Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
At the end of the 5th century Be, the social contract between the mass and elite in Athens broke down, resulting in two oligarchies in the span of a decade. Despite this, the strength of the ideology of democracy, in contrast to the weakness of oligarchic ideology, ultimately resulted in the restoration of democracy. This study investigates the question of how this restoration and reconciliation came about, looking at the speeches of the late 5th and early 4th centuries as artifacts of this process. The study focuses on the sequence of events between 415 and 399 and the social and ideological dynamics that lay behind them, examining stresses in and the rupturing of the democratic social contract, yet its ultimate strength. Particular attention is paid the unprecedented amnesty of 403. The role of democratic ideology in the process of reconciliation following the restoration of democracy in 403 is central to understanding the relationship of mass and elite in this period of stress. A remarkable resilience existed on the part of democratic ideology, which held in all levels of Athenian society, and the principles of this ideology brought all the citizens of Athens together in a collective dedicated to reconciliation and restoration, which allowed them to overcome the tensions which the oligarchies had created.
Epps, Graeme, "Conflict and Reconciliation: Dynamics of the Athenian Mass and Elite 411-399 BC" (2008). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 5316.
McMaster University Library