This book is about court culture in the broadest sense. It discusses the social and formal aspects of court society, palace architecture, cultural and scientific patronage, and royal ritual. There are several reasons why I have committed myself to writing this book. The most important of these is the wish to fill a gap. Historians have long recognised the importance of the royal court for the evolution and functioning of monarchic states, its influence on scientific and artistic developments, and the importance of public rituals connected with the court for the legitimisation of royal rule. Historians have mainly studied the courts of Renaissance Italy and the European Ancien Régime. In classical studies, there has been much less interest, although there has been substantial historical research concerning the ceremonial of the Late Roman and Byzantine court. The Hellenistic court, however, has been relatively neglected.
There are two reasons why the Hellenistic royal court may be deemed an important subject. First, in the Hellenistic Age the foundations were laid for the development of the royal court in later history, both in Christian Europe and the Islamic East. Second, because the court was the apex of political power in the Hellenistic world. Studying it may help us understand Hellenistic kingship, one of the most important yet still most debated subjects of this period. The formal and social aspects of the court may teach us more about the nature of monarchic rule, the way it functioned vis-à-vis subject peoples and cities. Courtly ritual and ceremonial may shed new light on the ideology of Hellenistic kingship because it shows how kings saw themselves or wished to be seen by others. Finally, court culture and cultural patronage may clarify the meaning and use of ‘Hellenism’.
PhD Dissertation, University of Utrecht, 2007