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Doctoral dissertation project of Lorenzo Paoletti

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The opposition to Hellenism: forms of criticism to a global hegemonic structure between the 3rd and 1st century BCE (working title)

This doctoral dissertation focuses on criticism and opposition to Greek-Macedonian ruling élites in non-Greek authors and sources of the Hellenistic era. This topic was first widely discussed by Samuel Eddy in 1961 (The King is Dead). Starting from Eddy’s perspective, this research will draw new attention to the phenomena of resistance to Greek-Macedonian dynasties throughout the Hellenistic World.

Since the end of the 1980s, scholars began to focus on interactions and connections between Greek-Macedonian conquerors and local population and traditions. In the last decades many studies were conducted about the concepts of ethnicity, connectivity, mutual cultural influence between Hellenic and Oriental traditions in a cross-cultural perspective. However, this project intends to give attention and light to those hints and documentation that provide us with a different portrait of such co-existence. The research will start from the point of view of local authors who were part of the ruling élites and were close to the Hellenistic kings, such as Berossos and Manetho and then the focus will shift to other typologies criticisms to Greaco-Macedonian monarchies, such as deconstruction of symbols and delegitimization of standing powers.

Therefore, in order to understand that very entangled reality, an interdisciplinary approach using different kinds of sources (literature, coins, epigraphy) and disciplines is needed. One of the key purposes of the dissertation is to determine if such processes of delegitimization of ruling powers had common features all over the Hellenistic World and shared similar causes. The geographical focus is broad and stretches from Syria through Mesopotamia and Iran to India. Apocalyptical and prophetical literature retain a central importance in this project because it reflected hopes and beliefs in a future justice and restoration of a political order destroyed by the instauration of a new rule. Furthermore, the comparison with the more profoundly analysed contexts of Judea and Egypt will provide the research with examples of opposition to the Greek-Macedonian establishment. Eventually, this study aims to surpass the dualistic view of Greeks and the “others” that still affects Ancient Greek history studies, to understand if Hellenism was perceived by local élites as a global phenomenon and power structure or was only interpreted as a foreign conquest.


Short biography

Lorenzo Paoletti completed his BA in History at the University of Bologna in 2016 with a thesis on the interactions between Antiochos III and the Roman Republic. After spending a year at the University of Cologne as an Erasmus student, he wrote his MA thesis (Bologna 2018) about institutional and social history of the late Seleukid kingdom (2nd–1st centuries BCE). In April 2019, he was awarded a doctoral fellowship at the a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School of Cologne within the EU co-funded programme a.r.t.e.s. EUmanities. His doctoral dissertation project investigates criticism of and opposition to the Graeco-Macedonian ruling élites in non-Greek authors and sources of the Hellenistic era. His dissertation is supervised by Prof. P.F. Mittag (University of Cologne), Prof. F. Muccioli (University of Bologna) and Prof. A. Erskine (University of Edinburgh). His main research interests are in Ancient Greek and Roman history, with a focus on Hellenistic history and the relationships between East Mediterranean and Near East local communities in the Seleucid kingdom. Beyond the Hellenistic World, his research interests also include Greek Classical age with a special focus on Greek epigraphy and institutional history.

Contact: lorenzo.paoletti(at)studio.unibo.it



Review of Paul J. Kosmin, “Time and Its Adversaries in the Seleucid Empire”, "Storicamente", 15 (2019), no. 4.



“Cretans Soldiers at the Seleukid Court and the Enigmatic Case of Lastenes: from μισθοφόρος to ἐπὶ τῶν πραγμάτων” 28 July - 2 August 2019 at SELEUKID STUDY DAY VII ‘Warfare, Military & Society in the Seleukid Kingdom’ University of Gdansk.


Cover photo: Silver tetradrachm of Seleucus I Nicator minted in Susa (295-281 BC). Obverse: laureate head of Zeus right. Reverse: BAΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΣΕΛΕΥΚΟΥ: Athena in elephant quadriga right, brandishing spear and shield. American Numismatic Society n.1944.100.73361 // Portrait photo: Patric Fouad

a.r.t.e.s. EUmanities has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 713600.

Call: H2020-MSCA-COFUND-2015 | Proposal: 713600 – artes EUmanities
CORDIS: http://cordis.europa.eu/project/rcn/203182_de.html