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Greed and Injustice in Classical Athens - Ryan K. Balot

Greed and Injustice in Classical Athens

Hardcover Published: 4th November 2001
ISBN: 9780691048550
Number Of Pages: 312

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In this original and rewarding combination of intellectual and political history, Ryan Balot offers a thorough historical and sociological interpretation of classical Athens centered on the notion of greed. Integrating ancient philosophy, poetry, and history, and drawing on modern political thought, the author demonstrates that the Athenian discourse on greed was an essential component of Greek social development and political history.

Over time, the Athenians developed sophisticated psychological and political accounts of acquisitiveness and a correspondingly rich vocabulary to describe and condemn it. Greed figures repeatedly as an object of criticism in authors as diverse as Solon, Thucydides, and Plato--all of whom addressed the social disruptions caused by it, as well as the inadequacy of lives focused on it. Because of its ethical significance, greed surfaced frequently in theoretical debates about democracy and oligarchy. Ultimately, critiques of greed--particularly the charge that it is unjust--were built into the robust accounts of justice formulated by many philosophers, including Plato and Aristotle. Such critiques of greed both reflected and were inextricably knitted into economic history and political events, including the coups of 411 and 404 B.C.

Balot contrasts ancient Greek thought on distributive justice with later Western traditions, with implications for political and economic history well beyond the classical period. Because the belief that greed is good holds a dominant position in modern justifications of capitalism, this study provides a deep historical context within which such justifications can be reexamined and, perhaps, found wanting.

Industry Reviews

"[A] timely and sophisticated interdisciplinary study, involving not only ancient political theory, but also modern ethics, the concepts of distributive justice and individual virtue... Students of political theory will find this study, which illuminates many basic issues both thoughtful and invigorating."--David F. Graf, Religious Studies Review "The intellectual breadth and depth of the project is most impressive. Moreover, the scholarship is thorough ... primary sources are regularly cited and sometimes quoted and the writing style is as consistently clear as it is literate and, from a critical standpoint, au courant. Altogether, Balot's study is to be highly recommended across the wide spectrum of disciplines it so splendidly reflects."--Nicholas F. Jones, The Historian

Preface and Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Abbreviationsp. xi
Introductionp. 1
Greed in Aristotle's Political Thoughtp. 22
Greed and Unfairness in Distribution in Nicomachean Ethics 5p. 23
What Makes Human Beings Greedy?p. 34
Analyzing Greed in the Polis: Revolution, Civic Strife, and Distributive Justicep. 44
Conclusionp. 55
Solonian Athens and the Archaic Roots of Greedp. 58
Homer and Hesiodp. 59
Solon's Reformp. 73
Solon's Critique: The Problem of Acquisition and Unfairnessp. 79
Herodotus and the Greed of Imperialismp. 99
Eastern Imperialismp. 100
Greed and Fairness in the Panhellenic Leaguep. 108
The Emergent Imperialism of Athensp. 114
Conclusionp. 129
Thucydides, Greed, and the Breakdown of Political Communityp. 136
Revolution at Corcyra: Greed, Leadership, and Civic Trustp. 137
Periclean Athens: Greedy Successp. 142
Human Nature, Democracy, and Greedp. 154
Post-Periclean Disintegrationp. 159
Conclusion: The Ethics of Athenian Imperialismp. 172
"Revolution Matters"? Oligarchic Rebellion and Democratic Hegemony in Athensp. 179
Athenian Culture in the Late Fifth Century: Unity and Divisionp. 180
The Revolution of 411: Speech, Mistrust, and Violencep. 211
The Revolution of 404: Greed and the Thirtyp. 219
Responding to the Revolutions: Lysias and Xenophonp. 225
Epilogue: Plato's Republic in Contextp. 234
Bibliographyp. 249
Index Locorump. 273
General Indexp. 279
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780691048550
ISBN-10: 069104855X
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 312
Published: 4th November 2001
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.98 x 16.2  x 2.52
Weight (kg): 0.59