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Feeding the DemocracyThe Athenian Grain Supply in the Fifth and Fourth Centuries BC$
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Alfonso Moreno

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199228409

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199228409.001.0001

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Bread and Politics: The Ideology of the Grain Supply in Athenian Rhetoric

Bread and Politics: The Ideology of the Grain Supply in Athenian Rhetoric

(p.211) 5 Bread and Politics: The Ideology of the Grain Supply in Athenian Rhetoric
Feeding the Democracy

Alfonso Moreno (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines Athenian literature, especially fourth‐century oratory, but also comedy, to show both how public speakers presented and audiences perceived their economy and grain supply. The different personnel connected with the grain supply, from grain‐dealers (sitopolai) and “retailers” (kapeloi) to politicians and kings, each had their own pattern of rhetorical presentation. By observing how these patterns intersect, it is argued that the direct involvement of Athenian politicians in trade, and particularly in the grain supply on which Athens delicately depended for its survival, always risked a direct clash with democratic ideology, and therefore required subtle forms of rhetorical manipulation and concealment. Once the purpose and forms of this concealment are detected, Athenian rhetoric serves to reinforce both the picture of elite land‐holding in the cleruchies presented in Chapter 3, as well as that of elite networking in the Pontic trade of the fourth century presented in Chapter 5.

Keywords:   oratory, comedy, rhetoric, ideology, grain‐dealers (sitopolai), retailers (kapeloi), politicians, kings, speaker, audience

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