By R Brock, S Hodkinson
This quantity comprises eighteen essays by way of demonstrated and more youthful historians that study non-democratic replacement political platforms and ideologies--oligarchies, monarchies, combined constitutions--along with assorted sorts of communal and nearby institutions comparable to ethnoi, amphiktyonies, and confederacies. The papers, which span the size and breadth of the Hellenic international spotlight the large political flexibility and variety of old Greek civilization.
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Additional resources for Alternatives to Athens: Varieties of Political Organization and Community in Ancient Greece
Robinson (1997). For the impact of Aristotle’s outlook on his account of Sparta see Schutrumpf (1994). • See Gauthier (1993), esp. 217–25, and Gruen (1993); this is also the underlying theme of Rhodes with Lewis (1997), esp. 531–6. 14 Roger Brock and Stephen Hodkinson Constitutional diversity We need to bear in mind both the di¶culty of reliable deﬁnition and the impact of the Athenian outlook and agenda when we examine the range of constitutions found in classical Greece. In the case of democracy, the Athenian model can be particularly unhelpful, and we should be wary of assuming that it is to be inferred wherever we hear of a democracy.
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). Matters are further complicated by the proximity of aristocracy to ‘polity’ in his constitutional schema (on which see Andrew Lintott’s contribution) and by an ambiguous deﬁnition which also embraces constitutions directed towards what is best for the state and its members (1279A35–7).
As his analysis indicates, there was throughout Greek history a ﬂuctuating balance between ideological consciousness and pragmatism, and between structural and contingent factors, in the choices and alterations which Greek communities made regarding their political systems. Radical change at the state level could be precipitated not only by ideological concerns but also by personal ones, often ﬁnancial, familial, or sexual: the ﬁfth book of the Politics contains a rich selection of examples. The implication for modern views of the Greek polis is that we should abandon the angle of vision in which classical Athenian d»emokratia appears as the central point of Greek political experience for a perspective which sees it within a much broader context—a context very unlike the presentday ideological dominance of liberal democracy in which a range of political regimes could lay claim to legitimacy both as viable systems in their own right and as potential models for imitation by their neighbours.
Alternatives to Athens: Varieties of Political Organization and Community in Ancient Greece by R Brock, S Hodkinson