The Hellenistic Reception of Classical Athenian Democracy and Political Thought

ISBN : 9780198748472

Mirko Canevaro; Benjamin Gray
384 Pages
156 x 234 mm
Pub date
Jan 2018
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In the Hellenistic period (c.323-31 BCE), Greek teachers, philosophers, historians, orators, and politicians found an essential point of reference in the democracy of Classical Athens and the political thought which it produced. However, while Athenian civic life and thought in the Classical period have been intensively studied, these aspects of the Hellenistic period have so far received much less attention. This volume seeks to bring together the two areas of research, shedding new light on these complementary parts of the history of the ancient Greek polis. The essays collected here encompass historical, philosophical, and literary approaches to the various Hellenistic responses to and adaptations of Classical Athenian politics. They survey the complex processes through which Athenian democratic ideals of equality, freedom, and civic virtue were emphasized, challenged, blunted, or reshaped in different Hellenistic contexts and genres. They also consider the reception, in the changed political circumstances, of Classical Athenian non- and anti-democratic political thought. This makes it possible to investigate how competing Classical Athenian ideas about the value or shortcomings of democracy and civic community continued to echo through new political debates in Hellenistic cities and schools. Looking ahead to the Roman Imperial period, the volume also explores to what extent those who idealized Classical Athens as a symbol of cultural and intellectual excellence drew on, or forgot, its legacy of democracy and vigorous political debate. By addressing these different questions it not only tracks changes in practices and conceptions of politics and the city in the Hellenistic world, but also examines developing approaches to culture, rhetoric, history, ethics, and philosophy, and especially their relationships with politics.


Frontmatter; List of Abbreviations; List of Contributors; 1 Mirko Canevaro and Benjamin Gray: Introduction; Part I: Early Hellenistic Responses to Classical Athenian Democracy and Political Thought; 2 Nino Luraghi: Stairway to Heaven: The Politics of Memory in Early Hellenistic Athens; 3 Shane Wallace: Alexander the Great and Democracy in the Hellenistic World; 4 Mirko Canevaro: Demosthenic Influences in Early Rhetorical Education: Hellenistic Rhetores and Athenian Imagination; 5 A. G. Long: Sophists, Epicureans, and Stoics; 6 David Konstan: Comedy and the Athenian Ideal; Part II: Later Hellenistic and Early Imperial Developments in the Reception of Classical Athenian Politics; 7 Craige B. Champion: Polybius on 'Classical Athenian Imperial Democracy'; 8 Benjamin Gray: A Later Hellenistic Debate about the Value of Classical Athenian Civic Ideals? The Evidence of Epigraphy, Historiography, and Philosophy; 9 John Holton: Philanthropia, Athens, and Democracy in Diodorus Siculus: The Athenian Debate; 10 Nicolas Wiater: Getting Over Athens: Re-Writing Hellenicity in the Early Roman History of Dionysius of Halicarnassus; 11 Andrew Erskine: Standing up to the Demos: Plutarch, Phocion, and the Democratic Life; 12 Raphaela Dubreuil: The Orator in the Theatre: The End of Athenian Democracy in Plutarch s Phocion; 13 John Ma: Whatever Happened to Athens? Thoughts on the Great Convergence and Beyond; Endmatter; Bibliography; General Index; Index Locorum

About the author: 

Mirko Canevaro is Reader in Greek History at the University of Edinburgh. Winner of a Philip Leverhulme Prize in 2015, in 2017 he was awarded the Royal Society of Edinburgh's Thomas Reid Medal for Excellence in Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences in recognition of his research on Greek politics and law. Among his main publications are The Documents in the Attic Orators: Laws and Decrees in the Public Speeches of the Demosthenic Corpus (OUP, 2013) and Demostene, 'Contro Leptine'. Introduzione, Traduzione e Commento Storico (De Gruyter, 2016), and he is the co-editor with Edward M. Harris of The Oxford Handbook of Ancient Greek Law.; Benjamin Gray is Lecturer in Ancient History at Birkbeck, University of London, and is also currently an Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellow at the Humboldt-Universitat, Berlin. His research interests focus primarily on the ancient Greek city-state, particularly on the development of the Greek city and its ideals in the later Classical and post-Classical periods, and on ancient Greek political and ethical thought. He is the author of Stasis and Stability: Exile, the Polis, and Political Thought, c. 404-146 BC (OUP, 2015).

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