Lords of the Levant: The Borderlands of Syria and Phoenicia in the First Century

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Brent D. Shaw


The highland ecologies of the Mediterranean borderlands between Cilicia to the north and Judaea to the south were particularly adapted to harboring fragmented types of political power. In the long period of the transition in types of Roman imperial power in the eastern Mediterranean, from a nascent republican imperium to an empire of direct rule, this region was peculiarly problematic, being the home of various kinds of resistant micro-regional powers—minor kings, tyrants, dynasts, tetrarchs, phylarchs, and other lesser types of strongmen who were often labelled lēstai or ‘bandits’ in a Hellenistic typology of power. The following essay attempts to understand the place of this ecology and these peculiarities of power in the context of a fragmenting Seleukid state on the one side and an encroaching Roman state, itself in the throes of a fundamental transformation, on the other.

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