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Exile, refuge and the Greek polis: between justice and humanity

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Duration: 0:51:18 | Added: 23 Feb 2015
Seminar given on 18 February 2015 by Dr Benjamin Gray (University of Edinburgh), part of the RSC Hilary term 2015 Public Seminar Series

This seminar addresses the place of exiles and refugees in the Greek polis (city-state), with a focus on the later Classical and Hellenistic periods (c. 400-100 BC). It addresses the different forms of protection and aid granted by Greek poleis and their citizens to Greeks displaced through war and civil strife. It also analyses the range of arguments advanced by ancient Greeks for protecting or helping exiles and refugees, including the self-presentation of displaced Greeks themselves. For example, refugees and their hosts could present aid to displaced groups as inspired by justice, law, freedom and shared Greek identity. Alternatively, in a move which became increasingly prominent in the period considered here, they could present help to the displaced as a matter of humane sympathy or even charity. This seminar argues that the diverse range of relevant Greek practices and values both reflected and helped to shape complex and shifting ancient Greek ideas about the city, citizenship, democracy, justice, freedom, virtue and gender. Throughout its argument, connections and contrasts are drawn between ancient Greek and modern practices and ideology, and their underpinnings in broader ethical and political ideals. Modern practices and values concerning aid to refugees draw on, and combine, different ancient Greek approaches and traditions, as well as departing from them. Dr Gray is the author of a forthcoming book on exile, refugees and the city in ancient Greece: 'Stasis and Stability: Exile, the Polis, and Political Thought, c. 404-146 BC' (OUP, forthcoming in summer 2015).

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