Antiquity and Middle Ages

Emergence of group-identity and national identity


In the 5th century BCE, Herodotus was the first who stated the main characteristics of ethnicity. As Samuel Huntington quotes in his book, The clash of civilizations and the remaking of world order: the key cultural elements which define a cultural group or civilization “were set forth in classic form by the Athenians when they reassured the Spartans that they would not betray them to the Persians … Blood, language, religion, way of life, were what the Greeks had in common and what distinguished them from the Persians and other non-Greeks.” These factors contributed to the process by which a group of people comes to be understood or to understand themselves as ethnically distinct from the wider social landscape from which their grouping emerges.
Since the beginning of that process, distinction of a specific group results either the above mentioned ethnos or demos as well. Demos refers to people who share a common territory and government irrespective of their ethnic make-up. Hence demos in the contemporary sense is a community based on citizenship.