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Citizens’ wisdom and (other arguments for) the defence of moderate democracy in Aristotle’s Politics

By Georgia Tsouni

Epistemic concerns are central to ancient philosophical debates about the best constitution. Famously, Plato in his Republic based his defence of philosophical rule on the idea that philosophers are the only ones possessing the kind of expertise necessary for a city to be ruled in the best way; democracy instead, according to Plato, does not train citizens in the kind of expertise necessary to produce the outcomes related to good political ruling.

Plutarch’s Hellish Cures for Ardiaeus: The Myth of Thespesius and the Occlusion of Plato’s ‘Incurables’

By Collin Miles Hilton

Plutarch’s dialogue De Sera Numinis Vindicta concludes with an elaborate myth: Aridaeus, a wicked young man, fell on his neck and died, but rose on his pyre three days later to announce the things his soul saw on its journey out from the body and throughout the outer world, such as the structures of cosmic governance and the punishments of the wicked (563b-f). His name is changed to Thespesius, and he mends his ways.

Law's Measure: Aischines 3.199–200

By Edwin Carawan

In late summer of 330 BC, arguing against Ktesiphon’s decree to honor Demosthenes, Aischines posed a puzzling analogy to describe the jury’s decision (3.199–200): he pointed to the board (σανίδιον) that presented the decree alongside the laws that it violated, and he told the judges to use it as they would use a κανῶν in “construction” (τεκτονική); then he challenged Ktesiphon to read out those parallel texts and show that they are “consonant” (συμφωνοῦντα).

"Philanthrōpia, Democracy, and the Proof of Power"

By Ted Parker

My paper focuses on an emergent political buzzword in fourth-century Athens: philanthrōpia or “generosity.” Mentioned only twice in the fifth century, attestations of philanthrōpia exploded in the fourth, preserved for us in the works of Xenophon, Isocrates, and Demosthenes. Far from remaining an innocent term for a commendable personal virtue, philanthrōpia was quickly dragged into the public arena of contemporary political debate. While some wanted to mint it as a specifically democratic value, others wished to cast it as a traditionally aristocratic one.

Kritias and Plato's Ur-Athens as Oligarchy

By William S. Morison

The identity of Kritias in Plato’s Timaeus-Kritiashas been a matter of controversy for over a century (Burnet 1914: 338 and Nesselrath 2006: 43-50). We need to move beyond overly rigid ideas about genealogy and Plato’s characters (e.g., Kirchner 1901-1903, Davies 1971: 326, Nails 2001: 108-111) to more clearly understand both the political message of the Timaeus-Kritiasand Plato’s relationship with his notorious cousin.