The Politics of Identity in Greek Sicily and Southern Italy offers the first sustained analysis of the relationship between collective identity and politics in the Greek West during the period c. 600-200 BCE. Greeks defined their communities in multiple and varied ways, including a separate polis identity for each city-state; sub-Hellenic ethnicities such as Dorian and Ionian; regional identities; and an overarching sense of Greekness. Mark Thatcher skillfully untangles the many overlapping strands of these plural identities and carefully analyzes how they relate to each other, presenting a compelling new account of the role of identity in Greek politics.
Identity was often created through conflict and was reshaped as political conditions changed. It created legitimacy for kings and tyrants, and it contributed to the decision-making processes of poleis. A series of detailed case studies explore these points by drawing on a wide variety of source material, including historiography, epinician poetry, coinage, inscriptions, religious practices, and material culture. The wide-ranging analysis covers both Sicily and southern Italy, encompassing cities such as Syracuse, Camarina, Croton, and Metapontion; ethnic groups such as the Dorians and Achaeans; and tyrants and politicians from the Deinomenids and Hermocrates to Pyrrhus and Hieron II. Spanning the Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic periods, this study is an essential contribution to the history, societies, cultures, and identities of Greek Sicily and southern Italy.