A tension between two views of the Archaic period, one emphasizing the emergence of the individual, the other stressing the importance of the community, is as dominant in approaches to colonization as in everything else. Colonization, on the one hand, is viewed as a kind of protocapitalist enterprise of self-starting, pioneering risk-takers and entrepreneurs as well as the castoffs of society (and an individual affair). Alternatively, colonization is seen as a protoimperialist movement that established Hellenism in foreign territory, secured trade for the mother city, and inscribed the polis by means of the spatial allocations of city and country that some of the earliest colonies created. Thus establishing a colony was an official activity of an established state, or city-state (polis). In encounters between Hellenes and indigenes, moreover, Greek colonization could be seen to prefigure the classic trope of Greek and Other, which was fully expressed in the struggles with the Persians that unfolded in the late Archaic period. Indeed, the definition and redefinition of Hellenic identity, of Greekness or “Hellenicity,” was ongoing and continued right through the end of Greek hegemony and on into the ascendancy of Rome. In recent years, as programs of archaeological investigation have expanded and borne fruit, and as comparative perspectives in colonial studies have gained hold, the centrality of the colonial movement to Greek identity and experience has become clear.
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