This book explores late-sixth and early fifth-century Boiotia as a case study in the construction and articulation of collective identity in archaic and early classical Greece. By juxtaposing a variety of sources – historiography, numismatics, iconography, epigraphy – the author discusses traditions of Boiotian descent and territory as well as Boiotian use of a common symbol, promotion of shared dialect, and use of a common name. These sources suggest that by the late sixth century the Boiotians actively promoted collective links to Athena and Thessaly as well as to epic tradition and specific epic heroes. They did not begin using their collective name in a strictly political or military sense until the middle of the fifth century BC.
With this ethnic portrait, the author offers an alternate explanation to the opinio communis that attributes late sixth-century Boiotian solidarity to an early political and military federation of poleis. The author rather argues that the Boiotians adopted a permanent federal system only in the mid-fifth century.