Specialized Themes

Court and Courtiers in the Ancient Near East and Mediterranean
Session code
Date Time
Tuesday, August 23rd / 09.00-12.30
Ignazio Tantillo
Collegium Minus, Sala Senatu

In the last two decennies courts ansd court societies of the ancient world have been the subject of an increasing interest among scholars. Nonetheless the nature and relative scarcity of sources for most of these periods do not allow to reach results comparable to those achieved for the courts of the middle ages or modern times. Consequently many recent studies propose a comparative approach to the problem. Several approaches are possible, but it is important to stress that investigating the court and court life requires a preliminary reflection about the nature of the power which is embodied and staged by each court: how this specific power is legitimated? In which measures other actors – aristocracies, bureaucrats, servants – are involved in the handling of state affairs? How did the ruled, the external world, relate to all of that? A comparative approach is necessary not only for the elaboration of theoretical models, but also for individuating the derivations and mutual influences which shaped the courts of antiquity. At the same time, the papers will try to show how the historical peculiarity of each monarchy actually fashioned each court life. Contributors would be asked to discuss at least the following issues: Physical aspects of courts; number and internal organisation or stratification of courtiers; identification of different levels of courtiers based on prestige, power and/or their proximity to the focus of the court; social composition and origin of the different types of court members; degree of interaction with the external world ; complexity of ceremonials.