H 4 

ARISTOCRATS AND THE COMING

OF ATHENIAN DEMOCRACY

Walter Eder

Der nachfolgende Beitrag ist mit Genehmigung des Autors entnommen aus: Democracy 2500 - Questions and Challenges, ed. by Ian Morris and Kurt A. Raaflaub. With Contributions of David Castriota, Walter Eder, Michael E. Jameson, Leslie Kurke, Ian Morris, Josiah Ober, Kurt A. Raaflaub, David B. Small, Barry S. Strauss, Robert W. Wallace, Archaeological Institute of America. Colloquia and Conference Papers Nr. 2, Dubuque / Iowa 1997, S. 105 - 140 (Kap. 6). Die dortigen Seitenzahlen sind im nachfolgenden Text durch eckige Klammern markiert. Die Veröffentlichung an dieser Stelle steht im Zusammenhang mit der Lehrveranstaltung Gizewski im SS 1998 (MODERNE_POLITISCHE_IDEENWELT_UND_ANTIKE_TRADITION). Siehe auch die Rezension im SCRIPTORIUM: S12. D. Hg. 

 

Aus Plänen wachsend, aber ungeplant,

Bewegt von Zwecken, aber ohne Zweck

(Rilke, Stundenbuch).

 

INTRODUCTION: THE PROBLEM OF A "BEGINNING" OF ATHENIAN DEMOCRACY

[S. 105 ] The title of this volume, Democracy 2500? Questions and Challenges , confronts us with a paradox. On the one hand, the observation of this anniversary in 1993 invites us to accept a clear statement about democracy and its beginnings: democracy was invented 2,500 years ago, and thus it must have been invented in 508/7 B.C. and consequently in Athens, where Cleisthenes reorganized the citizen body after the expulsion of Hippias the tyrant. On the other hand, we are encouraged to question this statement and to use this anniversary as a challenge to rethink the emergence of democracy in Athens.

When looking for the beginning of democracy we find more questions than answers. Some questions are situated on a more general level. Is there a genealogy and continuity of democracy from ancient to modern times, substantial and strong enough to justify fanfares about an important anniversary (Strauss, Ch. 7)? Is it right to present the award for the invention of democracy to the Athenians, or should we rather see the Athenian events as part of a general egalitarian movement involving most of the Greek world (Morris 1996 b; Kurke, Ch. 8)? Do we have sufficient - or any - evidence in literature, art, or religion attesting to some specifically "democratic" traits in fifth-century Athens that were different from those in any other polis (Kurke, Ch. 8; Castriota, Ch. 10; Jameson, Ch. 9)? Other questions concern particular events in Athenian history that may be instrumental in determining a decisive starting point of democracy. Should we start in 462 B.C. with Ephialtes, who fully integrated the lower classes of the demos into institutions and politics (Raaflaub, Chs. 3, 5)? Or should we see the institutional groundwork as "second-order artifacts," thus singling out the leaderless riot of the demos against Isagoras and his Spartan friend Cleomenes in 508/7, when the demos "stepped on the historical stage as actor in its own right and in its own name" (Ober 1993 a; Ch. 4)? Others still privilege the Solonian reforms in 594 B.C., emphasizing the origin of Athenian citizenship as the first and fundamental step toward democracy (Wallace, Ch. 2); and some are inclined to set the beginning of democracy even earlier, in the age of Homer (Ruschenbusch 1989).

It is obvious that the present state of scholarly debate about this issue is due primarily to the fact that, in sharp contrast to the emergence of modern democracy, ancient democracy, pace Josiah Ober, came into being without any obvious signposts of bloody civil war or radical revolution. There is no Bastille Day or even Boston Tea Party we can use as a historical land-

[S.106] mark. There is no Magna Carta or Constitutional Convention granting liberty, there are neither Levelers nor Federalist Papers discussing equality. There are, as Kurt Raaflaub rightly states, many "foundations" of democracy, and our decision for or against any particular date depends on how thoroughly we are convinced of having found the most important criterion to define democracy. One suggestion concerning the beginning of democracy may be more plausible than another, but it is impossible to refute any one of them completely because each evolutionary step from Homer's to Herodotus's time was based on a former step and at the same time prepared the next.

Each of these steps shaped the polis as a community of free citizens and consequently strengthened the civic consciousness of a slowly but steadily growing part of the population. Each of these steps, however, was planned and realized by members of the traditional leading class, the aristocracy, who certainly did not aim at establishing the power of the people: they were concerned, on the one hand, with preserving their own power and, on the other hand, with gaining an advantage, by any means, over their fellow aristocrats. Democracv arrived on tiptoes and in disguise: the history of the coming of Athenian democracy is primarily the p0-litical history of the Athenian aristocracy, who receded and gradually lost power but who never played an insignificant role or vanished completely. To put it differently, it is the history of aristocrats who were both competitive and flexible and who were skilled enough to shape the polis and their position in it according to their interests, while assimilating to ongoing changes in politics and institutions - changes they conceived of and initiated themselves. All along they kept in touch with the growing demotic self-consciousness, which again was strengthened by ambitious aristocrats who took an ever increasing part of the demos into their hetaireiai (groups of foUowers). They did so to win political battles against their aristocratic rivals, until they finally had to realize that the demos had learned to manage its affairs independently of aristocratic guardianship.

This is exactly the point we need to look for when pursuing the evolutionary tracks of Athenian democracy. We shall not find that point as long as we stare at single threads of the web- at revolutions or institutions, at self-consciousness or participation - and try to connect any such single thread with the beginning of democracy. We should rather search for the very point where these numerous threads - of institutional procedures, self-confident and responsible acting, and setting political rules - no longer run loosely parallel to each other, needing to be coordinated by the personal compe tence of a charismatic leader, but come together in a web that forms a self-contained structural network securing for the demos both independent action and effective self-control. In other words, we are looking for the point where the diverse threads of aristocratic and demotic activities have been transformed into the coherent web of a democratic constitution.

In doing so, we are fully in line with the main concern of this volume. For to talk about "Democracy 2500" in the 1990s should mean to talk primarily about an ancient constitution that is comparable formally, structurally, or even ideologically with modern democracy - which was created originally as a constitution opposed to monarchy. If we emphasize the constitutional aspect of democracy, however, we will need to modify the perspective to which we are accustomed when analyzing and defining Athenian democracy, searching for the date of its origin and for continuity between ancient and modern democracy.

I shall state briefly, in the next part of this chapter, that we have to deny continuity of de mocracy if we keep looking, as is usually done, only at institutions and the ideas of liberty, equality, and sovereignty of the people. For modern democracy developed in conditions that differed radically from the ancient ones. Continuity can be found, however, in an aspect that most scholars, unfortunatelv, consider only

[S.107] when studying the supposed decline of Athenian democracy. This is the growing significance of law and legal procedures in Athenian society of the fourth century (Ostwald 1986: 524; Sealey 1987). In fact, it is exactly the idea of a necessary and strong connection between liberty and law that has survived from antiquity to modern times.

Once we define continuity in this way, it becomes meaningful to search for a date or period at or in which Athenian democracy originated. In the third part I shall therefore discuss the meaning of the word demokratia, hoping to extract from it clues to help us determine the first appearance of ancient democracy. In addition, I shall analyze the growing stability and durability of the democratic constitution in the fourth century, the new quality of debate in political decision making, and the increasing importance of the institutionalized self-control by which the demos checked its own power. In spite of the existence of the word demokratia , coined perhaps before the middle of the fifth century (Raaflaub 1995: 46-51), I shall conclude that in its fully developed form ancient democracy did not come into being before the end of the fifth century.

This late date necessitates a fundamental change in our assessment of the Athenian constitution of the fifth century. In the last part of this chapter I shall therefore return to the fifth century. I shall assume, methodologically, that each innovation is based on and is part of old traditions. Hence, in explaining the path toward democracy, I shall stress both continuity and novelty. I shall characterize fifth-century demokratia , on the one hand, as the final stage of a continuous process of polis evolution advanced primarily by aristocrats who were moving the polis toward a more egalitarian form of society and, on the other hand, as an important formative but transitional stage in which the constitution of the polis was gradually transformed from an "aristocracy by acclamation," a "guided democracy," or, as Plato says, an aristocracy with the approval of the majority" (Menexenus 238 c-d) to a self-confident and self-controlled democracy. This transformation too was brought about by aristocrats who, in order to meet the exigencies of creating, administering, and ruling an empire, relied on an ever-growing part of the citizens as followers in military and political affairs until they were "overridden" by their attentive students, who had learned enough from their teachers.

 

DEMOCRACY 2500: THE QUESTION OF CONTINUITY

"Democracy is 2,500 years old," and "Democracy, which exists today, began in Athens." Barry Strauss entertains these claims at the beginning of his contribution to this volume (Ch. 7) but later limits them by warning that it is dangerous to exaggerate the continuities. He is right, but the danger lies not only where he sees it but in talking of a genealogy of democracy at all. For behind such a genealogy stands only the tradition of a word used in ancient as well as modern times, not the tradition of the political and ethical concepts described by this word. According to the linear model of constitutional development common since the Enlightenment (as opposed to the cyclical models prevalent in antiquity), we are inclined to see democracy as the end and climax of all constitutional evolution and even as the end of history (Isensee 1995:11-18). Hence we shy away from thinking that democracy is quite susceptible to mistakes and in general very short-lived (Sartori 1987: xiii) or from even considering that modern liberal democracy may have passed its zenith or, worse, already come to an end (MacPherson 1977; Guéhenno l993). (1) Being historians and living in democracies, we try to provide the political system we approve of with an extended genealogy and thus to legitimize it through a tradition of impressive validity. It is tempting, of course, to connect continuity of the word "democracy" with continuity

[S.108] of the institution of democracy and thereby to assume the existence of comparable ideas and values in ancient and modern democracy (e.g., M. H. Hansen 1989 c). But if we look at the roots of democracy, both in antiquity and in modern times, it becomes difficult to believe in such continuity or genealogy.

 

LOST CONTINUITY: THE CONCEPTS OF FREEDOM, EQUALITY, AND POPULAR RULE

It seems safe to say that the concepts of popular rille, freedom, and equality in their forms that are familiar to us who live in a modern democracy do not reach back to ancient demokratia . First, it is true, the development of modern democracy is linked fundamentally with the ideas of freedom and equality. But those ideas are based on the notion of human rights, that is, on the idea of equality of man by nature. In antiquity democracy was based exdusively on citizen rights, that is, on law shaped by man. Thus it was possible and generally accepted that a citizen could fall overnight from liberty into slavery because losing citizen rights meant losing all rights. In antiquity discussion of liberty and equality was always concerned with the rights of a clearly defined subset of humanity:the adult male citizens. (2 ) The idea of human rights as a starting point for political and social equality was totally foreign to Greek political and philosophical thinking, some exceptional remarks by individuals such as Phaleas of Chalcedon or Antiphon the Sophist notwithstanding (cf. Spahn 1990: 34-38). Even in Athens, where political distinctions between adult male citizens had been leveled almost completely and natural differences were ignored in the apportionment of political rights, such equality was not based on a concept we would identify with the idea of "human rights."

Athenian democracy lacked the basic moral principle that stood at the cradle of modern democracy: not to take into account, whether in theory or in political reality, the natural inequality of man. Modern democracy began by realizing the idea of political equality, then strove for social equality, and finally, at least in theory, claimed economic equality for all citizens (Marshall 1965: 78-91; Sartori 1987: 334-62). In sharp contrast, the evolution of ancient democracy stopped with the concept of political equality. Hence the definition of ancient democracy focuses primarily on institutions and numbers of active citizens. The author of the Constitution of the Athenians attributed to Aristotle describes the evolution of Athenian democracy exclusively through the gradual development of the political institutions, thus explaining political changes through institutional reforms (Bordes 1980: 252). (3) This is why, in contrast to modern political theory, andent political thought was far from concluding that constitutional evolution in every case aims at a democratic structure and democracy is ethically superior to other forms of political organization. The Athenians were well aware of the advantages and disadvantages of various constitutions; they discussed in theory their respective merits for the well-being of the city (Raaflaub 1989), and in practice they were ready in desperate times (e.g., in 411 B.C.) to sacrifice democracy in order to be rescued by an oligarchy.

Second, when talking about popular rule, we should not forget that the concept of the sovereignty of the people - that is, to derive the sovereignty of the state from the authority of the people - is a modern idea; so is its application to the formation of democracy. It emerged in opposition to the absolute power of the sovereign and needed as a prerequisite the division between state and (civil) society. Hence it has its roots neither in antiquity (not even in the Roman populus as the word "popular" might induce us to think) nor in the Middle Ages. "As we pass from the germination of the ideal to its

[S.109] realization, it is only about the middle of the nineteenth century that popular sovereignty begins to materialize as a positive and constructive element of the political process. This, too, we should note, is a novelty" (Sartori 1987: 290).

Finally, as far as we know, in the history of constitutions democracy as an egalitarian form of sociopolitical organization always existed only as a short intermezzo - not comparable at all to such "long-distance runners" as aristocracy or monarchy. As a kind of "miracle," not really appropriate to human nature, it tended to come to the fore only in exceptional situations (Sagan 1991: 22). Not surprisingly, in Athens democracy started its decisive advance when the city overstepped the "normal" limits of a Greek polis and rose to superpower by subduing many other poleis; and, depending on the definition and starting point we accept, it existed for just one and a half, two, or at most three centuries. The revival, in some medieval city-states, of political structures that seem superficially comparable to democracy was so short-lived as to be hardly worth mentioning (MacPherson 1977: 13-14; cf. Herlihy 1991: 207-209). Modem democracy, in turn, has not exceeded four or five generations of continuous existence even in the most traditional strong-holds like Britain, France, and the United States - if we take seriously as an indispensable criterion of modern democracy the abolition of slavery and the guarantee of equal political rights to all citizens, regardless of sex or race.

Ancient democracy vanished many centuries before antiquity came to an end; as Mogens Hansen noted (1994: 25-26; cf. Ruschenbusch 1994), it was a Sleeping Beauty for almost 2,000 years. When she woke up she was an object of neither admiration nor imitation but "feared by princes, detested by philosophers and found impossible by statesmen." What people were striving for in Philadelphia and Paris was a r~epublic, the idea of a state belonging to everybody, not a democracy that, following Pericles and Aristotle, could be interpreted as the power of one part of the people over the other. Modem democracy as govemment exercized bv the sovereign people had to be invented anew; it was based on different ideas of civic liberty and human rights and suited to satisfying the new demands of governing modem nations.

There are therefore obvious differences between the ideological foundations that led to broad political participation in ancient and modem times. We should keep this in rnind when looking for a definition that is applicable to ancient as well as modem democracy. The modem concept of democracy cannot simply be applied to premodem constitutions. If we start with contemporary models when analyzing political systems in antiquity, we risk adopting an unhistorical perspective. Definitions of modem democracy depend heavily on suggestions about how it should ideally work, that is, on value judgments about the characteristic features of democracy, and such judgments cannot simply be confirmed by definitions. To define democracy today means to lay more stress on norms and pre scriptions than on de scription (Sartori 1987: 7-8, 179-83). This makes the political-ethical concept of democracy an important part of its definition. Paradoxically, these ethical and moral criteria make it more difficult, if not almost impossible, to define democracy because they have contributed to transforming the term "democracy" into an empty shell that can be filled by everybody almost ad lib. (4) Needless to say, ethical visions and values have been and still are the driving force promoting modern democracy. In antiquity, however, there was no visionary impetus behind democracy, and it therefore lacked the sense of ethical obligation to spread the blessings of this system all over the world that has made the 20th century one of failed democracies (Sartori 1987: xiii). The Athenians had nothing but their own political advantage in mind when they imposed their political system on some of their allies (cf. Pseudo-Xenophon 1.14; 3.10-11).


[110]

SAVED CONTINUITY: LIBERTY AND LAW

As far as the ideas of liberty, equality, and sovereignty of the people are concerned, we may thus conclude that there is neither formal nor intellectual continuity from ancient to modern democracy and therefore no reason at all to look for the origins of our democracy earlier than in the 19th century. Yet in our search for continuity we should not overlook another thread of the web: the inseparable bond b~ tween liberty and law, a bond the Athenians discovered and reinforced strictly when they tried to found democracy as a stable and durable way of life in a complex society. It is Aristotle who calls liberty a fundamental principle of the democratic form of constitution (Politics 1317 b 1) and confirms that there is no constitution when the laws do not govern (Politics 129 2a 31). To combine law, not with equality as is more familiar, but with liberty and democracy may seem surprising, because today liberty and law are usually seen as antithetical rather than mutually supportive.

For example, in the subtitle of his book The Athenian Republic , Raphael Sealey (1987) emphasizes the difference between democracy and law when asking, Democracy or the Rule of Law? In search of the particular quality of Athenian demokratia he gives a thoughtful and comprehensive account of the Athenians' long-lasting efforts to achieve the rule of law and comes to the conclusion that "calling Athens democracv or demokratia says nothing"; "demokratia ... has come to mean the rule of law," and, therefore, "if a slogan is needed, Athens was a republic, not a democracy" (1987:106, 146; but see D. Cohen 1991 b: 15-18; 1995: 238). For his part, Martin Ostwald (1986) does not hesitate to call the Athenian constitution a democracy but, when defining the chronological limits of his study, he too draws a clear dividing line between the sovereignty of the demos and the sovereignty of the law: "The period with which we are concerned has the restoration of the democracy at the end of the fifth century~.c. as its logical terminus: for at that time the principle of the sovereiguty of law was given official primacy over the principle of popular sovereignty" 1986: xx). Consequently the last sentence in his book does not assess the role of the demos after the fifth century very optimistically: "Thus the democracy achieved stability, consistency, and continuity when the higher sovereignty of nomos limited the sovereignty of the people" (p.524). Must we conclude, therefore, that more law is equal to less democracy?

This conclusion would be strange, given that the durable existence of every society, regardless of its constitution, depends on written and unwritten arrangements and rules accepted by the majority, that is, on laws and norms. Democracy, the form of political organization that enables the largest possible part of a citizen community to participate in political action, more than any other political system needs a fixed set of rules, for two reasons: to gain political stability and to guarantee personal freedom.

To achieve political stability in democracy is not possible without demystifying and depersonalizing power. The most important precondition for democracy therefore is the gradual dissolution of all those personal and social bonds that are apt to generate individual power independent of and potentially conflicting with the collective power of the people. The tendency, closely connected with the transformation of society into a loose conglomerate of independent individuals, to resist any traditional form of loyalty and authority can result in the political atomization of society. This process might even infringe upon the texture of the family.5 Hence a society developing toward democracy needs to find new forms of cohesion that help avoid violence in politics and personal quarrels. In complex societies that have reached this stage of social evolution, personal authority is usually replaced by the abstract authority of

[S.111] law; this is especially the case in societies in which the number of active citizens is constantly expanded, hence particularly in democracies (Sagan 1991: 23; Sartori 1987: 298-336, especially 327-28). The durability of democracy, vital to establish security and reliability in internal as well as external affairs, can neither be ordered from above nor be created by "the explosive energy of a revolutionary action" (Ober, Ch. 4) nor again be founded on the right of the demos to do what it wants. Rather, the sovereign people need to develop and to accept voluntarily some institutionalized procedures of self-control that are tied to existing norms and are apt to protect the conununity from arbitrary and hasty decisions.

Considering, next, the importance of personal freedom as an essential component of democracy, it seems even stranger to contrast democracy and the rule of law (see Eder 1991:190-95). Personal freedom is based on security of law; that is, on the possibility to foresee the consequences of both one's own actions and those of others. The more people want to enjoy such freedom, the greater the importance of avoiding chaos by establishing normative bonds and procedures fixed by law. Hence democracy, the form of constitution designed to guarantee freedom to all citizens without consideration of personal standing, abilitv, and physical strength, more urgently than any other constitution depends on such rules and procedures to secure equal opportunity for every citizen. The strong reliance on the authority of law is, on the one hand, a consequence of the freedom enjoyed by each individual and, on the other, the guarantee of that freedom. For the law does not only secure freedom, it is also necessary to create the conditions tbat make life in freedom possible.

Interpreting the increasing role of law as evidence for the decline of democracv is therefore more than misleading. In fact, to separate democracy from law means to overlook an important trait of continuity between the ancient and modern constitutional frameworks of democracy. Giovanni Sartori is right in saying that "What we ask of political freedom is protection. How can we obtain it? In the final analysis, from the time of Solon to the present day, the solution has been sought in obeying laws and not masters... . Reverting from the general case to the specific one of political freedom it bears reiteration that today, as yesterday, liberty and law are bound together" (1987: 306, 327). He is wrong, however, in stating of the Greeks that "In the course of their democratic experience, the nomoi (laws) soon ceased to mirror the nature of things (phys is), and the Greeks were unable to stop at the golden mean between immobility and change.... Looking at the Greek system from the vantage point of our knowledge, we see that what their conception of law lacked was the notion of limitation - a notion that, as was discovered later, is inseparable from it" (p. 307). As we shall see, the Greeks - or, strictly speaking, the Athenians - actually were able to stop at the golden mean by codifying their law at the end of the fifth century; nor did their conception of law in the fourth century lack the notion of limitation, given the high degree of Normenkontrolle and political self-control achieved by introducing new legislative procedures (nomothesia ) and making strict use of the ''prosecution against proposing an unlawful decree" (graphe paranomon ).

Thus there is continuity, unnoticed so far by modern political theorists as well as Classicists, but clearly visible if one accepts the outstanding significance of law for securing political and personal liberty. Consequently, we are justified in searching in antiquity for a date of origin of democracy, but it appears that this date is to be found neither in 508/7 B.C. nor even in the middle of the fifth century. The way to democracy was completed only when the demotic threads of the institutional framework - expansion of participation and growing self-consciousness - intersected with the political experience the demos had gained by the end of the Peloponnesian War. Several changes of government

[S.112 ] that for years oscillated between democracy and oHgarchy and the bloody terror of the oligarchs made most Athenians aware of the advantages offered by broad political participation and strict adherence to the legal norms that had been shaped for generations. The demos learned that ultimately they had to pay for decisions made in the mood of the moment upon the deceptive authority of ambitious or unscrupulous leaders; they realized that it was not enough to exhibit their power by controlling the public officials, but that the sovereign people themselves needed to be controlled by an abstract authority - that is, by law - in order to preserve their power.

 

DEMOKRATIA AND DEMOCRACY

Raaflaub rightly says of demokratia, "the Greeks invented this term for a political system thev invented" (Ch. 3). The invention of this word in the fifth century obviously corresponded to a specific need. For terms, especially in the realm of politics, are not merely words; they do not come into being randomly. As a rule, new words reflect new directions that are based on important changes. In the course of the fifth century participation in decision-making in the Assembly as well as the jury courts was extended formally to. all free, male, and adult citizens. Inevitably the Athenians became aware that the increasing political significance accorded to all citizens, regardless of birth, wealth, and personal abilities, amounted to a fundamental structural change. For our present purposes it does not matter much whether the new term demokratia was coined by friends or enemies of that change; nor is it significant to know whether the new word was coined to mark the power of the demos or the power of the aristocratic leader of the demos, that is, power with the help of the demos. It is more important to realize that the word demokratia reflects a double experience: the self-consciousness of the demos who was going to play a decisive role in politics and the (perhaps nostalgic) experience of some aristocrats who understood that there was no other way to power and influence but through collaboration with the demos. Undoubtedly, the new word marked a new era in the history of the Athenian government.

But was the phenomenon that was called demokratia a form of government in the strict sense of a constitution, and should we use for it the term "democracy"? The title of the present volume, Democracy 2500?, seems to indicate this, and Raaflaub does not hesitate to continue, "If we do not consider this [the fifth-century system of Athen] democracy, we had better rename our own constitution" (Ch. 3). I think we should hesitate to parallel ancient demokratia with modern democracy in this way. On the one side, Raaflaub's laconic statement shows exactly the dilemma in which we find ourselves when applying the same word to phenomena of different historical epochs, above all, when deliberating the different roots of ancient and modern democracy. On the other side, the proposal to clear the ground radically by eliminating usage of the term "democracy" from one or the other epoch only transfers the problem from the discussion of words to that of the substance b~ hind the words: the problem then becomes one of definition.

 

DEMOKRATIA AND ITS MEANING

Surprisingly, efforts to understand the political meaning of the word by analyzing its etymology have not brought us closer to a definition. For the original meaning of demokratia still is not clear and will remain so as long as we do not know whether the word was coined by supporters or opponents of democracy. Moreover,

[S.113] the meaning of neither demos nor kratos is unequivocal.

Does the word demos designate all or only the majority of the citizens? Opponents of demokratia - the Old Oligarch or Plato - clearly do not have the whole citizen body in mind when they speak of the demos as the fickle mob. Surprisingly, Pericles, obviously a supporter of demokratia, in his famous definition - which in fact is the only positive and clear description of demokratia we find in the fifth century - also points to only one part of the citizens: the majority, which he distinguishes sharply from the few. (6 ) If we identify the majority with the supporters of Pericles, we understand why he calls "good for nothing" (achreios : Thucydides 2.40.2) those citizens who are not engaged in politics: the "quiet Athenian" (Carter 1986: 26-51) does not count because Pericles cannot use him for his own ends.

Another question is why demos is combined with kratos instead of arche , as terms like monarchia or oligarchia would lead us to expect. Applied to the power of the people, kratos has a strange flavor because, combined with other terms (aristokratia , ploutokratia , timokratia ), it signifies the power of a section rather than the whole political body. Consequently, the Old Oligarch presents demokratia as the rule of the lowly (and wrong) section of the citizenry and seems to be rather annoyed at those members of the upper class who, although not belonging to it, make common cause with the demos (Pseudo-Xenophon 2.19-20). Herodotus, who in his "Constitutional Debate" stresses the advantages of government by the plethos and clearly identifies the many with the whole, strikingly prefers archein to kratein when defining isonomia (3.80.6: plethos archon ; by contrast, the opponent of popular rule combines plethos with kratos : 3. 81. 1). One would thus expect to find a word like pletharchia or demarchia to describe a government by the people as a whole, founded on isos nomos .

All in all, etymological considerations are thus fraught with too much uncertainty to be much help. In fact, taking etymology seriously, we should conclude that the translation of demokratia as "the demos holds kratos " is mistaken. (7) Instead, the word originally pointed to the position of a person or group whose power rested on the demos as its followers. Nothing provocative or new lies in this suggestion, for it accords with the meaning that Otto Debrunner (1947: 13 = Kinzl 1995 b: 57), applying strict rules of etymology, deduced from an analysis of demokratia : "to be master over the people" ("die Macht jiber das Volk besitzend") or "to be in power with the help of the people" ("durch das Volk die Macht besitzend"). This analysis fits the suggestion mentioned above that demokratia in the fifth century should rather be considered an "aristocracy by acclamation" or a "guided democracy."

Debrunner, however, discarded his own result by stating, "demokratia is that form of government where the demos holds kratos ." (8) A vicious cycle indeed: no other interpretation can be because it must not be (cf. Kinzl 1978: 319-20). Of course, by the end of the fifth century the meaning of demokratia was "the demos holds kratos ," but we simply do not know the original meaning of the word that, after all, was coined in a phase of transition when Athenian politics was dominated by highly competitive aristocrats. Debrunner's rejected interpretation may be more appropriate than any other to the actual political state of affairs in the Periclean era.

At any rate, it does not seem necessary to postulate a chronological coincidence between the establishment of democracy and the invention of the term demokratia , defined as government by an independent and sovereign demos. For words frequently come into existence either earlier or later than the phenomena they describe. On the one hand, therefore, even though there is hardly a chance to find the word demokratia as early as that, Ober (Ch. 4) is not a priori wrong in pushing back the beginning of democracy to Cleisthenes and emphasizing the leaderless riot of the demos against Isagoras and his Spartan friend Cleomenes as one of the

[S.114] "moments of discontinuity in Greek history" (Ch. 4) and as the most important event on the way to democracy. On the other hand, terms can be used as political catchwords expressing programs, demands, fears, or hopes. Such terms are frequently coined in advance, much earlier than the institution with which they are later associated. It is thus, again, not a priori unreasonable and methodologically unsound to date the formation of a democratic constitution significantly later than the first attestation of the word demokratia .

However that may be, clearly discussion about democracy is different from discussion of demokratia. Although the emergence of the word demokratia points to an important change - such as the involvement in politics of a new stratum of citizens or a new role of the demos in the government of the polis - in analyzing the birth of democracy we have to search for a more prominent factor with which to identify this innovahon: a newly elaborated form of government that meets the minimal standards of a constitution.

 

DEMOCRACY AS A CONSTITUTION

We begin with a definition of "constitution." Admittedly, by doing so, the problem of dating democracy is simply transformed into one of defining a constitution. But here we are on more solid ground, removed from the shifting sands of ethics and morals that underlie our modern understanding of democracy. Constitutions can be described either formally or materially. The formal aspect does not help much because in ancient Athens we will search in vain for some sort of a written constitution, a statute of law or the constituent act of a congress. Hence the material aspects are more helpful. By "constitution" we understand the total of written and unwritten norms concerning the durable existence of the state as well as the rules and procedures determining the relation between the state and the citizens (after Herzog 1971:146-47). Thus every constitution aims at stability, is based on norms and rules securing continuity, and provides means of interaction between government and people.

Applying these criteria to democracy, we might, for example, choose the following definition: democracy is a durable form of constitution in which the sovereign people determine the rules of government through laws and control the government continuously. Taking into account the ancient form of direct democracy, in which the rulers and the ruled are identical, this general definition might be specified as follows: ancient democracy is a durable form of state in which the sovereign demos determines the ru~s of government by independent decision making and controls its own power by institutionalized legal procedures.

In Athenian history these criteria were met for the first time at the end of the fifth century B.C. By codifying the law and constitutional procedures and by creating or applying more strictly various legal instruments of self-control, the demos created the most durable form of constitution since the time of Solon. Actually, the legal and constitutional reforms enacted at the end of the fifth century are quite similar to Solon's measures 200 years earlier. In both cases the survival of the community was threatened by deep domestic rifts and tensions, and in both cases the same remedy was used, namely stabilizing the polis and encouraging the peaceful coexistence of the citizens by codifying the law and reorganizing the methods of decision making and lawgiving. Certainly, socially and p0litically these two sets of reforms and their circumstances were very different. Solon was a single arbitrator who had to deal with an aristocracy that had disintegrated too far to be able to reach a comprehensive solution, while the r~ forms of the late fifth century were brought about by the demos, whose collective efforts resulted in a second codification of law and, in addition, in new ways of lawgiving through the nomothesia procedure (Rhodes 1985; 1991). Ba-

[S.115] sically, however, the political crisis and the instruments used to cope with it are comparable, and so is the significance of the results that were achieved: Solon created the Athenian citizen body by defining the limits of citizenship as embracing both aristocrats and demos; the Athenians at the end of the fifth century created democracy by defining the limits of popular power. In other words: Solon (frag. 24 D [Diehl 1958] = 36 M.L. West 1992:15-17) fitted together force (bie ) and law (dike ); the demos after the Peloponnesian War fitted together popular power and laws.

Solon succeeded in achieving stability primarily by eliminating extreme inequalities in economic and political power. Rather than depriving the rich and noble of their property and political eminence, he intended with his measures to prevent the aristocrats from accumulating wealth at the expense of their fellow citizens and from concentrating power on a single person (cf. Link 1991: 164-65). In the changed conditions existing 200 years later the demos achieved political stabilitv not through economic restrictions but by creating legal measures that were apt to secure orderly procedures in lawgiving and decision making, while avoiding undue influence on the part of demagogues. Both the newly established procedure of nomothesia and the strict application of the graphe paranomon , requiring any new decree to be harmonized with the existing norms, contributed to diminishing the danger of indeliberate decisions, thus guaranteeing security of law as well as continuity in politics. Obviously the demos understood that by abolishing the graphe paranomon in 411 they had themselves paved the wav for an oligarchic regime. (9 ) The continuous use of nomothesia and graphe paranomon shifted the guardian ship over the constitution from persons - the members of the Areopagus Council (until 462) or political leaders like Ephialtes or Pericles - to institutions that were created, manned, and controlled by no one else but the demos.

By eliminating, as much as possible, undue individual influence on legislation and politics, Athenian society and constitution reached an unprecedented degree of stability and durability. The form of constitution that was established at the end of' the fifth century lasted longer than any of its predecessors. It continued to work without essential change for 82 years, until it was destroyed by Antipater and his Maced onian forces. Even after the dissolution of democracy the true spirit of democracy opposing the oligarchic systems that were installed after the Lamian War and the catastrophe of Amorgos proved more alive than had been the case in comparable situations at the end of the fifth century; unlike the oligarchic movements of 411 and 404, which had initially enjoyed the support of many people, those of 322 and 317 were not based on widespread frustration with democracy (Lehmann 1995:139). It seems, then, that the formal constitutional continuitv in the fourth century was accompanied by an ideological change, that is, by growing and conscious support of the people for a democratic constitution that was based on law and self-control. The quality of a constitution must be judged both by its institutions and by the opinions and expectations of the people who live with and under it. In fact, in any political system such beliefs are crucial for determining its stability and durability, which ultimately depend on the people's general acceptance of and broad identification with the rules of government. Hence we might confidently conclude that in the fourth century democracy reached its fully developed form because politics by then had become the people's affair, while in the fifth century the demos had been engaged primarily in the affairs of competing aristocrats.

 

DEMOCRACY AND CONTINUITY

This conclusion - to characterize fourth-century democracy as the culmination of democratic evolution - may sound exaggerated and

[S.116] provocative. At least it avoids the pitfalls of the usual approaches to the history of fourth-century Athens that Paul Millett (1993:178) summarizes ironically as follows: "Perhaps the favoured approaches are a set of variations on the theme of what might be called 'grandeur and decline'.... First ... the climax of the 'Golden Age' under Pericles.... Then there is the climacteric of the Peloponnesian War... and loss of empire. After that, the third stage is downhill all the way, via the confused decadence and decline of the 'fourth-century crisis,' to the Macedonian domination, the destruction of democracy." This view is about to be changed fundamentally, because of the emphasis given by several scholars to the unity of the fifth and fourth centuries and, concerning the latter, to continuity rather than crisis (Eder 1995a: 14-15). John Davies (1995: 34), for example, rightly states, "There is nothing seriously crisisoid about Athenian government, Athenian society, or the Athenian economy in the fourth century." Peter Rhodes (1994b: 565; cf. 589-91) stresses the formal continuity of institutions and political proceedings: "Formally, Athens had the same constitution from the tribal reorganization of Cleisthenes in 508/7, or at any rate from the reform of the Areopagus by Ephialtes in 462/1, until the suppression of the democracy by Antipater at the end of 322/1."

But there is more to it than just continuity. Jochen Bleicken (1987: 270), arguing against the widespread opinion that nomothesia limited the sovereignty of the people, underscores the fact that this procedure did not end lawgiving by the people but rather marked the beginning of regulated lawgiving in democracy. Regulated lawgiving, in any case, can be considered an important, even sufficient, criterion to define any form of constitution - especially democracy where the "fickle mob" is the lawgiver. But Bleicken adds a crucial argument to support the view that democracy in the proper constitutional sense was established only in the fourth century. When discussing the new functions of the dikasteria , he admits that the transfer of important functions from the Assembly to large boards of jurors may have limited the direct and spontaneous exercise of power by the people but insists that the function of these boards, far from eliminating the power of the people, made such power even more effective. In his view democracy experienced no qualitative change from the fifth to the fourth century; on the contrary, the political and judicial reforms succeeded in establishing democracy as a stable and durable form of state (Bleicken 1987: 280-81). Reading such unequivocal statements, one should expect the conclusion that democracy indeed reached its final and fully developed shape in the fourth century. But more recently Bleicken again mentions "symptoms of the weakening of the democratic basis" and "the slight decline of political interest" in the fourth century (1994: 403-404; for similar ambiguities, see Rhodes 1994b: 572). It just seems too difficult to abandon the deeply rooted conviction that the zenith of democracy cannot but coincide with the climax of art and literature in the time of Pericles.

There is no good reason for such contradictions. (10 ) Clearly, however, in emphasizing the stabilizing function of nomothesia and dikasteria , Bleicken does not blame the growing significance of law for the alleged weakening of the democratic spirit in fourth-century Athens. For the decisive indication of "democratic spirit" is not the demos's involvement, in the Assembly, with just about any public business; rather, it is that every decision by magistrate, council, or jury court can be traced back to a binding d~ cision initially made by the people in a primary assembly - strictly speaking, to law. More than anything else, political activity in democracv needs to be based on an unbroken line of legitimacy, starting with the mandate of the people as lawgiver and ending with the execution of this order by the officials or boards of officials who are elected (by vote or lot) and controlled by the people (Herzog l971: 141A5, 204-14).

One might object, and rightly so, that this basic form of collaboration between people and officials was instituted already in the fifth century and continued to exist in the fourth. There

[S. 117] was, however, a crucial change in the sphere of constitutional control: the usual control of the officials by the demos was complemented by the self-control of the demos, based on the new nomothesia procedure and the restored and strengthened graphe paranomon . Admittedly political life lost some of its color, but at the same time the danger of hasty and potentially disastrous decisions caused by hardliners and demagogues was diminished, and the demos certainly did not lose its sovereign power of defining and controlling the course of politics. I would thus prefer to see in the institutional development of the fourth century the last and decisive step toward the constitutional perfection of democracy rather than suggest a declining "enthusiasm for democratic principles" (Rhodes 1994b: 572). We may suppose that during the final phase of the Peloponnesian War the demos became aware of its former failures and assumed an attitude that even Plato would have recognized as sophrosyne (self-control), had he not been so biased against contemporary democracy when he wrote his Republic . (11)

There is another trait of fourth-century democracy that indicates not only continuitv from the fifth century but progress in the fourth: the structure and quality of leadership. The list of fifth-century leaders reads like a register of rich and noble families: Cleisthenes, Miltiades, Themistocles, Aristides, Cimon, Thucvdides Melesiou, Pericles, Nicias, Alcibiades, Theramenes, Thrasybulus of Steiria, and Critias. Some of them shaped policies for years on end and championed them in the Assembly. They did so in such a forceful way that it seems natural, in phrases like "the Cimonian era" or the "Periclean democracy," to link individual influence and political system, even though the sovereignty of the people is not really compatible with the overwhelming and long-lasting authority of one person.

At first glance, the fourth century offers the same impression. Again the list of leading men - Conon, Chabrias, Callistratus, Timotheus, Demosthenes, Aeschines, Phocion - refers us to famous and, above all, rich families. As in the case of their predecessors in the fifth century, their standing was due less to the democratic system, despite its claim to offer equal opportunities to every citizen, than to wealth, a renowned family, good connections, or special experiences and abilities - all factors that favored the members of the upper class. But a closer look at the families of the fourth-century leaders suggests more than mere continuity. In the positions of generals and perhaps also of archons, aristocrats by birth were increasingly replaced by aristocrats by wealth. Quite a few, moreover, such as Iphicrates or Charidemus, who gained glory and wealth as commanders of mercenaries, were of modest origin. Al-though it is tempting to attribute this phenomenon to a growing awareness of democratic principles, it seems preferable to see in it a specific trait typical throughout history of any successful aristocracy, that is, the constant tendency to replenish its ranks with newcomers who excelled in merit (Powis 1984: 19-22). Structurally, therefore, the fourth-century picture fully accords with the consequences of Solon's reforms, by which the rich aristocrats by birth were integrated into a new political class, the pentakosiomedimnoi (those with an annual agrarian produce of 500 medimnoi ), who, in spite of tradition, virtue, merit, and experience, could formally rely only on wealth when vying for top positions in politics.

At second glance, however, the list of political leaders reveals another feature that distinguishes the democracy of the fourth century from that of the fifth and points not to continuity but to further development of democracy. No politician or general came even close to holding a position comparable to those of Cimon or Pericles, although during much of the first half of the fourth century Athenian foreign policy was militaristic enough to offer many opportunities to generals who desired to gain outstanding influence (Badian 1995). Even generals who were elected frequently - like Chabrias, Chares, or Timotheus - had to learn that "in the fourth century the strategia was no longer a post that opened the road to an overall leadership in

[S.118] the state" (Periman 1967:172), for the generals had to share their political power with the orators who had become specialists in politics. True, some of these rhetores became so influential in politics as to induce us moderns to talk of the "age of Demosthenes" or the "era of Lycurgus," but there is no doubt that it was no longer possible to concentrate power and influence in one hand and to keep it for years as Cimon and Pericles had done (see Perlman 1967; M.H. Hansen 1991: 266-87). Everyone dealing with politics had to compete constantly with professional opponents. When formulating decrees or laws, a politican had to observe carefully a number of legally fixed procedures; if he ignored or violated these he risked being brought to trial by a graphe paranomon and losing his reputation as a good and reliable advisor of the people. Above all, in contrast to the fifth century, in the fourth the rhetores in their role as professional politicians needed to surpass their competitors only by the quality and weight of their political arguments. Lacking the additional authority that the leading politicians in the fifth century had derived from their function as generals, the rhetores had no possibilitv to build or increase a political following by militarv success. Nor were they able to gain predominance in politics bv using ostracism as a means of removing a prominent rival for many vears from the political theater. In fact, I suggest, the abolition of ostracism enhanced freedom of speech and consequently advanced democracy.

 

OSTRACISM VERSUS FULL INFORMATION AND OPEN DEBATE

To call ostracism a potential obstacle to the full development of democracv may again sound quite provocative, given that ostracism is usually seen as an instrument to secure democracy by preventing tyranny. (12 ) Things look different, however, if we think of issues such as the connection between full democracy and the guarantee of institutionalized, regular, and open discussion of different opinions or the effective protection of political minorities. Democracy can generally be defined as government by debate; hence democracy needs to develop appropriate procedures to secure the availability of both complete information and divergent interpretations of this information. If opinions that differ from the beliefs of the majority are oppressed by formal means the democratic system runs the risk of collapsing, be-cause the ruling majority will continue to reinforce its power, eventually excluding the minority permanently from participating in politics.~3 The oppositional minority has no chance of gaining majority support and status through open debate and compelling arguments; hence its only chance to gain the upper hand consists of a coup d'etat. Democracy, by contrast, is characterized by the possibility to change leaders and political direction without violence. Here too lies one of the roots of its stability.

To remove a political rival by ostracism - that is, concretely, by a decision of the majority and its leader - was equivalent, first, to banishing temporarily from the political scene "the most prominent spokesman" (Ostwald 1986: 27) for opposed policies and, second, to intimidating his followers and, as a result, to cutting off substantial debate. Consequently, the winner came close to gaining a monopoly of information in politics, and the people lost the chance to decide in the sense of choosing ~between alternatives. Actually, they now had a choice only between agreeing and disagreeing, because they were not able to match the remaining "spokesman's" experience and knowledge in military, economic, or political affairs. Hence ostracism really represented a serious threat to isegoria in the sense of the "equal right of addressing the people."

One might object that ostracism, because it was applied very rarely, could not have had an

[S.119] essential impact on political discussion. Of course, it was not a weapon to be used in everyday politics, but two points should not be overlooked. First, as far as we can see, ostracism was directed not only against a powerful person but also against a political concept promoted by that person. Therefore, second, ostracism always had a ~ng-lasting effect on the course of politics; in the fifth century there clearly existed a close connection between political continuity or change and the application of ostracism as a means of prevailing or failing with specific concepts. In the 480s ostracism helped strengthen the concept of naval warfare championed by Themistocles, who succeeded in eliminating the opponents of this concept. The ostracism of Themistocles was due to a political rollback led primarily by Aristides and Cimon in a phase the author of the Aristotelian Constitution of the Athenians calls "the domination of the Areopagus Council" (25.1; cf. R.W. Wallace 1989: 77-83; Cawkwell 1988). In that phase Cimon tried to maintain a consensus among his fellow aristocrats by promoting both Athenian expansion in the Aegean and a significant role for the hoplites even in naval warfare. (14) Eventually, however, the increasing importance of naval warfare and the growing tension between Athens and Sparta provided his opponents with the opportunity of designing a new political concept that was apt to broaden the scope of political action-both in Athens by raising the politica~ standing of the thetes (who thus became potential followers) and outside Athens by abandoning any consideration of the interests of Sparta. Significantly, this political change was prepared for on a personal level: the authority of Cimon and his political friends was weakened by the prosecution of some of them who were members of the Areopagus Council (Constitution of the Athenians 25; cf. Stein-Hölkeskamp 1989: 218-23) and by opposition to the military expedition planned by Cimon in order to support Sparta. Cimon's ostracism shortly after the reforms of 462 eliminated the most powerful opponent of Ephialtes and Pericles and clearly revealed the new concept they promoted, a concept "representing a reversal of everything the conservative Cimon had stood for to his ostracism" (Marr 1993: 15). Henceforth Athens pursued aggressively its expansionist interests in the eastern Mediterranean and in central Greece, little concerned about its "approval rating" in Greece or the bad reputation it gained by its ruthless and imperialist policies.

What counted was success, both in the empire and in Athens: the leaders depended on continuous success in the empire in order to legitimize their oustanding position in politics (Raaflaub 1994:136-38). As soon as the leading politician's policies faltered, he came under attack by his aristocratic opponents, who tried to oust him and take his place as leader of the demos.15 Thus the unsuccessful expedition to Sparta paved the way for the ostracism of Ci-mon. Ten years later, Pericles' position was threatened because of the naval disaster in Egypt and the return of Cimon who, elected strategos, immediately went on to renew Athenian dominance in the eastern Mediterranean. Only Cirnon's unexpected death freed Pericles from a serious struggle for leadership. A similar constellation occurred at the end of the 440s when Thucydides, son of Melesias and a relative of Cimon, tried to exploit the supposed decline of Pericles' authority in order to oust him completely. The failure of the pretentious project of organizing a Panhellenic Congress in Athens (perhaps in 448/7), the lost battle of Coronea (447), and the peace with Sparta concluded after a Spartan army had invaded Attica (446) - all this dampened the Athenians' confidence in their omnipotence. Furthermore, Damon, a friend and advisor of Pericles, was prosecuted and ostracized (Plutarch Pericles 4.2; Aristotle Constitution of the Athenians 27.4; Olympiodorus In Alcibiadem , 37.20-38.11; Westerink 1956; R.W. Wallace 1994). Hence it became necessary to ostracize Thucydides and remove him from the political stage. As a result, the voice of opposition was silenced for many vears, and the winner strengthened his influ-

[S.120] ence and power. Inevitably, he thereby became the primary source of political information. Not surprisingly, then, upon returning from exile 10 years later, Thucydides again failed in his at tempt to gain leadership, although he and his followers succeeded at least in prosecuting some prominent persons in Pericles' entourage - by then a familiar device to "soften up" the authority of the dominant leader.

In sum, although ostracism was used rarely, the method of exiling leaders of the opposite side for 10 years turned out to be an efficient means to shape policies because it cut off extended and substantive Assembly debates about alternative concepts. Furthermore, ostracism was used exclusively by aristocrats against aristocrats, all of them striving for political predominance - hardly a very democratic process. One might object, again, that the results of ostracism expressed the will of the demos because ostracism was decided upon by a voting procedure requiring a qualified majority (a quorum of 6,000 votes). Yet the result of the last known ostracism sheds a different light on the role of the demos. In 416/5 B.C., an ostracism was supposed to determine which one of the two most powerful politicians, Nicias or Alcibiades, was to be excluded from Athenian politics. As it turned out, one of the less important figures, Hyperbolus, was exiled because Nicias and Alcibiades joined their forces and influence against him (Ostwald 1986: 302-305; Rhodes 1994a: 92). Obviously even at that late date, long after the "democratic" reforms of Ephialtes, aristocrats, using their personal connections and political relations, disposed of sufficient means to prevail in the Assembly. (16)

For this very reason it is doubtful whether in earlier ostracisms we really hear the independent voice of the demos. More probably, behind the votes of the people lurks the will of the most powerful politician who wanted to get rid of an unwelcome opponent in order to strengthen his own position and influence. If so, the majority simply echoed the will of the jeader. Such collaboration between the demos and its leader - that is, the shaping of public opinion by the leader and the institutionalized confirmation (or rather, ratification) of his opinion by the people - best explains Thucydides' famous description of constitutional reality in the Periclean era: by name it was a demokratia , but in reality Athens was ruled by its first citizen (Thucydides 2.65.9; see Yunis 1991), who, we may add, possessed sufficient intelligence and rhetorical skills to teach the people his- not their!- lessons.

This conclusion contrasts sharply with Ober's view (1989:168) that the orators simply gave voice to the collective will of the demos and expressed the ideology of, and constructed by, the people. Of course, in order to prevail with his proposals any orator has to take into consideration the experience, knowledge, and expectations of his audience. But there always is a "knowledge gap between political leader and demos ," as Lisa Kallet-Marx (1994: 233) puts it in her analysis of the "general structure of the relationship between rhetor as teacher and audience as student." She focuses on the role of the orator as advisor in financial affairs, but the results she draws from her study of this partial but important segment of politics in fifth-century Athens have general value. In contrast to Ober, who does not explain how and why the coflective will of the demos comes into existence each time, she observes that the orator has a much laiger role in shaping collective beliefs and attitudes than is usually thought, and that this role is made possible and effective by the power concentrated in him as a teacher and instructor. "For, in fact, a collective ideology is not something that the demos simply possesses: it has to be created and recreated, and rhetores were central to that process by recreating and shaping a collective set of values, or ideology" (1994:248-49). Moreover, Kallet-Marx raises the question of the role and nature of debate in d~ mocracy. Given "the effective control of the terms of discussion and its boundaries that we have seen produced by orators ... how open and varied was debate in fifth-century Athens?" (1994: 250-51).

[S.121] Kallet-Marx does not really answer this crucial question, which has the potential of thoroughly changing our understanding of fifth-century democracy. However, if one combines her acute thoughts on the role of the - in any case, aristocratic - orator as a teacher with the considerations presented above about the limiting effects of ostracism on free debate, it seems difficult to avoid the conclusion that debate in the fifth century was not really open and hardly varied. Of course, it would be silly to deny that the ro~ of the demos in politics increased in the course of the fifth century. Let us suppose that Ephialtes' reforms did not intend to create democracy but aimed primarily at opening up new opportunities by destroying the traditional network of peer control, which had for a long time secured an efficient collaboration between Ci-mon and the Areopagus Council. Even from this perspective, his reforms indeed had positive consequences for the demos, who, in the Assembly and the dikasteria , proceeded to take over the Areopagus Council's responsibility of controlling the officials, by dokimasia before they entered office and by euthynai after they left it. On an intermediate political level things changed less dramatically, for it is safe to say that the thetes did not enter the Council of 500, and this council did not hold its discussions in open session (Aristotle Constitution of the Athenians 7.4, with Kallet-Marx 1994: 230; Demosthenes 25.23). Apparently even less changed at the top: one aristocratic leader whom the demos had elected as general continuously from 478 to 461, Cimon, was soon replaced by another aristocratic leader whom the same demos went on to elect as general for 15 years in a row. Of course, the new leader, Pericles, had to collaborate with a broader stratum of followers, whom he needed to convince each time, but this change concerned more the methods of aristocratic leadership than the exercise of political power by the demos.

In sum, returning to the fourth century and taking into consideration the increased constitutional stability, openness, and variety of p0-litical debate (which was no longer hampered by the constant menace of ostracism) as well as the positive effect on politics of institutionalized legal self-control, we surely agree with the author of the Constitution of the Athenians (41.2), who emphasizes that, finally, after the 11th change in the history of the constitution (in 404/ 3), the Athenian polity achieved lasting stability at the same time as the power of the demos reached its zenith.

Here we could stop, concluding that we have celebrated "Democracy 2500" about 100 years too early. In doing so, however, we would undervalue the multistage process leading to democracy and fail to understand the nature of both this process and fully developed democracy. For it surely is most remarkable how peacefully Athenian democracy came into existence. The demos, on its way to liberty and equality, caused no revolutionary bloodshed. An oligarchic group of aristocrats introduced murders and massacres into Athenian politics, and the demos not only refused to pay back with the same coin but granted amnesty to the supporters of its former "tyrants." This particular aspect of the smooth arrival of democracy is radically different from the violent methods visible at the cradles of modern democracies; it requires explanation.

 

THE MAKERS OF DEMOKRATIA: ARISTOCRATS BETWEEN TRADITION AND ADAPTATION

When trying to explain the quiet coming of democracy, we should keep in mind a banal but important point: modern political thinkers were familiar with the Greek experience. They knew that granting political power to the people was a possibility and represented an alternative to the system of government existing in their time - even if most of them despised or hated this alternative. By contrast, the Athenians had to invent democracy, that is, they had to aim at

[S.122] a target that they did not know or, rather, of whose existence they were not even aware. They had to create an alternative concept of government without knowing what the outcome would or should be (Meier 1995: 254-58). In this sense, ancient democracy was the result of an unplanned development. Yet, clearly, it was also due to much planning. These plans, naturally, were designed by aristocrats who for ages had been thoroughly familiar with organizing power in the polis (Raaflaub 1993). Consequently, they shaped their models of polis organization according to their traditional values and political interests, aiming at establishing or re-establishing their prominent role in politics.

From the Archaic age, each system of government was planned as a corrective to a previous system, the failures and shortcomings of which it was thought to remedy. Given this intent, each must have met in its time with wide approval. Every one of these systems overlapped to a great extent with previous ones, thus incorporating a heavy dose of aristocratic tradition that was both adapted to the actual circumstances and designed to shape them. Overall, we should assume behind the step-by-step improvement of political arrangements and institutions an impressive intellectual achievement and great flexibility in political thinking and planning on the part of the aristocracies involved. For example, the invention of annually rotating magistracies meant that any aristocrat not elected had to give up part of his individual power. The organization of a council (like the Areopagus) charged with securing consensus and exerting control over certain important issues increased stability but limited the forms of competition within a highly competitive elite. The use of written law limited freedom of action on the part of the traditional authorities and powerful families or individuals in exchange for the prevention of the elite's self-destruction in murderous feuds (such as that following the Cylonian affair) or the dissolution of the polis, which was threatened by the greed and ruthlessness of selfish leaders (as was the case in Athens before Solon). Defining citizenship and rearranging institutional structures meant that aristocrats, hitherto focused narrowly on their hetaireiai , were encouraged to think more broadly of larger groups of citizens; in the long run, these changes made the revival of dynastic regimes impossible (as happened in Athens after the fall of the tyrants), and they opened the way for ambitious aristocrats who felt overshadowed by the overwhelming authority and influence of grand seigneurs like Cimon. Each of these well-designed measures was prompted by excesses of aristocratic competition that needed to be restrained in order to guarantee, among the ruling aristocrats, equal opportunities in governing the polis. None of these reforms, of course, could and did aim at creating democracy, that is, at destroying the very power of the aristocrats who stood behind them.

What Victor Turner (1974:14; cited by Kurke 1991: 88) says in general terms about political culture in any society applies as well to the development of democracy as part of Athenian political culture: "The culture of any society at any moment is more like the debris, or 'fall-out,' of past ideological systems than it is itself a system, a coherent whole.... If there is order, it is seldom preordained ... it is achieved-the result of conflicting and concurring wills and intelligences, each relying on some convincing paradigm." Demokratia in fifth-century Athens may be seen as the "fall-out" or the result of such "intelligences" that were intertwined with the conflicting wills of competitive aristocrats and their interest in exploiting the possibilities offered by the polis in order to gain leadership in politics. If eventually democracy emerged in Athens it was indeed not "preordained," it was "achieved" -but against the will of its aristocratic "makers" who continued to strive eagerly for a position of predominance, not least over their peers. But they did so in a community that was changing deeply and rapidly, primarily owing to the effects - or "fall-out" - of such aristocratic competition. The demos noticed these changed conditions late; it enjoyed its growing

[S.123] political influence rather naively and realized only at the end of the fifth century that the ohgarchs were about to deprive it of something precious that was worthy of being preserved.

The polis, it is safe to say, was the product primarily of the political abilities and efforts of aristocrats, whatever the alleged "pressure from below" to which there is not the faintest allusion in the extant sources. To attribute democracy to the making of aristocrats seems more problematic, a paradoxical situation, given the strong tendency in scholarship to identify the coming of the polis with the coming of democracy. Democracy has been and still is seen as the telos of the polis.~7 Consequently, we should expect that the eminent role the aristocrats played in forming the polis as a "citizen state" (M.H. Hansen 1993a) would influence scholars in assuming a similarly outstanding role for them in developing democracy. This is generally not the case. (18) On the contrary, the identification of polis and democracy easily results in a tendency to push back the beginning of democracy to the rise of the polis, that is, in some cases, all the way to the Homeric age.

Given all this, we are more likely to understand the nature of fifth-century demokratia and its beginnings if we change our perspective. We should not start with the fully developed democracv and its institutional as well as mental characteristics, as they are described in an ideal form by Pericles, and then look back in history to catch a glimpse of the first appearance of primary assemblies, written laws, or citizenship, any or all of which we might use to fix the date of the beginning of democracy. Rather, we should ignore the final outcome of the long process that led to democracy - or, put even more radically, forget for a moment that something like democracy could ever be its final result - in order to recognize appropriately the weight of continuity and the reasons for change that shaped the main trends of polis evolution in the Archaic period and are likely to have influenced political developments in the fifth century as well.

Hence a methodologically clean and productive approach forces us to differentiate more strictly between polis and democracy and to examine the experiences of the aristocratic "managers" of the polis who adapted to changing political environments by creating new institutions as well as relying on old conventions.

 

POLlS AND DEMOCRACY

While the separation of polis and democracy should not be overemphasized because for ancient democracy the face-to-face society of the polis was an indispensable prerequisite, it is an indisputable fact that not every polis - and not a single polis outside the Greek world - developed a democracy. Yet the conscious or unconscious tendency to connect, if not identify, polis and democracy is widespread. For example, in writing his famous article about the rise of the polis, Victor Ehrenberg (1937) in fact had the rise of democracy in mind. W.G. Forrest (1966) analyzed the evolution of the Greek polis in a book with the title The Emergence of Greek Democracy and the subtitle The Character of Greek Politics . Christian Meier's The Greek Discovery of Politics (1990) presents primarily an account of the invention of Athenian democracy. And in his study of equality and the origins of democracy in early Greece, Ian Morris (1996 b), claiming that to understand the origin of Greek democracy we have to trace the history of the polis as a community of middling citizens, seems to aim in the same direction. He rightly emphasizes the egalitarian ideology visible in the sixth and fifth centuries all over Greece, but it would be rash to conclude that such egalitarian phenomena always hid a democratic structure in the making. The notions of equality and equal opportunity are important traits of aristocratic ideology as well. Given the usual openness of aristocracies - that is, their willingness to admit a limited number of well-to-do new-

[S.124] comers - the material evidence of this period may document the widespread process, owing perhaps to military exigencies, of the transformation of poleis into hoplite communities that included most of the landowning citizens. Yet in Greek political thought hoplite communities were generally placed among oligarchic not democratic societies.

If we do not clearly separate polis and democracy, we risk conflating two different issues: the polis -a form of community typical of Greece and spread all over the Greek world, although neither developed by all the Greeks nor confined to the Greeks alone - and democracy - a form of government quite atypical of the polis and very limited in time and space, strictly speaking, in its full and durable form restricted to Athens and unparalleled in the ancient world. When dealing with the rise of the Greek polis we ask why in Greece too? When analyzing the coming of democracy, we ask why only in Athens-and not in the rest of Greece, nor in Rome, Carthage, Israel, or Phoenicia?

The Greeks did not hesitate to include city-states like Carthage and Rome when talking about the great variety of polis constitutions. Nor did they link their notion of polis with a particular form of constitution, provided there was a constitution at all, that is, norms and rules existed that made a "good order" (eunomia ) possible without relying heavily on the centralized power of an individual. The polis emerging in Greece in the eighth century already showed the main traits that define it as an association of free landholders who live in a clearly delimited territorial unit of modest size and, although differmg in political, social, and economic possibilities, are united by religion, ritual, and a faint feeling of "we-ness," owing to the existence of a primary assembly and the regular administration of justice, even if by the rich and powerful (Lotze 1990: 240-42; Raaflaub 1993: 57-59, 76-82). From the beginning the polls displayed a certain amount of openness and flexibility concerning the actual social and political standing of its members, which was tied primarily to wealth and landholding and only secondarily to high descent (Stahl 1987: 83-86; Stein-Hölkeskamp 1989: 43-50, cf. 134-38). But such openness had its limits: even if the group of active citizens (that is, those eligible to serve as magistrates, jurors, or councillors) was extended, it normally remained limited to the middle-class citizens, the farmers who could afford the expensive hoplite equipment. This kind of timocratic structure, tying political and rnrlitary rights to landed property and wealth, was common to most Greek poleis and to andent societies in general.

Athenian demokratia ignored such traditional limitations. It was founded upon the elimination of the strict separation between landholders and landless citizens and, at least ideologically, replaced the criterion of wealth by that of citizen descent. Initially it was only Athens that crossed the evolutionary threshold of giving the thetes full access to the political institutions, including the procedures controlling the officials. To lose sight of these fundamental distinctions between Greek polis and Athenian demokratia on the one side and, on the other, to overlook the important aspects of polis continuity even in Athens cannot but lead to results that distort the political and social history of Greece in general and Athens in particular. As far as Greece is concerned, scholars tend to discover "democracy" almost everywhere and at every stage of poliS evolution, while, with regard to Athens, they are inclined to fit many political and cultural phenomena into a democratic straitjacket, although the same phenomena, when occurrrng outside of Athens, may be connected with an aristocratic or oligarchic system. The proper context for such phenomena, then, is the polls, regardless of its constitution.

Leslie Kurke (Ch. 8) presents a compelling example of a concern that allegedly is specific to tragedy - perhaps the genre most typical of Athenian literature - but really belongs in a broader Greek context. The comparison she offers between Athenian tragedy and Boeotian

[S.125] (Pindaric) epinician suggests that the egalitarian ideology generally assumed to be characteristic particularly of tragedy is in fact a "more pervasive phenomenon of polis poetry in general - not confined to Athens, nor to democracy." This suggestion flies in the face of the widespread opinion that tragedy is crucially linked to democracy and therefore may be used as a quarry for collecting evidence for the evolution, invention, or ideology of democracy in Athens. Having interpreted the representation of the "myth of the destructive and doomed House of Atreus" both on the tragic stage in Athens (in Aeschylus's Agamemnon ) and in a victory celebration in Thebes (Pindar's Pythian 11), Kurke concludes, "both endorse an egalitarian ideology through the negative paradigms of political and economic hubris." And she adds, ironically but rightly, "Perhaps democratic Athens in 458 and oligarchic Thebes in 454 were not so different after all. Perhaps much that we take to be peculiar to Athenian democracy and the cultural production it fostered is more generally characteristic of the polis as such and of publicly performed poetry that negotiates civic tensions." Here she touches upon the amalgamation of (aristocratic) elite and mass, in my view an important criterion for p0-us evolution. Considering the role of the choregos , who is given unparalleled scope for personal display before and after the performance, she concludes, "tragedy problematizes both aristocratic and democratic values, even as the same dramatic gestures effect a highly successful transaction between elite choregos and mass audience," and again, "tragedy once more begins to look a great deal like Pindaric epinician."

All this raises the question of who might stand behind such "negative paradigms of political and economic hubris" in Athens about 458. Unfortunately, we lack sufficient evidence for Athenian history in the 450s to focus on a specific person. There was a magistracy, however, the generalship, that offered its holders enormous economic and political possibilities.

The generals, at that time always of noble birth, combined military and political experience and power and were neither restricted to only one year of office nor selected by lot. They were in a position to exploit to their personal advantage the opportunities provided by ruling and expanding an empire. liaving excluded the polemarchos from military duties and blinded the watchful eye of the Areopagus Council, ambitious and eloquent generals dominated center stage in politics. In no other period of Athenian history could a single person gain so much glory, wealth, and influence as when Athenian imperial power was at its peak. We may suggest, therefore, that tragedy served as a means to warn the victorious general not to succumb to hubris, just as it was one of the purposes of the epinician to reintegrate the Panhellenic victor into the polis. In both cases such admonition was directed at competitive aristocrats who potentially threatened the harmony of the polis. "It is empire... rather than egalitarian ideology that is unique to Athens in the fifth century" (Kurke, Ch. 8, with reference to Raaflaub), and it is empire and its consequences rather than democracy that should supply us with the criteria to explain tragedy. (19)

Michael Jameson, in his chapter "Religion in the Athenian Democracy" (Ch. 9), arrives at a similar question. "Was it then empire rather than democracy that fueled the religious vitality of Classical Athens?" He cautiously responds that increased participation and the role of the polis as host and sacrificer "are in accord with the democratic ethos but would not be entirely inconceivable in even an oligarchic state, given the resources." This fully agrees with H.S. Versnel's statement that "as far as the fifth century is concerned, it turns out to be extremely hard, if not impossible, to find any clear-cut connections between democratic ideology and religion" (1995: 387). Jameson, searching for factors that distinguish religion in the fifth from that in earlier centuries, is unable to discover any decisive, let alone revolutionary, change from the Archaic to the Classical age. Well before the

[S.126] Classical period, the role of the state in religion was substantial because "the polis may have been expected to intervene at any point when its help could benefit the gods and the cornmunity" (Ch. 9), by providing resources for temple building, by appointing "managers" (not religious experts) to ensure the performance of ritual, by recording the information on the appropriate handling of ritual in the so-called sacred laws, and by the polis's appropriating the symbolism inherent in the cults (a process that was accelerated by the sixth-century tyrants) Each of these religious traits was important under the fifth-century demokratia , but none of them was initiated only then or restricted to Athens (see, again, Jameson, Ch. 9).

On the other side, the elite continued the important religious role they undoubtedly played in the Archaic age: 'the act of sacrificing in the major cults of those particular gods that the polis had come to regard as essential to its wellbeing continued to be the prerogatives of a few individuals" (Jameson, Ch. 9), mostly members of the old gene , who passed the ritual practices on to the individual priests according to their own rules and undisturbed by the demos. (20) And even if new cults were served by individuals chosen from the demos at large, Jameson suggests this procedure was adopted less as an instrument of democratic policv than as the only method to avoid favoring one family or faction. Hence, I would add, we recognize again a typical trait of aristocratic behavior, namely securing equal opportunity among the nobles who were expected to fulfill religious duties. (21)

Jameson thus sees a parallel between the political and religious role of the elite. "Just as the elite adjusted with remarkable adaptability to the new political and military conditions and long managed to maintain its position of leadership within the democracy, so the traditional priests, no longer necessarily either rich ... or particularly aristocratic, found themselves prominent and honored in ceremonies much grander in scope and wealth than their forebears could have conceived in the previous century." (22) Jameson's emphasis on continuity in religion and ritual seems to underline that it was precisely the potential of the polis as a community rather than democracy that was exploited so successfully both in religion and in politics by the old families, thanks to the unprecedented opportunities offered them by the empire. It seems more appropriate, therefore, to substitute "polis" for "democracy, when discussing religion in fifth-century Athens, where "innovation in both public and private cults was not new.... and mass and elite shared the same religious as they did political symbols" (Ch. 9).

The danger of falling into the "democracy trap" is most obvious in the sphere of the visual arts. Primarily among historians, there is a strong tendency to connect the evolution of the visual arts in fifth-century Athens with the democratic constitution. The argument mostly goes like this: 1) democracy is the top constitution; 2) the visual arts in fifth-century Athens represent the best of arts; 3) consequently, it was democracy that elicited the highest quality of art. We may agree with 1) and 2), but does that mean that 3) is correct too? Generally speaking, it seems peculiar to me to make this connection, let alone to take it for granted. A brief look at the most famous achievements in the history of art will show that they are to be found exclusively in monarchies and aristocracies. Great artists need independent and spirited patrons who are able to tolerate their provocative and creative genius. In democracy, by contrast, art has to be accepted by the majority of the people, that is, art has to accord with the lowest common denominator of taste. It is surely wrong to call democracy a euphemism for the decline of art (23) but reasonable not to consider it the most fertile ground for the production of outstanding art. If Athenian art in the fifth century was "democratic" this would, by any measure of comparison, be unique. Should we simply accept such uniqueness?

David Castriota's contribution to this volume illustrates the difficulties posed by this question

[S.127] (Ch. 10). He begins by asking, "what actually makes a monument 'democratic'?" and admits that, by some standards, "it might appear that no Athenian official art was in any real sense democratic much before the end of the fifth century." Trying, nevertheless, to argue that democracy was a theme in Athenian art from the late sixth century, he relies on help from outside the visual arts, from rhetoric and especially the Funeral Oration of Pericles. His explanation of the meaning of individual monuments thus is based on the shifting sands of the interpretation of content and the political context of rhetoric. Even in rhetoric, however, for the most part of the fifth century we find no explicit political imagery concerned with democracy (Brock 1991). Similarly, in order to categorize the Tyrant Slayers as the first monument of democracy, Castriota has to accept a marked "democratic" quality of Cleisthenes' reforms, whereas it seems more plausible that the "myth of the general resistance to Peisistratid tyranny" became part of the Athenian identity only during or even after the Persian Wars (Lavelle 1993:128). This kind of "interdisdplinarity" seems dangerous because it overemphasizes the alleged agreement between literary and archaeological evidence and therefore leads to the mutual confirmation of so-called results that by themselves all are highly debatable (cf. Small, Ch. 11).

Of course, the Stoa Poikile, the temples near the Agora and on the Acropolis (especially the Parthenon and its much debated frieze) and many other buildings and sculptures in fifth-century Athens and Attica, taken together, are as different from comparable ensembles in any other polis in Greece as the Athenian form of government is different from that of other Greek poleis. But, pursuing similar lines of investigation as Kurke and Jameson do elsewhere in this volume, we might seek the specific background to the undeniably distinctive quality of culture and the visual arts in fifth-century Athens less in the city's political structure (democracy) than in its special circumstances (the availability of the empire's resources). In other words, the artistic monuments of the Periclean era express Athenian self-confidence and proudly represent the wealth and power of the leading polis in Greece but no more than drama and religion should they be taken as reliable testimonies of democracy. What Versnel (1995: 369) says about religion and democracy, may be valid also for art and democracy: "With respect to political projections in the domain of myth and ritual, the Athenians were nationalists and patriots rather than democrats." The ideology behind that glamorous curtain of marble, gold, and ivory thus perhaps resembles that of Augustan Rome or even Pisistratid Athens more closely than we think, and it may have had the same effect of depoliticizing communal life by aestheticizing it. The purpose of art was to adorn a powerful polis not to create symbols of democracy. (24)

Taking seriously the fact that democracy as a specific theme of art appeared only at the end of the fifth and in the fourth century, we should not conclude, as Castriota does, that the "Athenians were reticent about celebrating the democratic constitution by direct visual artistic means" (Ch. 10). Rather, we should consider the possibility that for most of the fifth century demokratia as a constitution did not vet exist. Consequently, the Tyrant Slayers should be explained against an aristocratic background, that is, as a monument celebrating the recovery of aristocratic freedom and equality (isonomia ) that had been suppressed under the tyrants. By tradition in control of power before the rise of tyrants, the aristocrats were the real losers during the Fisistratid period-much more so than the demos, which was not used to ruling in the polis-and therefore, after the expulsion of the tyrants, they were the real winners in regaining isonomia and isegoria . Castriota (Ch. 10) finds it interesting that one of the aristocratic rivals for leadership after the fall of the tyrants was named Isagoras (reflecting the ideal of isegoria ). Indeed, but not in the sense Castriota perceives, namely as evidence for democracy. Rather, the name Isagoras, held by a "hard-core" aristocrat,

[S.128] suggests the right interpretation of the sculpture group and the scolion ideologically connected with it (the "Harmodius Song," carmina adespota 10, 13 D; 893, 896; 1962; Raaflaub 1980: 22-28): the aristocrats were freed from inequality and oppression and assumed again their familiar position as leaders in the framework not of a democracy but of the polis. (25)

In sum, to differentiate in fifth-century Athens between polis and democracy helps us observe the continuity of specific communal traits inherent in the structure of every polis and thus prevents us from dating Athenian democracy too early. Above all, it helps us understand the formative role of aristocrats even in fifth-century Athens. The evolution of the polis is inseparably linked with the political experiences and achievements of aristocrats who shaped the community from the Dark Ages to the Classical period. This factor cannot explain, however, why the predominance of the aristocrats eventually was replaced by the sovereignty of the demos, which took the power of decision into its own hands. To find an answer to this question, we have to examine the role the Creek aristocracy in general and the Athenian aristocrats in particular played in an ever-changing political environment.

 

CONSERVATIVE BUT NOT INFLEXIBLE: ARISTOCRACY AND POLITICAL CHANGE

In his book Aristocracy , Jonathan Powis (1984) presents a concise description of the political significance of aristocracy in Europe from the Middle Ages to modern times. A different definition and understanding of aristocracy underlie his analysis, and it concerns a very different world. Yet our thinking about ancient aristocracies can be stimulated usefully by studying the experiences and attitudes of an elite by wealth and birth that over centuries was surprisingly successful not only in surviving deep political and economic changes, serious ideological ruptures, and revolutions, but also in preserving in a changing world their political prominence and social power.

One of the distinctive traits common to all aristocracies is "a striking capacity for adaptation and survival over the years" (Powis 1984: 1). This capacity, demonstrated in continuous slow adjustments to material and cultural changes, enabled aristocracies to perform public roles and exercise power and authority even in radically different conditions. Another particular feature of traditional aristocratic authority is its general or comprehensive character. "Men born to exercise leadership could expect to do so in every important sphere of public life" (1984: 87). In fifth-century Athens this feature was enhanced by the fact that the aristocrats enjoyed a virtual monopoly of leadership, because there was no other elite capable of performing the religious, military, and political tasks required by the expanding empire. Inevitably, therefore, Athenian demokratia was designed to fit the already existing system of aristocratic leadership (Heuss 1962: 280). Only relatively late in the fifth century new men, trained by the sophists, emerged in politics, thus providing an alternative to the old leading families.

The results of Powis's analysis of the conflicts of authority that surfaced when the modern state demanded obedience of and control over its citizens, regardless of descent (1984: 5, 63-86), are equally relevant, although less clearly applicable to ancient conditions. Inevitably the growing public authority of the state infringed upon the various forms of aristocratic leadership (kinship, clientage, local influence). "But over centuries of gradual adaptation, governments (largely in any case staffed by noblemen) tended to compromise: the local influence of aristocratic patrons might be harnessed, and prestigious recruits drawn into state service. In expanding government machines, aristocratic connections survived and prospered" (Powis 1984: 5). While the state benefited from the au-

[S.129] thority of the aristocracy, it also became a source of aristocratic opportunity" (1984: 67). It is precisely this aspect of mutual benefits in the relation between state and aristocracy, likely to foster compromise, that encourages comparison between the modern state and the ancient polis and their aristocracies. The military campaigns following the Persian Wars were fought by all citizens but created enormous possibilities to acquire wealth and fame especially for aristocrats. Their political experience and miiitary competence in organizing and leading the Athenian hegemony and empire provided the polis and its citizens with financial resources and, more importantly, civic pride.

More than anything else, this balance or "compromise" between polis and aristocracy makes it difficult to define the political structure between the Persian and Peloponnesian Wars clearly as either an aristocracy or democracy. Politics at that time was no zero-sum game: the increasing momentum of the demos in the Assembly was not counterbalanced by decreasing effectiveness of aristocratic guidance of the people (pace Meier 1988:129 = 1993a: 113). There is thus no simple and compelling answer to the question of who ruled Athens in the middle of the fifth century. Certainly, the institutional framework indicates that the demos had the last word in decision-making and controlling the magistrates. But having the last word does not necessarily mean to speak in one's own words. We have seen above that throughout this period the aristocratic instructor played an eminent role in shaping the collective will of the people. (26)

But perhaps we should not even try to separate the will of the elite from the interests of the masses. For the view seems widely accepted that the Athenian citizens shared a common feeling of elitism and exclusiveness, and that the demos was in a sense "aristocratized": "the closed citizen group adopted many of the views of the social elite: the nobility" (Raaflaub 1983: 535). Some scholars (e.g., Gschnitzer 1981:128) are surprised by this transfer of aristocratic values to the demos- a transfer that, however, is not surprising at all once we recognize the aristocrats as the makers of democracy. There appears to be a parallel between the role of the aristocrats in Athens and in the early stages of modern democracy in 18th-century Europe, where the "familiar instruments of modern democracy were fashioned by the upper classes and then handed down, step by step, to the lower" (Marshall 1965:101). It was not some imaginary democratic society that adopted aristocratic virtues and ideals; rather, it was the aristocrats who continued to use the flexible and traditional aristocratic social values and integrated the demos into the system of those values. Strictly speaking, by taking the demos into their hetaireiai , the leading aristocrats raised the social and then the political value of the hoplites and finally of the thetes; thereby they turned them into a privileged group and gave them the illusion of taking part in the exclusiveness of the aristocracy. To express it pointedly, one might say that fifth-century demokratia was a "democracy without demos" (demos understood here in the Old Oligarch's sense of "lower classes"), because the identical interests of mass and elite were based on aristocratic values, and the political equality distributed to all citizens corresponded to the equality of rights normally enjoyed only by the elite: the ideal of isonomia , created as an aristocratic ideal, was extended to the citizen group as a whole.

Such pervasiveness of aristocratic thinking in the citizenry helps explain some of the strange traits inherent in fifth-century demokratia that make us hesitate to acknowledge that Athenian demokratia was a democracy. I think of the martial spirit that made an aristocratic goal, to be the best, the common goal of the polis; the low status of women, who could not belong to the political elite because they bore no arms; the d~ sire for exclusiveness informing the citizenship law of 451/450; the prevalence of slavery and the inferior status of the metics, because every privileged group needs to build its identity in contrast to an underprivileged group (Raaflaub

[S.130] 1983: 532); and, last but not least, the surprising fact that economic inequality did not, as it did in other Greek poleis, provoke serious demands to distribute the land or the wealth of the rich.

With the dissemination of aristocratic values in all segments of society the communal structure of the polis certainly reached its evolutionarv limit. At the same time the aristocracy was now completely integrated into the realm of the fully developed polis and gave up its claim to political exclusiveness, although not to private ostentation and even less to military and political leadership. All this, however, did not yet estabh.sh democracy, but by including the people in its value system the elite created the decisive precondition for a fluent transition from aristocracy to democracy that helped the Athenians avoid violent conflicts between elite and demos.

This fluent transition was facilitated by a specific trait in the history of Athenian democracy: the demos was never confronted with a closed and united aristocracy. For this reason alone it is misleading to think of a revolution, a fixed contrast between mass and elite, or, as Morris does (1996 b), to declare the conflict between different value systems (elitism vs. the middle) the driving force in Archaic historv. It is also misleading to look for a "narrow clique of rulers" (Ober 1993 a: 228; cf. Hedrick 1994: 166) and, if such a clique cannot be found, to conclude that democracy must have been developed and managed by the demos. The Athenian elite did not "fail" to "develop group cohesiveness visa-vis the masses" (Ober 1989: 15); they did not want it (cf. Small, Ch. 11). As far as we can look back in Greek history, we perceive in Athens as well as in other poleis aristocrats so deeply divided among themselves that it is impossible to understand them as a clearly and narrowly defined group (Stein-Hölkeskamp 1989: 7-13). Their interests in the Archaic period often conflicted with those of the polis and, to judge from Solon's complaints, in pursuing their own advantage some of them even put the existence of the polis at risk. Even in the deep crisis of the late seventh century, the aristocrats were unable to agree on a sommon course of action. They agreed only upon common inaction by leaving it to Solon to restore the polis on a new foundation. When they adopted shared forms of social life, such as the symposium, they did not use it to stress exclusiveness but opened it readily to newcomers (Giuliani 1991: 17; Stein-Hölkeskamp 1992: 43-45); they neither bore common status symbols or insignia nor developed a shared designation for their entire group, let a one a shared political concept. What united the Athenin aristocrats divided them at the same time: ambition and the striving for personal power. This goal remained the same throughout, even if the means to achieve it changed as the aristocrats were increasingly tied into the polis.

The Athenian aristocracy's weakness lay in its competitiveness; exactly this same factor paved the way for the demos to be integrated into the political processes. In Rome the transition from. one form of constitution to another was marked by sometimes violent conflicts, the "struggle of the orders." Such conflicts were avoide(l in Athens because the demos always found I~aders in the ranks of rivalling aristocrats and because, unlike the Roman patricians, the Athenian elite did not close its ranks to outsiders. But the fact that, for whatever reasons, there were always aristocrats ready to fight for the interests of the demos had disadvantages as well: the evolution of democracy remained, so to speak, an aristocratic cause; hence, unlike the Roman plebeians, the Athenian demos had no incentive to define its own position in contrast to the aristocracy. The demos knew that its interests coincided with and were protected by those of some leading aristocrats; it thus became part of aristocratic politics. Rivalry among aristocrats spared the people from having to stage a revolution. This also may help explain why theoretical analyses of the nature of the new form of constitution can be traced only late in the fifth century: as long as the demos's interests were represented by individual aristocrats,

[S.131] there was no need to think seriously about distribution of power. Competition among aristocrats was part of the "system" in which the demos profited because aristocrats seeking supporters increasingly relied on the demos in shaping their policies. In doing so, they needed, shaped, and used the institutions.

 

WHAT MATTERS MORE: INSTITUTIONS OR REVOLUTION?

The debate in this volume between Raaflaub and Ober focuses on whether institutions or the "people's revolution" should be used as primary criterion for democracy. This debate continues the Hansen-Ober debate about the distinction between political institutions and extra-institutional forces, one that represents no less "than an attempt to probe the limits of society and state" (Hunter 1994: 185-89). There-fore more is at stake than the date of the origin of democracy, seemingly indicated by the volume's title. The issue at hand is the priority of political culture over political institutions, that is, the priority of a society's "way of thinking and acting in the world" (Ober, Ch. 4) over the formal institutional framework of social organization or, to paraphrase Robert Connor (1971: 4-5), the priority of nerves, tendons, and the muscles that make the body politic move over the constitutional skeleton of bare bones that executes such movements.

Undoubtedly, Ober is right in insisting that democracy "is much more than a set of institutions" (Ch. 4). Connor's metaphor of bones and muscles, however, shows that it makes little sense to separate the musculature of a political culture from the institutional skeleton, because, first, the "political musculature" cannot move anything without durable and fixed institutional "bones" and, second, the institutions themselves are the result of a highly developed political culture, that is, of a "way of thinking and acting in the world" that the aristocrats developed with difficulties and over a long time, when they were faced, from the end of the Dark Ages, with the necessity of achieving distribution of power, peer control, and political stability in an ever-changing world.

It is no exaggeration to state that the basic structure of all political institutions that later gave vitality to democracy - including collective and rotating offices, councils, and primary assemblies of the people - were "invented" by aristocrats. The creation of such institutions resulted primarily, on the one hand, from the experience of competitive aristocrats that in a complex society they could not play a leading role collectively, that is, as a group, because they would constantly obstruct each other and, on the other hand, from the realization that institutions might offer advantages in aristocratic competition (Walter 1993: 75, 76-87). Institutions emerged since the eighth century because it became necessary to organize aristocratic dominance within a social environment marked both by competitive peers and by the existence of a broad layer of politically free and economically independent people (cf. Raaflaub 1993: 74-82). Thinking about institutions as a means of improving political action and interaction became a typical trait of the developing polis but had nothing to do in itself with the development of democracy. Neither the regulated alternation between ruling and being ruled nor the control of office-holders by the electorate or specific councils such as the Areopagus are specific indicators of democracy. Even the existence of primary assemblies cannot be identified convincingly as a forerunner of democracy because, although such assemblies were widespread in the world of the archaic Greek poleis (Sealey 1987: 92-96), only in Athens the constitutional development resulted in demokratia . Was it, then, really a revolution that sparked democracy and made Athens so distinctive?

Ober is right again when emphasizing that the demos's ability to act independently in

[S.132] 508/7 B.C. was an important step on the way to democracy. I cannot but agree, having myself stressed, as Ober notes (1989: 67 n. 35), the obvious "civilian self-consciousness" of the demos visible in this act and explained it as the ultimate result of the people's experiences during the Pisistratid period. But by placing the "epistemic shift" in the demos's uprising, Ober overlooks that this riot cannot explain the beginning of democracy but, on the contrary, this unexpected riot needs to be explained by an earlier "epistemic shift" (Ch. 4). I agree with Raaflaub's response to Ober that "the masses defend only what is already theirs" (Ch. 5). Raaflaub in turn places the epistemic shift between the expulsion of the tyrants and Cleomenes' intervention by pointing at the institutional reforms of Cleisthenes who had put "the demos in charge of the politeia " (Ch. 5). This observation, however, is too late as well. To explain the unexpected riot we have to look farther back and take into account the leveling consequences of the Pisistratids' policies that resulted in giving the demos a strong feeling of a common citizenship as "the Athenians." In besieging the Acropolis, the demos did not intend to defend "their" political rights and participation; rather they were determined not to become passive victims again in the rivalries and power struggles among aristocratic factions that re-emerged violently after the fall of the tyranny (Eder 1988: 469-70; 1992: 31-33). The significance of this revolt of the masses without aristocratic leaders should certainly not be underestimated, but it remained an ephemeral event; it was not even repeated in this form in the revolt against the oligarchs at the end of the fifth century and surely did not fuel "the next 185 years of democratic evolution" (Ober, Ch. 4).

The path to democracy was not even completed when Ephialtes and Pericles followed the example of Cleisthenes. Both of them increased the group of their supporters considerably and strengthened the people politically by transferring power from the Areopagus Council to the demos, including the thetes. Here, again, the institutions served as useful tools to organize the growing mass of followers in political structures. In fact, from Solon to Ephialtes no political step on the way to democracy was taken without institutional repercussions, unclear though their details may be to us. Obviously every politician since Solon recognized that nothing could be achieved through mere appeals to the goodwill and reason of the aristocratic leaders of the demos or of the demos themselves-or, to say it more pointedly, by waiting for progress in political culture. It is not by chance that the author of the Aristotelian Constitution of the Athenians , in describing the gradual evolution of democracy from Draco to the fourth century, draws a clear parallel between the development of democracy and the formation of institutions by marking 11 steps from an embryonic state of demotic involvement to the telos of the full-grown democracy. Unfortunately, this concept, although completely in accordance with Aristotle's ontology, does not really advance our understanding of the coming of democracy because it prevents the author from recognizing the specific character of each step in its own historical context and, more specifically, from paying attention to the aristocrats' role and interest in developing and using institutions as instruments of aristocratic competition. Yet, despite its methodological shortcomings, the Constitution of the Athenians helps sharpen our eyes to the significance its contemporaries attached to institutions: when thinking about democracy, they indeed identified constitution and society with "bare bones" and "muscles."

Another point needs to be stressed when considering priorities: the significance of institutions as a criterion for political stability varies in accordance with the structure of society. The efficiency of aristocracies and oligarchies relies primarily on the social power of and personal communication between the members of the upper class. Decisions are made in small

[S.133] groups, based on consensus, and then, perhaps, made public to the demos. Formal institutions are therefore of secondary importance for the political functioning of aristocracies. Democracies, by contrast, which tend to diminish personal dependencies, to destroy individual power, and to involve large numbers of citizens in political decision-making, function best if opinions are formed and decisions are made precisely in "anonymous" institutions. In other words, the democratic way of acting in the world is not possible at all without the framework of institutions, which, consequently, are of primary importance to all democracies. We should distinguish at least two stages in the his-tory of institutions: first, the stage of their formation in the context of the polis and, second, the stage of their use in a "democratic" context.

The first stage took place in the general context of polis formation, that is, in a process of social transformation that spread widely in Greece from the eighth century. This process was led by aristocrats, who had to organize the politics, religion, and law of their communities in a changing world. For reasons about which we can only speculate, between the mid-seventh and early fifth century some segments of the non-aristocratic citizenry, the hoplites, were included among the active citizens. During the period of this first "egalitarian movement" (Morris 1996b), which transformed the polis gradually into a community of landowners and citizen-soldiers, in some poleis the range of offices was enlarged, and in others a second council was introduced besides an old aristocratic one. Nevertheless, the eunomia of that world was arranged or rearranged exclusively by members of the upper class, who claimed leadership in peace and war. In that stage of poliS organization the emerging institutions were in fact "second-order artifacts that arise in and then evolve in response to first-order 'epistemic' sociological or ideological shifts" (Ober, Ch. 4), because they were due to new exigencies to which the aristocrats' thinking and acting had to respond (Raaflaub 1991 b: 230-38; Eder 1993: 442-46). In many cases the institutions proved too weak to protect the hoplite community from aristocratic power struggles and tyranny precisely because they were not invented in order to stabilize the polis as a community of citizens but primarily in order to secure equal opportunities among the rich and powerful who were striving for power and wealth at home and for glory abroad.

Things changed at the end of the Archaic period, largely owing to the effects of tyranny. It may be dangerous to make general statements on the political impact of tyranny in Greece, but in the case of Athens, the polis that concerns us here primarily, we are on fairly solid ground. There, the significance of the polis as a center of political action grew enormously. The tyrants tried to monopolize the interstate relations maintained by aristocratic families, thus weakening the alliances their fellow aristocrats had established with their peers in other poleis. It is hardly by chance that all the so-called Panhellenic Games in Greece - except for the Olympics - were founded in the sixth century, perhaps as a means to create a refuge for keeping up such relations among the aristocrats. At home, however, they had to integrate themselves, willingly or unwillingly, in the political game the tyrants played when involving the mass of the citizens into symbolic actions of pollis unity, in the process transforming the polis into a civic space. Even after the expulsion of the tyrants, the aristocrats had no choice but to continue to concentrate on this civic space; in other words, in their competition for power in the polis they had to take the "Athenian identity" of their non-aristocratic fellow citizens into consideration.

The institutional reforms of Cleisthenes opened the second stage in the history of institutions, making them an instrument which not only could but had to be used by the members of the traditional elite families, even when they were pursuing their own ends in the polis. Al-


[S.134] though the institutions now assumed primary importance in politics, this step did not yet coincide with the beginning of democracy in the strict sense of the word. For changes in the composition of the Council and the magistracies continued to be initiated by aristocrats who were prepared by centuries of experience to shape and use the institutions to their own advantage and to influence decisions even under changing conditions. "The issues would often have been decided informally in private negotiation among the members of the elite," but more than in any period before Cleisthenes that elite "exercised its power through the political institutions, not independently of or in opposition to the institutions" (M.H. Hansen 1989 c:111).

Despite the considerable consequences of Cleisthenes' constitutional groundwork, the role of the institutions as a crucial element of political organization was not noticed explicitly before the sophists (Spahn ~990: 30-32). Obviously, then, interest in the institutional frame-work of the polis was stimulated only after Ephialtes and his supporters crossed a mental barrier-common to the Creeks and seemingly unsurmountable-by including the thetes (i.e., members of the community without landed property, such as traders, craftsmen, shopkeepers, and day laborers) in the politically active citizen body. Even so, I am reluctant to identify these reforms with the beginning of democracy as a form of constitution that was based on the "sovereignty" of the demos. Rather, with the integration of the thetes a process was repeated that had taken place some 200 years earlier when the hoplites had found their military and political position in the Archaic community. In the seventh century the hoplite phalanx was welcome to the aristocrats as a means to demonstrate their own superiority in battle and politics (Walter ~992: 48-50); in the fifth century the rowers may have been welcome to some aristocrats in order to gain the majority in politics for their concept of hegemony.

Anyway, this massive expansion of the active citizenry was unique, and, consequently, the creation of a well-balanced set of institutions proved to be of unique importance. By guaranteeing the regular participation of exception-ally large numbers of citizens in political, judicial, and administrative functions, those very institutions became true "schools of democracy," where every citizen had the opportunity to gain procedural experience and political competence. Participation in the polis (metechein tes poleos ) meant essentiallv and for most citizens exclusively participation in the institutions of the polis. Thus the constitutional "skeleton" provided the demos with the "muscles" that enabled it to emancipate itself gradually from the patronage of aristocratic "first men," to overcome the tyranny of oligarchic juntas and eventually to assume command of politics and control over its own "fickleness."

 

CONCLUSION: WHY IN ATHENS?

Finally, there remains the question of why the egalitarian trend in polis evolution, widespread in Greece, did not stop in Athens with the political integration of the hoplites. Why did the development of the polis in Athens result in a democracy?

We have already found part of the answer. One condition for the evolution of democratic structures consisted in demystifying power and in weakening social ties and dependencies. As far as we can tell, this process began earlier and progressed farther in Athens than elsewhere: Solon reduced the possibilities, traditionallv open to the rich and noble, to exploit economic pressure in order to create power and dependencies within the citizen body, and he enhanced the citizens' self-confidence by establishing the possibility of appealing against the arbitrary decisions of aristocratic judges. Although he did not touch the old families' mo-

[S.135] nopoly of leadership - in fact, he even strengthened it by elevating a group of super-rich families above the census class of the elite hippeis - the long-lasting tyranny of the Pisistratids destroyed this monopoly so completely that it could not be restored in its old forms after the expulsion of the tyrants.

Tyranny itself gave rise to other elements that proved decisive for the later evolution of democracy: the idea of the equality of all Athenians and that of the unity of the Athenian polis (Eder 1992: 28-31). The tyrants, not tolerating any form of political authority besides themselves and concentrating their own and the people's interests on the polis of Athens, enhanced the citizens' Athenian identity and forced the aristocrats, by threat of exile and disfranchisement, to integrate themselves into their polis, at the price of disavowing traditional connections with their peers in other poleis and states. The focus of aristocratic competition for prestige, glory, and influence changed rapidly; the importance of international meeting places and connections was increasingly replaced by that of the polis and its citizens. Isagoras was the last who tried, as Cylon and Pisistratus had done before him, to rely on foreign support when striving to gain an outstanding position in Athens. Cleisthenes, his contemporary, was the first to understand the new conditions of competitive politics within the polis: to prevail over one's peers as well as to avoid the appearance of fostering tyrannical ambitions, one had to aim at reaching power not against but through the people and the institutions of the polis. Perceiving the demos's essentially positive experience under the patronage of the tyrants and the leveling effect of the centralized tyrannical rule, he ingeniously envisioned the possibility of establishing some sort of "constitutional tyranny" by replacing the multiple forms of power formation through discrete hetaireiai , as they were typical of traditional aristocratic competition, with centralized leadership based on the majority of Athenian citizens. In other words, the new political model focused on integrating the demos in a single large hetaireia and on shaping the institutional framework of decision making in a way that left legitimation by the majority of citizens as the only way to political success. By realizing this concept, Cleisthenes designated the institutions as the essential fora of aristocratic competition and as the decisive instruments with which to conduct politics. Consequently the archaic form of decision making through consensus was replaced by that of decision by majority - an idea that in principle is not based on consensus but on confrontation.

Demystification of personal power, elite focus on the polis, and majority rule: these political concepts were widespread in Greece and typical ai~o of oligarchical systems. Thus they do not explain sufficiently why only in Athens the body of active citizens was extended far beyond the roup of landholding citizens. We have to look for an additional incentive for the inclusion of all adult males, which eventually led to democracy, and we find it in the role that the Atheni~n polis assumed after the Persian Wars as the leading polis in the Delian League, which was soon transformed into an Athenian Empire. To organize and preserve hegemonial and imperial power in the Aegean greatly exceeded the militarv and political resources that a "conventional" polis could command. Although there is no doubt about the close linkage between empire and democracy, there is an extensive scholarly debate about priorities, and, not surprisingly, the dividing line runs exactly between those emphasizing political culture and those stressing the institutions as the primary criterion of defining democracy (see Ober, Ch. 4; Raaflaub, Chs. 3, 5).

Both versions, however, have their weaknesses. The former camp, who obviously do not feel uncomfortable acknowledging that democracy flowered with empire, fail to explain why democracy in particular should be aggressive, why democratic Athens translated "the potential power latent in its demography and mineral wealth into actual, deployable military force," and why "a huge navy is inconceivable before

[S.136] the democratic revolution" (Ober, Ch. 4). What about the Persian, Carthaginian, or Roman fleets? We know (and Ober knows) that it was not the demos's pursuit of profit and advantage and clearly not the need for pay of the dicasts that caused or necessitated the empire (Millett 1993:189; Kallet-Marx 1994: 246-47; Raaflaub 1994:130-46). But why, then, should "democracy (as state of mind, an ideology)" (Ober, Ch. 4) have been the driving force that raised Athens to the position of a tyrant-like power? The adherents of the latter view, stressing the primacy of institutions, emphasize the political consequences of putting the thetes on the fleet but fail to explain why rowing should have raised their self-confidence. Rowing on the Roman navy, much bigger than the Athenian and manned primarily by Roman citizens, obviously did not cause any political change. Furthermore, no causal connection is visible anywhere in history (pace Aristotle) supporting the assumption that soldiers were paid with political money for their military successes. What about the metics on the Athenian fleet, the perioikoi in the Spartan army, the Roman farmers "ruling" an empire, the French Grande Armee drafted after the revolution, the black (separate) units in the American Civil War also drafted after their enfranchisement (and quickly forgotten after the war), or the German soldiers in World War I who lost the war and got democracy (at least for a while)?

If, however, we take the competitive spirit of Athenian aristocrats into account, we can explain the linkage between democracy and empire without claiming ideologies or unique effects that are not attested elsewhere in history. The role aristocrats played in creating a navy and shaping an empire simply cannot be overestimated. Expansion in the Aegean was planned by aristocrats before Salamis (Kinzl 1995a: 236 [Hg.-Hinweise auf: http://ivory.trentu.ca/www/cl/schach.htm]) and realized by them afterward, because they recognized the chances it offered to expand their economic and political opportunities in the polis. The unusually wide and growing area of military and administrative activitv necessitated the engagement of an evergrowing part of the citizens in the army, navy, and administration. The aristocrats also understood that it was not enough to reward their followers with booty. If they wished to draw political capital at home from their military successes abroad, they had to pass on to their supporters much of the symbolic capital of influence and power as well. It was not by chance that elected military officials, the strategoi, came to be the leading men in politics. Inevitably the military mobilization of the citizens as hoplites and rowers was followed by their political mobilization as voters, councilmen, judges, and administrators in Athens and in the empire. The integration of all citizens into politics was neither due to pressure from below nor a benevolent gift from above; it was necessitated by the increasing demands of ruling an empire as well as the competitive spirit of the aristocratic "rulers."

For, again inevitably, to borrow a line from the Sorcerer's Apprentice , the leading aristocrats eventually were no longer able to get rid of the "ghosts of democracy" they had summoned; the development they had initiated and advanced in their own interest overtook them and left them behind. The idea of majority, initially conceived of as a means to control aristocratic competition, became autonomous and absolute. The concept of followership and hetaireia, rooted in aristocratic power over the followers, was subverted as the self-confidence of the demos rose. The idea of demotic control of the institutions, initiated by competitive aristocrats in order to secure a majority for their aims and ends, backfired as well: the more the demos gained experience in handling these institutions, the less it seemed necessary to depend on aristocratic guidance.

In the end the demos was able to pick its leaders from among its own ranks; from being followers of the powerful, the common people evolved into a community of the powerful. The political calculations of the aristocrats did not work out: the demos could not forever be used

[S.137] as an instrument for short-term aristocratic goals and struggles for power. Without wanting it and against their long-term interests, the aristocrats had decisively contributed to the emergence of democracy and shaped its organizational and mental structures. There was no visible break in the constitutional development from aristocratic to democratic structures. This reason, I think, makes it difficult to celebrate "Democracy 2500" at a particular date, but it provides the crucial answer to the more important question of why the first democracy in world history was realized without bloody fighting for liberty and participation.

 

 

NOTES

 

1. Guéhenno (1993) doubts seriously that democracy will survive the year 2000, primarily because "nous avons perdu ce qui fondait notre dignité d'hommes libres, l'aspiration à former un corps politique" (p.162).

2. Hence M.H. Hansen (1989 c: 22-28) misses the point when trying to approximate the natural equality of birth mentioned by Plato and Aristotle to the "liberal democratic values of the 19th and 20th centuries" (p.27).

3. In his Politics as well, Aristotle reduces politics to the working of institutions; see Levy 1980: 245.

4. Sartori (1987) begins his first chapter by asking the question, "Can democracy be just anything" in an "age of confused democracy?" (p.3), and cites de Jouvenel (p.6 n. 6): "Discussions about democracy, arguments for and against it, are intellectually worthless because we do not know what we are talking about."

5. See Eder 1991:193-95, especially p.194 n. 40. Strauss (1989) collects numerous testimonia to father-son conflicts in the second half of the fifth century but hesitates to take this evidence at face value, concluding, "the existence of an ideological conflict between father and son may be evidence of precisely the opposite phenomenon in real life" (p.118), perhaps because democracy is not supposed to have any negative premises or effects Kallet-Marx (1993 b) observes acutely that by giving instructions on the war widow's private behavior, the speaker of the Funeral Oration in Thucydides (2.45.2) intrudes into the private sphere of the oikos . The increasing interest of the polis in the private sphere "at the cost of family autonomy" (p 142) may be due to a decreasing interest of the family in its integrity.

6. Thucydides 2.37.1: "Our government is called a democracy, because its administration is in the hands, not of the few, but of the many" (es pleionas ).

7. Thus Raaflaub, Ch. 3, expressing a common opinion. For a different but hardly convincing interpretation of demokratia , see Kinzl (1978), who derives the word from a double root: demos (people) and demoi (demes); it thus supposedly signals the significance of the Dorfgemeinschaft after the Cleisthenic reforms (1978: 324-26). In this case, we should find demokratia attested much earlier in the fifth century.

8. Debrunner 1947: 13 (= Kinzl 1995b: 57): "demokratia ist aber die Staatsform, in der das Volk die Macht besitzt." Later (1947: 20 = Kinzl 1995:b 65) he tries to explain why kratos was chosen instead of arche : first, because demarchos was used to designate an official in a demos (in the sense of "deme, district") and second, because the term archein requires that people be dominated by somebody: "Wenn aber der demos, das Gesamtvolk der vollbürtigen Burger, herrscht, so gibt es keinen Beherrschten... aus di~ sen beiden Griinden wurde bei 'demo-' das '-arch-' durch '-krat-' ersetzt: ho demos kratei , er übt die Staatsgewalt aus - über sich selbst!" At least the second part of this argument sounds rather sophisticated and assumes a highly developed political theory.

9. On the use of the graphe paranomon in the fourth century, see Yunis 1988a; on the question of the aim and date of its introduction (415?), Connor 1971:125 n. 66; Ostwald 1986:

[S.138] 135-36; Rhodes 1994a: 97-98. On its abolition in 411, Aristotle Constitution of the Athenians 29.4. Lehmann (1995: 141) emphasizes that the oligarchs used "democratic" procedures to legitimize their regime.

10. Recently Bleicken (1995: 364) even dated the beginning of democracy to the Persian Wars and explained it as "a product of the experience of fighting."

11. Not accidentally the new democratic constitution of 403 B.C. was accompanied by a political arnnesty (Aristotle Constitution of the Athenians 39), which impressed both Andocides (1.140; 399 B.C.) and Plato (Letters 7.385 b). Arguably, the concept of the second best state in the Laws is due to Plato's experience with fourth-century democracy, demonstrating that even a "misconceived" government could be efficient and tolerable if it was bound strictly to justice and laws; see Pie'rart 1995. Sophrosyne and self-restraint can be observed also in the Athenians' reactions to offence and injury in private life: Herman (1995) analyzes the arguments used in fourth-century forensic speeches and reaches the surprising conclusion "that the view which became dominant in Athenian public life was that successful retaliation was a crime and a failure to retaliate a virtue. An Athenian who became involved in conflict was expected to lay claim to a non-militant attitude: he was supposed to give short shrift to the demands of honour, play down his desire for revenge, and relinquish the right to punish an aggressor to the civic authorities," that is, the courts (1995: 43). This strategy of self-restraint in private life should be connected with the strategy of self-control in public life. In Herman's words, "the strategy which was designed by the people of Athens to avoid the danger of conflict escalation ... was presumably instrumental in turning fourth-century Athens into one of the most stable societies of the Greek world" (1995: 60).

12. See, for example, Ostwald 1986: 27, 177. By contrast, I. Martin (1974: 24-26) argues convincingly that ostracism primarily served as an instrument in the political struggles between aristocrats and thus had nothing to do with democracy; nor was it an efficient tool to protect the young democracy from tyranny. Rhodes's view (1994a: 92) is similar to Martin's. I am most in sympathy with Kinzl's interpretation (1995 a: 227-28 [Hg.-Hinweis auf: http://ivory.trentu.ca/www/cl/schach.htm]): given that ostracism prohibited the confiscation of the estate of the exiled person, the original purpose of ostracism was to protect the property of aristocrats who were compelled to leave Athens for political reasons-as had been the case during the tyranny and the aristocratic rivalries after its fall. This interpretation helps explain why ostracism was not used for 20 years until it turned out to be a relatively "soft" weapon suitable for exiling a political rival.

13. Sartori (1987:131-37) offers useful discussions under "Majority Principle and Minority Rule" and "The Tyranny of the Majority."

14. Plutarch Cimon 12.2: "These vessels had been from the beginning very well constructed for speed and maneuvering by Themistocles; but Cimon now made them broader, and put bridges between their decks, in order that with their numerous hoplites they might be more effective in their onsets." (All translations are those of the Loeb Classical Library.) Not much imagination is needed to compare this change with the efforts the Romans made to convert their fleet into a "swimming battle field" for legionanes.

15. Such competition for the unofficial top p0sition as "leader of the people" (prostates tou demou ) did not entail opposition to the political system as such; see H. Wolff 1979; Welwei 1995: 36.

16. For the use of the private sphere (e.g., of the gymnasium or symposium) to solicit political assistance, see Humphreys 1977/78; for the continuing political importance of friends and followers, see Rhodes 1986.

[S.139]

17. E.g., Ehrenberg 1937; Sagan 1991: 101. On the inconsistencies in this equation, see Dreher 1983: 50-53, especially 139 - 41 n.155.

18. Even those who (like Stahl 1987: 257; Stein-Hölkeskamp 1989: 234; Walter 1993: 213, citing Roussel 1976: 31) acknowledge the former, shy away from concluding that the so-called democratic revolution in fifth-century Athens was primarily the result of the "stasis -competition" among aristocrats who used the demos for their own ends. Having sketched the role of aristocrats in fifth-century Athens, Stein-Ho~lkeskamp (1989: 237) comes to the strange conclusion that the aristocrats really became the best democrats of all. Did democracy, then, fall out of the sky?

19. A good example for the use of democracy as a straitjacket in interpreting tragedy is Aeschylus's Suppliants, in which the phrase, demou kratousa cheir , allegedly offers an early testimony for democracy in Athens. A closer look at lines 438-89, however, reveals that the king has already decided, before asking the demos, to refuse asylum to the maidens and their father. He reverses his opinion and appeals to the demos only when the maidens threaten to hang themselves in a temple. This scene offers no proof for democracy; if anything, it admonishes the audience to preserve harmony between leader and people. Concerning the Eumenides , Flashar (forthcoming) argues convincingly that the way Aeschylus describes the foundation of the Areopagus Council cannot be connected with any approval of democracy.

20. Jameson, Ch. 9. Even when the old gene selected the priests by sortition from a preselected list, thus adapting to the practice used for newly established priesthoods, "there is no evidence that it was imposed upon the gene by the demos" (Ch. 9). Versnel (1995: 380) states explicitly that in respect to religious organization "we can only notice that we hear nothing of democratically organized cults or rites."

21. This actually may appear typically democratic. But it might be closer to the truth to suggest that, more than anyone.else, the rivaling members of the elite were interested in preventing any additional accumulation of power in the hands of one family. In the political sphere, the same goal was achieved, for example, by inventing multiple and rotating magistracies.

22. Jameson, Ch. 9. Undeniably, the financial responsibility of the polis increased with expanded participation in ritual, a fact often regarded as characteristic of democracy; but, as Jameson points out, the polis had begun to assume the roles of host and financier way back in the Archaic period.

23. Thus the British artist Walter Legge in an interview published by the magazine Stern 51 (1982) and cited by K. Gerstner, Der Künstler und die Mehrheit (Frankfurt 1986): 19.

24. Not surprisingly, L. Burn (1989), analyzing such disparate arts as vase painting and architectural sculpture in the late fifth century, comes to the conclusion that both are extremely Athenocentric (p. 74) but do not reveal any specific references to democracy or even communal" democratic values. On the contrary, especially vase painting shows clearly "an atmosphere of escapism" (p. 64) by presenting timeless subjects like youth and rejuvenation and displaying a marked interest in the sometimes obscure "intricacies of Attic cult and genealogy" (p. 67). Even the architectural sculpture designed for public viewing remains obscure, ambiguous, and therefore open to a great variety of interpretations (pp. 62-63, citing M. Robertson and B.S. Ridgway).

25. Interestingly, the Alcmaeonid Cleisthenes sank into oblivion rather quickly. It would be rash to conclude, however, that the members of the demos, ungrateful as they were, were responsible for forgetting the "hero" of democracy. We should rather assume that his peers were not interested in cel& brating one of their own number who had

[S.140] brought the hoplites back into prominence (cf. Eder 1992: 32).

26. We have to take into account also the supposedly democratic appeals to the demos that the leaders made in order to keep power. It might be useful to compare the role of the people in Athens with the role of the lower classes in Jacksonian democracy. There, according to Vickery 1974: 313, the plantation owners were able to maintain power only if they made "a democratic appeal to the enfranchised non-slaveholding majority"; nonetheless, "despite the fact that political democracy was vigorous, active, and noisy ... the people gained little in return for their votes."


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