By Jennifer Tolbert Roberts
This glorious paintings recounts the historical past of perspectives on Athens and democracy over background, with a reminder of simply how lately our reliable opinion of democracy, and accordingly of Athens, resurfaces as a facet of modernism. this variation taking place through the upward thrust of the fashionable, and never relatively whole til the 19th century,at most sensible, is an international old swap of paradigm that reversed the crypto-Platonic authoritarianism of the lengthy millennia after the waning of the nice Classical flowering within the onset of the Hellenistic. This recovery calls for shut research of the nonetheless ambivalent perspectives even of lots of our nice early smooth thinkers, and is noticeable in Rousseau's preoccupation with the Spartans. This paintings highlights a vital realizing required to appreciate not just the Greeks however the upward push of recent democracy.
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Extra resources for Athens on Trial
More thinkers than ever before are inclined to identify slavery as the fulcrum of the Athenian system, and feminists are not alone in suggesting that so far from the devaluation of women being an anomalous blot on an otherwise exemplary society, in truth the democratic ethos was entirely dependent on the denigration of all outsiders. The poor Athenians, it seems, cannot win. Once censured as crass levelers, they now find themselves under fire as closet aristocrats. New issues have come to the surface as well, as interest in individual Athenian authors has provoked special kinds of thinking about Athens.
For Renaissance thinkers the hallmark of Athens was its instability; for the Enlightenment, its decadence in the face of growing commerce. 31 Each school claims for itself perception, not creation, but outsiders are bound to see things differently. The recurrent fascination with the Athenian experiment is itself remarkable in view of the very different political structures that characterized the states in which subjects and citizens returned again and again to the Athenian example. There appears to be something surprisingly hardy and haunting in the Athenians’ little democracy, something that cries out for response and will not be denied.
I can and do deny that the mismanagement that led to the Macedonian takeover of Athens had gone on for many years and arose from the decadence of democracy; I might also question the legitimacy of the notion of decadence. I can, though I do not, deny that the Macedonian takeover was a bad thing; and I could, and might, deny that Athenian democracy ended when Macedonian power brought Athenian independence to an end. But try as I may, I cannot make the combined forces of Athens and Thebes defeat the forces of Macedon at Chaeronea.
Athens on Trial by Jennifer Tolbert Roberts