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Patriotism in Ancient Greece

Crowley, JP (2017) Patriotism in Ancient Greece. In: The Handbook of Patriotism. Springer. ISBN 978-3-319-30534-9


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Patriotism is a word derived from ancient Greek, and to judge from modern definitions of the concept, which emphasize a person’s willingness to fight, kill, and die for his or her political community, it was something the Greeks knew all too well. Their history is dominated by war, but if this bellicosity demonstrates the fervency of Greek patriotism, it also reveals that it was far from monolithic. Instead, as the Greeks themselves recognized, two types of patriotism coexisted in classical Greece, namely, “higher patriotism,” which focused on the common identity of the Greeks as a distinct culture group, and “lower patriotism,” which focused on the narrower political community or polis. This patriotic duality naturally created the potential for both cooperation and conflict, and as this chapter will reveal, it exercised a profound influence on both the Greeks and their history.

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