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Alternatives to AthensVarieties of Political Organization and Community in Ancient Greece$
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Roger Brock and Stephen Hodkinson

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780199258109

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199258109.001.0001

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Friends and Foes: Monarchs and Monarchy in Fifth-century Athenian Democracy

Friends and Foes: Monarchs and Monarchy in Fifth-century Athenian Democracy

(p.103) 6 Friends and Foes: Monarchs and Monarchy in Fifth-century Athenian Democracy
Alternatives to Athens


Oxford University Press

This chapter first explores the Athenian democracy's ambivalence towards the institution of monarchy. It shows that while monarchy was widely regarded as at odds with democracy, the existence of good kings could also be accepted and such kings could even be accommodated within the Athenian democracy's past. The second section elucidates the 5th-century democracy's concern (1) with the notion of the establishment of one-man rule at Athens; (2) with the personal power of its individual politicians; and (3) with its own imperial rule as a monarch or tyrant. The third section explores the actual relationships which Athenian democracy formed and maintained with a range of monarchs, largely through the agency of individuals. Such foreign connections might bring benefits to individual Athenians (including a possible place of refuge in times of trouble), but they also made them vulnerable to attack at Athens. Wise individuals stressed that their personal links were deployed entirely for the communal advantage of the democracy. Meanwhile, the collective mythology of the Athenian democracy facilitated its relationships with at least some monarchs. However, the issue of monarchy remained a conundrum for 5th century Athenian democracy on all fronts, while monarchy became still more pressing as an issue in the aftermath of the Peloponnesian War.

Keywords:   Athenian democracy, monarchy, one-man rule, Athens

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