A Companion to Ancient Greek Government by Hans Beck

By Hans Beck

This entire quantity info the range of constitutions and kinds of governing our bodies within the historical Greek world.

  • A choice of unique scholarship on historical Greek governing constructions and institutions
  • Explores the a number of manifestations of country motion in the course of the Greek world
  • Discusses the evolution of presidency from the Archaic Age to the Hellenistic interval, historical typologies of presidency, its numerous branches, ideas and methods and geographical regions of governance
  • Creates a distinct synthesis at the spatial and memorial connotations of presidency via combining the most recent institutional learn with more moderen traits in cultural scholarship

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These propositions apply to the Greek poleis broadly. (1) The society of the polis was larger than the state. It included not just the gods and the household but, in a large and complex polis like Athens, resident aliens and slaves – to say nothing of women (E. Cohen 2000). In Athens, the citizens made up only a minority of adults. Yet, for those citizens, and even for some non-citizens, the polis swept all competition aside when it came to ideological hegemony. The state loomed large in the ancient Greek mind because it had few competitors.

24 Barry Strauss (5) What did government do in ancient Greece? It administered justice; collected taxes; engaged in self-defense and waged war; maintained rudimentary public records; issued coinage, weights, and measures; supervised the market; and conducted festivals. The government also constructed public buildings, including religious and recreational facilities (temples, theaters, and stadiums) as well as those for governmental activities more narrowly construed (assembly places and council houses) and for military activity (walls, forts, arsenals, harbors, dockyards).

What the ancients called ‘‘mixed regimes’’ balanced political power among the various social classes of free citizens. (9) The ancients thought of regimes according to social class. Aristotle understood this well. As he put it, democracy is not only majority rule, but a regime run by poor and ordinary people in their own interests. Oligarchy is a regime run by an elite of wealthy people in their own interests. Oligarchy was the regime of what the ancients called ‘‘the few’’: that is, the elite of wealth, birth, talent, and education.

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