chapter  2
13 Pages

Polities

For the Greeks of antiquity, "Europe" was originally the name for a vast unknown lying to the north of what was "in sight." By the seventh century B.C., when the word began to be used in this sense, the Greeks had already seen, or at least visualized, a lot. The outside world that had, in their eyes, a distinct shape included most of today's Italy, the remainder of the coast of the Mediterranean Sea as well as its islands, and the shores of the Black Sea.' What lay to the north of this "non-Europe" was later found to consist of an expanse of solid land inhabited mainly by Celtic, Germanic, and Slavic peoples. Waiting to be added were three large islands--Britain, Ireland, and Iceland--near enough to be within the reach of the mainlanders. There is no naturallirnit to the landmass itself: the Urals and the Caucasus are boundaries of convention, and when all is said and done, the Bosporus as well as the Strait of Gibraltar are hardly more than that.