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Ancestral Custom?: The Treatment of the War Dead in Archaic Athens

Kucewicz, Cezary Jerzy; (2018) Ancestral Custom?: The Treatment of the War Dead in Archaic Athens. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

The public burial of the war dead in Classical Athens has traditionally been a subject of much scholarly interest. Although the origins of the procedures described by Thucydides as patrios nomos are still a matter of some debate, far less attention has been devoted to the Athenian war dead of the Archaic period. This thesis aims to redress this balance, looking at the practice of war burials in early Athens, through a range of evidence including mythology, archaeology and art. The thesis begins with a study of the Homeric epics, which provide our richest source for the early treatment of the war dead. The poems reveal a highly stratified society divided between the elites and the masses, where social status was strictly delineated by the postmortem fate of the fallen. Chapter 2 focuses on early Greek mythological traditions concerning burial truces and the mutilation of the dead. It is suggested that the major change implicit in these stories towards the end of the Archaic period can be aligned with wider ideological shifts in the perception of the dead in Athens and elsewhere. The iconographical and archaeological evidence forms the subject of Chapter 3, which looks at artistic depictions on vases and funerary monuments in early Athens. The fate of the war dead, it is argued, was fundamentally defined by the highly elitist mentality which influenced the contemporary practice of war. Finally, Chapter 4 sets these conclusions in the context of Athenian political history, tracing the social and institutional developments of the citizen army up to the reforms of Cleisthenes. The treatment of the war dead, it is concluded, provides important insights into the nature and composition of Archaic Athenian armies, illuminating a number of social and cultural shifts which transformed Athens towards the end of the sixth century BC.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Ancestral Custom?: The Treatment of the War Dead in Archaic Athens
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10048636
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