Theognis: An Alternative to Democracy
Many Greek alternatives to democracy have been discussed, from confederacy to monarchy, but none has considered trampling it underfoot. Trampling, however, is the recommended treatment for the ‘empty-headed dēmos’ in verses ascribed to the poet Theognis (847-50). Trample on them, poke them with a sharp goad, burden them with a heavy yoke, and in the Theognidean view, you will never find a ‘dēemos’ so fond of its master. This chapter addresses two questions: was the author of this poetry voicing an ‘alternative to democracy’ and, if not to democracy, to what? Secondly, did his poetry live on and contribute to such an alternative anywhere after his lifetime? The second question is one of reception, but there is a time and place in which there is evidence to make it worth asking.
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