Working Papers by Author

Ulrike Krotscheck - Classics Department, Stanford University

010603 Going with the Grain: Athenian State Formation and the Question of Subsistence in the 5th and 4th Centuries BCE
Ulrike Krotscheck, Stanford University
Download PDF Abstract: In this paper, I address the role of Athenian grain trade policy as a driving factor of the city’s growing power in the 5th and 4th centuries. Recent explanations of increasing Athenian hegemony and dominance over other poleis during this time period have focused on the role of warfare. I present an equally important, yet often-overlooked factor: food supply. Athens was dependent on grain imports throughout the Classical Period. Through examination of the ancient sources, I demonstrate that the increasing need to secure subsistence goods for Athens significantly propelled its ambition for power, causing a fundamental shift from a non- interventionist government policy to one of heavy intervention between the 5th and the 4th centuries BCE. This shift corresponded to an increasing complexity within the mechanisms of the city’s politics. It helped propel Athenian state formation and affected the dynamic of power and politics in the ancient Mediterranean world.