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Verfasser Titel Jahr
zeige Details Greenhalgh, P. A. L.. Aristocracy and its Advocates in Archaic Greece
In: Greece and Rome. - Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, ISSN 1477-4550, Vol. 19, No. 2 (10. 1972), p. 190-207
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1972
The subject of this article is the appearance in archaic Greek literature of the two basic principles of aristocracy as a form of government—republicanism and noble rule—and how they were upheld, augmented, qualified, idealized, and justified against the alternatives of monarchy and the aspirations of non-nobles either to join or disestablish the nobility as the ruling class. When Greek states emerged from the Dark Ages into the clearer light of history in the eighth and seventh centuries b.c., monarchy had almost everywhere given way to aristocracy. More or less exclusive groups of noble families had learnt, in Aristotle's phrase, ‘to take turns in ruling and being ruled’. The formation of the first republics required no change in the ideological climate of the unquestioning acceptance of the noble monopoly of wealth and privilege which we find in Homer and Hesiod, and similarly no change in this climate was required before republican governments were likely to be challenged. The Homeric nobleman's primary obligation, simply expressed in Hippolochus' parting injunction to his son ‘always to be best’, runs contrary to the principle of equals taking turns in ruling and being ruled, and it would not be surprising if many a Greek aristocrat acquiesced in being equal best only because he lacked the opportunity to make himself single best. And where there were narrow aristocracies which by their exclusiveness made permanent political inferiors of noble families which were the socio-economic peers of the politically privileged, as in Corinth under the Bacchiads or Mytilene under the Penthilids, there was likely to be a greater incentive for an ambitious nobleman to usurp for his own family the corporate constitutional superiority of his privileged rivals; and there might be correspondingly less ideological opposition from noble republicans so far as other politically unprivileged nobles would be constitutionally no less deprived under a tyrant, and might have much to gain in power and wealth from supporting the overthrower of the exclusive regime. The disappearance of Dark Age kingship of the Homeric primus inter pares type is nowhere likely to have generated all at once an ideology which made monarchy an anathema. The Homeric king is not even distinguished from the other nobles by a title which is not also enjoyed by the heads of other great houses, and the lack of traditions about the disappearance of kingship suggests that it was undramatic. On the other hand, because tyranny (in the basic sense of an autocracy established in a state which had been a republic) necessarily meant permanent constitutional inferiority for social equals, acquiescence in even a benign and initially popular autocracy was likely to wane once the possibility of constitutional equality had been discovered (however narrow the ruling circle of equals had been).
1. Verfasser: Greenhalgh, P. A. L..
Format: Elektronisch
Sprache: English
Erschienen: Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 1972.
Serie: Cambridge Journals Digital Archives [Dig. Serial]
Schlagwörter:
URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0017383500019872

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