This essay considers episodes in which phenomena like war and civil strife affected, changed, and revealed the identity of the polis. Even if framed by an understanding of the Peloponnesian War and the imperialistic logic and destiny of Athens, Thucydides' History still provides us with narratives that illuminate the particular history of “minor” poleis, each with its specific events, turning points, and dynamics. Through analysis of Thucydides' historical material, this essay focuses on Plataea, Corcyra, and Mytilene and discusses the notion of the polis in relation to space and in the context of time, thereby testing Aristotle's question—too soon dismissed—about the separation of a community from the space of its city (Pol. 3.1276b1–5).

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