Using all available evidence – literary, epigraphic, numismatic, and archaeological – this study offers a new analysis of the early Hellenistic Peloponnese. The conventional picture of the Macedonian kings as oppressors, and of the Peloponnese as ruined by warfare and tyranny, must be revised. The kings did not suppress freedom or exploit the peninsula economically, but generally presented themselves as patrons of Greek identity. Most of the regimes characterised as ‘tyrannies’ were probably, in reality, civic governorships, and the Macedonians did not seek to overturn tradition or build a new imperial order. Contrary to previous analyses, the evidence of field survey and architectural remains points to an active, even thriving civic culture and a healthy trading economy under elite patronage. Despite the rise of federalism, particularly in the form of the Achaean league, regional identity was never as strong as loyalty to one’s city-state (polis).