Race and Citizen Identity in the Classical Athenian Democracy

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In Race and Citizen Identity in the Classical Athenian Democracy, Susan Lape demonstrates how a race ideology grounded citizen identity. Although this ideology did not manifest itself in a fully developed race myth, its study offers insight into the causes and conditions that can give rise to race and racisms in both modern and pre-modern cultures. In the Athenian context, racial citizenship emerged because it both defined and justified those who were entitled to share in the political, symbolic, and socioeconomic goods of Athenian citizenship. By investigating Athenian law, drama, and citizenship practices, this study shows how citizen identity worked in practice to consolidate national unity and to account for past Athenian achievements. It also considers how Athenian identity narratives fuelled Herodotus' and Thucydides' understanding of history and causation.