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The Aristocratic Temper of Greek Civilization$
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Chester G. Starr

Print publication date: 1992

Print ISBN-13: 9780195074581

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195074581.001.0001

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Social Position

Social Position

Chapter:
(p.31) Chapter 3 Social Position
Source:
The Aristocratic Temper of Greek Civilization
Author(s):

Chester G. Starr

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195074581.003.0004

The social role of the aristocratic class, as a pinnacle over commoners, resident aliens, and slaves, was consolidated in the formative era of Greek civilization. True aristocrats were very limited in numbers in a world that could support only a very restricted upper class. But aristocrats knew who they were—they were the men and women who had ancestors. The place of aristocrats was not only well defined in practice; it was also unchallenged. Every discussion of Greek society contains a picture of the clan or genos as a powerful grouping of families especially on the upper-class level. Aristocrats lived without physically laboring as did their lower-class fellow-citizens, but they were not thereby necessarily idle. The duties of a polis might take a great deal of a man's time, talking in the agora with his fellows about civic matters, attending assemblies or councils, or serving as an unpaid magistrate of state.

Keywords:   aristocrats, polis, genos, agora

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