Date of Award

Summer 2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA) in History


History & Foreign Language

Committee Chair

Yuliya Minets


In ancient literature, the Pelasgians appear as an ambiguously defined and geographically ubiquitous primeval ethnic group or tribe. Various classical writers describe the Pelasgians as simultaneously pre-Hellenic and non-Hellenic –– ancestral and barbarian, chronologically earlier and essentially different. The ongoing ideological and rhetorical negotiations of Pelasgian identity in ancient literature played a critical role in discussions of Greekness –– discussions rooted in the distant past, informed by fluid and contradictory myths, and shaped by intellectual, social, and political transformations of the period. By contextualizing these discussions, this study attempts not simply a reconstruction of the mythological Pelasgians, but a reconstruction of the intellectual, social, and political tensions that shaped discourse on the Pelasgians in antiquity. The proposed study focuses on the discursive constructions of Pelasgian identity attested in Greek literature from the Archaic (Homer, eighth century BCE) to Roman periods (Pseudo-Apollodorus, second century CE), and explores the specific strategies utilized and the goals achieved by ancient writers in their speculations about Pelasgians. This study intends to demonstrate the rhetorical and ideological significance of various “Pelasgian theories” utilized in ancient discourses for the construction and expression of Greek identity. It also addresses the fundamental issues of ancient cultures such as autochthony and otherness; Greekness and barbarism; narrative representations of identity; and the relationship between myth, literature, and identity.



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