
Discourse and Praxis: Saying and Doing
2. The Question of Origins
Greek Views of Greek Beginnings
The Invention of the Indo-Europeans
The Coming of the Greeks
The Becoming of the Greeks
Ethnic Unity in the Bronze Age?
3. Hellen’s Sons: Blood and Belonging in Early Greece
The Akhaians of South Italy and the Peloponnese
The Ionians and Aiolians of Asia Minor
The Dorian Invasion: Fact or Fiction?
The Origins of Dorian Self-Consciousness
4. Identity and Alterity? The View from the Margins
’Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea’: Encounters in the Mediterranean
Aggression and Accommodation
’When Two Worlds Collide’: The Question of Acculturation
Barbarophonoi: The Linguistic Factor
Perceptions of Others: The Literary Testimony
Identity at the Margins?
5. Land and Peoplehood: The Ethnogenesis of the Hellenes
What’s in a Name? ’Hellas’ and ’Hellenes’
Commune Graeciae consilium: Delphi and Hellas
Patrai and genos: Olympia and the Hellenes
The Birth of a Nation
6. From Ethnicity to Culture
The Barbarian Enters the Stage
The Ascendancy of Culture
Panhellenism and the ’School of Hellas’
Looking Ahead: The Hellenistic Period
Appendix A: Dating Early Greek Poets
Appendix B: The Historicity of Early Olympic Victors
Index of Ancient Sources


The University of Chicago Press: Gordon J. Laing Award

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press