Mass and Elite in Democratic Athens: Rhetoric, Ideology, and by Josiah Ober

By Josiah Ober

This booklet asks a huge query usually overlooked through historic historians and political scientists alike: Why did Athenian democracy paintings in addition and for so long as it did? Josiah Ober seeks the reply by way of reading the sociology of Athenian politics and the character of verbal exchange among elite and nonelite voters. After a initial survey of the improvement of the Athenian "constitution," he specializes in the function of political and felony rhetoric. As jurymen and Assemblymen, the citizen plenty of Athens retained vital powers, and elite Athenian politicians and litigants had to tackle those huge our bodies of standard voters in phrases comprehensible and applicable to the viewers. This publication probes the social suggestions at the back of the rhetorical strategies hired via elite speakers.

A shut examining of the speeches exposes either egalitarian and elitist components in Athenian renowned ideology. Ober demonstrates that the vocabulary of public speech constituted a democratic discourse that allowed the Athenians to unravel contradictions among definitely the right of political equality and the truth of social inequality. His radical reevaluation of management and political energy in classical Athens restores key parts of the social and ideological context of the 1st western democracy.

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Extra info for Mass and Elite in Democratic Athens: Rhetoric, Ideology, and the Power of the People

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Croix, CSAGW, esp. 278—300, while tending to overemphasize the role of class at times, is the best and fullest treatment of the problem; cf. " For different views on the prevalence and importance of class tension in relation to political disorder and civil strife in archaic and classical Greece, see, for example, E. -4. Jh. v. Chr. (Bamberg, 1978): ideology and class tension played little part in civil strife; all confias were between competing hetaireiai of aristocrats and were caused by foreign policy problems.

1360b19—30, 1378b35—1379a4, Nicomachean Ethics 1131a24—29; Dem. 295; Isoc. 36; Lys. 38-44. Cf. Seager, "Elitism," 7, for other references. Adkins, "Problems," 154, notes that there is a general tendency for ancient orators to list three virtues, rather than four or five, because of the pleasing "tricolor" effect this produces. 17 P. Abrams, "Sociology and History (I)," review of R. Hofstadter and S. M. Lipset, Sociology and History (New York, 1968), in Past and Present 52 (1971): 118-25, has a stimulating and insightful discussion of the congruity of historical and sociological epistemology and the vital importance of conceptualization and hypothesis formation to historical inquiry.

PROBLEMS AND METHOD 15 26 strated. "28 The political advisers and leaders of the Athenian state (at least after Pericles) failed to develop the continuity of control of bureaucratic infrastructure, group cohesiveness vis-à-vis the masses, and means to control decision making and state policy, all necessary for the existence of a genuine ruling elite. Finley's comment, cited above, was in response to the theories of the so-called elitist school of political theory. The elitist philosophers, notably Gaetano Mosca and Vilfredo Pareto, enunciated a view of political action that emphasized the tendency of powerful elites to evolve within and ultimately to control social institutions.

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