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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: 30 November 2021

A Later Hellenistic Debate about the Value of Classical Athenian Civic Ideals?

A Later Hellenistic Debate about the Value of Classical Athenian Civic Ideals?

The Evidence of Epigraphy, Historiography, and Philosophy

Chapter:
(p.139) 8 A Later Hellenistic Debate about the Value of Classical Athenian Civic Ideals?
Source:
The Hellenistic Reception of Classical Athenian Democracy and Political Thought
Author(s):

Benjamin Gray

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198748472.003.0008

This chapter argues that the later Hellenistic period (c.150 BCE–1 BCE) was a period of intense disagreement about Classical Athenian civic ideals, which can be partly reconstructed through comparison of epigraphic, historiographical, and philosophical sources. Some later Hellenistic Greeks championed the more community-centred and utopian aspects of Classical Athenian political culture, both democratic and philosophical, as a way of insisting on equality and solidarity in contemporary politics. In an opposing camp, Polybius and certain Stoics explicitly reacted against those same community-centred Classical Athenian ideals, arguing instead for ideals which gave more scope to competition and self-interest, within the bounds of firm contracts, rules, and property-rights. The chapter suggests that the debate it identifies came to a head in Athens in 88 BCE, when a Peripatetic tyrant seized power in Athens, and in subsequent responses to those events, especially Posidonius’ account of them.

Keywords:   Posidonius, Athenion, Polybius, Stoics, Peripatetics, Hellenistic democracy, Hellenistic political philosophy

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