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Political Dissent in Democratic Athens: Intellectual Critics of Popular Rule / Edition 1
     

Political Dissent in Democratic Athens: Intellectual Critics of Popular Rule / Edition 1

5.0 1
by Josiah Ober
 

ISBN-10: 0691089817

ISBN-13: 9780691089812

Pub. Date: 11/12/2001

Publisher: Princeton University Press

How and why did the Western tradition of political theorizing arise in Athens during the late fifth and fourth centuries B.C.? By interweaving intellectual history with political philosophy and literary analysis, Josiah Ober argues that the tradition originated in a high-stakes debate about democracy. Since elite Greek intellectuals tended to assume that ordinary

Overview

How and why did the Western tradition of political theorizing arise in Athens during the late fifth and fourth centuries B.C.? By interweaving intellectual history with political philosophy and literary analysis, Josiah Ober argues that the tradition originated in a high-stakes debate about democracy. Since elite Greek intellectuals tended to assume that ordinary men were incapable of ruling themselves, the longevity and resilience of Athenian popular rule presented a problem: how to explain the apparent success of a regime "irrationally" based on the inherent wisdom and practical efficacy of decisions made by non-elite citizens? The problem became acute after two oligarchic coups d' tat in the late fifth century B.C. The generosity and statesmanship that democrats showed after regaining political power contrasted starkly with the oligarchs' violence and corruption. Since it was no longer self-evident that "better men" meant "better government," critics of democracy sought new arguments to explain the relationship among politics, ethics, and morality.

Ober offers fresh readings of the political works of Thucydides, Plato, and Aristotle, among others, by placing them in the context of a competitive community of dissident writers. These thinkers struggled against both democratic ideology and intellectual rivals to articulate the best and most influential criticism of popular rule. The competitive Athenian environment stimulated a century of brilliant literary and conceptual innovation. Through Ober's re-creation of an ancient intellectual milieu, early Western political thought emerges not just as a "footnote to Plato," but as a dissident commentary on the first Western democracy.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691089812
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
11/12/2001
Series:
Martin Classical Lectures Series
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
440
Sales rank:
491,011
Product dimensions:
6.08(w) x 9.12(h) x 1.08(d)

Table of Contents

Preface
Abbreviations
Introduction3
Ch. 1The Problem of Dissent: Criticism as Contest14
Ch. 2Public Speech and Brute Fact: Thucydides52
Ch. 3Essence and Enactment: Aristophanes Ecclesiazusae122
Ch. 4Justice, Knowledge, Power: Plato Apology, Crito, Gorgias, Republic156
Ch. 5Eloquence, Leadership, Memory: Isocrates Antidosis and Areopagiticus248
Ch. 6Political Animals, Actual Citizens, and the Best Possible Polis: Aristotle Politics290
Ch. 7The Dialectics of Dissent: Criticism as Dialogue352
Bibliography375
Index Locorum403
General Index409

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