In today's cosmopolitan world, ethnic and national identity has assumed an ever-increasing importance. But how is this identity formed, and how does it change over time?
With "Hellenicity," Jonathan M. Hall explores these questions in the context of ancient Greece, drawing on an exceptionally wide range of evidence to determine when, how, why, and to what extent the Greeks conceived of themselves as a single people. Hall argues that a subjective sense of Hellenic identity emerged in Greece much later than is normally assumed. For instance, he shows that the four main ethnic subcategories of the ancient Greeks-Akhaians, Ionians, Aiolians, and Dorians-were not primordial survivals from a premigratory period, but emerged in precise historical circumstances during the eighth and seventh centuries B.C. Furthermore, Hall demonstrates that the terms of defining Hellenic identity shifted from ethnic to broader cultural criteria during the course of the fifth century B.C., chiefly due to the influence of Athens, whose citizens formulated a new Athenoconcentric conception of "Greekness."show more