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Trine Madsen

Home institution: Department of History, University of Copenhagen

Research profile

In 2001 I received my Master’s degree in History and Classical Studies from the University of Copenhagen after completing my thesis The Amnesty of 403 B.C. – research on relevant speeches. My prior research and publications have primarily concerned Athenian democracy, ancient Greek law, and rhetoric. 

Project description

Project title: An investigation of 'euergesia' in the Black Sea region fin the Hellenistic period – the development of societal structures in the Greek cities of the Black Sea.

My field of research in fact crosses the border between research activities 1, Them and us: Cultural strategies and interaction, and 4, The coming of Rome.
The chronological framework of my project has developed to consist only of the Hellenistic period, a traditional definition of the transitional period from the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC until the battle of Actium in 31 BC. However, it is not possible for any scholar, at least considering the period from around 200 BC and onwards, to look at the Hellenistic period solely from a Greek perspective, which is why my project will cross these two research activities.

Scholars have had access to comprehensive source material from the poleis of the Black Sea for a long time, material that substantiates the widespread practice of benefaction towards society, the so-called euergesia. The modern conceptualisation of this phenomenon is euergetism, and is among modern scholars accepted as an important part of the economic and political picture of the Hellenistic city. But to this day the cities of the Black Sea region have been inadequately investigated in the context of euergetism in the Hellenistic-Roman world, a discrepancy in both former and recent research which my project aims to set right.
The term euergesia was used to describe different kinds of benefaction that resulted in declarations of honour – for instance, we know of numerous decrees of honour bestowed upon a benefactor by the citizens of a polis. An important part of euergetism is reciprocity, since the practitioners of euergesia received a great deal in return for their benefaction to the city-state. Being an elite benefactor meant increasing recognition followed by political and economic power. Thus, the relationship between the benefactor and the city can be characterized as mutual reactions to acute needs. And so my project intends to create a picture of the changing conditions and needs of the Greek cities of the Black Sea region, based on the development of euergetism.
Furthermore, I will expand my field of research from city to region and investigate the political and economic conditions common to the cities of the Black Sea region. The most interesting question I shall address is the extent to which the urban elites competed among themselves and with the ruling kings for the cities’ declarations of honour in order to accumulate economic and political bases of power.
At the moment I am working on one important part of the political functions of the elite benefactors, which is the diplomatic actions of the benefactors of the north-western Greek cities of the Black Sea.

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