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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, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use.date: 25 January 2022

Whatever Happened to Athens?

Whatever Happened to Athens?

Thoughts on the Great Convergence and Beyond

(p.277) 13 Whatever Happened to Athens?
The Hellenistic Reception of Classical Athenian Democracy and Political Thought

John Ma

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers two phenomena, to cap the volume’s explorations of Athens and its story. The first is to gather the evidence for a broad phenomenon, which is contemporary with various shifts in the political culture of late Classical Athens, but overtakes it geographically and chronologically: a ‘great convergence’ of civic practice, institutions, and discourse around a generalized assumption of (acceptable degrees of) autonomy and moderate democracy. The result is a polis which looks, roughly, like Aristotle’s. This great convergence created the conditions out of which the Roman-era polis had to evolve, under its own conditions; the fitful forgetting of the legacy of the Hellenistic polis is the second topic of this paper, exemplified by Plutarch’s Classicism and Pausanias’ Hellenistic memories. ‘Whatever happened to Athens?’ is a question every Classicist should be aware of, since it determines the whole shape of what she is busy with.

Keywords:   Athenian democracy, Hellenistic democracy, great convergence, Plutarch, Classicism

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