Making Megalopolis: The Role of Arkadian Identity in the Survival of the Big City

MacKay, Joshua, History - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
MacKay, Joshua, Arts & Sciences Graduate, University of Virginia

The Arkadian city of Megalopolis was founded in extremely precarious circumstances, including internal conflict and threat of attack by the classical Greek superpower, Sparta. Yet, while synoikism or abandonment were common fates for new Greek poleis, Megalopolis survived and became a significant power in the fourth and third centuries BC, ultimately producing such eminent figures as the author Polybios and the man Plutarch calls the "last true Greek," Philopoemen. In this thesis, I argue that Megalopolis' survival from inauspicious foundation, through sack and refoundation, and deep into the Roman period of Greek history is due in large part to the formation of a distinctly "Arkadian" identity, one that had existed prior to the foundation of the city but without any cohesive force. While other Arkadian cities focused on their regional identities as Mantineans, Tegeans, etc., Megalopolis framed its citizens as Arkadians first and foremost, and thereby found cohesive force in the most Arkadian of all endeavors, resistance to Sparta.

MA (Master of Arts)
Megalopolis, Arkadia, Arkadian League, Ancient Ethnicity, Classical Greece, Xenophon
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