The diplomacy of the Greek cities


During the Hellenistic Age, literary texts and epigraphic sources show an evolution and intensification in the diplomatic relationships between the Greek cities. The number of texts concerning interstate agreements and preserved by inscriptions increases, and their form becomes more complex in structure. Thanks to the merits of civic envoys, honorific decrees increase in number, as well.
The different typologies of envoys contracted by the city for maintaining its diplomatic relationships multiply: ambassadors entrusted with political and diplomatic tasks (messengers, presbeutai appointed to sign agreements, interstate arbitrators and mediators), envoys with religious duties (theoroi and sacred envoys in general), and people entrusted with juridical missions (public lawyers operating on behalf of the cities in case of arbitration, and foreign judges, a new kind of envoy which is attested for the first time at the beginning of the Hellenistic period). At the same time, the vocabulary usually ascribed to the diplomatic sphere expands. On the one hand, each city recognises and develops a communication code which is quickly inclined to become a shared system. On the other, the lexicon describing the ambassador’s sphere of activity develops, with respect both to technical terminology related to his functions and to the vocabulary defining his qualities.
The project developed at the SAET will focus on Greek diplomacy of the Hellenistic and Roman Age from the end of the 4th century BC to the first centuries of the Empire under a new perspective. It will start fromThe new perspective will be one of continuity with the past, and will highlight both the peculiarities of diplomacy and its institutional and cultural influences on the subsequent periods.

Scientific coordinator: Anna Magnetto
Contributors: Donatella Erdas, Maria Ida Gulletta, Antonella Russo