Koinon (Greek: Κοινόν, pl. Κοινά, Koina), meaning "common thing", in the sense of "public", had many applications, some societal, some governmental.[1] An abstract noun formed from the neuter of the adjective, koinos, "common", the koinon could mean any sort of organization.[2][a] It had more than one meaning in the governmental sense.

κοινόν συμμαχῶν (koinon symmachon, "League of the Allies", where the name of the league appears in the genitive case in place of "allies."
A coin of the Cypriote League. The name, Koinon Kypriōn, is embossed around the upper perimeter.
A coin of the Cypriote League. The name, Koinon Kypriōn, is embossed around the upper perimeter.
Etymology: "common thing" for koinon, "co-combatantship" for symmachia.
Combined territory of the constituent poleisTwo words, koinon followed by the genitive of a key word, such as the ethnic, the name of the place of creation, or the name of the chief state.
 • TypeLeague
 • BodyKoinon

Polis edit

One was a polis or its politeia, Latin res publica, "the public thing", or "commonwealth", such as the Athenian. A government that is of common concern, rather than private, is a republic, which a polis was, by definition. The polis also was a federal state with a politeia, "constitution," which created a citizenship. The citizens ran the state through elected magistracies and the assembly. These institutions, claiming the supreme political power, acted directly to perform their constitutional duties, whether executive, judicial, or legislative. Political theory had not yet realized this 3-branch scheme so common in modern republics; nevertheless, the functions were all present in one form or another, such as the military, the law courts, economic regulation, etc.

Alliance edit

The meaning that is the topic of this article is a further development of unity beyond the polis. A group of poleis with an interest in building a strong common military for offense or defense, such as the Ionians, who had to defend the coast of Anatolia, which was Greek, against the inroads of the incoming Iranians, might make an alliance of poleis, extending "the public thing" to the alliance. In that case they would distinguish the alliance from the republic by using an ethnic name, such as "the alliance of the Ionians."

The alliance was then "the common thing of the allies," as it is in Isocrates 14.21, where the allies are symmachoi ("fighters in common,"), and the alliance is a symmachia. The league was not strictly a "federation," as the member states guarded their independence jealously. Even so, in the Delian League, the most powerful state, Athens, managed to control the other states to such a degree as now to be called "the Athenian Empire."

As government of a league, koinon comprised such functions as defense, diplomacy, economics, and religious practices among its member states.[3] The association was more of a confederation than a federal union, such as Alexander created. The members of the alliance mainly made contributions of taxes, men and equipment, rather than manage directly or issue any binding commands.

Some examples follow. In Epirus itself there had in ancient times existed the Koinon of the Molossians. There was a Lacedaemonian League (κοινὸν τῶν Λακεδαιμονίων), centered on Sparta and its old dominions for a period under Roman rule, and a Koinon of the Macedonians, also under Roman rule. In modern Greek history, during the Greek War of Independence, a local self-government termed Koinon was set up in the islands of Hydra, Spetses and Psara.

See also edit

Notes edit

  1. ^ "For koinon was used to designate all kinds of associations of a number of individuals, from small private clubs to entire states, ...."

References edit

  1. ^ Liddell; Scott. "κοινός". A Greek-English Lexicon. Perseus Digital Library.
  2. ^ Corsten, Thomas (2013). "Koinon". The Encyclopedia of Ancient History (First ed.). Blackwell Publishig Ltd. pp. 3798–3799.
  3. ^ Mackil, Emily (May 18, 2013). Creating a Common Polity. University of California Press. p. 347. ISBN 9780520953932. Retrieved October 21, 2014.

External links edit

  Media related to Leagues in Greek Antiquity at Wikimedia Commons