This 2007 study explores how modern scholars came to write Greek history from a Eurocentric perspective and challenges orthodox readings of Greek history as part of the history of the West. Since the Greeks lacked a national state or a unified society, economy or culture, the polis has helped to create a homogenising national narrative. This book re-examines old polarities such as those between the Greek poleis and Eastern monarchies, or between the ancient consumer and the modern producer city, in order to show the fallacies of standard approaches. It argues for the relevance of Aristotle's concept of the polis, which is interpreted in an intriguing manner. Finally, it proposes an alternative way of looking at Greek history as part of a Mediterranean world-system. This interdisciplinary study engages with debates on globalisation, nationalism, Orientalism and history writing, while also debating developments in classical studies.
Kostas Vlassopoulos is Lecturer in Greek History at the University of Nottingham.
Part I. Defining the Contexts of Thinking about the Polis: 1. An archaeology of discourses; 2. The ancient discourses on the polis; 3. Making use of Aristotle: concepts and models; Part II. Rethinking the Contexts. The Polis as an Entity: a Critique: 4. East and West, Greece and the East: the polis vs. Oriental despotism; 5. The consumer city: Ancient vs. Medieval/Modern; Part III. The Polis as Part of a Systeme-Monde: 6. The polis as a unit of analysis: poleis and koinoniai; 7. Poleis and space; 8. Poleis and polities; 9. Poleis and time; 10. Towards new master narratives of Greek history?