Polity Athenians and Lacedaemonians

Polity Athenians and Lacedaemonians

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Polity Athenians and Lacedaemonians by Xenophon

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Polity Athenians and Lacedaemonians

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5
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Translated by H.G. Dakyns

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r incentive to base conduct, not to speak of lack of education and ignorance, traceable to the lack of means which afflicts the average of mankind.[14]

[13] Or, "these inferiors," "these good-for-nothings."

[14] Or, "some of these folk." The passage is corrupt.

The objection may be raised that it was a mistake to allow the universal right of speech[15] and a seat in council. These should have been reserved for the cleverest, the flower of the community. But here, again, it will be found that they are acting with wise deliberation in granting to[16] even the baser sort the right of speech, for supposing only the better people might speak, or sit in council, blessings would fall to the lot of those like themselves, but to the commonalty the reverse of blessings. Whereas now, any one who likes, any base fellow, may get up and discover something to the advantage of himself and his equals. It may be retorted: "And what sort of advantage either for himself or for the People can such a fellow be expected to

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Since this translation was published it has been shown, on the internal evidence, that Polity Athenians is not by Xenophon. They call the author pseudo-Xenophon or The Old Oligarch. And indeed, even I can see that the authors approach is noticeably different; Xenophon is clear and methodical in his structure but what we have here is a rant. The author is Tory Boy, complaining about the working class and expressing his outrage that it’s frowned upon to assault other peoples’ slaves in the street! You couldn’t make it up. Proof that human nature hasn’t changed and a fascinating insight into Athenian culture.

Polity Lacedaemonians is a fascinating picture of a disturbed and doomed society. Lycurgus is of particular interest. Today we might call him a cult leader, or a prophet. He actually got divine sanction for his laws.

Both works highly recommended.
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