In the hands of noble men: a history of Thessaly from the Archaic period to the end of the Third Sacred War
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Modern analysis has understood the history of Thessaly in the Archaic and Classical periods as divided into two distinct phases. The first was defined by Thessalian expansion in the seventh and sixth centuries over central Greece, most notably Phocis and the religious complex at the sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi. The second was one of fifth century decline, followed by fourth century civil war. The conflict was ended through the intervention of Philip II, who brought Thessaly under Macedonian control. What prompted the Thessalians to expend the political, social, and military resources to embark upon a hegemonic project in central Greece? What caused the subsequent upheaval and stasis of the fifth and fourth centuries? This work attempts to answer these questions by creating a framework for interpreting Thessalian actions in the Archaic and Classical periods, arguing that the Thessalian hegemonic project was motivated by the desire to control the overland trade routes of central Greece. The late Archaic failure of this venture produced Classical-era political and social unrest amongst the factions of elites in Thessaly, creating a political situation in the fourth century in which ruling legitimacy was based on successfully recreating Archaic expansionism. With this framework, the actions of the Thessalians can be given proper context within the larger historical drama of the Classical era, and allows a richer, more dynamic, and more complex world to emerge.