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Greek colonization: small and large islands

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This article looks at the relation between insular identity and colonization, in Greek thought but also in Greek colonial practices; more precisely, it examines how islands of different sizes are perceived and presented in their role of ‘colonizing entities’, and as destinations of colonial undertakings. Size appears to play an important role: there seems to have been a tendency to settle small to medium sized islands with a single colony. Large islands too, such as Corsica and Sardinia, follow the pattern ‘one island – one polis’; the case of Sicily is very different, but even there, in a situation of crisis, a colonial island identity emerged. Similarly, a number of small to medium-sized single-polis islands of the Aegean acted as colonizing entities, although there is almost no mention of colonial undertakings by small and medium-sized Aegean islands that had more than one polis. Multi-polis islands, such as Rhodes or Crete – but not Euboea – are often presented as the ‘collective’ undertakers of significant colonial enterprises.
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Keywords: Corsica; Crete; Euboea; Greek colonization; Lesbos; Rhodes; Sardinia; Sicily; identity; insularity; islands

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Dipartimento di Beni Culturali,Università degli Studi del Salento, Lecce, Italy

Publication date: June 1, 2012

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