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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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Syracusan Democracy: ‘Most Like the Athenian’? 1

Syracusan Democracy: ‘Most Like the Athenian’? 1

(p.137) 8 Syracusan Democracy: ‘Most Like the Athenian’?1
Alternatives to Athens


Oxford University Press

The nature of the government of Syracuse in the second half of the 5th century bc has been controversial. H. Wentker (1956) saw the constitution of the later 5th century as an aristocracy, but Peter Brunt (1957: 244) rejected that interpretation, stating flatly that ‘Syracuse was not from 466 to 406 an oligarchy, but as Diodorus xi. 68. 6 and, more important, the contemporary Thucydides say, a democracy’. Who is right? Is either right? At the outset, there are obvious problems of definition, which it is one of the purposes of this volume to clarify: for example, what sort of democracy are we talking about? Wentker wrote of Syracuse: ‘Für eine syrakusische Demokratie nach attischem Muster spricht nichts’ (‘Nothing speaks for a Syracusan democracy on the Athenian model’: 1956: 163 n. 237). That ‘nach attischem Muster’ is an important qualification. Then, regarding the detail of the Syracusan political arrangements during our period, there is a substantial variety of evidence, each element with its own problems of interpretation, and each with its own view of the subject. This chapter introduces this evidence, and provides a short overview of the problems associated with each part of it.

Keywords:   Syracuse, Wentker, Syracusan democracy

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