Recent research in the field of New Institutionalist analysis has developed the view that institutions are grounded not only upon authoritative rules but also upon accepted practices and narratives. In this paper I am interested in the ways in which honorific practices and accounts of identity set out in ancient Greek inscriptions contribute towards the persistence of polis institutions in the Hellenistic period. A diachronic survey of Erythraian inscriptions of the classical and Hellenistic periods gives an impression of the adaptation and proliferation of forms of discourse established in the classical period. It demonstrates the ongoing prominence of the rhetoric of identity in conversations that went on not only between peer polities and within real or imagined kinship groups but also in negotiations between powerful and weak state entities and in inward-facing discourses on euergetism.
This paper examines the phenomenon of individual Athenians adopting elements of Persian clothing, making use of exotic items such as gold and silver drinking vessels, and the like, by comparison to what I argue is a similar sort of contact and exchange involving the European fabric trade and evolving standards of dress and fashion in the Early Modern Atlantic. The ancient literary and archaeological sources discussed document the reaction of a relatively insignificant, marginal people (the Greeks) to the dress practices of a more powerful and arguably far more sophisticated imperial power (the Persians). I suggest that an appreciation of the character and intentions of the much better documented encounter between the English court and Amerindian ambassadors who visited it in the early 18th century provides a potentially useful corrective to the indigenous perspective of our Athenian sources.