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Abstract

This short preface is meant to explain the purpose of the present volume and point to the diverse approaches and lines of argument pursued by the contributors.

Open Access
In: Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek and Roman Political Thought

Abstract

This article discusses the fortune of Geoffrey de Ste. Croix’s famous article ‘The Character of the Athenian Empire’, and reassesses its basic thesis that the Athenian Empire was popular among the lower classes of the allied cities in the light of recent developments in the field. After surveying the article’s immediate and more recent reception, and discussing its relation with The Origins of the Peloponnesian War and The Class Struggle in the Ancient Greek World, it isolates four key new trends in Greek history that, while going against some of Ste. Croix’s basic convictions, end up reinforcing his overall case. These are: a renewed attention to the mass and elite dichotomy, with recent work interpreting Greek oligarchy as a fundamentally reactive and anti-demotic regime; the recognition of the continued relevance of Persian meddling in the later fifth-century; a sea-change in Attic epigraphy which has led to the post-dating of several ‘imperial’ decrees; the new recognition of the dynamism of the Greek economy, and of the economic function of the Athenian Empire itself. Finally, the article addresses the paradigm of class struggle and stresses how democracy and economic dynamism, to which the Athenian Empire contributed, fostered the growth of slave markets and worsened the exploitation of ‘marginal’ regions as slave suppliers.

Open Access
In: Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek and Roman Political Thought
Author:

Abstract

This article discusses G.E.M. de Ste. Croix’s contentions about the effect of Helotage on Spartan foreign policy articulated in chapter IV of Origins of the Peloponnesian War, namely that Sparta’s Helot population was uniquely dangerous, constraining Sparta’s ability to send large numbers of citizen hoplites abroad lest it be exposed to the threat within. It shows that while certain arguments advanced by Ste. Croix are no longer tenable in light of subsequent research, others still stand up to critical scrutiny fifty years on; furthermore, other points neglected by Ste. Croix reinforce his overall claims.

Open Access
In: Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek and Roman Political Thought
Author:

Abstract

In this article, jumping off from Geoffrey de Ste. Croix’s treatment of Aristophanes and the Megarian Decree, I argue that Old Comedy is an underutilised category of evidence for the study of the popular intellectual history of Athens. My particular focus here is the Athenian empire: how does Old Comedy present Athenian power and what does this comic presentation tell us about how at least some ordinary Athenians understood it? Can one popular Athenian imaginary of the empire be constructed through analysis of Aristophanes and his contemporaries? I will argue that Old Comedy, taken as a corpus, presents a very Athenian empire, that is to say one focused on Athens and its exploitation of others. The comic poets, therefore, likely assumed parochialism and myopia on the part of their audience, but also significant topical interest in the mechanisms of Athenian power, particularly those which brought revenue to Athens. This impression of highly topical engagement with the empire is corroborated by bringing Comedy into dialogue with other sources, in particular the epigraphic record.

Open Access
In: Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek and Roman Political Thought
Author:

Abstract

This survey, by a pupil of Geoffrey de Ste. Croix and eventual successor in his Oxford job, combines personal recollections of de Ste. Croix’s horizons and intellectual range with a penetrating study of his Origins of the Peloponnesian War, its underlying debts and detailed contentions. It addresses his, and Thucydides’, engagement with origins and causes, his central contention about votes by the Spartans and their allies on whether to go to war, the roles of Corinth, Megara and the much-discussed Megarian decree. It also presents a close reading of an Athenian involvement in Macedon and the north and its relevance to de Ste. Croix’s views on Athenian imperialism. It then sets the book’s conclusions in a wider context, ranging from modern writings on the origins of war to its concluding echo of Lenin.

Open Access
In: Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek and Roman Political Thought
Author:

Abstract

This article examines the disconnect between, on the one hand, the insistence on the part of multiple characters in Thucydides’ first book on the need for the Peloponnesians to invest in naval power to defeat Athens, and, on the other, the failure to act on this in the narrative of books 2–7. It then analyses the numismatic evidence for the way in which Sparta does then act upon this advice in the course of the Ionian War, and suggests that Thucydides’ view that this was done primarily with Persian support may be missing a (brief) Spartan attempt to create a fiscally self-supporting empire.

Open Access
In: Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek and Roman Political Thought

Abstract

This article examines the impact on Spartan historiography of Chapter IV of de Ste. Croix’s Origins of the Peloponnesian War, focusing on his discussions of Spartan politics and society in Sections v–vi. These sections fit oddly within the overall chapter, but they blew a breath of fresh air into Spartan studies through their revisionist approach, intimations of the socio-economic bases of policy-making, and extended accounts of ‘real-life’ political episodes across the classical period. Along with Moses Finley’s near-contemporary article on Sparta, OPW significantly influenced the following generation of British historians (including the author), although they often adopted different interpretations or developed new perspectives on Spartan society only hinted at by de Ste. Croix. OPW also had an important impact on Western European historiography on Spartan politics. Its combination of constitutional and societal approaches gives it an enduring currency in the context of developing Historical Institutionalist approaches to political studies.

Open Access
In: Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek and Roman Political Thought
Author:

Abstract

This article investigates the theoretical assumptions and implications of de Ste. Croix’s approach to interstate politics in The Origins of the Peloponnesian War. It suggests that two approaches can be identified in the work: one which sees a fundamental connection between political systems within a state and that state’s conduct of interstate politics, and another, closer to conventional ‘Realist’ theories, which sees a clear dividing line between domestic and interstate politics, and in which interstate relations need to be understood according to a distinct analytical framework. Although this tension was probably not a particular concern to de Ste. Croix himself, it does have a bearing on ongoing debates in International Theory; the final part of the article briefly explores the possibility that the concept of ‘compulsion’, important to both Thucydides’ and de Ste. Croix’s understanding of the causes of the Peloponnesian War, might provide a way of reconciling these two approaches.

Open Access
In: Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek and Roman Political Thought

Abstract

This paper examines the reception of Reinhart Koselleck’s Kritik und Krise by the intellectual historian István Hont. Relying on hitherto unpublished manuscripts, it argues that the later work of Hont can be seen as a critical response to Koselleck and his characterisation of the crisis of modern politics as a crisis of political authority.

Open Access
In: Journal of the Philosophy of History

Abstract

This investigation examines the question of whether the similar theories of the origins of monarchy encountered in certain early Greek and Indian literary sources should be taken as evidence of cross-cultural diffusion of political ideas. The paper argues against the alternative explanation, according to which the similarity in form in the Greek and Indian versions of the kingship theory is rooted in similar social processes, by exposing how the earliest extant Greek version of the theory seems to build on a prototype most closely mirrored in one early Indian source.

Open Access
In: Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek and Roman Political Thought