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Free Speech and Democracy in Ancient Athens

Free Speech and Democracy in Ancient Athens

$113.00 (C)

  • Date Published: December 2005
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521819855

$ 113.00 (C)

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About the Authors
  • Free speech in the ancient democracy was not a protected right but an expression of the freedom from hierarchy, awe, reverence and shame. That freedom was challenged by the consequences of the rejection of shame (aidos) which had served as a cohesive force within the polity. Through readings of Socrates's trial, Greek tragedy and comedy, Thucydides's History, and Plato's Protagoras, this volume explores the paradoxical connections between free speech, democracy, shame, and Socratic philosophy and Thucydidean history.

    • Explores both ancient and modern theories of free speech
    • Brings the notion of shame into democratic theory
    • Offers novel readings of some of the classic texts of ancient Greece - Plato, Aristophanes, Euripides, and Thucydides
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "The material is meticulously researched and well presented. The most obvious lesson we learn is that, regardless of the period in which ti is practiced, free speech in a democracy is neither absolute nor arbitrarily inhibited. Instead, it is based on the combination of previous experience, present circumstances, and the characteristics of the polity." - Samuel B. Hoff, Department of History, Political Science and Philosophy, Delaware State University

    "...the true accomplishment of this book is to reveal the connection between democracy and philosophy through their common dependence on parrhêsia. Each relies on frankness in speech and a willingness on the part of the speaker to expose his or her self to the criticism and, at its best, the instruction of others. However, democratic polities must rely on more than parrhêsia to preserve themselves: They also rely on its opposite, on shame....we learn that the philosophic pretenses of democracy will and can never be met."
    Geoffey M. Vaughan, University of Maryland - Baltimore, Perspectives on Politics

    "Although such contemporary debates animate her book, Saxonhouse is also attuned to the difficulties of using ancient Athenian institutions as models for modern political theory. The result is an extraordinarily rich and thoughtful book that is both theoretically sophisticated and historically nuanced; it is a model of how historical scholarship can illuminate contemporary political theory."
    Thornton C. Lockwood Jr., Fordham University, Political Theory

    "This superb new book by Arlene Saxonhouse deserves a wide audience...this volume contains an exceptionally thoughtful, meticulously erudite, and provocatively wise meditation on the significance of the concept and practice of parrhêsia in the democracy of ancient Athens..."
    Leslie Friedman Goldstein, The Review of Politics

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    Product details

    • Date Published: December 2005
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521819855
    • length: 248 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 164 x 21 mm
    • weight: 0.54kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Prologue: four stories
    Part I. Introduction:
    1. The legacy of free speech
    2. Democratic amnesia
    Part II. Aidos:
    3. The tale of two gyges: shame, community, and the public/private self
    Part III. Parrhesia: The Practice of Free Speech in Ancient Athens:
    4. The practice of free speech
    5. The trial of Socrates
    Part IV. The Limits of Free Speech:
    6. Truth and tragedy
    7. Thucydides's Assemblies
    8. Protagoras's shame and Socrates's speech
    Conclusion: four paradoxes.

  • Author

    Arlene W. Saxonhouse, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
    Arlene W. Saxonhouse is Professor of Political Science and Women's Studies at the University of Michigan. She is the author of Athenian Democracy: Modern Mythmakers and Ancient Theorists (1996), Fear of Diversity: The Birth of Political Science in Ancient Greek Thought (1992), Women in the History of Political Thought: Ancient Greece to Machiavelli (1985) and editor with Noel B. Reynolds of Hobbes's Three Discourses: A Modern, Critical Edition of Newly Identified Works by the Young Thomas Hobbes (1995). She has been a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford and the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University. She has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities. She served as a Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar during the 2001–2 academic year and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 1998 she received the Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award from the University of Michigan. She was chair of the Political Science Department at the University of Michigan from 1990–3.

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