Mass and Elite in the Greek and Roman Worlds : From Sparta to Late Antiquity book cover
1st Edition

Mass and Elite in the Greek and Roman Worlds
From Sparta to Late Antiquity

Edited By

Richard Evans

ISBN 9781472462077
Published February 20, 2017 by Routledge
228 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This volume has its origin in the 14th University of South Africa Classics Colloquium in which the topic and title of the event were inspired by Josiah Ober’s seminal work Mass and Elite in Democratic Athens (1989). Indeed the influence this work has had on later research in all aspects of the Greek and Roman world is reflected by the diversity of the papers collected here, which take their cue and starting point from the argument that, in Ober’s words (1989, 338): ‘Rhetorical communication between masses and elites... was a primary means by which the strategic ends of social stability and political order were achieved.’ However, the contributors to the volume have also sought to build further on such conclusions and to offer new perceptions about a spread of issues affecting mass and elite interaction in a far wider number of locations around the ancient Mediterranean over a much longer chronological span. Thus the conclusions here suggest that once the concept of mass and elite was established in the minds of Greeks and later Romans it became a universal component of political life and from there was easily transferred to economic activity or religion. In casting the net beyond the confines of Athens (although the city is also represented here) to – amongst others – Syracuse, the cities of Asia Minor, Pompeii and Rome, and to literary and philosophical discourse, in each instance that interplay between the wider body of the community and the hierarchically privileged can be shown to have governed and directed the thoughts and actions of the participants.

Table of Contents

Preface: Richard Evans (University of South Africa)


Notes on Contributors


Chapter 1: Josiah Ober (Stanford University)

Mass and Elite Revisited

Chapter 2: Matthew Trundle (University of Auckland)

Coinage and Democracy: Economic Redistribution as the Basis of Democratic Athens

Chapter 3: Luca Sansone di Campobianco (University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban)

The frame of mind of εὐταξία

Chapter 4: Philip Bosman (University of South Africa)

Ancient Cynicism: For the Elite or for the Masses?

Chapter 5: Richard Evans (University of South Africa)

Livy on Mass and Elite Interaction in Syracuse in 214 BC: Libertas, Multitudo, Uxores

Chapter 6: Loonis Logghe (University of Ghent)

Plebeian Agency in the Later Roman Republic

Chapter 7: Suzanne Sharland (University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban)

Mass and Elite in the poetry of Horace: Populating Satire 1.6

Chapter 8: Lisa Marie Mignone (Brown University)

Living in Republican Rome: Shanty Metropolis

Chapter 9: Clifford Ando (University of Chicago)

City, village, sacrifice: The political economy of religion in the early Roman Empire

Chapter 10: John Hilton (University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban)

Crowds and Power: The Misopogon of the Emperor Julian and Aethiopica of Heliodorus

Chapter 11: Hartmut Ziche (University of the Antilles/Johannesburg)

From Mass to Elite in the Later Roman Empire

Chapter 12: Nicholas Baker-Brian (Cardiff University)

Mass and Elite in Late Antique Religion: The Case of Manichaeism



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Richard Evans has taught at the University of South Africa, Pretoria, and the University of Cardiff, UK. His research has focussed on the political and military history of Greece and Rome, and the ancient topography of Sicily and Magna Graecia. His publications include histories of Syracuse (2009 and 2016) and Pergamum (2012), a political biography of Gaius Marius (1994), a study of Roman imperialism in the eastern Mediterranean (2011) and studies of significant battles and sieges of antiquity (2013 and 2015). He is currently Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Biblical and Ancient Studies at the University of South Africa.


"The variety and broad range of topics that are being covered in this stimulating and interesting volume demonstrate the enormous diversity of research on masses and elites. On the one hand, the volume brings out the opportunities for multi-disciplinary approaches while on the other hand the classical philological approach via the ancient sources shows its vitality and continues to be necessary. On the whole, the volume presents various initial steps towards new interpretations and points to new avenues for future research, for which it deserves our close scholarly attention."

- Daniëlle​ Slootjes, Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands, Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2018