1-16 of 16 Results  for:

  • Greek History and Historiography x
Clear all


Athēnaiōn politeia  

P. J. Rhodes

*Aristotle is credited with works on the constitutions of 158 states: a papyrus containing all but the opening few pages of the Athenian constitution was acquired by the British Museum, and was published in 1891. About the first two thirds (chs. 1–41) give a history of the constitution to the restoration of the democracy after the regime of the Thirty (see thirty tyrants). This part derives from a mixture of sources, and is of uneven merit, but at its best it contains valuable information which does not survive in any other text. The remaining third (42–69) gives an extremely useful account of the working of the constitution in the author's time, and appears to be based on the laws of Athens and the author's own observation.There has been much argument as to the authorship of the work: it was regularly attributed in antiquity to Aristotle, and was written (in the 330s bce, with some revision in the 320s) when he was in Athens; there are some striking agreements between the Athēnaiōn politeia and Aristotle's Politics (e.


Common Peace  

Polly Low

The “Common Peace” (koinē eirēnē) is a diplomatic innovation of the 4th century bce. It is a multilateral peace agreement, distinguished by the presence of clauses which offer a range of protections to many (though not all) Greek states; most important among these is the guarantee of autonomia or limited independence. The first successful attempt to set up a Common Peace dates to 387/6; further Common Peaces were concluded in 375, 371 (twice), probably 365, and 362/1. The League of Corinth also has some characteristics of a Common Peace. From the start, the Common Peaces were exploited by Greek states as a vehicle for their hegemonic ambitions or to undermine the hegemonic ambitions of others. However, some have argued that the Common Peaces were not merely a tool of power politics, but also reflect significant developments in Greek attitudes to war, peace, and international law.“Common Peace” is the English term used to describe a series of multilateral treaties contracted between various Greek powers, often also with the involvement of the Persian King, in the 4th century .


democracy, Athenian  

M. H. Hansen

Athenian democracy from 508/7 to 322/1 bce is the best known example in history of a ‘direct’ democracy as opposed to a ‘representative’ or ‘parliamentary’ form of democracy.Today democracy is invariably a positive concept, almost a buzz-word, whereas dēmokratia in ancient Greece was a hotly debated form of constitution, often criticized by oligarchs and philosophers alike. The Athenian democrats themselves, however, connected dēmokratia with the rule of law (Aeschin. 1. 4–5) and, like modern democrats, they believed that democracy was inseparably bound up with the ideals of liberty and equality (Thuc. 2. 37). Democracy was even deified, and in the 4th cent. bce offerings were made to the goddess Demokratia (Inscriptiones Graecae 22. 1496. 131–41).Dēmokratia was what the word means: the rule (kratos) of the people (*dēmos), and decisions of the assembly were introduced with the formula .


democracy, non-Athenian and post-Classical  

Simon Hornblower and Antony Spawforth

Democracy or people's power (see demos) was not an Athenian monopoly or even invention. (See democracy, Athenian.) The Archaic Spartan constitutional document (rhētra) preserved in Plutarch Lycurgus 6 explicitly says that ‘the people shall have the power’, but Sparta soon ossified. Sixth-cent. bce*Chios, as an inscription (ML 8) reveals, had a constitution with some popular features, though Classical Chios, like Classical Sparta, was no longer democratic: Thuc. 8. 24 (late 5th cent.) brackets Sparta and Chios and implies that both were oligarchies; for Chios see also Syll.3 986. Classical Greek states other than Athens, such as *Argos (1), were or were perceived as democracies (Thuc. 5. 31. 6 and other evidence) but Athenian influence can usually be postulated (see democracy, Athenian). Thus assembly pay, a feature of the developed Athenian democracy (it was introduced only after the main *Peloponnesian War) is also attested at Hellenistic *Iasus and *Rhodes, no doubt exported there originally from Athens.


Demosthenes (2), Athenian orator  

Edward Harris

Though he had many detractors, Demosthenes was often ranked in antiquity as the greatest of the Greek orators. Demosthenes lost his father at an early age, and his estate was mismanaged by his guardians, whom he later sued in an attempt to recovery his inheritance. He began his career in the assembly in 354 bce, speaking about public finances and foreign policy, and wrote several speeches for important public cases. Starting in 351 he warned the Athenians about the dangers of Macedonian expansionism. Even though he helped to negotiate the Peace of Philocrates, he later attacked the treaty and contributed to the breakdown in Athenian relations with Philip II which led to the battle of Chaeronea in 338. Despite this defeat, he remained popular and was able to defend his reputation against the attacks of Aeschines at the trial of Ctesiphon in 330. Later convicted of bribery in the Harpalus affair, he went into exile. He subsequently returned but fled abroad again and committed suicide to avoid capture by his Macedonian pursuers.



P. J. Rhodes

The term δοκιμασία and the related verb dokimazein were used in various Greek contexts to denote a procedure of examining or testing, and approving or validating as a result of the test.1 For Athens, Ath. Pol. mentions four categories of dokimasiai: two political, of eighteen-year-old men registered as citizens, which were conducted by deme assemblies and the council (42.1–2); and of men appointed as councillors and officials, which was conducted by the council in some cases and by law courts in others (45.3, 55.2–4, 56.1, 59.4, 60.1); and two more technical, of the cavalry’s horses and the prodromoi and hamippoi who fought with the cavalry, and in effect of the cavalrymen themselves (though in connection with them the word is not used), which were conducted by the council (49.1–2); and of invalids, who were entitled to a grant if impoverished and unable to work, which also was conducted by the council (49.4). As with the cavalrymen, there were other procedures which may be considered dokimasiai, though the word is not applied to them, such as decisions about designs for the peplos, the robe made every fourth year for the cult statue of Athena, and perhaps about plans for public works in general, carried out originally by the council but in the time of Ath.



D. M. MacDowell

Draco, according to Athenian tradition, was a lawgiver who introduced new laws in the year when Aristaechmus was archon (see archontes), probably 621/0 bce. This was the first time that Athenian laws were put in writing. According to one account (Ath. pol. 4) he established a constitution based on the franchise of *hoplites, but elsewhere he is only said to have made laws against particular crimes. The penalties were very severe: when asked why he specified death as the penalty for most offences, he replied that small offences deserved death and he knew of no severer penalty for great ones; and the 4th-cent. orator *Demades remarked that Draco wrote his laws in blood instead of ink (Plut. Sol. 17). *Solon repealed all his laws except those dealing with homicide.Such was the tradition current in Athens in the 5th and 4th cents. bce.


Hyperides, Athenian orator and politician, 389–322 BCE  

Judson Herrman

Hyperides (Ὑπερείδης), son of Glaucippus of the deme Collytus, was one of the ten canonical Attic orators and was esteemed by ancient critics as a versatile speechwriter; as a politician, he was a prominent opponent of Macedon in the period before and after the battle of Chaeronea.Hyperides' biographical details can be gathered from the pseudo-Plutarchan Lives of the Ten Orators ([Plut.] X Orat. 848d–850b), and from references in contemporary speeches and inscriptions.1 Apparently, he was born to a wealthy family, as he is reported to have studied with Plato and Isocrates ([Plut.] X Orat. 848d, Hermippus frr. 67–68 Wehrli).2 He refers (Hyp. Eux. 28–29) to three prosecutions as his first political cases, beginning with actions against Aristophon and Diopeithes of Sphettus, and culminating in an impeachment (see eisangelia) in 343 of Philocrates for his role as leader of the delegation that negotiated the notorious peace treaty with .


legislation (nomothesia)  

Mirko Canevaro

From the earliest stages, the Greeks understood the distinction between legislation and day-to-day administration. They gave laws a special status and often created specific, separate procedures to enact them. In the Archaic period, specially appointed lawgivers were normally in charge of giving laws to the polis; these laws were intended to be immutable, and their stability secured through entrenchment clauses. Making laws was not considered to be among the normal tasks of the government of the polis, and there were no standard procedures to change the laws once these had been given. Assemblies in Greek city-states often enacted rules that had the force of law, but the legislative changes were not institutionally acknowledged, and the laws enacted by the lawgivers could not be changed. This gave rise to significant problems of legitimacy, and it introduced inconsistencies in the legal system of the polis, a problem that we can observe in 5th-century bce Athens.


Lycurgus (3), of Boutadai, Athenian orator and politician, c. 390–c. 325/324 BCE  

S. D. Lambert

Lycurgus was one of the ten canonical Attic orators and an influential politician who worked energetically for the regeneration of Athens after the battle of Chaeronea (338) until his death, a period commonly referred to as “Lycurgan Athens.” The principal evidence about him is the “Life” in the Lives of the Ten Orators attributed to Plutarch (841a–844a) and the appended decree of 307/306 bce honouring him posthumously (851f–852e), the inscribed version of which is partially preserved (IG II2 457 + 3207). His one extant speech, “Against Leocrates,” of 331, was directed against a man accused of abandoning Attica in the aftermath of the battle of Chaeronea, and is notable for its moralising tone and extensive use of examples from myth and history, including quotations from poetry. Lycurgus is also prominent in the epigraphical record. He proposed more extant inscribed laws and decrees than any other politician of the classical Athenian democracy, except for his chief rival, Demades.


papyrology, Greek  

H. Maehler

Papyrus, manufactured in Egypt since c.3000 bce from a marsh plant, Cyperus papyrus (see books, greek and roman), was the most widely used writing material in the Graeco-Roman world. The object of papyrology is to study texts written on papyrus (and on ostraca, wooden tablets, etc. in so far as they come from the same find-spots) in Egyptian (hieroglyphs, demotic, Coptic), Hebrew, *Aramaic, Greek, Latin, Pahlavi, and Arabic. Greek papyrology also deals with Greek texts written on parchment (see palaeography, Introduction). The vast majority of Greek papyri have been found in Egypt, preserved in the dry sand; with the exception of some carbonized papyri from *Bubastis and Thmouis, no papyri have survived in the damp soils of the Delta or *Alexandria (1). Outside Egypt, Greek papyri have been found at *Herculaneum, at Dura-*Europus, in Palestine, and one text has come from Greece: the carbonized Orphic commentary found in a burial at Derveni near Salonica; see orphic literature; orphism.



Oswyn Murray

Polis (pl. poleis), the Greek city-state. The polis is the characteristic form of Greek urban life; its main features are small size, political *autonomy, social homogeneity, sense of community and respect for law. It can be contrasted with the earlier Mycenaean palace economy (see mycenaean civilization), and with the continuing existence of tribal (ethnos) types of organization in many areas of northern Greece. (See ethnicity. For a different sense of ‘tribe’ see below.) The polis arose in the late Dark Ages. It is present in *Homer; the archaeological signs of city development (public space, temples, walls, public works, town planning) appear in an increasing number of sites in the 8th–7th cents. (Old *Smyrna, *Eretria); the peaceful abandonment of smaller sites and the general decline of archaeological evidence from the countryside in the 7th cent. suggest early *synoecism or concentration of population in specific polis sites.


Solon, Athenian politician and poet  

Arnold Wycombe Gomme, Theodore John Cadoux, and P. J. Rhodes

Solon, Athenian politician and poet, was of noble descent but, whether or not the tradition that he was of moderate means is correct, came to sympathize with the poor. He was prominent in the war against *Megara for the possession of *Salamis (1), urging the Athenians to renewed effort when they despaired of success (c.600 bce). In 594/3 he was archon (see archontes), and the link between his archonship and his reforms is probably to be accepted, though some have wanted to put the reforms 20 years later. He is said to have spent the 10 years after his reforms in overseas travel, during which his measures were not to be altered: if he continued to travel after that, he may have met *Amasis of Egypt and Philocyprus of Cyprus, but if he died c.560/59 he is unlikely to have met *Croesus of Lydia (though that tradition is as old as Hdt.



R. M. Errington

Stratocles, son of Euthydemus, Athenian from the *deme of Diomeia (c. 355 to after 292 bce). He was the official prosecutor of *Harpalus (Din. 1. 1. 20) (324/3). After *Demetrius (4)'s democratic restoration in 307, Stratocles distinguished himself by unscrupulous demagogy and excessive praise of Demetrius and his entourage, whose agent in Athens he became. Inscriptions confirm Plutarch's unsavoury picture of him (Demetr. 11 ff.). His influence disappeared with Demetrius' defeat at Ipsus (301), but his recovery of Athens in 294 brought Stratocles back to the fore: his honorary decree for Lysimachus' friend, the poet *Philippides, in April 292 is preserved (IG 22. 649).



Henry Dickinson Westlake and Antony Spawforth

Tetrarchy was first used to denote one of the four political divisions of *Thessaly (‘tetrad’ being a purely geographical term). The term found its way to the Hellenistic east and was applied to the four divisions into which each of the three Celtic tribes of *Galatia was subdivided (Strabo 12. 5. 1, 567 C). In Roman times many Hellenized *client kings in Syria and Palestine were styled ‘tetrarch’, but the number of tetrarchies in any political organization ceased to be necessarily four, denoting merely the realm of a subordinate dynast. Modern scholars conventionally describe as a ‘tetrarchy’ the system of collegiate government (two senior Augusti, two junior Caesars) instituted by *Diocletian (ce 293); the usage has no ancient authority.



Victor Ehrenberg and P. J. Rhodes

Tyranny is the name given to the form of monarchy set up by usurpers in many Greek states in the 7th and 6th cents. bce. The earliest occurrence of the term is in *Archilochus (tyrannis, fr. 19. 3 West). Tyranny was not a special form of constitution, or necessarily a reign of terror; the tyrant might either rule directly or retain the existing political institutions but exercise a preponderant influence over their working, and his rule might be benevolent or malevolent. Tyranny was given a bad sense especially by *Plato(1) and *Aristotle, for whom it was the worst possible form of constitution.Among the best known of the early tyrants were *Pheidon of Argos, *Cypselus and *Periander of Corinth, *Cleisthenes(1) of Sicyon, *Pisistratus and his sons *Hippias(1) and *Hipparchus(1) in Athens, and *Polycrates(1) of Samos.