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The Athenian Empire

Polly Low

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This article argues that problems of terminology also plague the study of the Athenian Empire, drawing attention to the many ancient Greek words that have been translated as ‘empire’. Arriving at the right terms to describe Athenian ‘imperialism’ would go hand in hand with the larger process of understanding other features of Athens' hegemony. For example, while the financial aspects of the Athenian Empire are heavily discussed, the cultural imperialism of the city-state still needs to be analysed more fully. Further study may well show that the major importance of the empire lies in its role as the transmitter of Hellenic culture during the period of Athens' dominance and not in its place as a decisive moment in the history of imperialism.