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The Hellenistic Reception of Classical Athenian Democracy and Political Thought$
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Mirko Canevaro and Benjamin Gray

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198748472

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198748472.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 29 November 2021

Standing up to the Demos

Standing up to the Demos

Plutarch, Phocion, and the Democratic Life

(p.237) 11 Standing up to the Demos
The Hellenistic Reception of Classical Athenian Democracy and Political Thought

Andrew Erskine

Oxford University Press

Plutarch wrote twenty-three Greek Lives in his series of Parallel Lives—of these, ten were devoted to Athenians. Since Plutarch shared the hostile view of democracy of Polybius and other Hellenistic Greeks, this Athenian preponderance could have been a problem for him. But Plutarch uses these men’s handling of the democracy and especially the demos as a way of gaining insight into the character and capability of his protagonists. This chapter reviews Plutarch’s attitude to Athenian democracy and examines the way a statesman’s character is illuminated by his interaction with the demos. It also considers what it was about Phocion that so appealed to Plutarch, first by looking at his relationship with the democracy and then at the way he evokes the memory of Socrates. For him this was not a minor figure, but a man whose life was representative of the problems of Athenian democracy.

Keywords:   Plutarch, democracy, demos, leadership, Phocion

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