The ones that got away: Refugees in Classical and Hellenistic Greece
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This dissertation studies refugees displaced by war in Greece during the fifth and fourth centuries B.C. in order to determine whether there was a general model for determining whether refugees should be accepted by a polis and if so what provisions should be made for the maintenance and integration of refugees into the host society. I argue that there are two distinct patterns for the handling of refugees one for the fifth century down to the end of the Peloponnesian War and a slightly different one which emerges in the early to mid-fourth century. Using modern refugee theory as a framework, this work focuses on six case studies of refugees displaced from their homes by war. Methods of flight, the reception of refugees by host cities and the reactions of refugees to their hosts are examined in order to build a picture of host and refugee interactions. There exists in Classical scholarship a rich discussion of the political exile, examining the mechanisms of exile, the experience of the exile and reception of exiles by other cities. This thesis is the first, however, to attempt a similar study of people displaced by war. While there might be some overlap in the experience of a political exile and a refugee, the circumstances surrounding a refugee's flight– and how those circumstance alter the refugee-host relationship– are substantially different and warrant their own investigation. One of the most important facets of refugee experience brought to light by this inquiry is how ancient Greek cities regularly exploited refugees as military assets, resettling them on sites of strategic value as a buffer against hostile forces. Even more striking is the apparent acceptance and even willingness on the part of refugees to fulfill this role. The military deployment of refugees by host states finds no parallel in modern refuge management. The study of ancient refugees and refugee management can be of benefit to modern refugee theory. Examining how refugees in ancient Greece adapted to their circumstances might offer valuable insights into refugee experience in the modern world.