This chapter examines the role which Mytilene’s peraia in coastal Aiolis played in shaping elite Mytilenaian identity in the first century BC/AD. It is argued that, in this period, Mytilenaian elites began to privilege the Aiolian aspect of their identity over the Lesbian aspect in response to a long-running dispute over Mytilene’s right to its peraia in Aiolis (disputed by neighbouring cities on the mainland) and the tax status of this territory (disputed by the publicani). Although this dispute was probably resolved for good early in the reign of Augustus, under subsequent Julio-Claudian emperors Mytilenaian elites continued to promote the idea that Mytilene was the metropolis of the Aiolians and therefore had a natural right to territory on the mainland. This is seen most prominently in the assimilation of Agrippina the Elder and later Agrippina the Younger to Thea Aiolis Karpophoros, and the fortuitous discovery that Mytilene could both assert its right to the peraia and honour prominent members of the imperial family by emphasizing its Aiolian identity in part explains the continued popularity of this identity claim. By contrast, these ideas appear to have been of no interest to Methymna and Eresos. While in part this reflects the fact that neither city possessed a peraia in Aiolis, it may also be significant that they belonged to a different conventus to Mytilene and thus Roman rule framed their identities in quite different ways.
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