The concept of arete in Hellenistic honorific decrees

Antiopi Argyriou-Casmeridis

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


My thesis examines the concept of arete in Hellenistic honorific decrees dating predominantly from the third and second centuries B.C. from the Greek poleis of mainland Greece, the Black Sea region, Thrace, the Aegean islands, and Asia Minor. It explores the representation of the honorands’ benefactions as manifestations of different facets of civic virtue (eunoia, philotimia, eusebeia, dikaiosyne etc.), with the honorands being construed as paradeigmata of arete, which others were encouraged to emulate. My study aims to fill a gap left by previous studies, which have either not examined systematically the epigraphical evidence, or have confined the discussion to the Classical period. Other investigations have focused on specific regions or categories of honorands, but without fully exploring the honorands’ virtues. My approach is based on a systematic investigation of the vocabulary of virtue with a view to mapping out the honorands’ actions in relation to different types of honorands and to the contexts of their benefactions, and to identifying regional and chronological variations. Despite the diversity of the Hellenistic communities, the striking recurrences of arete in honorific decrees lend further support to the now widespread view that the Greek poleis shared a code of civic values and created an ideological framework of civic behavior. My method is based on the creation of a database of inscriptions, which has allowed me to carry out multiple case studies for each category of honorands, and to explore the articulation of arete through the language of honour by combining a lexical investigation of the value-terms that were deployed in honorific decrees with the interpretation of their connotations in their historical contexts. My study is intended as a contribution to the scholarly debate on the civic discourse of euergetism and on the shared civic values of the Hellenistic Greek poleis.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Rubinstein, Lene, Supervisor
  • Kremmydas, Christos, Advisor
Thesis sponsors
Award date1 May 2022
Publication statusUnpublished - 4 Dec 2021


  • Greek Epigraphy, civic values, virtue, euergetism, civic benefactors

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