Egidia Occhipinti, Greeknes and Otherness beyond the Stereotype, Studi di Storia Greca e Romana 22, Edizioni dell’Orso, 2023, 380 p., ISBN 9788836133826
This book deals with the notion of Greekness and otherness in classical times offering an innovative research perspective. It questions the reliability of the Greek-barbarian polarity, which, as is commonly believed, resulted from fifth-century BC political thought (consider historiography and tragedy). This duality is to be dismissed as a tool of inquiry, since it does not give due measure to a ‘fragmented’ society, such as the Greek. There are commonplaces about the notion of identity in ancient times, and the scholarly idea of the existence of a sharp contrast between Greeks and barbarians is often a matter of modern projections onto the past of current concerns and feelings.
The book suggests a literary and relativist approach to the issue. It wants to problematize and raise questions, moving beyond rigid interpretative schemas. Therefore, it will discuss the stereotypes that developed about people in ancient times, and which are found in classical authors (poets, historians, orators). The overturning of those stereotypes occurring within the Greek literary tradition is considered, with a special focus on authorial intention and reader response. Case studies are offered on the Athenians, Spartans, and Thebans, and their self-representation.