Civil war is considered, at the geopolitical level, as the major form of organized violence, particularly insidious for two characteristics which sets it aside from interstate conflicts: length and proneness to relapse. In relation to this, it is interesting to notice that eminent contemporary voices have remarked the lack of a political theorization of civil war. With regards to the Greek-Roman world, the situation is partly different. Even though the concept of civil war was not invented by it – although some scholars tend to conceive it as the primary form of organized conflict – the Greek-Roman world experienced it deeply and with terror, and as a result it produced thorough reflections on the topic. Scholars of the Ancient World reflected continuously on the topic. The related literature is sound and vast, with a renewed interest in the ways of managing internal conflicts, and a focus on its less institutionalized aspects. Such complex and plural stances mirror the complexity of the issue. Indeed, we cannot forget that conflicts were looked at through different standpoints; for instance, the two concepts of ‘stásis’ and ‘bellum civile’ present different shades of meaning between the Greek and the Roman world, and indicate a wide and flexible evaluation of conflict and its dangerousness.
The aim of this Specialized Theme is to reflect upon the ‘pacifying practices’ of civil conflicts in the Greek-Roman world, both at the level of individual historical realities and at the theoretical level.