Origins of Democracy in Ancient Greece by Kurt A. Raaflaub

By Kurt A. Raaflaub

This booklet offers a state of the art debate concerning the origins of Athenian democracy by means of 5 eminent students. the result's a stimulating, severe exploration and interpretation of the extant proof in this fascinating and significant subject. The authors deal with such questions as: Why was once democracy first discovered in old Greece? was once democracy “invented” or did it evolve over a protracted time period? What have been the stipulations for democracy, the social and political foundations that made this improvement attainable? And what elements grew to become the opportunity of democracy into necessity and fact? The authors first learn the stipulations in early Greek society that inspired equality and “people’s power.” They then scrutinize, of their social and political contexts, 3 an important issues within the evolution of democracy: the reforms attached with the names of Solon, Cleisthenes, and Ephialtes within the early and overdue 6th and mid-fifth century. ultimately, an historical historian and a political scientist evaluate the arguments offered within the prior chapters and upload their very own views, asking what classes we will draw at the present time from the traditional democratic event. Designed for a common readership in addition to scholars and students, the e-book intends to impress dialogue via providing part by way of aspect the proof and arguments that aid quite a few factors of the origins of democracy, hence permitting readers to affix within the debate and draw their very own conclusions.

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Raaflaub and Robert W. Wallace (hetairoi and therapontes; see van Wees 1997: 670; Donlan 1999: 345–57) of their leader Achilles. Odysseus himself well illustrates the fluidity and complexities of social status in his deceptive story to Athena, explaining that he refused to delight Orsilochos’s father, Idomeneus, and be Orsilochos’s therapon in Troy, but instead “I commanded other hetairoi ” (Od. 5 Of course, not every hetairos has equal status and is equally good and brave in battle. But no one is simply expendable: “We all know how to Wght” (Il.

So, too, as we saw, the leaders can act despicably, but the ideal basileus is a “shepherd of his people” (poimen laon), not a brutal commander, distant ruler, or exploiter. For high status with concomitant honors and privileges he depends on the demos (Donlan 1999: 19–20). This material sufWces to demonstrate our point. In Homer, despite elite claims to the contrary, the demos’s role is signiWcant on the battleWeld, in the assembly, and in society. Although equality is not yet formalized or conWrmed by law or ideology, basic forms of egalitarianism are reflected in the weakness of aristocratic authority and social hierarchies, including class vocabulary.

99–107 Similarly, Agamemnon and Achilles suffer because they failed to suppress selWsh ambition and anger in favor of the common good (Raaflaub 2001: 32 Kurt A. Raaflaub and Robert W. Wallace 80–83). Thersites rebukes Agamemnon in the assembly: “It is not right for you, their leader, to lead in sorrow the sons of the Achaians” (Il. 233–34). Despite the elite’s effort to emphasize distance and qualitative difference, Homer’s language reflects no social contempt for the masses. Ordinary people are never called kakoi (low, bad, mean), as they are in later archaic poetry.

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