Alternatives to Athens by Roger Brock, Stephen Hodkinson

By Roger Brock, Stephen Hodkinson

This quantity includes eighteen essays by way of verified and more youthful historians that study non-democratic replacement political structures and ideologies--oligarchies, monarchies, combined constitutions--along with different kinds of communal and local institutions reminiscent of ethnoi, amphiktyonies, and confederacies. The papers, which span the size and breadth of the Hellenic global spotlight the sizeable political flexibility and variety of old Greek civilization.

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Pol. 1305B2–10). Megarian coup: Arist. Pol. 1300A16–19 with 1304B34–9; for the date see E. W. Robinson (1997) 114–17, Lane Fox and van Wees (below, pp. 37–44 and 52 n. 2). On all the varieties of oligarchy see Whibley (1896) ch. 4, still the standard text after a century. On fixed number at Athens see Brock (1989). Aristotle seems to concede up to a point the claims of Sparta and Carthage that their use of election for o¶ce reflects a concern to select the best men (1293B7–18)—though he is famously scathing about the Spartan mechanism of election—while remaining clear that they are oligarchic in operation (and Sparta formally a mixed constitution: 1294B18–34).

6–10) or those which preceded the Union of Argos and Corinth in the late 390s (ibid. 4. 4. 1–6). We should not present too anodyne a picture of ancient Greek political change. Nevertheless, the comparative flexibility of political arrangements was a significant phenomenon in a world which did not possess, as does our own, a single dominant political formation like the nation-state whose citizens lack direct control of its di·erentiated decision-making institutions and armed forces. The challenge for us moderns is to develop an interpretative framework for ancient Greek politics and polities which matches the flexibility of the Greeks themselves.

Arist. Pol. 1308B31–1309A14); indeed, Aristotle counsels that oligarchic magistrates should be seen to incur expense (1321A33). In contrast, as noted above, the Athenian democratic system was expensive; hence the fact that in the straitened circumstances of the late Peloponnesian War restriction of pay for political activity was an important aspect of the oligarchic programme of 411 (Ath. Pol. 29. 5; 30. 6). In a limited space we cannot do more than sketch a little of the constitutional variety in which classical Greece abounded, but the foregoing should serve to demonstrate the diversity which existed within the broad constitutional labels, and the possibility of change, whether gradual or sudRhodes with Lewis (1997) 330; Arist.

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