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The 35th Conference of the
Australasian Society for Classical Studies

Keynote Speaker:  Professor Stephen Hodkinson, University of Nottingham

The ASCS 35 Keynote Lecture will be presented by Professor Stephen Hodkinson, Professor of Ancient History at the University of Nottingham, and Director of the Centre for Spartan and Peloponnesian Studies and of the Institute for the Study of Slavery. It will be delivered in downtown Palmerston North on Tuesday 28 January.

This is the link to his website: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/classics/people/stephen.hodkinson

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Classical Sparta: an exceptional domination of state over society?
Over the last century Classical Sparta has typically been viewed as an exceptional, even a unique, Greek polis. One key aspect of Sparta’s exceptional character, on this view, is the quasi-totalitarian control which the state exercised over the daily lives of its citizens. In recent years, however, a number of Sparta’s supposedly exceptional features have come under question, including certain alleged instances of exceptional state intervention. My paper will address whether the Spartan polis was marked by an exceptional domination of state over society through three interrelated questions. First, did the state control the nature of Spartiate society and the lives of its citizens to an unusual degree compared with other poleis? Secondly, did Spartiate citizens have less scope than citizens elsewhere to exercise personal agency in their private and household affairs? Finally, to what extent were Spartiate citizens able to exercise private influence over the public sphere? I shall argue that (i) the state’s direct control was more limited than usually thought; (ii) Spartiate families had considerable scope, and often more than elsewhere, to direct their household affairs; and (iii) Spartiate citizen life, far from being quasi-totalitarian, operated through a multiplicity of public and private koinōniai, practising varying degrees of self-regulation, which enabled wealthier citizens to deploy their private influence throughout the public domain. Over the course of the classical period Sparta came increasingly close to exemplifying less the domination of society by the state than the permeation of the state by society.

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