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Naming the Aegean Sea

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I ask whether it is possible, within the historical context of archaic and early classical Greece, to look at identity from the perspective of the sea. Starting from the observation that seas are usually named from the coastline they border, and that they are thus perceived as linked to that coastline, I look at the naming of the Aegean Sea. After discussing the ancient explanations, I conclude that the numerous islands and fragmented coastline of the Aegean made any strong claim impossible; attempts at making the Aegean an ‘Athenian’ (or Euboean) sea failed, because of the multiplicity of available contrasting traditions that could be put forward.
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Keywords: Aegean Sea; Aigaion; Aigeus; Athens; Euboea; Theseus; identity; insularity; islands; map; myth; sea; space

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Classics & Ancient History,Durham University, Durham, UK

Publication date: June 1, 2012

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