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The Autocratic Theatre of Hieron II

de Lisle, Christopher (2023) 'The Autocratic Theatre of Hieron II.', in Theatre and Autocracy in the Ancient World. .


Hieron II of Syracuse reigned for fifty-four years, from 269 to 215 BC – longer than any other Hellenistic monarch. His kingdom was relatively small and always required the support of external powers: first the Ptolemies and then the Romans. It survived his death in 215 BC by a mere eleven months, indicating how crucial Hieron himself had been to its preservation. The literary tradition on him is unequivocally positive. His success lay in defining his position in Syracuse and Sicily as traditional, benevolent, popular, divinely-favoured, and unshakeable. This definition took place in a vast range of media, but here I argue that the theatre that Hieron built in Syracuse was fundamental to the construction of his autocracy.

Item Type:Book chapter
Full text:Publisher-imposed embargo until 21 November 2023.
(AM) Accepted Manuscript
File format - PDF
Publisher Web site:
Publisher statement:The final publication is available at
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:12 July 2022
Date of first online publication:21 November 2022
Date first made open access:21 November 2023

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