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Herodotus in the Anthropocene$
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Joel Alden Schlosser

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226704708

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226704982.001.0001

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The Practice of Nomos

The Practice of Nomos

(p.61) 3 The Practice of Nomos
Herodotus in the Anthropocene

Joel Alden Schlosser

University of Chicago Press

This chapter connects the previous chapter's broader epistemological questions to the various cultural practices that the Greeks called nomoi. Custom, culture, and law all translate to the Greek term nomos; this chapter shows how practice—the active constitution and re-constitution of nomoi—unites these possible translations. Nomoi vary among political communities but they also provide lenses for understanding the substance of collective life. Herodotus’s emphasis on the practice of nomoi avoids the “nature/culture” dichotomy of his contemporaries such as the sophists Protagoras and Antiphon. Nomoi are neither determined nor arbitrary. In this way Herodotus may approach a relativist’s openness to the multitude of nomoi recounted, but within the appreciation of their practice appears an emphasis on how equality allows for political communities to sustain collective power through their particular nomoi.

Keywords:   Nomos, nature, culture, Protagoras, Antiphon

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