The coinage of king Areus i revisited: uses of the past in Spartan coins

Source document: Graeco-Latina Brunensia. 2015, vol. 20, iss. 2, pp. [145]-159
Extent
[145]-159
  • ISSN
    1803-7402 (print)
    2336-4424 (online)
Type: Article
Language
English
License: Not specified license
Abstract(s)
For many years, scholars describe king Areus I as the monarch who followed the Hellenistic model of ruling. He was the only one of the two Spartan kings mentioned by name at the Chremonidean Decree and he issued Sparta's first silver coins, which bore inscription with his name. These changes are implemented in a period during which Sparta is nowhere near its former glorious self. I will argue that during the early Hellenistic period, an era of major political, cultural and social changes, the past is used as a prominent political instrument more than ever. As new structures of power and political organisation rise, the status quo of the city-states of Classical Greece is transformed. The past always occupied a specific role in the history of the polis throughout the Archaic and Classical periods as civic identity was authenticated by more or less exclusive local myths. However, now the past is urgently needed to be rewritten as it possesses the potential to reshape contemporary worldviews. Areus I initiatives brought Sparta again at the forefront of the Hellenistic world and were the result of the mentality of Hegemony built in Sparta through a long history of hegemonial presence both in Peloponnesos and Greece. This paper aims (a) to assess the use of the past during the reign of Areus I of Sparta (r. 309–265) and (b) to highlight the dynamics of the active manipulation of the past as political tool by evaluating the iconographic choices on the first example of Spartan silver coinage.
Document
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