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Political Dissent in Democratic Athens : Intellectual Critics of Popular Rule - Josiah Ober

Political Dissent in Democratic Athens

Intellectual Critics of Popular Rule

Paperback Published: 2nd December 2001
ISBN: 9780691089812
Number Of Pages: 440

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How and why did the Western tradition of political theorizing arise in Athens during the late fifth and fourth centuries B.C.? By interweaving intellectual history with political philosophy and literary analysis, Josiah Ober argues that the tradition originated in a high-stakes debate about democracy. Since elite Greek intellectuals tended to assume that ordinary men were incapable of ruling themselves, the longevity and resilience of Athenian popular rule presented a problem: how to explain the apparent success of a regime "irrationally" based on the inherent wisdom and practical efficacy of decisions made by non-elite citizens? The problem became acute after two oligarchic "coups d' tat" in the late fifth century B.C. The generosity and statesmanship that democrats showed after regaining political power contrasted starkly with the oligarchs' violence and corruption. Since it was no longer self-evident that "better men" meant "better government," critics of democracy sought new arguments to explain the relationship among politics, ethics, and morality.

Ober offers fresh readings of the political works of Thucydides, Plato, and Aristotle, among others, by placing them in the context of a competitive community of dissident writers. These thinkers struggled against both democratic ideology and intellectual rivals to articulate the best and most influential criticism of popular rule. The competitive Athenian environment stimulated a century of brilliant literary and conceptual innovation. Through Ober's re-creation of an ancient intellectual milieu, early Western political thought emerges not just as a "footnote to Plato," but as a dissident commentary on the first Western democracy.

"This book is first-rate: intelligent, judicious, original, a seamless performance, and on a fundamental topic... [A] great achievement."--Robert W. Wallace, The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science "[An] impressive new book ... rich in detail and suggestive in interpretation... There is passion in [Ober's] account of democracy and sympathy in his portrayal of individual critics."--Mary Margaret McCabe, Times Literary Supplement "Ober commendably explores texts vital for understanding ancient democracy in a presentation well designed to encourage dialogue."--Thomas J. Figueira, American Historical Review "It would be difficult to overstate the scope and magnitude of Ober's erudition as displayed in this book. It is epic in its sweep."--V. Bradley Lewis, Review of Politics

Prefacep. xiii
Abbreviationsp. xv
Introduction: Why Dissent? Why Athens?p. 3
The Problem of Dissent: Criticism as Contestp. 14
Beginning at a Dead End: Ps.-Xenophon Political Regime of the Atheniansp. 14
Democracy as Demotic Self-Interestp. 16
Public Pleasures and Private Perversityp. 20
What Is to Be Done? Ps.-Xenophon's aporiap. 23
Dissident Texts and Their Democratic Contextsp. 27
Critical versus Democratic Discoursep. 28
Democratic Knowledgep. 33
J. L. Austin and Performative Political Speechp. 36
Why Democracy Begets Dissentp. 39
The Company of Athenian Criticsp. 41
A Competitive Community of Interpretationp. 43
Immanent versus Rejectionist Critics?p. 48
Public Speech and Brute Fact: Thucydidesp. 52
Subject and Authorp. 52
Historical Knowledge: erga versus logoip. 53
Three Models of State Power: The "Archaeology"p. 63
Human Nature: Individual and Collective Interestsp. 67
Stasis at Epidamnusp. 70
Justice and Interest I: The Corcyra/Corinth Debatep. 72
Leadership in Democratic Athensp. 79
Themistocles and the Value of Foresightp. 79
Pericles' First Assembly Speechp. 81
The Fragility of Greatness: Funeral Oration of Periclesp. 83
The Last Days of Periclesp. 89
Justice and Interest II: The Mytilenean Debatep. 94
Disastrous Consensus: The Sicilian Debatep. 104
Speeches of Nicias and Alcibiadesp. 107
Aftermath and Assessmentp. 113
Essence and Enactment: Aristophanes Ecclesiazusaep. 122
Comic Theater as Political Criticismp. 122
The Comic Poet and His Critical Genrep. 123
A Retreat from Politics?p. 126
Plot and Structurep. 128
Persuasion and Enactmentp. 134
Nature versus Political Culturep. 135
Persuasion versus Perceptionp. 140
Violence and the Lawp. 142
Nomos and psephisma: Old and Newp. 145
Equality and Exclusivityp. 147
Justice, Knowledge, Power: Plato Apology, Crito, Gorgias, Republicp. 156
Plato and Socrates in Athensp. 156
Modern Contextualist Readingsp. 156
Toward Political Philosophy: The Seventh Letterp. 162
Gadfly Ethicsp. 165
Doing Good: Apologyp. 166
Not Doing Harm: Critop. 179
A Socratic Code of Ethical Criticismp. 184
In Dubious Battle: Gorgiasp. 190
Gorgias versus Apology and Critop. 191
Citizen Socratesp. 193
Callicles and Erotic Proportionsp. 197
Socrates' Political technep. 206
A Polis Founded in Speech: Republicp. 214
Setting the Stagep. 215
Founding "Logopolis"p. 218
Obedience Training: The Education of the Guardsp. 223
From logos to ergon: Philosopher-Rulersp. 232
Republic versus Apology and Critop. 240
Eloquence, Leadership, Memory: Isocrates Antidosis and Areopagiticusp. 248
A Rhetorician among the Criticsp. 248
Isocrates' Verbal Monument to Himself: Antidosisp. 256
A Novel Oration and Its Imagined Audiencep. 257
Isocrates' Mimesis of Socratesp. 260
Great Men in the Democratic Polisp. 264
Timotheus and the Impossible Priority of praxisp. 268
The Corruption of Languagep. 273
Restoring the politeia: Areopagiticusp. 277
Demokratia Redefinedp. 278
Dodging the Oligarchic Tarbrushp. 280
Hierarchy, Patronage, and Oversightp. 282
The Rhetorician and the Democracyp. 286
Political Animals, Actual Citizens, and the Best Possible Polis: Aristotle Politicsp. 290
Aristotle in and out of Athensp. 290
The Politics in Its Fourth-Century Contextp. 291
Final Democracyp. 293
The Natural Polis: Political Animals and Othersp. 295
Problems of Exclusionp. 301
Regimes and Citizensp. 310
Who Should Rule the Polis?p. 316
Oligarchy versus Democracy (Politics 3.8-10)p. 316
Aristocracy versus Democracy (Politics 3.11-13)p. 319
Democracy/Aristocracy versus Monarchy (Politics 3.15)p. 324
Political Sociology and Its Limitsp. 328
Economic Class as an Analytic Categoryp. 330
Types of Democracyp. 332
The Best Possible Polisp. 339
Potential Citizens = Actual Citizensp. 340
National Character and the Role of Kingshipp. 342
Slave Laborers and the Economics of eudaimoniap. 344
The Macedonian Solutionp. 347
The Dialectics of Dissent: Criticism as Dialoguep. 352
An Arbitrator among the Critics: Ps.-Aristotle Political Regime of the Atheniansp. 352
Correct and Final Democracy?p. 352
Seizing the Middle Groundp. 356
The Duty of the Good Citizenp. 360
Theophrastus' "Oligarchic Man" and the Paradox of Intellectualismp. 364
The Power of Ideas? Toward a Critical Democratic Discoursep. 369
Bibliographyp. 375
Index Locorump. 403
General Indexp. 409
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780691089812
ISBN-10: 0691089817
Series: Martin Classical Lectures
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 440
Published: 2nd December 2001
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 22.86 x 15.24  x 2.54
Weight (kg): 0.62