Image of the Basileus: the common character of royal self-presentation in the early Hellenistic world (323-276 BC)
Holton, John Russell
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This thesis argues for a common character of royal self-presentation in the early Hellenistic world, defined in this thesis as the period between the death of Alexander in 323 BC and the accession of Antigonos Gonatas in 276. In contrast to current models of interpretation which analyse it on a predominantly regional or biographical basis, this thesis supports the validity of approaching Hellenistic kingship as a broader phenomenon. Royal self-presentation is defined here as imagery developed by the kings, ideology articulated by them, and symbolic deeds enacted by them. This thesis engages a distinction between local and international perspectives and a wide interdisciplinary view of the surviving evidence in order to demonstrate the common character of early Hellenistic royal self-presentation. This common character is in turn unified by a dominant Greco-Macedonian emphasis: accordingly, it is termed ‘the image of the basileus’ in this thesis. This ‘image of the basileus’ is a composite construction based on six themes of royal self-presentation, each of which is analysed and discussed in a separate chapter; their total character is adduced fully in the final conclusion to this thesis. Chapter 1 covers heroic themes in royal self-presentation, which scholars have generally overlooked in reference to the early Hellenistic kings despite their commonality and significance. Chapter 2 covers the diadem, which became the symbol of Hellenistic kingship par excellence and as such is of pivotal importance to this study. Chapter 3 covers the concept of spear-won land and the foundation of eponymous cities, which can be understood together as part of an image of territorial domination. Chapter 4 covers representations of divine favour and divine will, a crucial basis of support for the early Hellenistic kings. Chapter 5 covers joint kingship and father-son rule, an innovation in the structuring of royal power and thus a vital focus for this thesis. Chapter 6, the final chapter of this thesis, covers common imagery in the funerals of the kings, which is important as a summation of their self-presentation.