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The Aristocratic Temper of Greek Civilization$
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Chester G. Starr

Print publication date: 1992

Print ISBN-13: 9780195074581

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195074581.001.0001

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The Emergence of Aristocrats

The Emergence of Aristocrats

(p.7) Chapter 1 The Emergence of Aristocrats
The Aristocratic Temper of Greek Civilization

Chester G. Starr

Oxford University Press

This chapter traces the emergence of the aristocrats, from Homeric peoms, to the Hellenic civilization, up to the development of the polis. The initial political change was the elimination of the Zeus-sprung basileis. Among the officials and councils of these states, aristocrats were initially dominant even if their free fellow citizens had latent rights and duties under the rule of law. The term “aristocracy” always had as much a moral as a political connotation on Greek thought. Not until the fifth and following centuries does the term kaloskagathos become standard. Aristocrats were deeply aware of the “pitiless criticism” by their fellow citizens. Religiously, socially, economically, and culturally they were linked by many inherited ties to the rest of society. Though they staffed the new executive machinery of state, they had to yield to their compatriots real guarantees of just treatment.

Keywords:   Greek society, Homeric poems, basileis, kaloskagatho, polis

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