The Divided City: On Memory and Forgetting in Ancient Athens

Overview

Athens, 403 B.C.E. The bloody oligarchic dictatorship of the Thirty is over, and the democrats have returned to the city victorious. Renouncing vengeance,in an act of willful amnesia, citizens call for — -if not invent — -amnesty. They agree to forget the unforgettable, the "past misfortunes," of civil strife or stasis. More precisely, what they agree to deny is that stasis — -simultaneously partisanship, faction, and sedition — -is at the heart of their politics.Continuing a criticism of Athenian ideology begun ...

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Overview

Athens, 403 B.C.E. The bloody oligarchic dictatorship of the Thirty is over, and the democrats have returned to the city victorious. Renouncing vengeance,in an act of willful amnesia, citizens call for — -if not invent — -amnesty. They agree to forget the unforgettable, the "past misfortunes," of civil strife or stasis. More precisely, what they agree to deny is that stasis — -simultaneously partisanship, faction, and sedition — -is at the heart of their politics.Continuing a criticism of Athenian ideology begun in her pathbreaking study The Invention of Athens, Nicole Loraux argues that this crucial moment of Athenian political history must be interpreted as constitutive of politics and political life and not as a threat to it. Divided from within, the city is formed by that which it refuses.

Conflict, the calamity of civil war, is the other, dark side of the beautiful unitary city of Athens. In a brilliant analysis of the Greek word for voting,diaphora, Loraux underscores the conflictual and dynamic motion of democratic life.

Voting appears as the process of dividing up, of disagreement — -in short, of agreeing to divide and choose. Not only does Loraux reconceptualize the definition of ancient Greek democracy, she also allows the contemporary reader to rethink the functioning of modern democracy in its critical moments of internal stasis.

Zone Books

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781890951092
  • Publisher: Zone Books
  • Publication date: 4/1/2006
  • Pages: 358
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Nicole Loraux (1943-2003) was the author of The Divided City,The Children of Athena, The Experiences of Tiresias, Tragic Ways of Killing a Woman, and Mothers in Mourning, among other titles.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments 7
Preface 9
Pt. 1 The Divided City: Mappings
I To Forget in the City 15
II To Repoliticize the City 45
III The Soul of the City 63
Pt. 2 Under the Sign of Eris and Some of Her Children
IV The Bond of Division 93
V Oath, Son of Discord 123
VI Of Amnesty and Its Opposite 145
VII On a Day Banned from the Athenian Calendar 171
Pt. 3 Politics of Reconciliation
VIII Politics of Brothers 197
IX A Reconciliation in Sicily 215
X Of Justice as Division 229
XI And Athenian Democracy Forgot Kratos 245
Notes 265
Bibliography 343
Index 355
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