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By Roger Brock, Stephen Hodkinson

This quantity comprises eighteen essays through tested and more youthful historians that research non-democratic substitute political platforms and ideologies--oligarchies, monarchies, combined constitutions--along with diversified types of communal and nearby institutions resembling ethnoi, amphiktyonies, and confederacies. The papers, which span the size and breadth of the Hellenic global spotlight the large political flexibility and variety of old Greek civilization.

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General discussions can be found in J. M. Hall (1997); Morgan (1991; 1997; forthcoming). Introduction: Alternatives to the Democratic Polis 23 entities which constituted, as Zosia Archibald argues in her contribution, not so much an alternative mode of organization to the polis as a di·erent plane of organization in which ‘the state entity was a complex web of social groups, cities, and other settlements’. It is hardly surprising that, contrary to traditional perceptions, such complex social formations were often at the forefront of early Greek socio-political developments—for example, in developments at religious sanctuaries and in the growth of urban centres (Morgan 1997; forthcoming).

This was what an eminent modern comparative political scientist (a former Manchester Professor of Government) has called the ‘second great political innovation’ of ancient Greece: the ‘confederation’ or ‘confederacy’, often—perhaps somewhat inaccurately—referred to as the ‘federal league’ or ‘federal state’. These confederacies most frequently arose in ethn»e, although their constituent members were most often poleis—a further indication of the compatibility of local polis status with recognition of a common regional identity.

Hdt. 3. 82. 3; Thuc. 8. 89. 3), a phenomenon of which the collapse of the rule of the Four Hundred at Athens and the career of Alcaeus furnish familiar examples. The former is discussed here by Rhodes, while Nigel Spencer analyses the disintegration of the aristocratic oligarchy of Mytilene brought about by the influx of wealth from foreign ventures. This is not to say that there was no such thing as oligarchic ideology. Indeed, in its original form it was very much concerned precisely with personal excellence and success, since it seems to have focused on the character or quality of those participating in politics.

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