Death to Tyrants!: Ancient Greek Democracy and the Struggle against Tyranny
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Death to Tyrants! is the first comprehensive study of ancient Greek tyrant-killing legislation--laws that explicitly gave individuals incentives to "kill a tyrant." David Teegarden demonstrates that the ancient Greeks promulgated these laws to harness the dynamics of mass uprisings and preserve popular democratic rule in the face of anti-democratic threats. He presents detailed historical and sociopolitical analyses of each law and considers a variety of issues: What is the nature of an anti-democratic threat? How would various provisions of the laws help pro-democrats counter those threats? And did the laws work?
Teegarden argues that tyrant-killing legislation facilitated pro-democracy mobilization both by encouraging brave individuals to strike the first blow against a nondemocratic regime and by convincing others that it was safe to follow the tyrant killer's lead. Such legislation thus deterred anti-democrats from staging a coup by ensuring that they would be overwhelmed by their numerically superior opponents. Drawing on modern social science models, Teegarden looks at how the institution of public law affects the behavior of individuals and groups, thereby exploring the foundation of democracy's persistence in the ancient Greek world. He also provides the first English translation of the tyrant-killing laws from Eretria and Ilion.
By analyzing crucial ancient Greek tyrant-killing legislation, Death to Tyrants! explains how certain laws enabled citizens to draw on collective strength in order to defend and preserve their democracy in the face of motivated opposition.
δίκην δὲ εἶναι περὶ τούτω[ν] ἀεί, μέχρι τέλος δίκης γένηται δημοκρατουμένων Ἰλιέων· ἐὰν δὲ δεθῆι ἢ ἑρχθῆι [ἢ] φεύγηι δεσμῶν,8 τιμὰς διπλασίας ὀφείλει[ν κ]αὶ ὅτι ἂν βλαβῆι διπλάσιον· ἐὰν δὲ χρήματα ἐ[κ]τείσηι, διπλάσια ἀποτινέ- 95 [τ]ω ὁ κατηγορήσ[ας]· δίκην δὲ εἶναι περὶ τούτων [ἀ]εί, μέχρι τέλ[ος] δίκης γένηται δημοκρατου- (9) [μ]ένων Ἰλιέω[ν. ἐ]άν τις ἐπὶ τυράννου ἢ ὀλιγαρ- χίας ἀποκτ[είνηι] τινὰ ἐν ἀρχῆι ὤν, πάντας τοὺς τὴμ ψῆφ[ον προσθεμ]ένους ἀνδροφόνους εἶναι,
the fall of the Thirty, honored the heroes of Phyle both for being the first to resist the unjust regime and for risking their lives in doing so: “they first began (πρῶτοι … ἦρξαν) to depose those who ruled the polis with unjust ordinances, risking their lives [sc., for the cause].” These are precisely the reasons for which the Athenians honored the original tyrannicides. 60 The early representations are a black-figure lekythos, 470–460 (Vienna, Österreichisches Museum 5247; Brunnsåker [1971:
to the possibility that wives of men under the curse might, despite the curse, give birth to boys. In that case, the curse declares, in Knoepfler’s restoration, that such boys would be μὴ γνηρίους (i.e., illegitimate: not the biological son of the woman’s husband). Thus the Eretrian law appears to use the noun νόμος in its old sense as “custom.” On the meaning of γνήσιος (in the Eretrian dialect = γνήριος) as both legitimate and blood related, see Ogden (1996: 17–18). 22 For an informative
that the exiles’ attempts to return to Eresos were potentially destabilizing because they suggested that exogenous factors (i.e., events outside of Eresos’s new unilateral deterrence game set up by the trial) might undermine the dēmos’s threat credibility. The third part interprets the action documented in the sixth text. I argue that the pro-democrats, now confident that the kings would not intervene on behalf of tyrants, proactively ended their potentially destabilizing struggle with tyrants by
Philites would be more or less contemporary to the building of the temple of Aphrodite Pandemos. The inscription (IErythMcCabe 32.5) referring to the building of the temple is dated V/IVb. A reasonable and compelling context would be shortly after the battle of Knidos: the temple would commemorate the re-foundation of Erythrai’s democracy. Note that the construction of that temple was for “the protection of the dēmos”: lines 4–5. 34 Heisserer’s theory is apparently accepted by Rhodes and Lewis