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Rethinking Athenian imperialism: Sub-hegemony in the Delian League.
by:Sean Ryan Jensen
This dissertation examines the territorial possessions of the members of the Delian League, which I refer to as sub-hegemonies, since these regional hegemonies existed under the overarching control of Athens. Specifically, this study focuses on the administrative processes of syntely (grouping of tributaries often headed by a regional hegemonic state) and...
This dissertation examines the territorial possessions of the members of the Delian League, which I refer to as sub-hegemonies, since these regional hegemonies existed under the overarching control of Athens. Specifically, this study focuses on the administrative processes of syntely (grouping of tributaries often headed by a regional hegemonic state) and apotaxis (dissolution of tributary groupings) as a means of illuminating wider questions of fiscal administration, clashing imperialisms, and the coherence of tributary polities. Traditionally, scholars of the Delian League have mainly focused on Athens' role as the hegemonic state of an empire stretching throughout the Aegean and Ionia. Canonical studies such as the Athenian Tribute Lists and Russell Meiggs' Athenian Empire have traced the development of Athens from the head of an alliance to the ruthless mistress of an empire. Much scholarship was devoted to charting the ways in which Athens exerted her will over her imperial subjects. Little attention was focused on the allies themselves outside of generalizations about the disenchantment with Athenian rule and periodic revolts. In place of an analysis of this kind, I examine the various subhegemonies that many allies in the league controlled, such as the peraiai ('coastal strips') possessed by the large insular allies, including Thasos and Rhodes, as well as the regional hegemonies of important littoral states. My conclusions reveal that Athenian policy was much more varied than previous analysis has shown and that the allied states often managed the tribute system to their advantage and were generally successful in maintaining their traditional spheres of influence. For example, syntelic and apotaxic tributary arrangements were primarily strategies employed by the allies to meet the changing demands for tribute and not solely determined by Athens to enhance revenue or weaken an ally. Moreover, Athens generally tolerated and even supported the historical claims of large states such as Miletos, and Mytilene. Thus, Athenian policy was more flexible and less imperialistic than is often understood.
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