ATHENS TRANSFORMED, 404-262 BC: From Popular Sovereignty to the Dominion of Wealth

Classics for All Reviews

By Phillip E. Harding

Routledge (2015) h/b 186pp £85 (ISBN 9780415973925)

H. has no time for those who argue that Athens’ democratic Assembly was an irrational rabble, or that it needed slaves in order to function as a democracy in the first place. His thesis is that, from the invention of democracy in 508 BC to its demise in 322 BC at the hands of the northern power Macedon, the poor in Athens, through the Assembly, enjoyed ‘unprecedented dominance in both domestic and foreign politics’. Rather like Ober’s analysis in his Rise and Fall of Classical Greece (reviewed elsewhere on this site), he finds much to admire in the dynamism generated by people-power. But from 322 BC, the world of Athens was changed for ever: people-power was at an end, and the rich ruled the roost.

One pedantic quibble: H.’s aim is to ‘try’ to adhere to the Greek spelling…

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