By Roger Brock, Stephen Hodkinson

This quantity comprises eighteen essays by way of demonstrated and more youthful historians that study non-democratic substitute political structures and ideologies--oligarchies, monarchies, combined constitutions--along with different sorts of communal and nearby institutions corresponding to ethnoi, amphiktyonies, and confederacies. The papers, which span the size and breadth of the Hellenic international spotlight the mammoth political flexibility and variety of historical Greek civilization.

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The implication for modern views of the Greek polis is that we should abandon the angle of vision in which classical Athenian d»emokratia appears as the central point of Greek political experience for a perspective which sees it within a much broader context—a context very unlike the presentday ideological dominance of liberal democracy in which a range of political regimes could lay claim to legitimacy both as viable systems in their own right and as potential models for imitation by their neighbours.

Sakellariou 1989) and defined in terms of Variety: Pol. 1289A8–11; 1316B25–7 (and cf. the typologies of oligarchy and democracy in 4. 5–6); change: 1301B6–17; 1306B17–21. John Davies has recently recommended use of the term ‘microstate’ in place of ‘polis’, to direct attention towards the full range of ancient Greek polities (Davies 1997: 27). In addition, there were geographically dispersed ethn»e or pseudo-ethn»e, such as the Dorians and Ionians, which, as R. Parker has reminded us (1998: 19), were viewed by contemporaries in the same terms as ethn»e located in particular regions.

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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