ISBN : 9780190465667
The empires of the ancient Near East and Mediterranean invented cosmopolitan politics. In the first millennia BCE and CE, a succession of territorially extensive states incorporated populations of unprecedented cultural diversity. Cosmopolitanism and Empire traces the development of cultural techniques through which empires managed difference in order to establish effective, enduring regimes of domination. It focuses on the relations of imperial elites with culturally distinct local elites, offering a comparative perspective on the varying depth and modalities of elite integration in five empires of the ancient Near East and Mediterranean. If cosmopolitanism has normally been studied apart from the imperial context, the essays gathered here show that theories and practices that enabled ruling elites to transcend cultural particularities were indispensable for the establishment and maintenance of trans-regional and trans-cultural political orders. As the first cosmopolitans, imperial elites regarded ruling over culturally disparate populations as their vocation, and their capacity to establish normative frameworks across cultural boundaries played a vital role in the consolidation of their power. Together with an introductory chapter which offers a theory and history of the relationship between empire and cosmopolitanism, the volume includes case studies of Assyrian, Seleukid, Ptolemaic, Roman, and Iranian empires that analyze encounters between ruling classes and their subordinates in the domains of language and literature, religion, and the social imaginary. The contributions combine to illustrate the dilemmas of difference that imperial elites confronted as well as their strategies for resolving the cultural contradictions that their regimes precipitated.
List of contributors
1. Cosmopolitan Politics: The Assimilation and Subordination of Elite Cultures
Myles Lavan, Richard Payne, John Weisweiler
2. Getting Confident: The Assyrian Development of Elite Recognition Ethics
3. Empire Begins at Home: Local Elites and Imperial Ideologies in Hellenistic Greece and Babylonia
4. Hellenism, Cosmopolitanism and the Role of Babylonian Elites in the Seleucid Empire
5. Towards a Translocal Elite Culture in the Ptolemaic Empire
6. What is Imperial Cosmopolitanism?
7. Father of the Whole Human Race: Ecumenical Language and the Limits of Elite Integration in the Early Roman Empire
8. Making Romans: Citizens, Subjects and Subjectivity in Republican Empire
9. From Empire to World State: Ecumenical Language and Cosmopolitan Consciousness in the Later Roman Aristocracy
10. Iranian Cosmopolitanism: World Religions at the Sasanian Court
11. Zum ewigen Frieden: Cosmopolitanism, Comparison and Empire
Peter Fibiger Bang