In this Book

summary

Classical Greek Oligarchy thoroughly reassesses an important but neglected form of ancient Greek government, the "rule of the few." Matthew Simonton challenges scholarly orthodoxy by showing that oligarchy was not the default mode of politics from time immemorial, but instead emerged alongside, and in reaction to, democracy. He establishes for the first time how oligarchies maintained power in the face of potential citizen resistance. The book argues that oligarchs designed distinctive political institutions—such as intra-oligarchic power sharing, targeted repression, and rewards for informants—to prevent collective action among the majority population while sustaining cooperation within their own ranks.

To clarify the workings of oligarchic institutions, Simonton draws on recent social science research on authoritarianism. Like modern authoritarian regimes, ancient Greek oligarchies had to balance coercion with co-optation in order to keep their subjects disorganized and powerless. The book investigates topics such as control of public space, the manipulation of information, and the establishment of patron-client relations, frequently citing parallels with contemporary nondemocratic regimes. Simonton also traces changes over time in antiquity, revealing the processes through which oligarchy lost the ideological battle with democracy for legitimacy.

Classical Greek Oligarchy represents a major new development in the study of ancient politics. It fills a longstanding gap in our knowledge of nondemocratic government while greatly improving our understanding of forms of power that continue to affect us today.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
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  1. Half Title, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. vii-viii
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  1. Preface
  2. pp. ix-xii
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  1. Acknowledgments
  2. pp. xiii-xiv
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  1. Abbreviations and Conventions
  2. pp. xv-xviii
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  1. 1. Problem, Background, Method
  2. pp. 1-74
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  1. 2. Oligarchic Power-Sharing
  2. pp. 75-106
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  1. 3. Balancing Coercion and Co-optation
  2. pp. 107-147
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  1. 4. The Politics of Public Space
  2. pp. 148-185
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  1. 5. The Manipulation of Information
  2. pp. 186-223
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  1. 6. Processes of Regime Breakdown
  2. pp. 224-274
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  1. Afterword: The Eclipse of Oligarchia
  2. pp. 275-286
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  1. Appendix
  2. pp. 287-290
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  1. Works Cited
  2. pp. 291-322
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  1. Index Locorum
  2. pp. 323-342
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  1. General Index
  2. pp. 343-358
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Additional Information

ISBN
9781400885145
Related ISBN
9780691174976
MARC Record
OCLC
988773487
Pages
376
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-26
Language
English
Open Access
No
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