Publication Date

Spring 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Jonathan P. Roth


ancient Greek, asylia, asylum, Hellenistic, Panhellenic, Peer Polity Interaction

Subject Areas

Ancient history; History


This thesis proposes that the Peer Polity Interaction Theory can explain the spread of the civic title of territorial asylia (inviolability) in the Hellenistic period. The Greeks had always considered sacred space to be inviolable; thus there was no apparent need to acquire a separate title of inviolability. During the Hellenistic period, however, ambassadors canvassed the Greek world for recognition of asylia, and acceptances were inscribed in stone and placed in highly visible places. It was clearly a particularly sought after title.

By surveying the primary epigraphic and numismatic sources and examining asylia in the context of the Peer Polity Interaction Theory, we can explain the networks created between the poleis in the Hellenistic period that enabled asylia to thrive. Interacting with other poleis within these networks would have been important in a world dominated by meddling Hellenistic kings, and later, by an emerging Roman power. The Peer Polity Interaction Theory proposes that a shared civic culture, competitive emulation, and kinship diplomacy, led to asylia becoming one of the most popular civic titles to obtain in the Hellenistic period.