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The Athenian Revolution: Essays on Ancient Greek Democracy by Josiah Ober

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By Josiah Ober

The place did "democracy" come from, and what was once its unique shape and that means? right here Josiah Ober indicates that this "power of the folk" crystallized in a innovative rebellion through the normal electorate of Athens in 508-507 B.C. He then examines the implications of the improvement of direct democracy for upper-and lower-class voters, for dissident Athenian intellectuals, and in case you have been denied citizenship below the recent regime (women, slaves, resident foreigners), in addition to for the final improvement of Greek history.

When the voters all of sudden took energy into their very own fingers, they replaced the cultural and social panorama of Greece, thereby assisting to inaugurate the Classical period. Democracy ended in basic alterations within the easy constructions of Athenian society, altered the types and course of political pondering, and sparked a sequence of dramatic reorientations in diplomacy. It fast made Athens into the main strong Greek city-state, however it additionally fatally undermined the normal Greek ideas of conflict. It influenced the improvement of the Western culture of political theorizing and inspired a brand new notion of justice that has impressive parallels to modern theories of rights. yet Athenians by no means embraced the notions of inherency and inalienability that experience put the idea that of rights on the middle of recent political suggestion. therefore the play of strength that constituted lifestyles in democratic Athens is printed as straight away surprisingly common and desperately overseas, and the values maintaining the Athenian political group as at the same time admirable and terrifying.

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In April 1993. The conference featured pap ers and comme ntary by classical historians and political theorists (see über and Hedri ck 1996). In the aftermath of the conference, Bernard Gr ofman pr oposed publishing a group ofpapers inspired by the conference proceeding s as a forum in PS: Political Science and Politics. In the essay that I contributed to that forum, which has been substa ntially reworked and expa nded here, I took the opportunity to develop points that arose in th e course of several conference discussions, most not ab ly in a long conversation with Sheldon Wolin on the subj ect of democracy, power , rh etorie, and the problem of stable government versus revolutionary energies.

Magi strates were forced to undergo rigorous publi c scru tiny before entering office and a pu blic audit upon leaving office. Magistrates suspected of conspiring against the people could always be (and frequently were) indicted and punished in the people's courts. There is no eviMar kle 1985; T od d 1990. 1989. " Senior-panner thesis: de La ix 1973. 15 Hansen 1991, 145- 46. 12 13 ~Iille tl 26 CHAPT ER 3 denee to suggest that boards of magistrates ever constituted anything like a hidden government.

The policies of the T yrant s them selves had gone a long way in breakin g down the traditi onal ties of dependence and obed ience between upper- and lower-class Athenians.

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