By Jennifer Tolbert Roberts
The classical Athenians have been the 1st to articulate and enforce the proposal that standard electorate of no specific affluence or schooling can make in charge political judgements. as a result, reactions to Athenian democracy have lengthy supplied a major checking out floor for political idea. no matter if praising Athens's executive because the valid ancestor of recent democracies or condemning it as mob rule, commentators all through heritage have published a lot approximately their very own notions of politics and society. This learn charts responses to Athenian democracy from the traditional international to the twentieth century, exploring a debate that touches upon historiography, ethics, political technology, anthropology, sociology, philosophy, gender reports and academic concept. Rooted within the bias of Greek intellectuals, the textual content argues, hostility to Athenian democracy received energy from the propensity of Western thinkers to learn background backward and infer the impotence of Athens's type of executive from the Athenians' final defeat by way of Macedon in 338 BC. In time, dislike of Athenian govt built right into a robust highbrow build that stood principally unchallenged until eventually the early nineteenth century. within the epilogue, the writer examines the controversies that proceed to enclose Athens at this time.
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Extra resources for Athens on Trial: The Antidemocratic Tradition in Western Thought
Cleisthenes sought to replace old tribal loyalties with a new loyalty to the state by dividing Athens into ten brand-new tribes (replacing the four old ones), each tribe divided among three units known as trittyes, each trittys in a different section of Attica. 4 Through the reshufﬂing of old tribes and the geographic fragmentation of new 28 CLASSICAL GREECE ones, Cleisthenes hoped to break the hold that powerful aristocratic families had exercised in their self-appointed domains. Though scholars have not failed to notice that the tribal reorganization left the Alcmaeonid sphere of inﬂuence surprisingly intact, Cleisthenes’ tribal reform did by and large advance the weakening of local aristocratic loyalties already begun by Peisistratus.
How could there have been, when Greek men who took up their pens were heavily invested in the political universe that swirled around them? How could there be, when the very choice to do so is remarkable in men and women who live in strikingly different societies with different priorities? ) Thinkers of the late twentieth century are divided about contentions made by scholars such as Hayden White that even narrative is a profoundly moral phenomenon and that all the tiny decisions, conscious or otherwise, that go into shaping a narrative arise from moral concerns and make moral statements.
Belief in the Athenians’ exclusivity and the signiﬁcance of this exclusivity for the lives of those who were not excluded—the citizen-voters—seem to me to 14 INTRODUCTION be solidly grounded in the evidence. So are concerns about the consuming nature of an ethos that privileged politics above private and family concerns and inhibited the free differentiation of individuals among themselves. It is not in the least clear to me, however, that all the attacks on Athens rest on a solid base. A misplaced reverence for authority, I would argue, has shaped thinking about Athens in a double-barreled attack.
Athens on Trial: The Antidemocratic Tradition in Western Thought by Jennifer Tolbert Roberts