Interstate Study Day

Waterloo Institute for Hellenistic Studies &
Dept. of Classical Studies,
Balsillie School of International Affairs,
University of Waterloo (8 Jan. 2013)

organized by Sheila Ager & Altay Coskun

Greek and Roman foreign policy and diplomacy are among the best documented areas of these ancient societies and have from early on aroused the attention of modern scholars. A large part of our evidence consists of ancient interstate treaties that have been transmitted in the epigraphic and historiographical record. The sheer amount of such agreements (1000 examples are listed in BNP Suppl. 1) attests not only to the vibrancy of interstate communication in Classical Antiquity, but also to the existence of a broad range of conventions that were widely accepted throughout the Mediterranean world. While our documentary evidence occasionally allows insights into the processes of negotiation and decision-making, it chiefly reflects the formalized final stage of such interactions. The sources have thus tended to support the traditional view that ancient diplomacy was of a highly legalistic nature allowing only for a limited choice of alternatives, a perspective reinforced by Roman historiography and philosophical writing that often justifies military aggressions in terms of legal consequences and moral duties (e.g., the notion of bellum iustum). Since World War II, however, scholars have taken a more critical approach to the ancient evidence while at the same time benefiting from theoretical advances in the field of International Relations. Several members of the Waterloo Institute for Hellenistic Studies have contributed prominently to this lively and controversial debate. Among the topics we expect to explore on the Study Day are the following: the tension between formal treaties and political interests; the role of amicitia in Roman diplomacy; relationships between federated states and their federation; and the procedures of conflict resolution in the Hellenistic world. The Interstate Study Day will offer an opportunity to members of the Institute, graduate students, and guests to join in this debate.


·         9:30 – 9:45:     Introduction (Altay Coskun, University of Waterloo)

·         9:45 – 10:45:   “Of Pigs and Dolphins: Intercommunal Relations in a Hellenistic Federal State” (Hans Beck, McGill University)

·         10:45 – 11:45: “Middle Powers and Mediation” (Sheila Ager, University of Waterloo)

·         11:45 – 12:45: “The Seleucids and their Roman Friends” (Gillian Ramsey, University of Toronto)

·         2:15 – 2:30:      Introduction (Sheila Ager, University of Waterloo)

·         2:30 – 3:30:      “The Treaty of the Ebro” (Art Eckstein, University of Maryland)

·         3:30 – 4:30:      “Friendship and Empire: The Establishment of Rome’s Amicitia with Heraclea Pontica (190 BC)”
                                   (Paul Burton, Australian National University, Canberra)

·         4:30 – 5:00:      Concluding Remarks/Discussion

Read the full abstracts of the papers