Inger Kuin

After the Wars: (Re-)Anchoring and Innovating the Political Culture of Roman Athens

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After the Wars: (Re-)Anchoring and Innovating the Political Culture of Roman Athens

After the Crisis is a research group at the University of Groningen which brings together project VII and XII of the Anchoring Innovation project. It is dedicated to investigating the responses of individuals and communities to war, violence, and disruption in the ancient Roman Empire. We focus on the (civil) wars of the first century BCE and their repercussions at Rome and in the Roman East.

After the Wars

Jacqueline Klooster’s project (see under WP2-IV) focuses on the question how different Roman and Greek authors come to terms with the Civil Wars, both during and after the fact. Could they use established modes of thinking about war and peace to grapple with this new phenomenon and to represent its effects on society? Or had such traditional modes of conceptualization become obsolete when the social order itself changed as an effect of civil strife? Inger Kuin’s project focuses on memory and the conceptualization of change in the Roman East after the wars of the first century BCE, investigating such questions as: How were the traumatic and violent events of this time remembered by subsequent generations? And how did the cities of the Roman East respond to the political changes that arose out of these conflicts?

We are collaborating closely with one another in thinking about how the wars of the first century BCE were framed and remembered, and, on a more fundamental level, about how crises are defined generally, and what it means for communities to be in a state of post-crisis. At the moment we are working on a paper on the rhetoric of crisis and order in ancient history. This project is part of our preparation for the international conference we will be organizing in Groningen in December, titled “After the Crisis: Remembrance, Re-Anchoring, and Recovery in the Ancient World.”

Inger Kuin's individual research consists of the following works in progress:

Remembering the Wars

The violence of the Mithridatic Wars greatly affected the cities of the Roman East. In an effort to better understand how these violent events were remembered I am working on two case studies. The first study considers how Strabo deals with the impact of the Mithridatic Wars on the position of his family in Pontos. In his Geography Strabo elaborates on the activities of his ancestors during the wars, some of whom defected from Eupator to the Romans. The central questions include: How does he frame the recent history of his fatherland and of his family, also in light of his own Roman allegiances? And what can the way in which he writes this ‘autobiography’ tell us about the role of (constructed) memory in anchoring new identities? The second case study concerns the reception of Sulla’s sack of Athens in Greek authors. I trace a diachronic development in the Greek sources whereby the emphasis shifts from Sulla as a political actor towards Sulla as a looter and destroyer of Greek cultural capital. I will investigate how we should understand this development, and how these authors relate the events of 86 BCE to the position of Athens and Greece in their own time.

War and Political Change

In the aftermath of the wars of the first century BCE the political institutions and political culture of the Roman East seem to have undergone certain changes, which are, however, difficult to pin down for us historians. Important questions that face us include: Did local communities and individuals indeed experience this period as a time of political change? And if so, how did they view these political changes, and how did they adapt to them? In looking at these questions it should be kept in mind that perhaps the modern historian’s perception of political change does not align well with ancient views. To engage the latter issue this project will start out with a theoretical inquiry into ancient Greek philosophical ideas about political change, for instance in Aristotle, that were still influential in the Roman period. Secondly, I will look at how authors like Appian and Strabo perceived and represented the political developments in the Roman East during the first century BCE, and how this (may) connect(s) to ancient philosophical ideas about political change.