Eaton Humanities 135
University of Colorado Boulder
"Cities for Sale: Communal Patrimony and the Limits of Alienability in the Ancient Greek World" is presented by Emily Mackil of University of California, Berkeley. The phenomenon of public property in the Greek world is confronted from an oblique angle, examining a series of cases in which entire cities, with their inhabitants, were sold for cash, like commodities changing hands in a market change. The stories of these transactions are told so as to tease out what we know about the motives for the purchase, the fate of the population and what powers accrued to the new owner of a city. Finally, the moral opprobrium evoked by the sale of Greek cities, figured as the alienation of communal patrimony, is treated in order to explore the limits of alienability in Greek thought and the distinctive set of rules and norms that seem to have been attached to public property.
This event is sponsored by GCAH, CWCTP and the Department of Classics.
Mackil’s talk at Boulder, entitled “Cities for Sale: Communal Patrimony and the Limits of Alienability in the ancient Greek word”, consisted of a series of case studies of the cities of Sicilian Morgantina, Epeion in the Peloponnese, Kaunos in Karia, and the island-cities of Aigina and Zakynthos. For each of these cities, we have documentation that they were sold for cash, in their entireties and including their inhabitants, like commodities changing hands in a market exchange. Mackil told the stories of these transactions, teasing out what we know about the motives for the purchase, the fate of the population, and the powers accruing to the new owner of the city. She also explored the moral opprobrium attaching itself to the sale of Greek cities, that figures in a variety of authors including Xenophon, Aeschines, Polybius, Livy, Plutarch and Aelian, as well as in inscriptional evidence.
Mackil is a very productive academic, whose work has already had a substantial impact on the field, as is recognized, for example, in her receipt of the Society for Classical Studies’ Goodwin Award of Merit for her first book, Creating a Common Polity: Religion, Economy, and Politics in the Making of the Greek Koinon (Berkeley 2013). During her visit, Mackil took time to talk to several graduate students working in her area, including Ian Oliver, now our most recent doctoral graduate, and several other Hellenist doctoral students. The post-talk dinner, where conversation was lively, included junior and senior faculty, including some of those whose work is most closely allied to Emily Mackil’s (Peter Hunt, Dimitri Nakassis) and two postdoctoral students attached to our department (Jack Hanson, Erin Baxter). We look forward to continuing the conversation with Emily Mackil and other members of the Berkeley Classics community and are extremely grateful to the CWCTP for the opportunity to invite her.
The Center for Western Civilization, Thought and Policy funds research and educational initiatives that contribute to critical reflection on the development of Western civilization. All CU Boulder faculty and students are eligible to apply If you are interested in applying for a CWCTP faculty grant, deadlines are rolling throughout the year.