The Return of the Polis


Book Details

Author  Mogens Herman Hansen
Publisher  Franz Steiner Verlag
Publication Date   December 31, 2007
ISBN  3515090541
Pages  276

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Polis, in plural poleis, is the word the ancient Greeks used to describe their principal type of state and community and the most common of all nouns in ancient Greek. In Archaic and Classical sources there are over 11,000 attestations of the word, and they show that it was used in two different senses: (1) town (sometimes including the hinterland) and (2) state (sometimes including the territory). Often it carries both senses simultaneously and denotes both the state and its urban centre. The Copenhagen Polis Centre (1993-2005) conducted a number of investigations into the use and meanings of the term polis in all Archaic and Classical sources to find out what the Greeks thought a polis was. The present volume is a thoroughly revised and updated comprehensive publication of all these studies, to which four new studies have been added. They show that the two different meanings of the word polis are connected through their reference: with very few exceptions every polis town was the urban centre of a polis state, and conversely: virtually every polis state had an urban centre called a polis in the sense of town.

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