The Athenian Revolution: Essays on Ancient Greek Democracy and Political Theory

Overview

Where did "democracy" come from, and what was its original form and meaning? Here Josiah Ober shows that this "power of the people" crystallized in a revolutionary uprising by the ordinary citizens of Athens in 508-507 B.C. He then examines the consequences of the development of direct democracy for upper-and lower-class citizens, for dissident Athenian intellectuals, and for those who were denied citizenship under the new regime (women, slaves, resident foreigners), as well as ...

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Overview

Where did "democracy" come from, and what was its original form and meaning? Here Josiah Ober shows that this "power of the people" crystallized in a revolutionary uprising by the ordinary citizens of Athens in 508-507 B.C. He then examines the consequences of the development of direct democracy for upper-and lower-class citizens, for dissident Athenian intellectuals, and for those who were denied citizenship under the new regime (women, slaves, resident foreigners), as well as for the general development of Greek history.

When the citizens suddenly took power into their own hands, they changed the cultural and social landscape of Greece, thereby helping to inaugurate the Classical Era. Democracy led to fundamental adjustments in the basic structures of Athenian society, altered the forms and direction of political thinking, and sparked a series of dramatic reorientations in international relations. It quickly made Athens into the most powerful Greek city-state, but it also fatally undermined the traditional Greek rules of warfare. It stimulated the development of the Western tradition of political theorizing and encouraged a new conception of justice that has striking parallels to contemporary theories of rights. But Athenians never embraced the notions of inherency and inalienability that have placed the concept of rights at the center of modern political thought. Thus the play of power that constituted life in democratic Athens is revealed as at once strangely familiar and desperately foreign, and the values sustaining the Athenian political community as simultaneously admirable and terrifying.

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Editorial Reviews

Religious Studies Review - Peter Krentz
The Athenian Revolution is a welcome collection.... Interesting and witty introductions place the articles in personal and scholarly context.
New England Classical Journal - Paul Cartledge
By confronting critically an alien way of thinking and doing and speaking about politics that is nevertheless also the fountainhead of our own Western political tradition, Ober provides a wide range of readers with a truly unsettling and therefore properly educational experience.
From the Publisher

"The Athenian Revolution is a welcome collection.... Interesting and witty introductions place the articles in personal and scholarly context."--Peter Krentz, Religious Studies Review

"[Ober] has succeeded in writing a book that both political theorists and ancient historians will find always provocative and often persuasive. Highly recommended."--Choice

"By confronting critically an alien way of thinking and doing and speaking about politics that is nevertheless also the fountainhead of our own Western political tradition, Ober provides a wide range of readers with a truly unsettling and therefore properly educational experience."--Paul Cartledge, New England Classical Journal

Religious Studies Review
The Athenian Revolution is a welcome collection.... Interesting and witty introductions place the articles in personal and scholarly context.
— Peter Krentz
Choice
[Ober] has succeeded in writing a book that both political theorists and ancient historians will find always provocative and often persuasive. Highly recommended.
New England Classical Journal
By confronting critically an alien way of thinking and doing and speaking about politics that is nevertheless also the fountainhead of our own Western political tradition, Ober provides a wide range of readers with a truly unsettling and therefore properly educational experience.
— Paul Cartledge
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691001906
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 12/14/1998
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 1,026,476
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Ch. 1 Introduction: Athenian Democracy and the History of Ideologies 3
Ch. 2 Models and Paradigms in Ancient History 13
Ch. 3 Public Speech and the Power of the People in Democratic Athens 18
Ch. 4 The Athenian Revolution of 508/7 B.C.: Violence, Authority, and the Origins of Democracy 32
Ch. 5 The Rules of War in Classical Greece 53
Ch. 6 Thucydides, Pericles, and the Strategy of Defense 72
Ch. 7 Power and Oratory in Democratic Athens: Demosthenes 21, Against Meidias 86
Ch. 8 The Nature of Athenian Democracy 107
Ch. 9 The Athenians and Their Democracy 123
Ch. 10 How to Criticize Democracy in Late Fifth- and Fourth-Century Athens 140
Ch. 11 The Polis as a Society: Aristotle, John Rawls, and the Athenian Social Contract 161
Bibliography 189
Index 205
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