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John Ma: "Polis: The Greek City-State 800 BC-AD 600" (Video)

April 14, 2011 - 9:55am

Polis: the Greek city-state, as a particular form of social and political organization, lasted around twelve centuries, throughout the whole of the ancient "classical" world. The polis is a salient feature, in one way or another, of every period of ancient history, from the Dark Ages (1000-800 BC) to "late late Antiquity" (AD 450-600). Is there a single, continuous history of the ancient city-state across this timespan? Such a history would have to pay attention to differences, but also attempt to unite the many issues and debates (emergence, "decline", democracy and elitization, power, economic life, town and country...) around questions of continuity, change and resilience, that might reveal why (and at what price) polis proved such a long-lasting and robust social organism. 

John Ma is an ancient historian at Oxford University; he earlier taught at Princeton and held visiting appointments at Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes and Ecole Normale Supérieure-Ulm in Paris.  He is the author of Antiochos III and the Cities of Western Asia Minor, the forthcoming book on Statues and Cities: honorific statues and civic culture in the Hellenistic polis, and a wide-ranging series of scholarly articles.


This lecture is now available as a video podcast through Stanford YouTube