chapter  1
27 Pages

Introduction

The study of violence and community in ancient Greek history
ByKostas Vlassopoulos, Ioannis K. Xydopoulos

The inseparable link between violence and community makes its appearance at the beginning of classical literature. Most approaches to violence and community in ancient Greece have been influenced, in one way or another, by the tradition which is usually associated with Thomas Hobbes. The emergence of the state presents a radical break: states create laws and institutions which provide alternative, non-violent ways of achieving results. The impact of Hobbesian narrative on the study of violence and community in ancient Greece cannot be doubted. ‘The rise of the polis’ is the standard account of the Hobbesian narrative in Greek history. If Greek discourses on violence and power within a community tended to focus on the image of the tyrant, this is partly because tyrants made much clearer and more visible where the locus of power and violence was. The chapter also presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in this book.