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By Roger Brock, Stephen Hodkinson

This quantity comprises eighteen essays by way of verified and more youthful historians that research non-democratic replacement political platforms and ideologies--oligarchies, monarchies, combined constitutions--along with diversified types of communal and local institutions akin to ethnoi, amphiktyonies, and confederacies. The papers, which span the size and breadth of the Hellenic global spotlight the mammoth political flexibility and variety of old Greek civilization.

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Alternatives to Athens

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8. 63. 3, 73. 3–6); this regime, however, lasted only until 404, when it was replaced after Athens’ defeat by a narrow oligarchy favourable to Sparta. There is more to such cases than political instability: changes of constitution in the fifth and fourth centuries were usually tied up with foreign-policy issues, since hegemonic powers like Athens and Sparta tended to favour governments friendly to themselves (democracies in the former case, oligarchies in the latter) and would support changes in their interest.

Iii. Note also Aristotle’s recommendation in Pol. 1298B32–3 that, as an aid to constitutional stability, oligarchic assemblies be allowed to pass only motions identical to, or compatible with, motions brought before them. Introduction: Alternatives to the Democratic Polis 15 fers an excellent example: formally, since she had kings, she ought to have been seen as a monarchy (or rather a dyarchy), and it was possible, if mildly paradoxical, to describe her as a democracy (Isoc. 7. 60–1; 12. 178); but any close examination of Sparta in action could hardly fail to identify her as an oligarchy.

It would be easy to take a cynical view and suggest that oligarchy had no ideological basis beyond the concern of those exercising power to retain it. Certainly, for anyone taking a pragmatic rather than a strictly moral view, it is hard to perceive any palpable distinction between oligarchy and aristocracy. Analytically, the former term is perhaps best regarded as a functional description, the latter as a persuasive definition. The formulation of Megabyzos, advocate of aristocracy in Herodotus’ ‘Persian debate’ (3.

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