Metropolen europäischer Kultur : eine Geschichte vierer Städte

Nicht nur das Wort „Metropolis“ stammt aus dem Altertum. Vier antike Städte – Babylon, Jerusalem, Athen und Rom – erfüllen zudem die Vorstellung von Metropolen auf besondere Weise. Deshalb sei hier nicht nur ihre je eigene Geschichte skizziert. Die Rede wird auch von dem virtuellen Dialog dieser vier Städte untereinander sein, dessen Spuren die Entwicklung der europäischen Kultur bis heute begleiten.

The Greek expression metropolis displays its own history in antiquity which still determines some of the associations of the modern word. Our article traces an accumulative discourse of metaphorical associations which developed in the course of ancient history between its dominant metropolitan centres: Babylon, Jerusalem, Athens and Rome. This discourse is about validity claims on leadership and intellect, domination and culture based on immanent and transcendent assumptions. In the European tradition, it is symbolically intertwined with the image of these four cities. As subtext, these metaphors are present in European cultural and political discourse. With the present papers we set out to reconstruct the original tales of these cities in order to recreate the changing historical contexts which led to the European metaphorical tale of the four cities. Being the narrator and the objective of history, it was Rome herself who ultimately reconstructed the narrative. Connecting the faith of Jerusalem to the intellect of Athens she could claim to have overcome the worldliness ofBabylon, thus adding a new justification to her universal aspirations. Of course she did not escape the strenuous polarity of empire and culture, and this polarity may still be actualized in the frequent comparisons of the United States with Imperial Rome. However, the narratives of our four cities originally constructed their tales in their own voices and to their own ends. Babylon was much less worldly than the narrative of Jerusalem would have us believe, and even Athens may have been less intellectual and Jerusalem at times less faithful than the widespread European discourse will have it. Nevertheless, their image as a meaningful quartet remains a point of reference and reflection in European tradition.

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