Taming Democracy: Models of Political Rhetoric in Classical Athens

Overview

How does one speak to a large, diverse mass of ordinary, sovereign citizens and persuade them to render wise decisions? For Thucydides, Plato, and Demosthenes, who observed classical Athenian democracy in action, this was an urgent question. Harvey Yunis looks at how these three - historian, philosopher, politician respectively - explored the instructive potential of political rhetoric as a means of "taming democracy," Plato's metaphor for controlling the fractious demos through language. Harvey Yunis offers new ...
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Overview

How does one speak to a large, diverse mass of ordinary, sovereign citizens and persuade them to render wise decisions? For Thucydides, Plato, and Demosthenes, who observed classical Athenian democracy in action, this was an urgent question. Harvey Yunis looks at how these three - historian, philosopher, politician respectively - explored the instructive potential of political rhetoric as a means of "taming democracy," Plato's metaphor for controlling the fractious demos through language. Harvey Yunis offers new insights into the ideas of the three thinkers: Thucydides' bipolar model of Periclean versus demagogic rhetoric; Plato's engagement with political rhetoric in the Gorgias, the Phaedrus, and the Laws; and Demosthenes' attempt both to instruct and to persuade his political audience. Yunis illuminates both the concrete historical problem of political deliberation in Athens and the intellectual and literary responses that the problem evoked. Few, if any, other books on classical Athens afford such a combination of perspectives from history, drama, philosophy, and politics.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Yunis can be credited with an illuminating and detailed account of one of several important tropes which informed democratic rhetoric and politics in Athens."—John Hesk, University of St. Andrews, Journal of Hellenic Studies. 1999.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801483585
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/2012
  • Series: Rhetoric and Society Series
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.94 (h) x 0.78 (d)

Table of Contents

Foreword
Preface
Abbreviations of Ancient Authors and Texts
I Athenian Intellectuals Examine Rhetoric and Democracy 1
II The Earliest Criticism of Democratic Deliberation 36
III Thucydides on Periclean Rhetoric and Political Instruction 59
IV Thucydides on the Rhetoric of the Successors 87
V The Premises of Plato's Argument on Political Rhetoric 117
VI Gorgias: The Collapse of Political Discourse 136
VII Phaedrus: Rhetoric Reinvented 172
VIII Laws: Rhetoric, Preambles, and Mass Political Instruction 211
IX Demosthenes: Discourse and Deliberation in Theory and Practice 237
Postscript: Further Questions 278
Appendix I: More of Plato's Preaching Preambles 283
Appendix II: The Authenticity of Demosthenes' Collection of Demegoric Preambles 287
Appendix III: Demosthenes, Preambles 28 29, 33 34, 34 35 290
Bibliography 293
General Index 311
Index of Important Passages 315
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