The Birth of the Athenian Community elucidates the social and political development of Athens in the sixth century, when, as a result of reforms by Solon and Cleisthenes (at the beginning and end of the sixth century, respectively), Athens turned into the most advanced and famous city, or polis, of the entire ancient Greek civilization. Undermining the current dominant approach, which seeks to explain ancient Athens in modern terms, dividing all Athenians into citizens and non-citizens, this book rationalizes the development of Athens, and other Greek poleis, as a gradually rising complexity, rather than a linear progression. The multidimensional social fabric of Athens was comprised of three major groups: the kinship community of the astoi, whose privileged status was due to their origins; the legal community of the politai, who enjoyed legal and social equality in the polis; and the political community of the demotai, or adult males with political rights. These communities only partially overlapped. Their evolving relationship determined the course of Athenian history, including Cleisthenes’ establishment of demokratia, which was originally, and for a long time, a kinship democracy, since it only belonged to qualified male astoi.
Table of Contents
Preface. Introduction. Part One: The kinship community. 1. The Athenian kinsme.n 2. Solon’s organization of the kinship community. Part Two: The legal community. 3. Politeia and politai. 4. Solon and the Athenian politeia. Part Three: The political community. 5. Politeia and politics. 6. Cleisthenes and the emergence of the political community. Epilogue: Approximating the Athenian community, Appendices, Indices, Select Bibliography.
Sviatoslav Dmitriev (Ph.D., Harvard University, 2001) has authored City Government in Hellenistic and Roman Asia Minor (2005) and The Greek Slogan of Freedom and Early Roman Politics in Greece (2011), as well as articles on ancient Greek, Roman, and Byzantine history. His current projects focus on the Athenian orator Demades and the Byzantine erudite John Lydus, who lived a thousand years apart. He is an associate professor of history at Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana.
"(…) the wealth of material used is apparent, especially the extensive bibliography, the bulk of which includes relevant literature not limited to just English titles. In addition, the author offers an extensive index that works well." - Anja Pfeiffer, Institut für Geschichtswissenschaften, Abteilung für Alte Geschichte, Universität Bonn.
"This book will instantly become indispensable to academics for its extension and modification of Greek kinship, legal, and political groups, which are illuminated with unprecedented clarity. This is a unique achievement… Summing Up: Essential. Graduate students and faculty." - CHOICE, September 2018.
"(...) a fresh insight into the early history of Athens, which provides an interesting angle for new studies on the social organisation of Archaic communities and the wider development of Greek concepts of citizenship. It encompasses an impressive range of scholarship and engages in a number of controversial scholarly debates with an original and often persuasive voice. But its main contribution lies beyond doubt in its nuanced discussion of citizenship and its impact on the political and legal rights of an individual—a subject as relevant today as it was to Aristotle." - Bryn Mawr Classical Review
"The special merit of this book is to question the rigid and schematic view of the Athenian population through the prism of civil rights and to offer a fresh, unorthodox perspective on the composition of Athenian society." - Rafal Matuszewski, Art History
"The book raises many other issues for debate...the undermining of the unitary conception of Athenian citizenship is undoubtedly an important step forward."
- Kostas Vlassopoulos, Greece and Rome