Et in Arcadia ego: understanding autochthony, geography and the other in Herodotus

Kelly Morales

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The ancient historian defers to the art historian for a succinct expression of both the mysterious nature of Arcadia, and of the diachronic factors involved in assessing the meaning of a specific word or phrase. Panofsky shows the sustained impact of the dualistic and ambiguous region of Arcadia on the arts, as well as the problematic phrase “Et in Arcadia Ego”, which embodied different meanings for various periods in time. The autochthonous Arcadia reminds the historian that the seemingly Athenocentric notion of autochthony is not entirely accurate, and furthermore, attests the presence of a more sophisticated framework for the concept of autochthony in Greece. Interestingly, this concept which became so prominent in the Athenian imaginary was not restricted to Greeks: Scythian tribes such as the Budini are judged by Herodotus to be autochthonous. In order to arrive at a better understanding of Greek self-definition and how it was perceived in relation to the Barbarian/ Other, it is pertinent to examine the core tenets of autochthony in Greece: how it was developed and in what way Greeks could make sense of foreign autochthones.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-37
Number of pages16
JournalAncient history : resources for teachers
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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