The Origins of Radical Criminology: From Homer to Pre-Socratic Philosophy 3319947516, 9783319947518

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The Origins of Radical Criminology: From Homer to Pre-Socratic Philosophy
 3319947516,  9783319947518

Table of contents :
Foreword......Page 5
Acknowledgements......Page 8
Contents......Page 9
1: Introduction......Page 12
References......Page 21
2.1.1 The Geometric Period (Ninth–Eighth Century BCE)......Page 22
2.1.2 Eighth Century BCE......Page 23
2.1.3 The Dawn of the Seventh Century BCE......Page 25
2.1.4 Zaleucus and Charondas......Page 27 General Characteristics......Page 28 The Development of the City-State in the Archaic Period......Page 29 The Invention of Coinage......Page 30 Economic Changes......Page 31
2.2.2 The “Hoplitic” Revolution......Page 33
2.2.3 Colonization......Page 36
2.2.4 Writing......Page 38
2.2.5 Law......Page 39 The Trial on Achilles’ Shield......Page 41 Public Opinion......Page 42
2.3 The Agricultural Issue......Page 44
2.4 The Revolutionary Process of “Tyranny”......Page 48
References......Page 50
3.1 Introduction......Page 51
3.2 Rhapsodes......Page 56
3.3 The Adaptation and Assembly of Homeric Texts in the Years of Peisistratus......Page 57
3.4 Elements in the Homeric epics......Page 59
3.5 The Iliad......Page 61
3.6 The Odyssey......Page 67
References......Page 75
4: Hesiod......Page 77
References......Page 84
5: Lyric Poetry......Page 85
5.1.1 Diagram of the Development of Lyric Poetry......Page 89
5.2 Archilochus (First Half of the Seventh Century BCE)......Page 91
5.2.1 Ideas: Issues in Archilochus’ Work......Page 92
5.2.2 The Highest Value of Life......Page 93
5.3 Simonides of Ceos (First Half of the Sixth Century BCE)......Page 99
5.4 Solon......Page 102
5.5 Tyrtaeus......Page 103
5.6 Theognes......Page 104
5.7 Pindar (522 or 518–438 BCE)......Page 105
5.8.1 Alcaeus......Page 107
5.8.2 Sappho......Page 114
References......Page 115
6: Greek Drama: Aeschylus......Page 117
6.1 Seven against Thebes......Page 119
6.2 The Persians......Page 123
6.3 Suppliant Women......Page 124
6.4 Prometheus Bound......Page 127
6.5.1 Agamemnon......Page 134
6.5.2 The Libation Bearers/Choephoroi......Page 138
6.5.3 The Eumenides......Page 141
References......Page 145
7.1 The Importance of Pre-Socratic Philosophy......Page 146
7.1.1 Pre-Socratic Philosophy as Dialectic of Myth......Page 147
7.1.2 The Problem with Sources......Page 148
7.2 A Radical Reading of Ancient Philosophy......Page 149
7.3.1 Ionic Thought......Page 151 Anaximander......Page 152 Xenophanes......Page 158 Heraclitus......Page 161
The Fire......Page 162
War......Page 164
Unity of the Opposites......Page 165 Anaxagoras......Page 167 Alcmaeon of Croton......Page 168 Empedocles of Acragas (Agrigentum)......Page 169 Archelaus from Athens......Page 170 Democritus......Page 171
7.3.4 The Sophists......Page 173 Protagoras......Page 174 Isocrates......Page 177 Antiphon......Page 178 Contrasting Arguments (Dissoi Logoi) of the Sophists, Thrasymachus and Power......Page 179
References......Page 182
8: Concluding Note......Page 183
Reference......Page 185
Index......Page 186

Citation preview

Stratos Georgoulas

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The Origins of Radical Criminology

Stratos Georgoulas

The Origins of Radical Criminology From Homer to Pre-Socratic Philosophy

Stratos Georgoulas Sociology University of the Aegean Mytilene, Greece

ISBN 978-3-319-94751-8    ISBN 978-3-319-94752-5 (eBook) Library of Congress Control Number: 2018951897 © The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2018 This work is subject to copyright. All rights are solely and exclusively licensed by the Publisher, whether the whole or part of the material is concerned, specifically the rights of translation, reprinting, reuse of illustrations, recitation, broadcasting, reproduction on microfilms or in any other physical way, and transmission or information storage and retrieval, electronic adaptation, computer software, or by similar or dissimilar methodology now known or hereafter developed. The use of general descriptive names, registered names, trademarks, service marks, etc. in this publication does not imply, even in the absence of a specific statement, that such names are exempt from the relevant protective laws and regulations and therefore free for general use. The publisher, the authors and the editors are safe to assume that the advice and information in this book are believed to be true and accurate at the date of publication. Neither the publisher nor the authors or the editors give a warranty, express or implied, with respect to the material contained herein or for any errors or omissions that may have been made. The publisher remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations. Cover illustration: © Fatima Jamadar Printed on acid-free paper This Palgrave Macmillan imprint is published by the registered company Springer Nature Switzerland AG The registered company address is: Gewerbestrasse 11, 6330 Cham, Switzerland


People tell stories and stories tell us something about who people are. The thing is that human lives are not as predictable as the movement of planets: contingency, choice, deviant desires and idiosyncratic actions are common in our social interactions. Stratos Georgoulas looks at stories from ancient Greece as recounted by Homer, Hesiod, Sappho, Aeschylus, Heraclitus and others to make critical criminological arguments and, in doing so, proves that academic disciplines had better give up their arrogant claim to independence and start learning from one another. As Bakhtin famously argued, individuals cannot be completely incarcerated into existing socio-historical categories. No category can once and forever describe all human possibilities and needs, no definitive form can encapsulate desire: “there always remains an unrealized surplus of humanness”. Literature, through imagination and at times paradox, proves that existing clothes are always too tight, and in doing so it illuminates many possible realities. If it is true that literature enshrines cultural values, it is plausible to maintain that it is also an instrument for resisting social and political decay. Fiction, in sum, can unravel oppression and indicate possibilities for action, as it can make unpredictable things happen in contexts described as static and unchangeable. The imaginary representations offered by fiction can foreground the systemic contradictions of societies, v

vi  Foreword

while art in general can convey complexes of ideas which tend to generate activities towards changes of the prevailing order. Imagination, in its turn, is a prerequisite of empathy: imagining the suffering of others, seeing their face, as Levinas would argue, is crucial for peaceful coexistence, but also for collective action and the elaboration of demands. Literature presents us with ethical decisions and communicates judgement, and these cannot be encapsulated in a theory, rather, they may give rise to a multiplicity of theories and to moral diversity. When we read fiction in general we spend time with characters and identify with one or the other, but when we read immortal fiction we are compelled to share our time between good and evil characters in order to come up with a judgement. In my own reading of Greek classics I learned from Aristotle a definition of war that may still obtain today: a form of hunting, the hunt for human rather than animal prey. This is what we detect today in contemporary warfare (think of the use of drones), not heroic confrontations between armed warriors in a fateful day of pitched battle, but the brutal hunt for human prey. Heroes are dead, and Sophocles compels us to witness their obliteration. His character Aias is endowed with a type of savagery that, though being engrained in his very being, remains hidden from the people, until the author unveils it. In another of his tragedies, Herakles does not perform a selfless service to his fellow citizens, but engages in brutal, deceitful, selfish acts. When he dies, burned by acid, the audience finds it difficult to feel sorry for him. In his persuasive and highly original journey, similarly, Stratos Georgoulas finds empathy and judgement, tracing in ancient Greek literature a set of founding principles characterizing contemporary critical criminology. In Homeric epics, he detects the limits of power and the strength of public participation in civic life, whereas in Hesiod he sees a radical critique of state formation, a process aided by the gods and aimed at establishing laws favourable to the few. Conflict transpires in most Greek classics, hinting at how definitions of reality are contended or negotiated among competing groups. Change also features regularly, as does defiance adopted by characters who reject the status quo and act as agents of innovation. The law, as in the celebrated dialogue between Plato and Thrasymachus, can be seen as incorporating principles valid for all or



rules and procedures through which only sectarian interests are safeguarded. In brief, the author opens criminology to a flood of ideas and critical concepts, a feast of emotions and passion, a powerful army of allies that critical criminologists perhaps did not know they had. London, UK

Vincenzo Ruggiero


I would like to thank Vincenzo Ruggiero, Ann Singleton, Ekaterini Nikolarea, Josie Taylor, Adam Cox and the anonymous reviewer for all their help during the production of the present volume.



1 Introduction   1 References  10 2 The Historical Context: From Renaissance to Radical Change  11 2.1 Towards the Archaic Period  11 2.1.1 The Geometric Period (Ninth–Eighth Century BCE) 11 2.1.2 Eighth Century BCE  12 2.1.3 The Dawn of the Seventh Century BCE  14 2.1.4 Zaleucus and Charondas  16 2.2 The Greek Archaic Society  17 2.2.1 Political and Economic Characteristics  17 2.2.2 The “Hoplitic” Revolution  22 2.2.3 Colonization  25 2.2.4 Writing  27 2.2.5 Law  28 2.3 The Agricultural Issue  33 2.4 The Revolutionary Process of “Tyranny”  37 References  39 xi

xii  Contents

3 Homer  41 3.1 Introduction  41 3.2 Rhapsodes  46 3.3 The Adaptation and Assembly of Homeric Texts in the Years of Peisistratus  47 3.4 Elements in the Homeric epics  49 3.5 The Iliad 51 3.6 The Odyssey 57 References  65 4 Hesiod  67 References  74 5 Lyric Poetry  75 5.1 Elements of Lyric Poetry  79 5.1.1 Diagram of the Development of Lyric Poetry  79 5.2 Archilochus (First Half of the Seventh Century BCE)  81 5.2.1 Ideas: Issues in Archilochus’ Work  82 5.2.2 The Highest Value of Life  83 5.3 Simonides of Ceos (First Half of the Sixth Century BCE) 89 5.4 Solon  92 5.5 Tyrtaeus  93 5.6 Theognes  94 5.7 Pindar (522 or 518–438 BCE)  95 5.8 Lesbos (Alcaeus, Sappho)  97 5.8.1 Alcaeus  97 5.8.2 Sappho 104 References 105 6 Greek Drama: Aeschylus 107 6.1 Seven against Thebes109 6.2 The Persians113 6.3 Suppliant Women114



6.4 Prometheus Bound117 6.5 The Oresteia Trilogy 124 6.5.1 Agamemnon124 6.5.2 The Libation Bearers/Choephoroi128 6.5.3 The Eumenides131 References 135 7 Pre-Socratic Philosophy 137 7.1 The Importance of Pre-Socratic Philosophy 137 138 7.1.1 Pre-Socratic Philosophy as Dialectic of Myth 7.1.2 The Problem with Sources 139 7.2 A Radical Reading of Ancient Philosophy 140 7.3 Extracts: Philosophers 142 7.3.1 Ionic Thought 142 159 7.3.2 Ancient Philosophy in Magna Graecia 7.3.3 The Followers 161 7.3.4 The Sophists 164 References 173 8 Concluding Note 175 Reference 177 Index 179

1 Introduction

Theories of crime and deviance and social theories are, in general, partly creations of their time. A great deal of literature on deviance is characterized by a consensual societal view and the assumption not only that there is a fundamental agreement between people in terms of the objectives of social life, but that there are also rules or norms that should govern the pursuit of these rules. This specific paradigm has been challenged several times, but it is important that controversies have been more effective in times of political uncertainty or, in other words, in times when people feel less secure about stability, permanence or legitimacy of social arrangements. Such a period during the second half of the twentieth century resulted in the formation of a “new” approach to crime and deviance, which was named by its founders as new criminology (Taylor et al. 1973). According to this approach, crime and criminal policies should be one of the central issues of social theory. This particular view is not only the legitimization of the need for an integrated or pluralistic approach, but above all of the need to study crime so that restrictive interpretations of the phenomenon are avoided, which at the same time attempted to blur its social consequences. © The Author(s) 2018 S. Georgoulas, The Origins of Radical Criminology,



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The risk of the research object becoming autonomous can legitimize its status quo. For example, scientific questions about the nature of crime, when they focus on trying to discover its very nature, as if investigating an “other” reality, lead to answers recording a form of expert “know-­ how”, produced under laboratory conditions. Although experts positivize any scientific conclusions, as these are recorded through the use of scientific methods and techniques, nevertheless their framework of action itself is idealistic. The main ideology supported in this way is the ideology of preserving and reproducing a particular social situation and status. The social situation that produces this scientific question is neither researched, nor studied. If the scientific question raised is scientific in nature (that is, what the cause is, what the result of this act is) and cultural, historical, social, political and economic perspectives are excluded, then the answer is in advance teleological and obviously conservative. A social scientist who explores modern reality can contribute to the criticism of such a simplified analysis by recording conflicts in value and behaviour patterns using the scientific method of comparison: comparison in time, comparison in place, comparison at the same place and time, between different groups of people. The conflict perspective as a conceptual tool of a sociological analysis of reality is a clearly defined framework for the development of interpretations, which is opposed to positivism and functionalism and has also exerted influence on the field of criminological thought. The “indisputable evil” product of a social consensus is replaced by evil that is defined as a result of a criminalization process controlled by the socially strong—the winners in the social conflict—at the expense of the socially weak—the losers. Such a social conflict can occur at the level of cultural values, interest groups or social classes, and always results in attempting to preserve and reproduce the power of the winner. This is, in principle, law that primarily protects goods and values and attitudes of the powerful and continues with the operation of mechanisms of official social control exercised by the powerful who with their actions or omissions preserve the result of pre-existing conflict. The greater the social conflict, the more likely are the powerful to criminalize the behaviour of those who have questioned their authority and threaten their interests.



The historical social context within which this conflict takes place is also of utmost importance. For example, the advent of capitalism meant the replacement of social relations (and penal agreements) of feudalism with capital and labour relations, implying a fundamental change in the content, function and jurisdiction of law. It is not only that crimes— which replaced the “feuds” among related groups—entailed sanctions under official laws of the state. It is also that these crimes have been understood in terms of individual offences for which people as individuals should be held accountable. That was not just the victory of a specific interest group over another for historically specific reasons. It was also the victory of a morality of individualism that gave meaning to and supported a particular economic and social system at an early stage of its evolution. The structure and operation of whole bodies of law in an advanced capitalist society can now be seen as a reflection of this morality (acquiring autonomous and “self-evident” character) and not as an accumulation of activities by independent and autonomous interest groups in different historical periods. Besides, with a few exceptions, criminal laws were established primarily for the protection and development of the institutions of capitalism. And it is not just criminal sanctions against robbery, theft, burglary, or other private property violations. It also concerns sanctions to control how social structure would develop within capitalist cities and sanctions that had a direct effect on defining how the division of labour within society and consequently, class structure, are organized. “New” and critical criminological thinking is certainly neither unified nor a single approach. All in all, however, it is possible to identify the points of convergence along the path that was opened by Marxist perspectives and socialist thought, the path that the initiative of conflict criminology has theoretically strengthened. This path of analysis has been enriched by a number of theoretical perspectives that cannot be ignored because they offer much to the empowerment of this interpretation in relation to criticisms that call for oversimplification and a superficial explanation of power relations that exist in a community. At the same time it is characterized by socially researched assumptions—evaluations such as the following (Vold et al. 2002, pp. 240–2):


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(a) A person’s values and interests are shaped by their living conditions. In modern societies people live in different circumstances, so their values and interests differ. (b) People act in accordance with their values and interests. When their values are contrary to their interests, they adjust their values to interests. (c) Laws come to support individuals’ values and interests. When there are opposing interests and values, then law supports the interests and values of sovereign or dominant social groups. (d) Usually, law enforcement officers, because they operate within bureaucratic structures, do more quickly and dynamically in easy cases than in difficult ones. The easy cases are those of offences committed by individuals or groups with low levels of political and economic power. On the contrary, difficult cases are violations of the powerful. (e) It is precisely because of the previous selective operation of law enforcement officers that the officially recorded criminality, which is a record of their action, will present elements that are in line with the distribution of power in a community. That is, most criminals are expected to be individuals without economic and political power who violate values and interests of the powerful. More specifically, the basic context in its analysis is the association of social class, crime and social control, as it mainly emanates from state actors. It investigates criminalization, the expansion of social control and enforcement of laws by the police and the judicial system, legalization by the community of the institutionalized repression, that is, the relationship between individuals or social groups of action and structure. Michel Foucault (2002) proposed a specific way of looking at the areas and ways of producing knowledge as well as of the produced truth and scientific objectivity as the results of the fundamental interdependent practices of knowledge-power and their historical transformation. Every interpretative endeavour is mediated by power relations, whereas each theory does not constitute clear knowledge but a practice of discourse. Historical practice is replaced with the archaeology of knowledge. More specifically, Foucault studied the processes and rules out of and by which the “discourses” or “discursive formations” historically emerged and formed, especially in human sciences. “Exclusion procedures”, principles of prohibition, division and rejection, define what the legitimate object of thinking is and what is not, and thus participate in delineating



and constructing objects of thought themselves, determining when, where, how and why it is allowed or not to speak and delimit areas of discourse beyond the limits of legitimacy. Relationships that are developed, both inside and outside of “discursive formations”, are relations of power. Knowledge production practices themselves are mostly carried out, most of the time, in a defined framework of discourse formations, within specific political, economic and institutional truth production regimes. Therefore they constitute, from the outset, more or less controlled and “disciplined” practices. The very world of the production of scientific knowledge is a world of power governed by historically shaped boundaries, divisions, rules, bans, hierarchies and controls. Knowledge can never be returned to a subject that is free in relation to a power diagram, as power can never be separated from the forces of knowledge that activate it. What is going on, however, when a socio-political rupture produces a break in knowledge production? How does this happen? And how is it concretized in a field of knowledge, such as the study of deviance and social control? This is precisely the object of the present research, with special reference to an era and an area, that is, Archaic Greece, which is unique and interesting for reasons that will be discussed below and which have yet to be studied by scholars who deal with issues of the (pre-) history of criminology and historical production of criminological knowledge.1 Within this political context and especially within its final political situation—that is, radical democracy that was called “tyranny”—epic and lyric poetry, drama and philosophy, which we will use as written evidence on the journey of this genealogy of radical criminology, were developed or transcribed. The journey starts from Homer and his works that have been saved and attributed to him, that is, the epics of The Iliad and The Odyssey, which are the first “seam” of Greek history. After having discussed the literary “Homeric question” and analysed the historical and social ­context within which the Homeric epics were written, recited and transcribed, we will focus more specifically and analytically on these two works. In The Iliad, we learn that the power of the king-judge is


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not unlimited; it is often challenged by (other) third parties to whom he has to answer with arguments. Conflict is something given in the relationships of people and gods, and the final dominance decides on rules. Not everyone has the same price and value. However, retaliation as a judicial mechanism is already characteristic of a previous era. There is now a process of justice that involves the participation of a wider public. What is recorded as the beginning in The Iliad, is further developed in The Odyssey. Good and evil are not given by the gods, but are human actions and law is exercised by folk assemblies or public meetings that even kings are afraid of. Besides, these kings are often not distinguished by merciful feelings, but just like the gods, they exploit people. Those who do not convene public meetings to do justice are considered to be uncultured. Conflict challenges authority and restitution can no longer lead to compromise and consensus, like in the old days. In his Theogony Hesiod re-invents the gods of ancient Greeks and, at the same time, incorporates them in a context of continuous conflicts, where through total prevalence rather than through consensus new power is created. All gods in charge have anthropomorphic features that make them hateful, and they are always helped by violence and the state. When authority is re-established, it sets its own laws and renders justice in its own interests. However, justice is also attributed to the world of people, as Hesiod depicts in his second work Works and Days. The king-judge is unfair, and Hesiod knows that at first hand. King-judges are like hawks who have no respect for the law, and are paid to make judgements in the buyer’s best interest. In the new era of social and political upheavals, a new kind of poetry, lyric poetry, developed, which also emphasizes a new ideal, the individual, the omnipotence of the moment and the salvation of the individual’s life. Man the breadwinner and the man-poet together with their creations now feel themselves “ephemeral” and, through the projection of “I” and “Now” leave behind the “eternity” of the epics, and give us (who are their descendants) “eternal”, immortal works for the ephemeral nature of our humanness.



At the same time, lyric poetry has an immediate political goal. In the conflict between the rising city (demos) and the lost aristocracy, it takes a position (on the one side or the other, depending on the poet). On the one hand, on the island of Lesbos, Alcaeus and Sappho stand with their works and words against the ongoing and, eventually, successful efforts of the demos to overthrow the aristocrats. Tyrthaeus in Sparta fights the revolution of helots (subjugated slaves/workers) and poor classes. Theognes in Megara calls the young to be wise and obedient to the nobles, while Solon in Athens, being compromising, tries to master the city (demos). On the other hand, however, there are poets, such as Simonides, who glorifies the achievements of the new order of things, the “tyrants”, by using simple and popular language, with obvious sympathy for the person who suffers, with humanity, overcoming the aristocratic perceptions of good. Archilochus belongs to this category of engaged poets who highlights instability and variability of human things, the vulnerability of the individual’s existence, and calls upon him to resist and fight, to stand upright and defend himself. With the dramatic plays written by Aeschylus, the ideals of the new radical democracy are brought to the utmost fruition, and with them the roots of a radical concept of evil and good, crime and justice are clearly depicted. In his work Persians, the aristocracy is in crisis, while in The Suppliants the king renders justice according to people’s decision and in people’s interest as well as in the weak people’s interests. In Seven against Thebes, a ruler should be judged to be right by his own people and only Antigone as a model of the time proposes disobedience against the will of the powerful. In the tragedy Prometheus Bound, another model of the new era emerges precisely because it defies the laws of authority and power, a model that is punished by power with the help of the state and violence. Prometheus does not accept compromising solutions proposed to him since they serve only him and not humanity as a whole; he rather prefers conflict and the ultimate socio-political change. No power or authority is meant to dominate eternally. Change is the only constant. In his trilogy Oresteia, Aeschylus highlights a new hero that expresses the new socio-political situation. The change of power proceeds in a ­violent way rather than by consensual compromise, a power that defines the concepts of being just and unjust according to its own interests, while


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people are angry with this behaviour, as recorded in Agamemnon, the first part of the trilogy. In The Choeforoi (Libation Bearers), the second part of Aeschylus’ trilogy, the hero also appears without making any compromise, but with violent and complete sway he defines the new order of things. Law alters position along with this change. In The Eumenides (The Good-spirited, or Kindly Ones), the third part of the Oresteia, we have the ultimate dominance and legitimacy of the hero—the exponent of the new order of things. The Furies, the exponents of law and the old order of things, lose their power in Athens, in the cradle of the new radical democracy that Athens symbolizes, because here a new institution of law is established: a law in which people participate and will judge based on testimonies and proofs rather than by invoking the divine origin of the king-judge. Public judges (i.e. the people) should not accept despotic authority and be corrupted by money as Hesiod’s king-judge was. The change has been accomplished (and the Furies have been transformed into the Eumenides, the ideals of democratic Athens). Keeping in mind the same context, we should read the works of pre-­ Socratic philosophy as a weapon of struggle within the tradition of materialism and dialectics, as a revolutionary discourse that cannot be included in postmodern and metaphysical worldviews, precisely because it was born in a particular historical period. The world is composed by the opposite, it is worn out and reborn through a constant war, according to Anaximander. Xenophanes shows the social relativity of experience and truth. Heraclitus stresses that the change of the world is the constant feature of its course, as it occurs due to ongoing conflict. War is common and justice is dispute, and everything happens through dispute and necessity, he will say. Whatever is good for one, can be bad for the other; objective reality is governed by laws that have no “moral”; absolute justice does not exist. The same dialectics also governs the work of Anaxagoras, as it does the work of Empedocles, a philosopher from Southern Italy (Magna Grecia), who speaks of Love and Strife as powers that dominate things. Alcmaeon of Croton asks for equality of forces by saying that when there is a ­monarchy, that is, an individual dominance of one over others, then we have illness and not health.



Sometime later than the aforementioned philosophers, Archelaus from Athens explains that law is not “in nature”, but is only the dominant view, while Democritus marks a radical rupture in philosophy. Humans have the ability to change good into evil, harm into beneficence; this is an active part of social reality, and it can and must change the whole distorted situation described by previous philosophers. The end of the Archaic period is marked by a very important philosophical movement, the Sophists. They demonstrated moral and philosophical relativism and at the same time proclaimed citizens’ equality and freedom; they also claimed that law should respect human dignity, something that went against the aristocratic establishment. We ought to challenge those in power, morality, religion; we should respect democratic principles, others’ opinions and peace. We ought to be against the technocratic perception of politics and highlight the importance of people, the poor, direct democracy and those institutions that support it. Power and authority have no right to monopolize truth, and we have the duty to resist social discrimination due to wealth and origin. All are equal. This is also the ultimate political goal and its means is to show the relativity of concepts such as good and evil, justice and injustice, a kind of relativity within the framework of power. As Thrasymachus says, there is not a general law for all; there is one law in one place and another in another place, and if there is any general law, it is only the law of the strongest— the one who holds the power. Some cities, says Thrasymachus, have tyranny, others democracy, others still oligarchy. Each of these regimes makes laws in its own interest: democracy makes laws that serve the interests of the city (demos), tyranny makes tyrannical laws and so on, and these laws are enforced by every regime as “just” and “fair” to the ruled. Consequently, Thrasymachus concludes, there is no general definition of law, it is the law that interests those who hold and exercise power, and whoever violates it is considered to be a violator; he is unlawful and is punished. The established authority, whichever it is, enforces its own law with the power that is given by state power, and so everywhere the law is one—and this is the only generalized concept of law: law that benefits the strongest, that is, the power holders. Law belongs to the one who holds power, the strongest. To the weakest and the ruled only the harm belongs. The naive and the righteous are


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ruled by injustice, and they are brought to do what is in their ruler’s best interest, and this is done everywhere in both private life and in the public sphere, and it culminates in the most complete injustice that makes happy the unjust and unhappy the righteous and those who refuse to become unjust. Justice is a good which one can alienate oneself from, can be deprived of, a good that can be appropriated by the “other” and which can be used to do harm to those who are deprived of it. Thus, the “other”/the “alien” (allotrios, in Greek) becomes an extremely dynamic concept that entails the relation of the dominant and dominated person, and assumes its specific content with the noun that completes it: justice is a good, that is, something that is beneficial. The issue is that it is not a general good; it is not for everyone, but only for those who have the power to keep it and benefit from it; it is in fact the interest of the strongest one. Those who are deprived of it are “other”, “alien”; justice is a good, alien to others.

Notes 1. Bernard (1983) begins his quest for the dialogue of conflict and consensual theories with the dipole of Plato and Aristotle.

References Bernard, T. J. (1983). The Consensus–Conflict Debate: Form and Content in Social Theories. New York: Columbia University Press. Foucault, M. (2002). The Archaeology of Knowledge (A.  M. Sheridan Smith, Trans.). London/New York: Routledge. Taylor, I., Walton, P., & Young, J. (1973). New Criminology: For a Social Theory of Deviance. London/New York: Routledge. Vold, G. B., Bernard, T. J., & Snipes, J. B. (2002). Theoretical Criminology (5th ed.). New York/Oxford: Oxford University Press.

2 The Historical Context: From Renaissance to Radical Change

2.1 Towards the Archaic Period 2.1.1 T  he Geometric Period (Ninth–Eighth Century BCE) The ninth and eighth centuries BCE were periods of rapid development in all areas. However, that development became conspicuous especially from the mid-eighth century onwards. Conventionally, the eighth century is characterized as a renaissance period, in relation to the so-called Dark Times that preceded it. Some scholars believe that a sort of revolution took place in the eighth century, when the older aristocratic social model was overthrown and replaced with city-state equality. Others prefer to interpret this renaissance in terms of culture, a revival of ideas, images and skills from the Mycenaean era that had been forgotten. During this period progress and development were visible in a number of areas: demographic growth, improvement of living conditions and living standards in general, better exploitation of the land and the development of agriculture and, consequently, the creation of conditions that allowed a portion of the population to specialize in a range of occupations. There was also the development of pottery and metalworking, © The Author(s) 2018 S. Georgoulas, The Origins of Radical Criminology,



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resulting in the formation of a class of craftsmen and merchants that enabled Greece to escape from isolation thanks to the dynamic renewal of contacts with other peoples. Greek culture spread in the Mediterranean region through colonization, particularly in Southern Italy and Sicily, with the development of architecture and the arts, the systemization of the twelve Olympian gods, the appearance of alphabetical writing, the recording and dissemination of the Homeric epics and, finally, the birth of city-states. The period witnessed an intensification of worship in sacred places and temples and rapid increase in tributes, the development of Panhellenic sanctuaries and the formation of a common national consciousness.

2.1.2 Eighth Century BCE Up to 800 BCE, a completely different national, economic, social and political type had been established. Few things survived, such as the Greek language. The Dorians and other invaders had settled in most of the Peloponnese, Laconia, Messinia, Ilida, Argolida and Corinth. In the meantime, refugees from the Peloponnese, Attica and Central Greece and some intrepid Dorians crossed the Aegean and established new cities on the islands or across the coasts of Asia Minor, which often incorporated or replaced earlier Mycenaean settlements. However, this was not a single organized movement. As it had been spreading for a century or more, it is evident that maritime traffic was continuous with earlier times. Similarly, cultural influences, as they can be traced back through the surviving pottery, were transmitted quickly enough to confirm that there had long been some communication throughout the Aegean Sea. Nevertheless, the entire complex interconnected economy of the Mycenaean world had already been dismantled and every major city, if it could still be called thus, was usually autonomous maintaining only occasional contacts, usually hostile, with its immediate neighbours. In each of those communities, the political power was concentrated in the hands of a king surrounded by an often ‘obnoxious aristocracy’ or in

  The Historical Context: From Renaissance to Radical Change 


the hands of the aristocrats alone. That power was, of course, based on hereditary wealth which at that stage meant only land. Thus, in each region there was a small group of large landowners, large according to the Greek data (meaning that those landowners held between about 400 and 800 acres); immediately below them there were many smaller farmers who, along with some workers without land and a few artisans, constituted the population of free citizens. There were slaves, mostly women, who either had been brought up in the house or were war loot. Between the free citizen and the slave there were a significant number of small farmers in many places. In a sense, there was a constitution, according to which certain men, and only those, were taking decisions that were accepted by all others. But those who took decisions did it because they had to do it, just because their fathers had also done it. Those who obeyed did so because they would never have thought to do otherwise. As it becomes evident, there was precise social segregation. In warfare only the affluent were important because only those people could afford the equipment and the training required for battle. The legal system, as it stood, was exclusively in the hands of the same class. They functioned as judges, and only those people knew the rules they had inherited from their ancestors. It would be naive not to imagine that they sometimes made up those rules if their memory would not help them or if their own interest encouraged them to do so. In politics, the leading clan provided the only kind of agent or representative that one could have. The political game was played out in and around the aristocratic Boule (a citizens’ council appointed to run the daily affairs of a city) which, together with the king, if there was one, was the only governmental body. Mass assemblies were occasionally convened to show the approval or disapproval of vital decisions that could lead to disaster without mass support (e.g. war declaration), possibly in some cases to give formal consent to the choice of a judge, but only to a choice that had already been made elsewhere. The people’s response might ultimately have affected the political line that had been decided, but it could not be claimed that the people’s response guided or decided upon that political line.


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2.1.3 The Dawn of the Seventh Century BCE Immediately after the eighth century BCE, cumulative changes occurred that overturned the existing structures and opened the way to new realities. The development of productive forces resulted in new kinds of social and economic relations, which profoundly influenced the development of Greek history. Of course, that development was neither simultaneous nor uniform throughout Greece. In wide areas, social differentiation was delayed, while in other places peculiar relationships of personal dependence were developed, which were similar to slavery and were far away from the pioneering regions of Greece, such as Attica. First of all, the old Greek states, which had been constituted on the basis of racial unity, began to crumble. Gradually from the eighth century BCE, they were replaced by another state form, the city-state. Under the conditions of dissolution of tribal communities, the property of the aristocratic clans was preserved, but at the same time the phenomenon of private property emerged. With the dawn of the seventh century, Greek business activities were expanding since it had just exhausted its limits in the East. And not only to the East but also to the West, the voyages of Greeks dwindled from the first decades of the eighth century BCE. The more limited sphere of Greek trade was taking on other dimensions. It even began to have a positive effect on other sectors of secondary production, such as metal construction, for which orders had steadily been increasing. Agricultural production multiplied, since it also served as a kind of financial transaction. Under these circumstances, since the end of the Greek Middle (Dark) Ages, Greek civilization was moving at a rapid pace, something that the racial state was unable to follow. The new political shape that emerged in these changed circumstances was the city-state, an institution that was responsible for the multitude of subsequent achievements, and perhaps a unique phenomenon in world history. The city-state was a single set of people who were established on a certain area of land and possessed autonomous authority. The basic elements of each city-state were the geographical area, the population and the autonomous power that imposed its will on the inhabitants of that locale and made its existence visible to the other states.

  The Historical Context: From Renaissance to Radical Change 


City-states developed significantly under aristocratic regimes. Throughout the Greek Middle Ages, there had been a continuous pressure of the nobles on the kingdom, which during the eighth century BCE was displaced across the Greek area. This displacement occurred in two ways: either by usurping the rights of the kings or by transforming the royal institution from hereditary into elected. Thus, the kingdom was changed into a religious or administrative office. Moreover, the complexity of the city multiplied the offices and the assembly of citizens lost its original meaning. The exclusive privilege of the nobles to manage power in several city-states was questioned by a new class emerging from the conditions of the second Greek colonization. That class consisted of merchants, craftsmen, shipowners and others, who, by participating in the increased economic activity of the city, claimed a share of power. Moreover, the defensive needs of the city extended the right to exercise power to those who could afford to arm themselves. Under these circumstances, the aristocratic constitution changed into an oligarchic one, which was a state innovation because, apart from land ownership, it added to the exercise of power a new variable basis, wealth. But the disproportionate relation between the few rich and the many poor left clear margins for political conflicts and paved the way for tyranny. However, the most important element of the city was the recording of laws. Because there had already been a tradition of written lists of public officials and conditions, people insisted on recording laws to limit rulers’ arbitrariness. These laws are linked with the names of legislators who played an administrative role in conflicting interests. Generally, those first Greek laws were more humanitarian than their counterparts among the Semitic people and covered a wide variety of cases, such as false testimony, arson, buying and selling, divorce and inheritance. They placed much emphasis on the relations between people, and it was clear that the legislator’s will was intended to impose community law on the interests of individuals, groups and tribes. The supreme law of the city-state was formed under the aristocratic regimes and the law was regarded as absolutely sovereign over people. However, there was no written text, similar to the current constitution, because the ­constitution could change with the rise or fall of a party, whereas the body of civil law remained the same. Fragments of the legislation of the


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almost mythical Zaleucus and Charondas have survived to the present day.

2.1.4 Zaleucus and Charondas Zaleucus was the lawgiver of Epizephyrian of Lokri (in Italy) and probably lived in the middle of the seventh century BCE. The ancients constantly confused him with other lawgivers, especially with Charondas. He is considered to have devised the first written Greek law code (the Locrian code). Zaleucus’ laws aimed to secure the moral order of private and public life. From the law code of this famous lawgiver only a few details have survived: legal sentences were not determined by the judges but by the laws; the kind of clothing appropriate for men and women was defined; and the possibility of making contracts was provided. He imposed the death penalty on anyone who proposed an amendment to the law and whose proposal was not accepted. His provocative “eye-for-an-eye” and “tooth-for-a-tooth” stipulations were certainly in line with historical reality. It has been pointed out that it is the only Greek legislation that shows Eastern influence. Charondas, who came from Catania, Sicily, lived at the same time as Zaleucus. He framed laws for his homeland and for the other cities of Sicily and Southern Italy which were descended from Chalcis in Euboea (Greece). His laws are distinguished for their moral integrity and judicial precision, like those of Zaleucus, with whom the ancients often confused him. Aristotle states that it was Charondas who made law for “forgery of false witnesses” (i.e. lawsuit against false witnesses) for the first time. He also made it difficult to change the laws; the person who proposed any kind of reform should be presented with a rope around his neck so that he could be immediately strangled if his proposal was rejected. The ancients narrated that, having returned from pursuing some robbers, Charondas entered the city and presented himself before the assembly of the people without reflecting that he carried a sword by his side. When he was reminded that by doing this he was violating his own law, he exclaimed: “On the contrary, by Zeus, I will establish it”; and he slew himself on the spot by falling on his sword.

  The Historical Context: From Renaissance to Radical Change 


2.2 The Greek Archaic Society 2.2.1 Political and Economic Characteristics  General Characteristics The Archaic period (eighth–sixth century BCE) is perhaps the most important period of ancient Greek history. The culture of classical Greece cannot be understood without the Archaic period being taken into account. Hellenism was starting a new historical course of global importance. The development of Greek civilization was progressing at such a rate that no other Indo-European or Eastern people was able to keep up in the following centuries. The relations developed by the Greek world, by both metropolitan and colonial Greece, with the neighbouring peoples affected the development of Greek civilization in all areas and fields of knowledge. The changes that took place at the time were fundamental. For centuries, the Greeks established colonies from the Iberian Peninsula and Libya to southern Russia and spread to the wider Mediterranean area, exploiting natural resources and using increasingly specialized methods. They created powerful states, such as Sparta and Athens, and laid the foundations of philosophy and science. At the same time, they developed both intellect and art, cultivated lyric poetry and built monumental temples. In sculpture and the plastic arts, despite the influence of Eastern peoples, especially that of Egypt, the Greeks established their own principles for the forms of works of art that expressed the world of Archaic Greece, a world quite different from the Eastern. All these achievements are typical of this period, which could be considered a time of unprecedented completeness, variety and colour. Along with the significant progress made during the Archaic period, a series of crises began to emerge differently in each city, which gradually became larger in size. The institution of the kingdom was abolished in most cities and remained only in those areas that maintained the tribal organization and were not organized in city-states, such as Thessaly, Epirus, Macedonia and others. With the nobles prevailing, aristocracy was originally established, which subsequently changed into an oligarchy due to the develop-


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ment of trade and the craft industry and the emergence of new social groups. At the end of the seventh and the beginning of the sixth century BCE, many important cities underwent a period of tyranny, after the abolition of which there was the establishment of democracy as an institution. Moreover, during this period, a new form of military organization appeared, the hoplite phalanx, which would have a decisive influence on social and political developments. Finally, the emergence of coinage contributed to shaping the physiognomy of the Greek world and led to the exit from earlier crises. All this, however, happened through fierce social and political struggles and bloody revolutions but also through intense and long-standing conflicts between neighbouring, usually, city-states.  Th  e Development of the City-State in the Archaic Period In order to explain the reasons for these conflicts during the Archaic period it is necessary to understand how the society was organized and operated. At the time major changes were taking place in the Greek world. People had a variety of concerns about how they were dealing with the world, as seen through Greek mythology, man’s relationship with the divine and the promotion of values, such as individual initiative, ingenuity, the right to freedom of the individual, the idea of measure and harmony and so on. At this time, the Greeks developed a consciousness of their common origin, customs and language, and cultivated a sense of local pride that was associated with the emergence and development of the city-state, which was the ideal of the Greeks until the Hellenistic period and which decisively influenced the evolution of Greek history. Although the date of the establishment of the city-state has not been firmly established, its origins date back to the Bronze Age, when the settlement of the urban population became the most acceptable way of life. The city, of course, of the Archaic era did not have the form that it acquired during the Classical period. Several processes would occur until the city reached this point. The city-state was built around a fortified hill, the acropolis or the citadel, which served as a shelter for residents in difficult times and consisted

  The Historical Context: From Renaissance to Radical Change 


of an urban settlement that was usually near the sea. Near the village was fertile arable land that belonged to individuals, while the uncultivated land, used as pasture or forest land, belonged to the community. Citizens’ gatherings occurred inside the city, where political decisions were made. Trying to survive through hard antagonisms and conflicts with neighbouring cities, city-states developed an ideology of superior origins and a glorious past. Often these origins were associated with a deity or an eponymous hero, after whom the city was named, while the state and other institutions were related to gods and heroes, and, therefore, they were seen as superior to other cities.  The Invention of Coinage The development of the city-state gradually led residents, apart from cultivating the land, to engage in other forms of economic activity. Merchant shipping—which would grow very rapidly, with the aim of profit—was associated with the emergence of coinage. Aristotle states that currency began to be used when foreign markets met and commodities were traded. The transition from the simple exchange of products to the use of coins is due to moral rather than economic reasons, since currency was intended to define certain values related to the normalization of social relations that characterized the Greek cities mainly of the sixth century BCE. The first coins in the Greek world appeared in the last years of the seventh century BCE, when the iron souvlias—the well-known obol, which had been used until then as a medium of exchange—were replaced with silver coins. During the sixth century BCE, the use of coins in ancient Greece was generalized, because currency facilitated trade, without influencing, at least at the beginning, the aristocratic structure of society, since it was not a means of enrichment but of trade and exchange. That is why it could be argued that its invention did not contribute to the crisis that society experienced in the seventh century BCE, but, on the contrary, might have facilitated a smoother exit from it. At the same time, the Greeks could not only meet their growing needs due to population growth but also generated surplus goods that they could sell to other markets. In the


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major cities the growth in trade caused decisive political and social changes in the development of cities, while the problem of land distribution and farmers’ enslavement to the landowners often led the former to violently protest against aristocratic or oligarchic regimes in the sixth century BCE. During this century also, social changes in Athens were characterized by class distinction and the institutionalization of the demos (people, municipality) as a form of social organization known from earlier times.  Economic Changes Changes made in economic, initially, and social and political sectors in the seventh century BCE, caused a great deal of upheaval that was manifested as conflicts between upper and lower social classes. Agricultural products had begun to be sold in foreign markets in exchange for the import of raw materials needed for the secondary sector of the economy, mainly, that of metal construction. Agricultural production, although it did not provide enough wealth to the nobles, continued to be the main factor in the growth of national income, even in island and coastal towns where trade and craft industries had already developed. Gradually, however, ceramics developed thanks to the existence of numerous production centres in a variety of shapes and decorative designs which became widely known and spread. In many cities of mainland and island Greece—such as Athens, Corinth, Rhodes, Chios, the Cyclades and Greater Greece (Southern Italy)—vases were made either for decoration or for the transport of wheat, oil and wine and sold throughout the Mediterranean area. At the same time, metallurgy was developing because changes in martial arts, coupled with the emergence of the hoplite phalanx (soldiers), increased the demand for metals, mainly for iron and copper, needed to build weapons. But the increasing number of ­workshops demanded more labour. Due to the fact that there were not enough free workers, the mass importation of slaves from various regions—such as Asia Minor, Thrace and the Black Sea coast—began. The first to buy foreign slaves were the inhabitants of the island of Chios. The use of slaves did not appear for the first time in the Archaic period. Homer had

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already noted the use of domestic servants or slaves, who were usually war prisoners. The Greeks had also known other forms of slavery, such as the helots in Sparta. However, the purchase of slaves and the commercialization of slavery was a development that happened in the Archaic period and was connected with the development of the city. The position of the citizen at that time was enhanced and distinguished from that of the non-­ citizen, who was outside the political community and had neither freedom nor rights. And that was the slave. But the slavery system would later prove fatal for the states of ancient Greece. On the other hand, the colonial expansion of the Greeks favoured the development of trade and crafts. At first, the colonies needed various agricultural and craft products that were imported either from the metropolis or from other cities in the wider Mediterranean area. Those involved in commerce and craft began to become wealthy, a fact that then led to a change in the structure of Greek cities. The emergence of a new social class, that of traders, craftsmen and sailors, exacerbated social competition, because the new money-makers would claim a share in power. Hesiod (c.694–c.618 BCE) reports in Works and Days that farmers were trading in Boeotia the surplus of agricultural products around the seventh century BCE. The growth in trade in certain cities helped increase their income because of the taxation those cities had imposed on traders’ economic activity. Those who were to benefit most from the development of trade and crafts were the highest nobles who were seeking profit in every way. Although a large number of nobles still had agricultural production as a basic source of wealth, there were many who either occasionally or systematically dealt in trade. Where agricultural production was unsatisfactory for a number of reasons, many aristocrats started trading, leaving aside their initial activities. But the profits they gained from trade eventually led to the undermining of their political power, because while first their wealth and status relied on the earth, the importance of land was reduced with the growth of trade and crafts. Therefore, a new political model emerged: that of the aristocrat of money and not that of hereditary descent that traditionally gave the aristocrat the right to take part in making decisions about the city and participating in the city’s governance.


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From the eighth century BCE, the Greeks in various regions of Greece had engaged in maritime trade. Although the Greeks had established some shipping routes quite early on, maritime trade was initially an occasional rather than regular occurrence because there were other ways of securing the necessary goods from engaging in war and piracy. Over time, however, developments in shipbuilding and other activities encouraged the spread of maritime trade. In many cases, products shipped from distant areas to mainland Greece included iron, copper, tin and grain. Because of the increased need for working hands, mainly in the workshops, the inhabitants of certain islands such as Aegina, Crete, Chios and Samos began to engage in the slave trade, which at that time was also associated with piracy. Although the ancient sources do not fully enlighten us about who was involved in trade, we should accept that many middling people—encouraged by easy profits—were the first to engage in trade, followed by the aristocracy. Hesiod reports the case of his brother, who was forced to go to sea due to poverty, despite the fact that he owned a small area of arable land. Nevertheless, the aristocrats, either individually or through others who worked for them, did not systematically engage in trading until the end of the Archaic period when commercial activity yielded as much profit as the land. Dealing with the purchase and sale of products for the sole purpose of profit was initially not permitted for a nobleman. Commercial trips were only allowed to acquire goods for his own use. With the growth of colonies, however, there was an increase in the number of traders who dealt with the purchase and sale of products.

2.2.2 The “Hoplitic” Revolution An important change with social causes and consequences took place in how the Greeks of the Archaic period conducted warfare. Until then, at the front line the aristocratic “elite” rode horses to approach the b­ attlefield, to pursue the enemies, and, most importantly, to retreat. When engaged in battle, they fought with a spear and a sword, mainly protected by a shield that they held tightly with one hand from its centre, and attached with neck straps, equipment unrivalled in any massive combat. But the

  The Historical Context: From Renaissance to Radical Change 


mass of the fighting citizenry could not be thus trained or armed; armed as best they could, with everything that came into their hands, they followed behind their leaders to cheer and roar. But even stones could hurt, and a man cheered more enthusiastically when he felt he had some protection against an enemy lord on the opposing side. So we can imagine that the first step towards change—at some time in the eighth century BCE—was a gradual strengthening of the defensive and aggressive equipment of the average man as he became more and more able to acquire it, thanks to greater prosperity, the increased availability of cheaper metal, and the new techniques acquired and adopted by metallurgists through contact and trade with the outside world. But the following and essential step in the development of the typical Greek army could not have been so accidental. At some point, somebody must have decided to use some of the most well-equipped natives as a coordinated team, a phalanx of heavily armed infantry, consisting of those who later were called “hoplites” (literally “armed men”). These men, appropriately equipped and properly trained, demonstrated their value on the battlefield in their ability to push through any number of opposing leaders and were brave and capable enough that they could resist enemy cavalry raids. The old weaponry, especially the defensive kind, still helped significantly in melee combat, but with the introduction of new tactics, the circumstances of the battle changed. Now the fighting skills of all warriors were used to keep the battle line unbroken. The new war tactic, dominated by the whole and not by the individual, required that the soldiers should remain in their place, rush against the enemy at a steady pace, keep their shields together so that each man could cover the bare right side of the soldier adjacent to him and all act together to give the impression that they were acting as one man. Thus, an unbroken set of shields was formed, creating a front of sufficient depth, usually four to eight men, which, with the push force that it possessed, prompted the enemy to flee. In the battle, if during the first attack neither of the two factions retreated, it was followed by a violent pushing of each side against the other until one of the two sides retreated. Once the failed faction had retreated, it was not easy to regroup. While fighting together, the hoplites held their shields firmly from the handle, but once the line was dissolved


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they were unable to move easily in one direction or the other because it meant leaving their right side uncovered, thus making them an easy target for the opponent. This armour cost a lot of money. In most cities the hoplite had to buy the armour himself. In Sparta, the city itself supplied the armaments (hopla) to the citizens on condition that, in order to serve in the army (hoplitic body), they would offer no assistance or mercy to the enemy. Weapons were given to the helots, and also to former helots. However, not all citizens were able to buy armour, but only aristocrats, affluent farmers and wealthy entrepreneurs and professionals, such as traders and craftsmen. It is conspicuous that the aristocrats were the first to apply the new tactics of war, because of their financial capacity to buy armaments; not all farmers could afford to do so. Moreover, the aristocratic tradition, according to which their prowess on the battlefield and the erection of a trophy with the weapons of the defeated enemies was the proof of the superiority of the aristocrats, began to apply to the hoplites of the phalanx, too. The armour was the individual property of each hoplite, and those who could not buy it either fought as psiloi (lit. bare, stripped), as light infantry, or did not participate in the army at all. War thus gradually ceased to be a privilege of the aristocrats. With the emergence of the hoplite phalanx, the aristocrats and ordinary citizens fought, without distinction, next to each other in order to gain victory through collective effort and not, as was the case in Homeric times, through the exercise of individual bravery. The social and political significance of this change was enormous. The development of community consciousness was a major impact of the hoplitic army reform in Greece. The social groups from which the hoplites originated became aware of their role in defending their homeland and began to demand political equality with the nobles, who understood that the political power they had until then had begun to diminish since the hoplites were asking to participate in governance. With the new war tactics, the army of cities increased numerically with the participation of the hoplites, coming from various social groups and not only from the aristocratic class. But the equal participation of all hoplites in the war meant equal distribution of the spoils and the lands conquered. Thus, the requirement for the hoplites to have the right to

  The Historical Context: From Renaissance to Radical Change 


participate equally in political decision-making gradually led to the establishment of the democratic system, through repeated conflicts, in the sixth century BCE. According to Aristotle (Politics, IV, 1297 b 15–28) the “state of the hoplites” was the best possible constitution, because the body of the citizens consisted of those who could be armed as hoplites because of their property. Xenophon claims that political status should belong only to those who could defend their city with the shield. A passage of The Iliad is taken as a sign that Homer knew about the tactics of the phalanx (N 130–3). The second feature in the hoplitic and military revolution of the time was the appearance of mercenaries, that is, a waged job that would continue in the creation of the navy and its ultimate dominance in the military sphere. In one of his letters to Engels (25 September 1857), Marx himself (De Ste Croix 1981) makes some interesting and apt remarks: that the first appearance of an extensive wage system in antiquity is the use of mercenaries in the military sector. Naval war meant shipbuilding, payroll, and the feeding of regular sailors, and the interest in developing this new kind of weaponry was a deliberate encouragement in the development of the class of thetes (the lowest social class), who were initially the active force behind the radical democracy that was to come.

2.2.3 C  olonization Colonization as a new mobility was another factor that contributed to social developments. This period was certainly not the first time that Greek population groups were looking for a new homeland outside of Greece. The first Greek colonizations had already taken place and the zones of Aeolian, Ionian and Doric presence were formed along the Asia Minor coasts, with the Ionian twelve-city league, the Aeolian twelve-city league and the Doric six-city population group. Even if the migrations of the Greeks were at least safer towards the East, due to the grid of islands, and even if the mythical narratives for adventurous quests sparked the imagination,


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the abandonment of their birthplace never ceased to be a rather difficult process. Mostly, it was the result of intense dissatisfaction, which arose from the living conditions of the metropolis, the city that founded the colony. One reason for such dissatisfaction was, of course, the great poverty that prevailed in Greece during the Greek Middle Ages. In addition, with the amount of arable land strictly limited, the overpopulation of the Archaic period, which is ascertained from various sources, caused much discontent. Under these circumstances, a surplus of population had no other option but to search for another homeland. While it is by no means certain that regions like Boeotia, Thessaly and Attica participated in colonization—they do not appear to have sent settlers—it is very likely that populations from these and from other areas moved to the major harbours in colonized locations. It is, therefore, undeniable that at the beginning of the Archaic period the Aegean region presented a complex and contradictory picture. There was wealth and luxury on the one hand, and penury and poverty, on the other hand. At the same time, the growth in trade, craftsmanship and shipping led to the formation of a new bourgeoisie that claimed a share in power, in recognition of the services it provided. Gradually, class hatred deepened and multiplied contradictions and controversies among social groups. Those deep and sharp conflicts, such as in Megara, Corinth and in Mytilene (Lesbos, Greece), forced thousands of people to leave behind their birthplace. In Mytilene, things had reached such a point that the ruling Penthilid clan had the power to roam with bats, and to attack any dissidents. The tendency of the sovereigns was to govern for their own benefit, despising the people and the nobles who did not belong to the narrow circle of the oligarchy. Political dissatisfaction was a direct cause of colonization, not only for the people but also for the aristocracy. It has rightly been pointed out that colonization has been a palladium for the aristocracy. If this was not the way out or if it did not suit their ­temperament, the aristocrats could not preserve themselves, and they wisely understood it to be their interest to encourage colonization (Bury and Meiggs 1977). At the same time, the move towards colonization must have been encouraged by the knowledge acquired from The Odyssey and the tradi-

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tions of the Argonautic campaign. Those sources reveal the discoveries and adventures, mainly associated with Chalcis, which had preceded the colonization. Naturally, in the multitude and variety of colonial quests, the charm of adventures and the acquisition of distant lands and cultures painted an attractive picture. However, the mood of the colonists was not disconnected from the economic significance they saw in new coasts and the prospects of new land, fertile soil, indigenous peoples, and the relationship and the contact with inland transport arteries and sea roads.

2.2.4 Writing New writing and the rise of citizens’ literacy was also a factor that led to social and political developments in Archaic Greece. We are talking about a new scripture, because that was essentially what was done, that is, the abolition of sacred (closed, accessible to few people) writing and its replacement by a demotic (coming from demos: people) one (accessible to every literate person). But why in Greece do we have a sudden change in writing and the disappearance of the priesthood? This issue is directly related to the position of the priesthood in Greek history. The priesthood in the Greek countries, and even in the states of the Aegean and Ionia, had lost its privileged position since the beginning of the seventh century BCE. If we consult the Greek history of the time, we learn that around 700 to 650 BCE great economic and social changes began on the coast of Asia Minor, where Ionians and Aeolians lived. The cities that were built in those locations became rich and developed as the first significant economic centres that served as a bridge between Asia and Europe and they taught their traditions of trade and shipping to other Greeks. During that period, social diversification began in those cities. The priesthood began to lose its privileges one by one. In the new historical, social and productive circumstances, the role of the priesthood had become a stumbling block for social development. That is why reaction and warfare began systematically from the bottom. As long as those amongst the priesthood were the only ones who knew writing and guarded all the knowledge, its strength was unshaken. But societies are not stagnant. If circumstances


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change, and especially when they evolve, the productive forces of society are in conflict with the current production conditions. This is what happened on the coast of Asia Minor from the middle of the eighth century BCE onwards. Trade and shipping brought major changes, gave birth to private property and the state, and caused great political and social upheaval. But the biggest change was the introduction of demotic writing. When the priesthood was the upper “class” of society and the people had no absolute power, the Archaic tradition was upheld, and writing was known only to the privileged strata of the population. But when political and social conditions changed, the priesthood could no longer play the leading intellectual role it had played before. Together with so many other institutions that were dismantled and changed was the institution that had kept the priesthood intact. Epics and myths, poetry, theatre and the philosophy of the new era were all written in the new writing.

2.2.5 Law At the time when the aristocracy was enjoying great prosperity, the rule of law took the form of a customary or sacred tradition. As a customary law, therefore, it was transferred from generation to generation, usually in the form of songs, by the preachers and the diviners. With the tradition, not only the law but also the case law of the aristocrats was preserved, so as to protect their privileges without any derogation. Over time, however, as the trade and the craft industry developed, the rules of customary law did not protect the new social classes. This led to protests and conflicts between the nobles and the people, who required the recording of basic customary legal rules and the addition of new ones. This was now necessary for the nobles’ immunity, who acted absolutely in their own interest, was under attack. Aristotle presents this immunity in an epigraphic way, when he says the nobles are allowed to do what they want. They were the ones who drafted laws—they were called lawmakers and elsewhere aesymnitai (αισυμνήται from = αίσα + μιμνήσκων: + remind of: they recalled / are reminded of the share that belonged to each one, or αίσα + νέμω: donated one’s share to each one). Previously, in Kymi of Eubea and Chalkidiki the aesymnitai were called the nobles who served as judges. As

  The Historical Context: From Renaissance to Radical Change 


legislators, the aesymnitai had absolute power to move freely in order to satisfy—together with the nobles—the people who demanded the registration of laws. That is why their power was often tyrannical, so that Aristotle and Theophrastus call them elected tyrants. Essentially, the aesymnitai did not forget the oldest mission of their power, as it emerged from the Homeric epics, namely, the mission of the negotiator. They were therefore trying, through negotiation, to reconcile people and nobles, applying fundamental principles of law that could be accepted by both parties. Moreover, these first lawmakers, having the command to govern for some time to see their laws implemented, contributed to calming passions and normalizing social life. In Athens, Draco the lawmaker had codified his legislation at the end of the seventh century BCE, but his laws were so severe that later Solon abolished them all except those referring to murders. The registration of laws was an important conquest of the people and at the same time a limitation of aristocrats’ impunity. Of course, the legislators, as a rule, came from the aristocrats themselves, but there was now an effort to find persons of common trust that would enshrine the merits of experience, impartiality and selflessness. The aristocrats, who are accustomed to “humiliate and be greedy”, that is, to swagger and want more, often violated laws and did injustice to the people; but the people could now go to court and be judged on the basis of written laws, however tough they might be. But let us look at the development of law. At first the differences were solved either through personal conflict or settlement in kind or money. A second way was to appeal to an impartial judge and that was the king, as a forerunner of court proceedings. This way is described in Homer’s works, but their own impartiality had already been condemned since Hesiod’s works (Work and Days). These court proceedings were not often one person’s making but were carried out by the council of the elders and the assembly of the people who were involved, as it had already been apparent in Homer. The use of appeal to public opinion is different from the use of appeal to the king. A king can have a special capacity as a judge, a talent, experience or a divine inspiration. It is difficult for the general public to have a special capacity. But what they do have, if they care to use it, is power. It


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is difficult for an individual to ignore the king, but it is even more difficult to ignore the entire population. Therefore, the court decision taken by the people can be more effective than the decision taken by the king or the elders. But the problem in Homeric society was that the people were often speechless, and their assembly had no decisive powers. In The Odyssey there is a clear example of a dispute brought before the assembly of the people of Ithaca while the king was absent. Telemachus, Odysseus’ son, wants to protest the suitors’ behaviour and the destruction of his property by them. If he could, he would have defended himself and his homeland from violence, but he is too weak to do it. He could not turn to the king because Odysseus was absent, so what he did was to convene a people’s assembly and report complaints to them. There were speeches made for and against, but in the end the assembly dissolves without having made a decision.  The Trial on Achilles’ Shield So, a Homeric assembly was sometimes ineffective when it was headless. The most effective decision was one in which public opinion was crystallized and expressed by the king or elders. The reason was because decisions were issued according to the feelings of the people who met there. This is confirmed by the most important of the Homeric passages that refers to court proceedings. This passage is not easy to interpret in detail, and some points remain dubious and controversial. It is found in the eighteenth rhapsody (Σ) of The Iliad, where there is an extensive description of Achilles’ wonderful shield and the elaborate scenes depicted therein. This passage has been addressed closely by experts of ancient law, and it would be out of place to discuss here any controversial detail. It is clear that the subject of the dispute was the payment of compensation (penalty) for the murder of a man. The dispute, however, is not just about the payment of a debt but concerns the restrictions of vengeance—a question that is closely related to the main subject of The Iliad. But the most important issue in this passage is: Who will actually deal with the case? It

  The Historical Context: From Renaissance to Radical Change 


is clear that some elders, the number of whom is not identified, give their opinion. Each of them holds a sceptre as a symbol of his judicial function (the words “holding sticks in their hands” are clearly plural, so here it is not the case, as elsewhere in The Iliad, that there was only one sceptre that everyone holds in turn, as he speaks), and everyone in turn announces his decision. But their decisions may not all have been identical, so how would it be decided which one would be accepted? The poet says the opponents “wanted both to put forward the difference [they had] to a judge’s judgement”. The word used for the magistrate (hístōr, “one who knows—a knowledgeable person—a wise man”) is in the singular. Who was this judge to settle the dispute? The most important feature of this trial is the participation of the people. The two parties came to the assembly, and each one made a speech to the people. As they were speaking, the crowd (or various individuals or groups from the crowd) cheered or got excited to show what arguments they found convincing. When the two speeches were over, the messengers quietened the crowd and invited the elders to give their opinion. The elders were men who were supposed to be “knowledgeable” because of their age and experience. Each elder tried in turn to express in words the side of the case, which, in his opinion, should be followed by the people. The people were cheering or applauding the decision they thought was right, and the messengers (as it is reasonable to conclude) had to decide which elder’s decision had gained most accolades. This elder was the “knowledgeable” one whose verdict decides the case and he takes the payment of the two talents for the best judgement. But the decision belongs conclusively to the people.  Public Opinion Thus, in Homer one can already distinguish the origins of judgements taken by the people (“democratic” decisions). Although verdicts were issued by a king or elders, they were influenced and guided by the public opinion. The speakers who delivered speeches before the people in the scene depicted on Achilles’ shield, and Menelaus who publicly proclaimed the Antillochos to swear, were precursors of the orators who addressed


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the Athenian courts of the jury. The trial described in the shield is much more civilized and marks a much more advanced stage of judicial development than the single combats and quarrels described in some other passages in Homer’s epics. Within this context, special institutions such as Areios Pagos and Eliaia were being created; the former that originated from the noble council came to refer to men elected by lot and the latter was a transformation of the popular assembly. The political struggle for democracy also passed through the criminal justice system by passing codes of laws, the people’s vote of judges, and the trial as an individual right, while it should be noted that the drafting of laws was not a work of “specialist professionals” but the privilege and duty of every citizen to formulate proposals and make them public. The separation of powers had no place in Archaic Greek society. But let’s see more specifically how the lawmaking process that had taken place as a transformation of the arbitrariness of the king-judge, the legal definition and the administration of justice evolved. During the Archaic period, in Athens there was established the principle that violence, even in less serious forms, was an offence against the state and more generally that the citizen who believed he had suffered injustice against his person or property had to follow the legal process and not, as was the case in more primitive times, to resort to taking the law into his own hands. This had the effect of challenging not only self-justice but also mediation and compensation in kind or money, something that can be found in Homer’s works. Apart from Athens, there was a Code of Law registration at Dreros and Gortyna of Crete, and elsewhere at the same time. Athens provides most of the information, that is, the old and independent laws of the noble became the first writings by Draco and later by Solon. In any case and despite the severity of those laws, the important thing is that the official record was an act that came from a political confrontation with the aristocratic power, creating the institutional framework for the development of radical democracy in order to ensure not only that the people participated in institutions but also that crime and criminal policy were defined as part of a wider policy.

  The Historical Context: From Renaissance to Radical Change 


2.3 The Agricultural Issue In Hesiod we have the first signs of protest against the aristocratic system—a protest that had its source in the agricultural issue and which was one of the main economic causes of the crisis of the Archaic period. The crisis of the Archaic period mainly had economic causes directly or indirectly linked with the land. In Greek society, land ownership, and in particular land that could be cultivated, was of primary importance to the political and social position of a Greek citizen and was the main source of wealth. The larger the land a citizen owned, the more acceptable in the community he was. In every city-state, only citizens born to the specific city-state were entitled to land. But a citizen’s property included, apart from land, houses, animals and slaves. In Athens, the metics or foreign residents (metoikoi), who owned most of the trade and craft industries, had no right to buy land. Hesiod in his Works and Days gives a glimpse of the life of a poor free farmer in Boeotia. Hesiod’s father came from Kyme of Aeolida to the Boeotian city of Askra, and lived there cultivating a farm which, after his death, was unequally shared between his two sons. Perses, Hesiod’s brother, apparently bribed the powerful rulers of the area, but although he took most of the land, he did not take advantage of it as he should. So, the poet advises his brother not to neglect the land he has inherited with the favour of the “gift-eater rulers”, but to work hard to survive in a world where the powerful ones provide protection to poor farmers in return for their submission. The poet and his work addressed indirectly other farmers too who, like his brother, were not cultivating the earth but were neglecting it and thus, they succumbed and were exploited by the powerful of the region. Hesiod’s farmer is free and the owner of his land, but he has to work hard to live, or he will always be hungry. It seems that the poet himself belonged to the free peasants and had no economic dependence on the rulers, who had done injustice to him in the matter of the distribution of property. Although the case mentioned by Hesiod cannot be a criterion to draw safe conclusions on the issue of land, it seems that around 700 BCE there was a whole class of free and independent farmers in Boeotia who cultivated their small farms, but many risks threatened to turn them


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into dependent farmers. The lack of land started getting greater and greater. Soil was not enough to provide goods to its owners. This fact, coupled with the increase in the population in many regions of Greece, mainly barren, began to create problems, which in many cases were dealt with by colonization. However, although in many cases the problem was dealt with that way, for the most part, it remained unresolved and was the cause of lasting frictions and conflicts between landless peasants and nobles who held most of the land. Due to noblemen’s greed to increase their wealth and increase the number of workers that depended on them, the situation began to deteriorate. This situation, in addition to the wealth that would accumulate among the noble class, would also mean a change in their attitude towards the lower social classes. They began to exercise intense repression that was manifested in various ways: judgements were not issued according to written law, but according to the amount of bribery taken by the judges, and as a rule they were at the expense of the weaker classes, since they could not bribe the judges. The ruthless policy of rich landowners to grab the property of smallholders and turn them into slaves led to social unrest. The most sensible of the nobles, seeing that the situation was dangerous for their class, recognized that it was necessary to extend political rights to the poor. The call for the cancellation of debts and land re-­ parcelling began to grow louder in several cities, such as Sparta, Megara and Athens in the seventh century BCE. The establishment of tyrannical regimes in many cities after the second half of the seventh century BCE was associated with the refusal of the nobles to resolve the tensions caused by social inequality and rural crisis. Several of these tyrants, having seized power with the help of the demos (people), redeveloped the land and favoured merchants and craftsmen. Hesiod denounces the “gift-eater rulers”, but he does not call for revolution, although he wished Zeus’ righteousness would ultimately triumph. However, there were others, for example in Sparta and Athens, who demanded land re-parcelling on the basis of equality, an “equal share of the earth”, and were ready to resort to violence to succeed in their aim. In the seventh century BCE, the situation in Athens was completely different from that of the Classical period, when the Athenian country-

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side consisted of small independent properties. It appears from the writings of Aristotle and Plutarch that in the seventh century BCE there was an uneven distribution of land, with the result that a large part of the population felt financial insecurity that caused great dissatisfaction. According to Aristotle’s Athenaion politeia (2 and 10), the Athenian plains on which large estates were cultivated, before the agricultural crisis that Solon encountered in 594 BCE, there lived a class of poor farmers (ektimoroi), dependent peasants who cultivated the land of wealthy landowners, with the agreement to give them one-sixth of production instead of rent. During the Archaic period, the position of the poor farmers was probably stable throughout Attica. However, this category of farmers gradually ceased to exist. From the mid-sixth century BCE onward there are no more references to poor farmers. In addition to this development, apart from Solon’s measures, there was a lack of important economic structures—especially that of the production of wine and oil—and the prevalence of independent agricultural businesses. In his work Solon, apart from the poor farmers, Plutarch also mentions the indebted peasants who, due to the fact that they were forced to borrow money from the rich, put themselves as a mortgage. In those cases where poor farmers could not return the money they borrowed, they and their family members were sold as slaves. Thus it seems that there were two categories of peasants: on the one hand, the dependants who one can encounter in other regions of Greece in ancient times, and, on the other hand the free peasants who, due to poverty, were forced to become indebted and live with the permanent threat of becoming slaves and sold beyond the borders of Attica. This situation increased the tension in the relations between the poor peasants and the big landowners/aristocrats. Even after Draco’s legislation (621 BCE), the land was still in the hands of big landowners. Then, the two opposing sides called upon Solon to implement the necessary measures to deal with the crisis. In one of his works, Solon, as quoted by Aristotle in his Athenaion politeia, states that he had accomplished all the goals for which he had called the people to form a league. He even refers to the land itself as a witness, which, while having been enslaved, was now free, for he had managed to eradicate “stone boundaries” from the estates in which mortgages of the earth were written and to liberate those


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who were sold as slaves or they lived as self-exiled to avoid slavery. He also boasts that no one else in his position would have done this, and that if he had been on one side or the other, the city would have lost many men. Plutarch talks about the same things in his work Solon, in which the Athenian legislator prides himself for having removed the boundaries of the earth and having turned it from a slave society into a free one (Solon, 15.6). Nevertheless, the solution that Solon found was temporary. Although with the writing off of debts, those who had become slaves were released, the problem of the earth as such was not solved. Solon himself says that he did not engage in land re-parcelling “I did not give the same share to the good and the bad ones” (Aristotle, Athenaion politeia 12.3.10), despite the fact that many Athenians from the lower classes were pushing him to do so. Regardless of whether or not land re-­parcelling took place at Solon’s or Peisistratus’ time, as it is believed, Solon’s reform, that is, small farmers’ liberation from debt, turned the latter into free landowners. The riots in Athens, as Solon himself mentions, were the result of the predatory mood of the rich, who forcibly took anything that could be turned into silver or gold (because coins had yet to be cut) or sold the poor as slaves. It seems very likely that Solon gave poor farmers the full ownership of the land they cultivated from the past. This, of course, meant a serious change in the land-based system of Athens. A class of free but very poor micro-owners was created, which, according to the Athenian distinction of the four classes, would belong to the lowest social class, that of thetes. The liberation of poor farmers may have also caused a labour problem for large landowners who would have to buy slaves from various overseas markets. This is the case in Athens of the Classical era, since all but the very poor owned slaves whom they used not only in housework but also in the cultivation of the land. In many cases the wealthy landowners rented the land, especially when the estates were not concentrated in one place but in different locations; the land belonging to gods or heroes was also rented and managed by the state. In this way a good income was secured for the landowners. Later, in order that the poor peasants would not move from the countryside to the city of Athens, Peisistratus gave them loans so that they could turn the fields and pastures into arable land with olive groves and

  The Historical Context: From Renaissance to Radical Change 


vineyards. That action helped increase the incomes of small farmers and to ensure an honest way of life. At the same time, he secured the discipline of rural farmers, who were busy cultivating the land and did not meddle with state affairs.

2.4 The Revolutionary Process of “Tyranny” According to Aristotle, there was a substantial difference between the two Greek types of monarchy (the power of one): Kingdom, the traditional royal institution according to the established forms of law, and Tyranny, the power of a tyrant. They were different because of their origins. Kingdom, Aristotle says, was born in order to help the best classes (the lenient—another name for the wealthy class) against the demos (ordinary people), while the tyrant came from the demos (people) and the masses, to oppose the upper classes so that the demos does not suffer any injustice on their part. The exacerbation of social competition, the aforementioned social causes and the conflicts of a political nature, led to the appearance of a new constitution, that of tyranny or radical democracy in several parts of Greece in the seventh century BCE. Leaders usually came from the aristocratic classes, but traitors of their class, with the help of a large mass of people, expelled the nobles and established a new social situation for a few generations by overthrowing the status quo in economy, politics and culture. Social policy measures, public expenditures of general interest, limitation of the powers of the aristocracy until their abolition and, together with them, a new cultural context of symbols of concepts and institutions also had an impact on criminal policy and crime. They created or reinforced festivals, encouraged the letters and the arts, and contributed to the creation of a new era and the formation of a “new man” that expressed that time. Written laws were initially the result of social-class intervention after unsuccessful attempts at tyranny, such as Draco’s law in Athens, following Cylon of Athens’ attempt to take over power and Solon’s law. But the new era was developing dynamically, and no compromise legislative solution was able to stop its course. In Athens, Peisistratus became a popular


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tyrant and with him theatre blossomed, Homer’s epics were transcribed, and philosophy and poetry started being developed. Peisistratus’ tyranny was a typical model of the occupation of power by an aristocratic landowner who had allied with the poor. The method was simple: attack the aristocracy to protect the poor and consult with the middle classes after the rise to power, abolition of debts or seizure of large estates and distribution to the landless, taxation of the wealthy so that public works could be financed or wealth could be redistributed. Thus, winning over the masses was ensured. Among the middle classes, trade was promoted with state money, trade agreements were concluded, and merchants and craftsmen were exalted. Tyrannies were based on popularity and not on succession. Thus, as a rule, they avoided making war, supported religion and morality, kept order, favoured women’s freedom, encouraged arts and letters, and had ample sums for public works and landscaping of cities. And all these were done by the tyrants while they maintained the form and methods of the popular government of the state. At this time, we witness the rise of political lyric poetry, which expressed the views of the politically “lost” nobles. The road had been opened for Cleisthenes, his new legislative reforms, and the emergence and consolidation of a new constitution, that is, of democracy at the dawn of a new age, that is, of the Classical period. The basic element of this constitution was equality. With equality, all citizens had equal rights and could claim them in every case. They had the right to equality of speech in the Ekklesia of Demos (people’s assembly) and in every political gathering. Justice would, moreover, function in the state on the basis of written law as well as the resolutions of the Ekklesia of Demos and the new Boule (council) of the Five Hundred. The nobles’ demand for the state to return to customary law was a romantic utopia. The Athenians accepted the Ekklesia of Demos as the supreme legislative power, which met every ten days in Pnyx. This, as a state institution, came about long before Cleisthenes; some attributed it to Draco, others to Solon. It is certain that Cleisthenes extended its powers so that it was popular sovereignty; this is also what is meant by Aristotle when he says that Cleisthenes “gave the state to the crowd”. In this new assembly all citizens who had reached the age of 30 had the right to speak, and that was the highest expression of democracy.

  The Historical Context: From Renaissance to Radical Change 


References Aristotle. Athenaion politeia. Available at Accessed 3 Nov 2017. Aristotle. Politics. Available at Accessed 3 Nov 2017. Bury, J.B., and Meiggs, R. (1977). A History of Greece. London: Macmillan. De Ste Croix, G. E. M. (1981). The Class Struggle in the Ancient Greek World: From the Archaic Age to the Arab Conquest. London: Duckworth. Plutarch. Solon. Available at Accessed 3 Nov 2017.

3 Homer

3.1 Introduction It has been hypothesized that it was in Athens that earlier Mycenaean traditions were introduced in the form of myths which were handed down in later times. True or not, neither Mycenaean memories nor the continuous development of Athenian pottery allow us to conclude that in all respects the society of Athens continued to follow the Mycenaean tradition. Changes in dress and funeral customs took place, but most importantly, Athens felt that it was an integral part of post-Mycenaean Greece. Indeed, judging from the pottery data, Athens played a leading role in the creation of post-Mycenaean Greece. It is perfectly compatible with this that the tyrant Peisistratus introduced Homer recitation to Panathenaia (a great celebration in Athens). But why he did it, and how it is related to the aforementioned historical social context, we are to examine in more detail.

All extracts are from (open access) literature/index.html, and translated from Greek to English. Homer’s epics, translated to English, can be found at

© The Author(s) 2018 S. Georgoulas, The Origins of Radical Criminology,



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Homer’s works, The Iliad and The Odyssey, are considered the first writings in Greek history (Powell 2007). Along with these works, however, there has been a major issue in philology called the “Homeric Question”. When was Homer born and when did he write these works, if indeed they are correctly ascribed to him? How were the works written? In stages? And how did they come to be connected in twenty-four chapters or books? Is it possible to winnow out lyrics added by others and other additions to later transcriptions of the work? How should the work be read: literally, poetically, sociologically? In all these literary questions, opinions have been recorded that take a position, make assumptions, and conflict with each other. However, we can generally say that Homer lived at the dawn of the Archaic period, and while his works clearly acquired later formations and additions, most of his writing occurred during the tyrant era and fulfilled a social purpose. Another question is whether Homer’s epics depict the era to which they refer or whether they were transcribed (i.e. during the Mycenaean or Archaic era). In my opinion, the answer should not exclude one or the other position, and this is compatible with the place and time in which they were formed (i.e. the Athens of Peisistratus). Besides, the Homeric Question, as presented, is not a purely literary question. The philologist and the archaeologist play here the role the history researcher performs. The history researcher searches and scours the archive, copies, classifies, but does not compose. The historian is the person that composes. The historian will take the material from the history researcher and, with the help of social science, and often with that of ethnography, she or he will compose. The process is as follows. First, the philologist will make their criticism of the Homeric texts, and, with the help of linguistics, he or she will distinguish the older linguistic layers from the newer ones, and then the historian will come to put things into their place, that is, to compose. But let us start from the beginning, before the Homeric epics themselves. Philologists recognize common elements between The Odyssey and the Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh, not only in the stories of heroes but also in phrases such as occur at the beginning of The Odyssey. Therefore, it is logical to assume that the epics were transcriptions of other peoples’ myths long before the Trojan War, which were encoded by certain people



in Greece along with other myths and stories, thus fulfilling a purpose perhaps different from that of their original writing and certainly different from their teaching role in the Archaic era. This writing was a treasure store of past experience for the Asian peoples, accomplishing socio-political objectives, and for that reason it was under the custodianship of a political caste of the priesthood. In Greece, the respective “guardians” were the aoidoi (or bards, oral epic poets), who were, of course, considered to be divinely inspired by the Muses, with important duties to those in power and for specific purposes (such as information on shipping in The Odyssey). At the dawn of the Archaic period, however, appropriate social conditions had been created so that epics could play a different role. It was in this period that Homer appeared. In my opinion, this poet was an aoidos (a bard and a priest), that is, he belonged to the class of the priesthood. When, with the social differentiation that took place in the Greek cities of Asia Minor, the aoidoi lost their privileges and, at the same time, the new demotic (understood by the demos or people) writing was devised and established, the aoidos sat down and transcribed the old hymns and stories from the sacred books. Such an act in the beginning was not condemned by the nobles who had in the meantime amassed great power in their hands. But after a few years had passed, and the songs transcribed in the new writing system made a great impression on the people, it was not only the priests who began to criticize Homer, but also the nobles who disapproved of his work and his new profession, because they found that Homeric novelty can hurt. So a systematic attack against him started, and he might have been described as a renegade and disobedient. Perhaps that is why they called him Homer, because his family name seems to have been different. The word Homer or “homiros” (lit. hostage) is foreign word (a Phrygian or a Lydical one) and might have meant the apostate, the abuser of the divine, the sacrilege, or the like. Of course, there are no written sources confirming this. Nevertheless, the ancient legends surrounding Homer’s life and action and all the written testimonies lead us to such a conclusion. First, we have Herodotus’ testimony who claims that Homer and Hesiod lived at the same time. This piece of information is very ­important


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because it clearly tells us that up to the years that Homer and Hesiod lived, Greek “theology” was a kind of taboo; it was forbidden to the people not only to deal with ritualistic works but also to utter the names of gods and generally to “discuss” religious issues. As in Egypt, Babylon, Palestine and elsewhere, every issue related to worship was exclusively the preserve of priests. But from what Herodotus writes, it is clear that in Greece the priesthood in the years of Homer and Hesiod had lost its privileged position and ceased to be the sole guardian of religious traditions, because those traditions became the property of all the people. Thus, Homer and Hesiod were the first popularizers of the past priestly traditions. However, as we have already said, Homer must have been persecuted by the priests and even the nobles. That contempt and mockery was still expressed after his death, for centuries. The aristocratic tradition spoke with disdain for the two poets who had popularized most of their religious traditions. Even Plato, who often mentions Homer, had no great opinion of the poet of The Iliad and The Odyssey. He claims that Homer and Hesiod compose false myths to entertain people (The Republic 377e). But Plato does not stop here; he also says that Homer and other poets say things that, although they are right, should not have been written and disclosed and that the poet of The Iliad also promulgated lies. Thus, Homer does not have a place in the ideal Platonic Republic. As a final conclusion of the view we support, it is said that the poet was blinded by his enemies in the last few years of his life. For the ancient tradition to insist that he was blind, it means that something must have happened. In the biography of Homer attributed to Plutarch (A, 2), it is noted that the historian Ephorus, who was from Kymi in Asia Minor, had written that the poet of The Iliad “had his eyes plucked out”. Although we are not told how and when, this testimony cannot be wholly legendary; it must be based on a historical event. It is not impossible that the poet may have been blinded by those who characterized him as an apostate and dangerous innovator. Indeed, such a form of punishment was not unknown in those old times; on the contrary, it was quite common. From The Iliad (II, 594) we learn that an old poet called Thamuris was blinded because he had engaged with the Muses (that is, he went against the priesthood). In keeping with this legend, it is



not unlikely that a later rhapsode might be correct in describing Homer’s punishment. In addition to this evidence, we must pay close attention to what Plato writes in his Laws. Discussing the question of how to educate young people, the philosopher says that the religious hymns that would be chanted for each god should be determined beforehand when rituals take place. But he stresses that: Apart from the public melodies and the temples and all the dances of the young, let no one pronounce anything more or different from the laws, nor change the established ones. And if there is such one, let him be driven out (by the priests) without being punished. But if he does not obey, as we have said before, let the law-wardens, priestesses and the priests punish him. (Laws 801d)

Plato further emphasizes that a law must be passed that poets should not be allowed to write religious hymns and repeat whatever comes down to them. In particular, the poet must not mix with religious things and compose hymns and prayers that the gods do not like, because instead of doing good he does evil. That is why a law should be established to define the following: The poet, apart from what is legitimate in the State and the just or the good, must not do anything else. Whatever he composes, he should not be allowed to publish it before they are presented to the appropriate judges and law-wardens to check and approve them. (Laws 801d)

Why did Plato write this? Was he influenced by the Egyptian and Hindu tradition and their social and state organization? He might have been. But if he had not taken into account the old Greek priestly tradition and had not believed that Homer and Hesiod had done harm instead of good, he would never have written these lines. Thus, following the aristocratic tradition, the philosopher insists that a special law must be enacted which should oblige poets who deal with religious hymnology to seek the approval of the priests and that those who violate the orders of the priestly censorship should be punished. Thus, from Plato’s writings it is apparent that in Greece there were poets who came into conflict with


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the priests and, in Plato’s view, such offenders should be strictly punished in the future. This is a clear indication that the philosopher took the old Greek traditions into account; otherwise he would never have made such a recommendation.

3.2 Rhapsodes However, when the forces of social differentiation brought upheaval and political change in the Aegean states, not only had the Homeric epics already become very popular, but also a whole school had been established that continued the Homeric tradition. The poets (transcribers/translators) were called Omeridai (imitators or reciters of Homer’s epics) or rhapsodes. For a certain period, the words Omeridai and rhapsodes had the same meaning and were interchangeable; they referred to the transcribers/translators of the old priestly texts into the new writing. The rhapsodes in their first appearance were nothing but the fallen aoidoi or bards/singers. Aoidoi ceased to exist as professional priests as soon as the rhapsodes (Omeridai) appeared. This means that the priesthood had lost its privileged position. There were no aoidoi to sing “the glory of men and heroes”. This work was now the special job of rhapsodes. Indeed, once the new writing was introduced, the aoidoi were no longer of any use. After the social differentiation and the political events that took place in the Greek states from the eighth century BCE onwards which had given strength and value to the demos (the people), there was no call for aoidoi to sing in the rulers’ houses. They had to sing at the great festivals and ceremonies where the whole people became their audience. Over time, when some of the Greek states had built an impressive navy and the Aegean and the coasts of Asia Minor were largely Greekized, the Homeric epics began to take on a political character. On the one hand, traditions were needed to justify and propagate the military policy of the Ionians in the Aegean and the Mediterranean, and, on the other hand, the popular masses, which in the meantime had become the dominant power in most Greek states, needed an ideology on which to rely in ­organizing the new state of the demos. From these two main causes the “falsification” of the Homeric epics began.



Thus, while initially the Homeric epics were simply hymns and stories about the Trojan War, and described the Mediterranean beaches and transport centres, slowly with additions and changes, they took the form of two great songs. However, it seems that the greatest supplementary and corrective work was done in Athens: first, in the time of Solon and then more systematically in the years of the Peisistratids. Willing to justify the occupation of Salamis by the Athenians, Solon tried to find “historical” arguments, to use the diplomatic expression of our time (see Plutarch Solon 10).

3.3 T  he Adaptation and Assembly of Homeric Texts in the Years of Peisistratus Before Solon, the Greek states in their commercial and naval development may have done the same as Solon did. Nevertheless, the great “complementary” and “encoding” work was done in the years of Peisistratus. When this tyrant seized power, after he had overcome every reaction and subversive action of the nobles and large landowners of Attica, he began to lay the foundations of his cultural work. At the same time, however, he initiated the policy which, after a century, came to fruition and gave the Athenians naval supremacy. The tyrant, who relied heavily on the peasants of Attica, understood that the Athenians must possess various important posts in the Aegean Sea both to place their products and to bring wheat from the Pontus. The period of Peisistratus was a transitional and a creative one. During those years great internal fermentations and important cultural activity took place. It was at this time that great social and political changes occurred in Attica and the Athenian state was preparing for its excursion into the Aegean Sea. From the time of Solon the idea had been cultivated that Attica was the metropolis of the Ionians. The Homeric epics not only did not speak of the Ionians, but there were only descriptions of the Achaeans, and Thessaly and Argos were celebrated. Peisistratus was ready to create new historical traditions and at the same time to break the power of the old priestly caste because it was an obstacle to his political and cultural


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ambitions. To do so he had to devise new slogans, educate the people with new ideas and give them new ideals. In this effort, Homeric epics were very useful for him. But they first had to be popularized and adapted, because they described Aeolian life and traced the Achaean tradition. And their language form had to be changed because they were written in the Aeolian dialect. Here, there was some difficulty. The adaptation and readjustment should be done in such a way that the basic core of the epics did not change. For this purpose, it was necessary to create a team of intellectuals who came from the priesthood, because only they knew the old traditions well. Because Peisistratus was a wilful and decisive ruler, he found the people he needed for this job. It seems that Peisistratus put as the head of this project the oracle compiler Onomakritos. While Peisistratus’ children may have continued this “codifying” work, the main part was undoubtedly accomplished in the years when Peisistratus governed the state of Attica. The “corrective” work done on the Homeric epics did not change, as we have said, the historical core of the epics. What Onomakritos and his collaborators did was to give an Ionic “flavour” to Homeric poetry. Because they could not change the names and states mentioned in the Homeric texts, they arranged the writings in such a way that they describe and praise Ionian customs. Thus, the history of the Aeolians and the Achaeans disappeared, and Homer appeared to be of an Ionian generation. And since Attica was considered to be the oldest Ionic region, the Athenian state appropriated the “glory” of the heroes of The Iliad and The Odyssey. However, the adapters also made some other changes that were political in nature. Because as described in The Iliad and The Odyssey the social and political arrangement of the race gave the impression of absolute popularity, which contradicted the then political institutions, there had to be some changes or rather additions to correct the old traditions in many places. Despite all the efforts made by Peisistratus and his successors to make Homeric epics the national book of the Ionians, The Iliad and The Odyssey exerted a great influence on the regions outside of Attica, and they became the treasury of Greek traditions of almost all Greece. The Iliad and The Odyssey, along with the Theogony by Hesiod, became the “Holy Bible” of the Greeks.



3.4 E  lements in the Homeric epics The Homeric epics describe a bridging of the past with the present of the poet and his transcriptions (Fowler 2004; Nagy 2010). They depict a past that is beautiful because it has ceased to exist, with heroes that are human and alive and of everyday life as well as anthropomorphic traditional myth-gods that play a leading role the in plot but not the most important one; a self-sustaining and self-supporting livestock society with kings who did their own work with collective bodies and heroes, who were at first a collective memory that led to the creation and establishment of cities as a new structure of the Archaic period. Greek mythology is full of stories and legends of heroes such as Achilles, Orestes, Oedipus, Perseus, Hercules, Jason, Odysseus and Theseus, all of whom had a divine parental background or origin. Achilles, for example, was the son of the goddess Thetis, Hercules and Perseus were sons of Zeus, and Theseus the son of Poseidon. Heroes are distinguished for their natural bravery, their appetite for adventure and their willingness to face challenges that would make common people collapse. The greatest challenge of all was the descent into the Underworld, where the hero faced what could be described as a denial of himself. The wide range of heroic challenges is illustrated by the variety of labours made by Hercules, the greatest of all heroes. Six of his labours took place in or around Olympia, in the north-western Peloponnese, four sent him to the four points of the horizon, and the last two—to steal the golden apples from the garden of the Hesperides and to capture Cerberus from Hades—require him to travel beyond the boundaries of common mortals. Facing these challenges, Hercules emerges as a symbol of the unchanging nature of the human spirit. The Greek hero, however, was not just an ancient version of the modern idealized “fearless man”. Instead, many of the myths associated with him emphasize the violent element of human nature that is inseparable from man’s desire for success. Moreover, many heroes are barely heroic when facing women. Hercules continued to be unfaithful to his wife, Deianira, whose death he unwittingly caused when she sought to revive his love for her. Theseus left Ariadne on Naxos after she had given him the means to kill the Minotaur, a half-human and half-bull creature that


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ate young men and women of Athens. Jason abandoned Medea, as she helped him steal the Golden Fleece and helped him escape by killing her own brother Absyrtus. Unlike his popular, much simplified modern descendant, the Greek hero was a morally complex person who often did not manage to behave in an honest way, but yet his courage and bravery in the eyes of the Greeks helped to absolve him from the obligation to live like a morally responsible human being. Generally, however, Greek mythology presents a threatening and turbulent landscape. Although it is not totally devoid of what is generous and gracious in human nature, few myths have a happy ending. And when they do end in such a way, it is either ephemeral or earned at great cost of suffering. Through myths, we encounter the dark side of human life, which most of us might prefer to avoid. But the Greek myth also provides us with an incomparably rich language to come to a compromise agreement with this dark side. Within the disconnected and fragmented world of Greece, mythology served as a powerful tool of cultural union, supplying the people with a sense of a common past and the means to interpret it. The heroes were rulers who descended from gods, and the gap between them and the common people seems to have been great. In Homer there is a young man who forgets his position and opposes the kings: this is Thersites, who complained of the great share of the spoils taken by Agamemnon and proposed that the common warriors should show the king that he could do nothing without them. Homer tilts the scales at the expense of Thersites, presenting him as ugly and deformed, and the army enthusiastically applauds Odysseus when he hits him with his golden sceptre. One analysis of the Thersites case is the following: Thersites may not be a lovable man but he was punished not just for that reason. He was hit because he did not know his position. Calling upon the assembly itself, Odysseus had shown a much more sensitive and respectful attitude. Whenever he met someone from a royal family or a high rank, he made an attempt to restrict him in a noble way. “I would not think it right,” he said, “to threaten you, as I would have done to an ordinary man …”. But when he found any common man from the city who needed to be



checked, he hit him with his sceptre and severely disapproved him. “You there,” he said, “sit still and wait for orders from your best, you who are not a warrior but a little man and do not count at all in the battle or in the discussion” (Iliad II, 188–202). Nevertheless, the simple analysis of the “victory” of aristocracy at the expense of the demos/people is not valid, as we will see below, more specifically when we analyse The Iliad. In general, about Homeric epics, we can say that injustice, social disorder, and disregard of moral laws and their deliberate violation (hubris) cause the rage of gods and incite punishment (nemesis). Thus, the design of Homer’s works treats both divine power and human will: these two elements are interwoven and matched, and coexist within the Homeric epics in antagonism/contrast, the main result of which is the development of the myth but also the insurmountable poetic value of the epics. In “terrestrial” cases justice is given through existing institutions. The king is also the judge of the affairs of the race: he punishes violations that take place in his home, and he also has jurisdiction over family affairs. In all cases, however, the king does not decide on his own, but with the help of all members of the race. The sentence is announced by the king. But let us take a closer look at such elements in these works in detail.

3.5 T  he Iliad Book I of The Iliad starts with the quarrel of Agamemnon and Achilles (Edwards 1987). Achilles, complaining about the injustice suffered by the leader Agamemnon, reveals the nature of justice in favour of the stronger. Joy In all the extract from the Iliad and Odyssey please check whether quotes should be added for the speeches. They are inconsistently used at presentto ­people-devouring king, since you rule over nobodies; else, son of Atreus, this would be your last piece of injustice. (Iliad I, 231–2)

But Agamemnon responds within the same framework. Where does Achilles take the right to offend them all? That he was born of a goddess mother should not make him superior.


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If you are stronger (fighter), and a goddess mother bore you, yet there is he (the king) who is over you and rules the most (of people). (Iliad I, 280–1) And if the immortal gods have made him a spearman, have they therefore given him license to keep insulting us? (Iliad I, 290–1)

Book II presents the case of Thersites which is of criminological interest. A man of non-aristocratic descent dares questioning the commanders of the armies. He is portrayed as an ugly man, who in the end is laughed at and Odysseus hits him. While the others were seated and packed in close, the endlessly talkative Thersites alone let his tongue run on, his mind filled with a store of unruly words, baiting the leaders wildly and recklessly, aiming to raise a laugh among the men. He was the ugliest of all who had come to Ilium, bandy-legged and lame of foot; rounded shoulders hunched over his chest; and above them a narrow head with a scant few hairs. (Iliad II, 211–19) Son of Atreus, what’s your problem now, what more do you need? Your huts are filled with bronze, crowded with women, the pick of the spoils we Achaeans grant you when we sack a city. Is it gold you want now, the ransom for his son some horse-taming Trojan shall bring you out of Ilium, the son that I or some other Achaean have bound and led away? (Iliad II, 225–31) So Thersites railed at Agamemnon, leader of men, but noble Odysseus was soon at his side, and rage in his look, lashed him with harsh words: “Take care what you say, Thersites, so eloquent, so reckless, take care when you challenge princes, alone. None baser than you followed the Atreidae to Troy, so you least of all should sound a king’s name on your tongue, slandering our leaders, with your eye on home. No one knows how this thing will end, whether we Greeks will return in triumph or no.” (Iliad II, 243–9) So saying, Odysseus, struck with his staff at Thersites’ back and shoulders, and the man cowered and shed a huge tear, as a bloody weal was raised behind by the golden staff. Then terrified, and in pain, he sat, helplessly wiping the tear from his eye. Then the Achaeans, despite their discontent, mocked him ruthlessly. “There,” cried one to his neighbour, “Odysseus is ever a one for fine deeds,



clever in counsel, and strategy, but this is surely the best thing he’s done for us Greeks, in shutting this scurrilous babbler’s mouth. I think Thersites’ proud spirit will shrink from ever again abusing kings with his foul words.” (Iliad II, 265–77)

The case has been mistakenly interpreted in my opinion as a presentation of what wrong is done to one who challenges power and as an example to be avoided, when the specific work assumes its teaching character in the time we refer to. However, the following corresponding extracts show that the aforementioned analysis is partial and problematic. More specifically, in Book VII, Antenor disputes over the aristocratic birth of Troy and requires that Helen be given back. Antenor is presented as “wise”. Meanwhile the Trojans likewise gathered together in a crowd at the door of Priam’s palace on the citadel, Ilium: but a noisy and angry one. Antenor the wise spoke first: “Trojans, Dardanians, allies, hear the prompting of my heart. Now, let us give Argive Helen and all she owns back to the Atreidae. In fighting on, we break our solemn oath, and nothing will do us good unless we comply.” (Iliad VII, 345–53)

In Book IX, Diomedes challenges Agamemnon’s judgement, calling him foolish and a man without gallantry. Son of Atreus, I have the right, in this assembly, to oppose your royal folly: so refrain from anger. You decried my courage, first, to the Greeks, saying I was a coward and no warrior: the Achaeans heard it, both young and old. Yet while Zeus, the son of cunning Cronos, endowed you with the sceptre, so you might be honoured above all, he withheld his second gift, of courage, which is the greater source of power. (Iliad IX, 32–9)

While at the same time he reminds him that he has a duty to listen and follow what he says. And you have the duty to say your word, to hear our own, and even more, if no one talks to you, to follow your own opinion differently, and let it be for another. (Iliad IX, 100–2)


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In Book XII, another “common mortal” confronts Hector, the prince of Troy. Finally, in a gentle way, Hector enforces his opinion with arguments rather than imposing his power or noble role. The Trojans were appalled by the snake writhing on the ground, an omen from aegis-bearing Zeus. Polydamas again approached brave Hector: “You always object to my sound advice in council, Hector. You think it wrong if a commoner questions your power, there or here in the field, but I will say what I think. We should call off our attack on the Greek ships.” (Iliad XII, 211–14) “Polydamas, your words are no longer to my taste: you can do better than that speech surely.” (Iliad XII, 231–2)

Similarly, Zeus, in Book XVI, cannot impose his will on the other gods to save Sarpedon from his disaster, even though he is the king of the gods. Alas that Sarpedon, so dear to me, is fated to die at the hands of Patroclus! Even now I am undecided, whether to snatch him up and set him down alive in his rich land of Lycia, far from this sad war, or allow him to fall to this son of Menoetius.“Dread son of Cronos,” ox-eyed Queen Hera replied, “what do you mean? Are you willing to save a mortal from the pains of death, one long since doomed by fate? Do so, but don’t expect the rest of us to approve. And think hard about this fact too. If you send Sarpedon home alive, why should some other god not do the same for their dear son, and save him from the thick of war? Many who fight before Priam’s great city are children of immortals, and those divinities will resent it deeply.” (Iliad XVI, 433–49) The Father of men and gods accepted her advice, but he sent a shower of bloodred raindrops to the earth, to honour. (Iliad XVI, 458–61)

The key to understanding this different picture of challenging the leader’s judgement is the result. Thersites wants to quit the war, whereas it will be won. Should the advice of wise Antenor have been heard, the tribulations of Troy would not have been great, and their destruction would have been avoided. Polydamas wants the Trojans to get held back and not carry on their attack on the ships in order not to get ruined, as they did.



Zeus cannot overturn the will of many not even to save a loved one. But when the conflict is between two, then the strongest prevails. This is understood in Book IV when Hera mentions that she does not have the strength to resist Zeus’ will if he desires to destroy her city’s loved ones. “There are three cities dearest to me; Argos, Sparta and broad-paved Mycenae; if they rouse your hatred, ruin them. I’ll not shield them, nor hold a grudge. And if I did, you are the stronger: I would achieve nothing by trying.” (Iliad IV, 51–6)

In Book V, examples are provided that the powerful gods were taken by common mortals, thus the building of the educational character of the thesis that no one is unconquerable in a conflict has just started. (Laughter-loving Aphrodite said:) “Reckless Diomedes, Tydeus’ son, it was who wounded me, as I rescued my dear son Aeneas, dearest of all to me, from the field. This fierce feud’s no longer one between Greeks and Trojans: now the Danaans are at war with the gods themselves.” The lovely goddess, Dione, replied: “Courage my child, and bear your pain well. Many of us who dwell on Olympus have suffered at the hands of men, attempting to injure one another.” (Iliad V, 376–84) And then Phoebus, (Apollo) gave a terrible cry to brave Mars: “Mars, slayer and bloodstain and castrocatalyst, couldn’t you get Diomedes out of the war? He would now fight against Jupiter, our father. First, coming close, he wounded Cypri in the hand, and then, as if he were god, he pounced on me.” (Iliad V, 454–9)

In the same book there is the selective use of justice by the king of the gods Zeus, through the moaning of the other gods that all obey him, but Athena, as his daughter, has a selective treatment because he never teaches her, an example that is confirmed throughout The Iliad. The rest of us Olympians obey you and bow to you, but you say and do nothing to stop her antics, you condone them rather, simply because this girl who wreaks havoc is yours. (Iliad V, 877–80)


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Book IX presents the custom of reciprocal justice or retribution, a payment in kind or money for each criminal act. Nevertheless, Achilles, the hero, does not accept it. Yet a man accepts blood-money even from his brother’s or his son’s killer, and the killer is not expelled from the land if he pays the price to the next of kin, whose pride and feelings are appeased by such compensation. Achilles, the gods have hardened and poisoned your heart, all because of a girl, while we offer you seven, the best there are by far, and a host of gifts besides. (Iliad IX, 632–9)

In Book XVIII there is a process of trial as a result of the non-functionality of retribution as justice. Eventually, the case ends in the court where the people make the final judgement. It is a scene depicted on Achilles’ shield, the central hero. But the men had gathered in assembly, where two of them were arguing a case, contesting the blood price to be paid for another’s death. The defendant claimed he had paid all that was right, putting this to the people, but the accuser refused his acceptance, and the pair of them sought arbitration. Both were cheered by their supporters, whom the heralds firmly restrained. The Elders sat on the sacred bench, a semi-circle of polished stone, receiving the speaker’s staff from the loud-voiced heralds, and rising to give judgement in turn. At their feet lay two talents of gold, the fee for the one who gave the soundest judgement. (Iliad XVIII, 497–508)

The last book, Book XXIV, includes the complaint of Apollo to the other gods, and, especially to Zeus, that Achilles is judged by the gods with different measures in relation to Hector and that because of his origins, despite the fact that he performs “ruthless” acts. Zeus admits it, and, he says: “we haven’t given the same honour to the two.” “You would rather help this brute, Achilles, whose mind is warped, his will of adamant. The man’s heart is like a lion’s, wild and powerful is that creature’s in its urge to slaughter the shepherds’ flocks for meat. Achilles is as devoid of pity, and of the shame that benefits men, urging restraint. Many a man loses someone closer to him than this, a brother born of the one mother, or a son, yet when he has finished weeping and wailing he has



done, since the Fates grant men patient endurance. But this man, having robbed Hector of life, ties him to his chariot and drags him round his dead friend’s mound, as if that brought him honour or profit. Great as he is, let him be wary of our wrath; not disfigure the mute clay in his fury.” But white-armed Hera took exception to all this: “That might make sense, Lord of the Silver Bow, if the gods valued Hector as highly as Achilles. But Hector was a mere mortal, suckled at a woman’s breast, while Achilles is child to a goddess. I nurtured her and reared her myself, and gave her in marriage to Peleus, a warrior dear to us immortals. All of you, all you gods, came to the wedding, and you Apollo were there yourself, sitting down to feast, lyre in hand, you faithless friend of wrongdoers.” Zeus, the Cloud-Gatherer, now replied: “Hera, curb your anger against us. These men will not be honoured equally.” (Iliad XXIV, 39–66)

3.6 T  he Odyssey In the first lines of Book I, Homer takes the position that law and the evil that he himself faces are not a situation given by the gods, but a human energy, a failure. for they perished through their own sheer folly in eating the cattle of the Sungod Hyperion. (Odyssey I, 6–8) “See now, how men lay blame upon us gods for what is after all nothing but their own folly.” (Odyssey I, 32–4)

The next lines in the same book are determined by the historicalsocial context of the Athenian democracy in which Homer’s works began to be teaching material and are linked to the analysis of The Oresteia by Aeschylus, a trilogy of Greek tragedy. Why did Orestes became world famous? Is it a victory over the old in terms of political arrangements and legal provisions and does it express the new spirit of the time? Did divine Orestes become world-renowned, since the murderer of his legendary father, treacherous Aegisthus killed? (Odyssey I, 298–300)


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Something that is repeated in Book III: “Nestor son of Neleus,” answered Telemachus, “honour to the Achaean name, the Achaeans applaud Orestes and his name will live through all time for he has avenged his father nobly.” (Odyssey III, 203–4)

Book II includes the function of the popular assembly, in which the measures for the people are announced, but at the same time they perform the functions of Themis (i.e. the goddess-protector of justice) and an example—that is, Telemachus’ words—is mentioned that has to do with snatch of property. From the day Odysseus left us there has been no meeting of our councillors until now; who then can it be, whether old or young, that finds it so necessary to convene us? (Odyssey II, 26–8) or would he speak upon some other matter of public moment? (Odyssey II, 32) I pray you by Zeus and Themis, who is the beginning and the end of councils, (Odyssey II, 68–9) Moreover, if I am to be eaten out of house and home at all, I had rather you did the eating yourselves, for I could then take action against you to some purpose, and serve you with notices from house to house till I got paid in full, whereas now I have no remedy. (Odyssey II, 75–8)

In Book IV Penelope presents the kind side of her husband, Odysseus, as opposed to bad suitors. His kindness is not based on his royal family, as this is an exception. Kings usually hate and are in enmity with others. (They could never have listened when they were children, and their fathers talked of how Odysseus treated them) never unjust to any man in word or action, as sacred kings often are: disliking one man, while favouring another. (Odyssey IV, 690–2)

Apart from the kings, gods are also heartless and jealous, according to Calypso’s words, especially on issues that highlight the choice of a woman for the social status of her lover.



“You are cruel, you gods, and quickest to envy, since you are jealous if any goddess openly mates with a man, taking a mortal to her bed. Jealous, you gods, who live untroubled, of rosy-fingered Dawn and her Orion, till virgin Artemis, of the golden throne, attacked him with painless arrows in Ortygia, and slew him. Jealous, when Demeter of the lovely tresses, gave way to passion and lay with Jason in the thrice-ploughed field. Zeus soon heard of it, and struck him dead with his bright bolt of lightning. And jealous now of me, you gods, because I befriend a man,” (Odyssey V, 118–29)

The notion of tort/delict is synonymous with the concept of uncivilized, according to Homer: How many were uncultured, bad and wrong-doers? (Odyssey VIII, 575)

While, on the other hand, an equal share-out creates happiness for all. We are all made happy with the equal share-out. (Odyssey IX, 42)

The unjust and shameless Cyclopes have the following characteristics. They do not cultivate the land, they do not have people’s assemblies, they do not care about each other, and everyone is a judge to his children and his wife, they are all a-social. the land of the Cyclopes, a lawless, aggressive people (Odyssey IX, 106) who never lift their hands to plant or plough, but rely on the immortal gods. Wheat, barley, and vines with their richly clustered grapes, grow there without ploughing or sowing (Odyssey IX, 108–9) (The Cyclopes) have no council meetings, no code of law (Odyssey IX, 112) and each man lays down the law to his wives and children, and disregards his neighbours. (Odyssey IX, 114–15) one that grazed his herds far off, alone, and keeping clear of others, lived in lawless solitude. (Odyssey IX, 189)


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Challenging Odysseus’ power when he orders all to go to Circe’s palace, although it makes Odysseus nervous so he thinks of punishing him hard, does not lead to a similar act because the majority of Odysseus’ comrades disagree with such action/punishment. Only Eurylochus of all my friends hung back. And he spoke to them with winged words: “Wretched fools, where are you off to? Are you so in love with trouble you’ll visit Circe’s house, she who will change you all to pigs, or wolves, or lions to guard her great hall under duress? Remember how Cyclops too behaved, when our friends entered his cave with reckless Odysseus, this man through whose foolishness they died.” Those were his words, and I felt like drawing the long sword strapped to my sturdy thigh and striking his head to the ground, though he was a kinsman of mine by marriage, but my friends each checked me with soothing words: “Scion of Zeus, let’s leave him behind, if you will, to stay and guard the ship, while you lead us to Circe’s sacred house.” (Odyssey X, 429–45)

Odysseus’ father is presented in Book XI as working hard and living a life similar to his slaves. But your father lives alone in the fields, not travelling to the city, and owns no bed with bright rugs and cloaks for bedding, but sleeps where serfs sleep, in the ashes by the hearth all winter through, and wears only simple clothes. When summer comes and mellow autumn, then you will find his humble beds of fallen leaves, scattered here and there on the vineyard’s slopes. There he lies, burdened with age, grieving, nursing great sadness in his heart. (Odyssey XI, 187–95)

At the beginning of Book XIII, Homer describes the exploitation underlying the custom of giving gifts to strangers, as the kings take them from the people. “… But now let each offer him a cauldron and a large tripod. We in turn will impose a levy on the people to recoup the cost, since it would be hard on any man to give so generously without repayment.” (Odyssey XIII, 13–15)



When someone dies the process of sharing the property is done by lot. But fate took him, death carried him off to Hades’ palaces, and his proud sons cast lots for their portions of his estate. (Odyssey XIV, 207–9)

A process that is also done for war loot. I had led men and swift ships nine times in foreign expeditions and always treasure came to my hands. I would take what pleased me: and more still fell to me by lot. (Odyssey XIV, 230–3)

One cannot win the many, as Homer tells us in Book XVI, “It’s hard for one man alone to do anything in a crowd, however brave he is. They have the greater strength, in truth.” (Odyssey XVI, 88–9)

And he gives an example. Why has Telemachus tolerated the suitors? May he not have popular support? Do you accept it? Do the people here hate you …. (Odyssey XVI, 95–6)

The answer is given by the words of the other side, that of the suitors. They have no popular support, and because they fear that Telemachus will call upon a popular assembly and will demand their punishment for their lawlessness, with exile, they think of murdering him. … and we do not have the favour of the people as we had it before. Hurry up before he calls the Achaeans upon summoning. (Odyssey XVI, 375–6) and these will not bless our iniquities. I’m afraid of a bad hurt, and they may make us out of our land, and so we take the walk to foreign lands. (Odyssey XVI, 381–2)

Eumaeus, one of the suitors, reminds of the habit of the nobles of the time not to invite a stranger to their home unless he is a public servant, a seer, a doctor, a carpenter or an aoidos and certainly not a poor man.


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“Adinos, you do not speak well, and you are an old man. Who goes and invites to his place a stranger, only if he is a civil servant, a seer or a doctor or a carpenter or an aoidos, who delights our heart with his sweet songs? Those from the ends of the land are welcome. No one invites the poor to have him as a burden.” (Odyssey XVII, 381–7)

Odysseus, disguised as a beggar, pleads with the proud suitors for bread and meat, reminding them, as mentioned before, that Odysseus, having been an exception, always used to give to the poor. “… for a while I was also a lord of a happy and rich home, and I often gave to the beggar, whoever might be the poor and for whatever reason he was coming.” (Odyssey XVII, 415–21)

But the suitor Antinous does not give to the poor beggar. And when in the next book the unjust behaviour of the arrogant suitors continues towards the disguised beggar Odysseus, who prepares himself for his revenge, this is legitimized by the people as it is a shame for the people to behave badly to a stranger. “What kind of job was that that took place in our palace in your letting them to behave so brutally to the stranger? And now if something happens by a blow to our stranger in our house, you must know that you will suffer the outcry and shame of the people.” (Odyssey XVIII, 221–5)

This is also confirmed by Penelope’s words that one should not let a dirty person wearing rags and dirty person go, something that shows superior mind and proper thinking. How will you feel, oh stranger, that I am the best in mind and in right reason, if I had left you racked-in and dirty to eat in my house? (Odyssey XIX, 225–8)

All of the above, both threatening Telemachus’ life and the inappropriate behaviour to the beggar, is essentially an attempt to legitimize the upcoming slaughter because the suitors started doing injustice first.



But a more bitter dinner, as this was not the case, which the goddess and the brave men quickly laid upon them, since they began iniquity first. (Odyssey XX, 392–4)

The moment of the mass murder of the suitors in revenge comes in Book XXII. Odysseus lists their lawless acts, killing Antinous. The rest of the suitors present Antinous as the person to blame for everything, showing the reason for his actions. He wanted to usurp power. His failure leads him to an attempt to compromise in return for material goods as compensation (as it was the oldest customary law), but this is not acceptable. The old order dies with the death of the suitors. “Dogs that you thought I was not going to come back to my home from Troy, and you were eating my belongings, and you were sowing the (female) slaves to the bed and you were panting my wife, while I was still alive. You were afraid neither of gods, who command the great heavens, nor human vengeance one day. Now, the loop of destruction hangs on all.” (Odyssey XXII, 35–41) But now the deceiver is dead for all this, Antinous. For all this unjust, this (man) is accountable for, not by the desire of marriage, but by the desire of other need, but because he was thinking of others things that Zeus didn’t allow him to do, (i.e.) to become King himself in the well-built Ithaca, killing your son in an ambush. Now, he is rightly lost, but have pity on us. We will arrange the issue in the city. And as for what we have eaten and drunk, everyone twenty cows will bring you for compensation, and we will give you copper and millet, so your heart will be softened. Now, you are right and you are galled. (Odyssey XXII, 48–59)

A suitor’s assistant is tortured as a punishment for his help. “… Pass the knitted loop to his neck and pull him on the top of the pillar to get him to reach the beams, to suffer alive, to be tortured for hours.” (Odyssey XXII, 175–7)

The same end befalls a suitor who begged Odysseus to save his life because he never made an act of impropriety. Odysseus, however, punishes not only the act but also the suitor’s simple desire to possess his wife.


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Leiodes ran and fell on Odysseus’ feet, speaking fervently praising words: “Respect and be sorry for me, I beseech you, Odysseus. Never did I mourn your wife with an inappropriate word or work inappropriate in your palace, but I held back all the suitors I had seen to commit injustice. Nevertheless, they did not hear me from abstaining the wrongs. That is why they had a bad death for their evil deeds. I was only their seer, and I would die unjustly, and for my own sake I will not know grace.” Then, eager Odysseus replied to him boldly: “If you only brag about being a seer in the sacrifices, you would many times have asked in your prayers for the day of my sweet return to be delayed so to get my wife and have children (with her). That’s why you will not avoid the merciless doom.” (Odyssey XXII, 310–25)

When Odysseus wonders what effect this action will have, as for murders the punishment is exile, his son Telemachus reminds him of his ability to speak in popular assembly. When someone kills a man in the city, who did not leave many avengers, the offender leaves home and his kins and goes far away. But we killed the back of the city of Ithaca, its best lads. That’s what I’m telling you, meditate upon it.” And wise Telemachus turned and told him: “You yourself take care of them, dear father. You have an excellent though among all people. No man in parliament can be compared with you.” (Odyssey XXIII, 118–26)

And really in the last book, Book XXIV, we have such a popular trial; the ruler of the place is the accused and his people are the judges. Laertius initially shows that he is really afraid of this process. “Now, it scares me that all the Ithacans could rush towards here quite soon, and they spread the news to the villages of Cephallonians quickly.” (Odyssey XXIV, 353–5)

The popular trial begins and one of the prosecutors is very tough, because one of the murdered suitors is his son. In his speech, he reminds us of the unsuccessful expedition of the Achaeans and Odysseus in terms of loss of human lives. Everyone was very sad in the market. So, when they got together and they were all gathered, Eupeithes came out in the middle and went to talk. He was suf-



fering bad pain in the soul for his child, Antinous, who was first that divine Odysseus killed. For him tears he had poured, and he said. “Brothers, he thought of this inhumane work for us. He got a lot of lads with our boats. He lost the sinking larch and ravaged the sailors and killed, when he returned, the best of Kefallines.” (Odyssey XXIV, 420–9)

A supportive answer to Odysseus is also imprinted in the process, but it seems to have a failed outcome, and King Odysseus will be in danger of losing his life from this popular trial, unless the divine forces intervene and support the right thing which is peace and not conflict. Those actions were made of your stubbornness. I and the King Mentor constantly advised you to prevent your sons from doing thoughtless works. They did evil works due to their bad attitudes. They raped our ruler’s living, and they didn’t respect his wife. They had written down his homecoming. (Odyssey XXIV, 455–60) His speech was not liked, but Eupeithes’ speech inspired them and went to get their arms. After they had buckled on their gleaming of bold copper arms, they were assembled in front of the city with wide streets. (Odyssey XXIV, 465–8) “Our father, son of Saturn, the king of the kings, give an answer to this. What do you hide in your mind? Are you preparing war or killing, or between the two sides will you bring peace?” And Zeus, the nebulizer, answered: “But why do my daughters ask about them and despise them? Did not you take this decision that Odysseus should come back again and take revenge on them? We do what you want. But the right I will indicate. Since divine Odysseus took revenge on them, they ought to take a vow that he will reign forever, and we should grant amnesty to the murders of sons and siblings so they love each other as before and have many goods and solid peace. (Odyssey XXIV, 474–86)

References Edwards, M.  W. (1987). Homer, Poet of the Iliad. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. Fowler, R. (Ed.). (2004). The Cambridge Companion to Homer. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


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Nagy, G. (2010). Homer: The Preclassic. Berkeley: University of California Press. Plato. Republic. Available at Accessed 3 Nov 2017. Plato. Laws. Available at Accessed 3 Nov 2017. Plutarch. Solon. Available at Accessed 3 Nov 2017. Powell, B.  B. (2007). Homer (2nd ed.). Malden/Oxford/Carlton: Wiley-Blackwell. (Pseudo) Plutarch. On Homer. Available at plutarch-homer_ii/2003/pb_LCL496.415.xml. Accessed 3 Nov 2017.

4 Hesiod

Hesiod’s poems are two of the first written ideological products of European literature, representing the bible of Greek mythology on the one hand (Theogony), and the first historical writing dealing with current issues of that time (Works and Days) on the other. The time at which Hesiod wrote his works was a transition period, where the established aristocracy no longer enjoyed legitimization by the majority. The new era is combined with a renaissance in cultural and ideological terms; first, a revival of ideas, images and skills from the Mycenaean age that appeared to have been forgotten, as it seemed in the works of Homer. Furthermore, as soon as the power of kingship faded, religion ceased to be a privilege of the royal house; its rituals exceeded the boundaries of palace and became a public activity with the full participation of aristocrats. However, at that time, and since the literates grew in number,1 the issue of religion as part of the ideology of the new era changed in character. Together with the predominant cult of Mysteries which were conducted only by initiates, were unknown to the public and kept secret and confidential through the mediation of a priesthood, Mycenaean gods were rediscovered. They had a new form, influenced by ideas and rituals of the East, and heroes were presented as semi-gods, who © The Author(s) 2018 S. Georgoulas, The Origins of Radical Criminology,



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fulfil the new social need of shaping a common identity of a particular place, that of the new city-state. So, heroes are “localized” in a way that the demos and the aristocrats attributed their origin and their right of land ownership to the ancestry of the “heroic” era.2 In any case, the presence of these newly emerged deities was indispensable for the survival of the city-state as an entity of equal political rights, either as guardians of a city-state, as its first inhabitants, or using it as a place of burial (Nilsson 1940). Hesiod is the first to re-invent and assist in the establishment of gods and rituals (in his work Theogony) which are not primordial (Mann 1986), but a product of transcription from previous “sacred books” of Eastern cults (Hesiod’s origin lies in Kymi on the coast of Asia Minor),3 and new social needs which he does not hesitate to thoroughly reveal in his work Works and Days. The two poems attributed to Hesiod were written in the eighth century. The particular connection of Hesiodic poetry to an actual person has received various critiques. It has been claimed that an oral poetic tradition, greater than one person, was actually responsible for both poems, and also that each of the poems was written by different people, while an array of other poems or abstracts have been attributed to Hesiod. However, while the issue of identification of these other poems may be contested, there is no disagreement that it is more important to examine their position in the world of archaic society, by observing the images they present, and there is no doubt that Hesiod lived in the eighth century and was already known since the time of Herodotus (Histories 2:53), and that Theogony and Works and Days are definitely his works (Allen and Rambaut 1915; West 1970; Lamberton 1988; Peabody 1975; Evelyn-­ White 1964). These poems survived in Alexandrian papyri since as early as the first century BCE, in copied manuscripts after the eleventh century, and the first printed edition was issued in 1493 by Demetrius Chalkondylis in Milan. In the poem Theogony there is a detailed discussion of cosmology and the birth and evolution of Greek deities. These elements that present influences from respective sacred poems of the East are the main reference framework of the features forming ancient Greek mythology. The second poem Works and Days, written on the occasion of an inheritance dispute between Hesiod and his brother Perses, is a detailed record of



agrarian life in archaic Boeotia. In both poems (mainly in the second one) there is biographical information about the author. This leads to the conclusion that Hesiod was a peasant, with no great land property, and of Aeolian origin from his father’s side who had left his place of birth due to adverse economic conditions. As a consequence, it appears that the writer belonged to a specific social class of his time, as was described earlier, and underlined the importance of labour (which was opposed to the predominant values of the aristocrats of his time), while he tried to transcribe religious hymns and traditions making them broadly known, in contrast to the past, when religion as an ideology was monopolized by the few initiators. Hesiod’s work is the only source of information (together with Homer’s works) about judicial procedures and the meaning of crime in ancient Greece before the seventh century BCE (MacDowell 1978), while the idea of the dipole “positive/negative” is the main common principle governing the ideas of all of his work. In Works and Days,4 we are told that Hesiod’s brother took the greatest part of their inheritance, winning the trial by bribing the lords/judges, who are characterized as imbeciles. Besides, according to Hesiod, the time he in which he lives is a period where “might makes right”. In Hesiod’s parable, lords are like hawks that torture nightingales, without accounting to anybody; while the judicial system functions through the crooked procedures of people that accept the unrighteousness of the lords. Perses, lay up these things in your heart, and do not let that Strife who delights in mischief hold your heart back from work, while you peep and peer and listen to the wrangles of the court-house. Little concern has he with quarrels and courts who has not a year’s victuals laid up betimes, even that which the earth bears, Demeter’s grain. When you have got plenty of that, you can raise disputes and strive to get another’s goods. But you shall have no second chance to deal so again: nay, let us settle our dispute here with true judgement which is of Zeus and is perfect. For we had already divided our inheritance, but you seized the greater share and carried it off, greatly swelling the glory of our bribe-­swallowing lords who love to judge such a cause as this. Fools! They know not how much more the half is than the whole, nor what great advantage there is in mallow and asphodel.


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Hesiod goes on to say that we are in an era where … The father will not agree with his children, nor the children with their father, nor guest with his host, nor comrade with comrade; nor will brother be dear to brother as aforetime. Men will dishonour their parents as they grow quickly old, and will carp at them, chiding them with bitter words, hard-hearted they, not knowing the fear of the gods. They will not repay their aged parents the cost their nurture, for might shall be their right: and one man will sack another’s city. There will be no favour for the man who keeps his oath or for the just or for the good; but rather men will praise the evil-doer and his violent dealing. Strength will be right and reverence will cease to be; and the wicked will hurt the worthy man, speaking false words against him, and will swear an oath upon them. Envy, foul-mouthed, delighting in evil, with scowling face, will go along with wretched men one and all.

Kings and princes—according to Hesiod—are hawks who torture the nightingales without the fear of justice. And now I will tell a fable for princes who themselves understand. Thus said the hawk to the nightingale with speckled neck, while he carried her high up among the clouds, gripped fast in his talons, and she, pierced by his crooked talons, cried pitifully. To her he spoke disdainfully: “Miserable thing, why do you cry out? One far stronger than you now holds you fast and you must go wherever I take you, songstress as you are. And if I please I will make my meal of you, or let you go. He is a fool who tries to withstand the stronger, for he does not get the mastery and suffers pain besides his shame.” So said the swiftly flying hawk, the long-winged bird.

While concerning justice: There is a noise when Justice is being dragged in the way where those who devour bribes and give sentence with crooked judgements, take her.

In Works and Days, Hesiod records the production procedure of justice and injustice, crime and lawfulness, as a process which in human society is developed through the conflict of the mighty and the weak, a process which is distorted by the bribery of the judges/lords who make the decisions. In the world of deities (in Theogony) another procedure of



power conflict is described, where the winner has the absolute authority by setting his/her terms. The first god, Uranus, gives birth to Themis (guardian of justice). After them was born Cronos the wily, youngest and most terrible of her children, and he hated his lusty sire.

The relations of the first master and the subsequent king (Cronos) are not at all developed through social consensus. For of all the children that were born of Earth and Heaven, these were the most terrible, and they were hated by their own father from the first. And he used to hide them all away in a secret place of Earth so soon as each was born, and would not suffer them to come up into the light: and Heaven rejoiced in his evil doing. But vast Earth groaned within, being straitened, and she made the element of grey flint and shaped a great sickle, and told her plan to her dear sons. And she spoke, cheering them, while she was vexed in her dear heart: “My children, gotten of a sinful father, if you will obey me, we should punish the vile outrage of your father; for he first thought of doing shameful things.” So she said; but fear seized them all, and none of them uttered a word. But great Cronos the wily took courage and answered his dear mother: “Mother, I will undertake to do this deed, for I reverence not our father of evil name, for he first thought of doing shameful things.”

Besides the king’s offspring were the Titans, who committed nefarious acts. Among them were Nemesis, who spelled disaster for mortals, Apati (= Deceit), and Erida (= Strife), while his grandchildren bore similar characteristics. But these sons whom are begot himself great Heaven used to call Titans (Strainers) in reproach, for he said that they strained and did presumptuously a fearful deed, and that vengeance for it would come afterwards. … Also deadly Night bare Nemesis (Indignation) to afflict mortal men, and after her, Deceit and Friendship and hateful Age and hard-hearted Strife. But abhorred Strife bare painful Toil and Forgetfulness and Famine and tearful Sorrows, Fightings also, Battles, Murders, Manslaughters, Quarrels, Lying Words, Disputes, Lawlessness and Ruin, all of one nature, and Oath who most troubles men upon earth when anyone wilfully swears a false oath.


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The only person who never lies but tells always the truth is Nereas who is not the king’s son. And Sea begat Nereus, the eldest of his children, who is true and lies not: and men call him the Old Man because he is trusty and gentle and does not forget the laws of righteousness, but thinks just and kindly thoughts.

It is of great interest the way Hesiod presents the genealogy of the term “Power/State (Kratos) and Violence (Via)”. They are always assistants and companions of the new king.5 And Styx the daughter of Ocean was joined to Pallas and bare Zelus (Emulation) and trim-ankled Nike (Victory) in the house. Also she brought forth Kratos (Power/State) and Via (Force), wonderful children. These have no house apart from Zeus, nor any dwelling nor path except that wherein God leads them, but they dwell always with Zeus the loud-thunderer … and Zeus honoured her, and gave her very great gifts, for her he appointed to be the great oath of the gods, and her children to live with him always. And as he promised, so he performed fully unto them all. But he himself mightily reigns and rules.

Another of his protégées, Hecate, plays a relevant role in judicial procedures and the socialization of youngsters. Hecate. … she will she greatly aids and advances: she sits by worshipful kings in judgement, and in the assembly whom she will is distinguished among the people …. she is honoured amongst all the deathless gods. And the son of Cronos made her a nurse of the young who after that day saw with their eyes the light of all-seeing Dawn. So from the beginning she is a nurse of the young, and these are her honours.

During Zeus’ dominion as absolute master, penalties are set for those who might think to rebel. But when strife and quarrel arise among the deathless gods, and when any of them who live in the house of Olympus lies, then Zeus sends Iris to bring in a golden jug the great oath of the gods from far away, the famous cold water which trickles down from a high and beetling rock. Far under the wide-pathed



earth a branch of Oceanus flows through the dark night out of the holy stream, and a tenth part of his water is allotted to her. With nine silver-swirling streams he winds about the earth and the sea’s wide back, and then falls into the main; but the tenth flows out from a rock, a sore trouble to the gods. For whoever of the deathless gods that hold the peaks of snowy Olympus pours a libation of her water is forsworn, lies breathless until a full year is completed, and never comes near to taste ambrosia and nectar, but lies spiritless and voiceless on a strewn bed: and a heavy trance overshadows him. But when he has spent a long year in his sickness, another penance and a harder follows after the first. For nine years he is cut off from the eternal gods and never joins their councils of their feasts, nine full years.

When the cycle of violence ended, new authority prevailed having the law on its side, or rather, part of his family. But when the blessed gods had finished their toil, and settled by force their struggle for honours with the Titans, they pressed far-seeing Olympian Zeus to reign and to rule over them, by Earth’s prompting. So he divided their dignities amongst them … Next he married bright Themis who bare the Horae (Hours), and Eunomia (Order), Dike (Justice).

At the same time, in the mortals’ world, arrogant, unfair and impudent people were still in authority. And the son of Aeson by the will of the gods led away from Aeetes the daughter of Aeetes the heaven-nurtured king, when he had finished the many grievous labours which the great king, over bearing Pelias, that outrageous and presumptuous doer of violence, put upon him.

Notes 1. The simplicity of the alphabet, the trade needs, the homogeneity of dialects of the Greek-speaking tribes and the political need for written laws, led to this outcome (Murray 1993, p. 140). 2. The ones claiming a new social position in the transition period, and the others to secure their place in authority under the new ideological terms.


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3. Kymi, the greatest Aeolian city together with Mytilene had very early on developed close relations with Phrygians, while, having a rich inland with large fields and fertile earth, agriculture was its main resource. Hesiod’s father left from there, because of the bad financial conditions. 4. We use the translation by Hugh Evelyn-White (open access) in http:// (Work and Days) and http:// (Theogony). 5. Later on Aeschylus too, in his tragedy Prometheus Bound, mentions: “Kratos (State/Power) and Via (Violence), your charge from Zeus already has its end, and nothing further in the way. For the mind of Zeus is hard to be hanged; and he is wholly rugged who may newly rule.”

References Allen, T.  W., & Rambaut, A.  A. (1915). The Date of Hesiod. The Journal of Hellenic Studies, 35, 85–99. Evelyn-White, H. G. (1964). Hesiod, the Homeric Hymns and Homerica, Loeb Classical Library. (Vol. 57). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Herodotus. Histories. Available at html. Accessed 3 Nov 2017. Lamberton, R. (1988). Hesiod. New Haven: Yale University Press. MacDowell, D. H. (1978). The Law in Classical Athens. London: Thames and Hudson Ltd. Mann, M. (1986). The Sources of Social Power (Vol. 1). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Murray, O. (1993). Early Greece. London: Fontana Press. Nilsson, M. P. (1940). Greek Popular Religion. New York: Columbia University Press. Peabody, B. (1975). The Winged Word: A Study in the Technique of Ancient Greek Oral Composition as Seen Principally Through Hesiod’s Works and Days. New York: State University of New York Press. West, M. L. (1970). Hesiod. In Oxford Classical Dictionary (2nd ed., p. 510). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

5 Lyric Poetry

The poetry of the Archaic era is linked to the social and economic changes of the time (Miller 1996; West 2008). The poet was no longer an aoidos who entertained the rulers, but the expression of folk passions or his own personality. What has become diffused is the echo of political conflicts and controversies during the Archaic period on the use of lyric. One of the most characteristic cases is the contrast that has been found between the surviving remnants of the poetry of Theognes and Alcaeus. “While Alcaeus illuminates the interests of the circle he wrote for in a fickle way, though passionately, the lyrics of Theognes show the issues of the Megarian elite” (Osborne 1996). The world of Theognes is a world of violence and rioting. The desire to be rich overlooks friends and relatives and is a key element of social and political supremacy. Competition, even among the nobles, is intense and the gates of the civil war are open. The state is, like the sea, in a storm. In the same turbulence there is the city according to Alcaeus. While Theognes’ poetry is more general—it does not refer to All extracts are from (open access) literature/index.html, and translated from Greek to English. © The Author(s) 2018 S. Georgoulas, The Origins of Radical Criminology,



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specific events—that of Alcaeus is more personal, in which his involvement in political conflicts is clearly revealed. He mourns that the people supported Pittacus of Mytilene and calls for action by participating himself in a conspiracy. He portrays himself as a self-exiled person who left his homeland in the struggle against his political opponents. From Lydia he received funding to defeat his enemy. The following excerpts are characteristic of Theognes’ and Alcaeus’ ideas: Cyrnus, don’t let a cunning man persuade you to make him a friend; what advantage is a friend from among the baser sort? He would neither save thee from sore trouble and ruin, nor wish to share with you any good thing he had. And if you do good to those of the baser sort, you will get little thanks from him; it looks like as you may be sowing the waters of the hoary brine. You will not receive any good again if you do good unto the bad, than reap long straw if thou sowed the waters. The nature of the bad is insatiable; and if you make but one mistake, and the kindness is poured out and lost from all the past. But the nobles consider every good that is done them something great and are grateful for it. (Theognes 105–10) Zeus father, the Lydians, vexed with our misfortunes, gave us two thousand golden mnas so that we may be able to come into our sacred city, even though they hadn’t experienced any good and didn’t know us, nor did they know us. But, he, as a crafty-minded fox, said it to be easy, and hoped his purpose to go unnoticed. (Alcaeus, 69 P.Oxy., 1234, fr. 1)

As long as the wealth of the nobles accumulated, their political power was undermined, because the influx of wealth diminished the importance of the land from which they derived their political influence. The competition between craft and farming was clearly in favour of the former. It thus increased the strength of the moneyed class, who sought to impose their political model. The bourgeoisie was widening and demanded that it be heard in the city’s administration. It became even stronger by the invention of coinage that gave a tremendous boost to the growth of trade and to the new forms of enrichment that were totally detached from land ownership.

  Lyric Poetry 


At the same time, the great mass of the poor expressed discontent both against the nobles and those who were powerful through money. The bourgeois population, an inevitable consequence of craft development, incited and co-sponsored every move to overthrow the establishment, seeking another code of values. One expression of this search was a great poet, Archilochus from Paros, the first Greek with flesh and blood that we can touch in the haze of distant antiquity (Bury and Meiggs 1977). Theognes’ and Alcaeus’ poetry is predominantly political from the point of view of the aristocratic class that was losing its power. As De Ste Croix writes (1981) the old days of the aristocracy had fled. The poet, an aristocrat of class consciousness—who had never been such an aristocrat—found himself in exile and his land property was confiscated; that is why he makes an appeal to Zeus for vengeance, begging him to enable him to drink the blood of those who had taken his land. According to Theognes, society is divided into two groups and the terms he uses for them (as had always been the case in ancient Greece) is an insoluble blend of moral and social elements. On the one hand, there are Theognes and his ilk, who are literally the Good (the good or the brave ones), and, on the other hand, the Wicked (the bad or the cowards). Everything depends on one’s origins; in one of his most passionate poems, Theognes expresses his sorrow for the deterioration of inheritance from inappropriate marriages between the Good and the Wicked (lines 183–92). People, he says, when they mate sheep, donkeys and horses, want them to be pure-bred. Now, however, a “good” man (blue-blooded), as long as he gets a strong dowry, does not hesitate to marry the “wicked daughter of a wicked father”—a wicked of a wicked, the daughter of one who was once called “plebeian”. The result is that wealth has mixed the race; “wealth has mixed up inheritance” (190, 192). Accordingly, a woman will not despise a “wicked” husband, provided he is wealthy (187–8). A good example of this mentality was the wedding of Pittacus from Mytilene, Lesbos, which is characterized (perhaps quite unfairly) by the aristocratic poet Alcaeus as the marriage of a “base-born” (a man born to a father of humble descent), with a girl from the insolent family of Penthilid of the same city—who, according to Aristotle, used to walk around the streets hitting people with bats, which encouraged a revenge attack on the Penthilids


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(during which some of them were killed) by Megacles and his companions (Politics V.10 1311 26–8). Wealth without noble origins remains, for Theognes, an insignificant asset, and the poet is acutely sarcastic when he turns to Pluto saying that he is “the most beautiful and most desirable of all the gods”, and adds: “With you a man it becomes Good even when he is really wicked” (1117–18). As for the demos—the lower classes (the vast majority of the population) who had taken the wrong path in this acute class conflict— the right way to deal with them was to give them kicks, prick them with a sour butchery, and attach a heavy yoke to their neck—then one will not find any demos so attached to its master to love its master so much (847–50). All in all we see that lyric poetry, in addition to the information it gives, also shows that the poets used verse as an ideological weapon, sometimes to stigmatize the oppression that they and the people experienced from the aristocrats and sometimes to show off their achievements or to celebrate the nobility and aristocrats’ feelings. Thus, from Hesiod, we learn how unfair and unkind the kings were in receiving gifts and bribes, and who decided in favour of his brother and took away from the poet his share of his father’s fortune. Hesiod’s beautiful myth of the nightingale and the hawk depicts the perception of the nobles of his time that law is on the side of the powerful, while the weak have to submit without complaining. Out of this mentality of the aristocrats sprang their claim that only they should occupy the offices of the state excluding the lower classes of the people even from the Ekklesia of Demos (assembly of the people). Some poets, such as Archilochus and Callinus, stigmatized the luxurious life of the aristocrats, with their luxury and wealth. Others mentioned their rapacity and abuses, which, from the middle of the seventh century BCE caused many and violent revolutions. From the poem Eunomia by Tyrtaeus we learn that in Sparta there was great discontent in the ranks of the aristocrats, because many of them lacked agricultural land and they had become poor. They demanded that the land of the country be redeveloped, especially those who had experienced the tribulations of the war. The land was not redeveloped, but the destitute aristocrats were finally satisfied when the entire Messinian land

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was conquered, and, during the land distribution, even new citizens who had taken part in the war and were not in the ranks of native Spartans were given land.

5.1 E  lements of Lyric Poetry Lyric poetry forms part of the triad of poetry born at the time of our study (Budelmann 2009). The following Table  5.1 is indicative of the structural features and differences of the three genres: epic, drama and lyric poetry. Philologists distinguish three stages in the development of lyric poetry in the years 650–450 BCE, which categorize and describe the respective main proponents for each stage of development in the diagram below.

5.1.1 Diagram of the Development of Lyric Poetry Archaic Lyric Poetry (650–450 BCE) and its development is defined by the Homeric epics. That is, we distinguish the following stages of development 1) The initial stage of archaic lyric poetry In its features it follows Homer (the poets put in melody mythical narratives of the epic genre, e.g. Terandrt, Steshichorus) and overturns the epic at a thematic, technical and ideological level Table 5.1  Structural features and differences Epic

Lyric poetry


1. narration


2. in the 3rd person 3. topic: history 4. drawn from the myth

in the 1st person topic: picture or situation a) avoids (more often) b) uses (more rarely) the myth Objective: to exemplify – to grow prudent

performance on the stage in the 2nd person topic: plot drawn from the myth


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(Campbell 1991). More specifically, for example, in Archilochus’ poetry, we see that at a thematic level, myth is disrupted; at a metrical-technical level, it is inventive in metric shapes and rotating units (as opposed to the monotonous repetitive dactylic hexameter of the epic) and launches the strategies and the way of short drama. Finally, at the level of ideology, it categorically rejects the values of the epic world: from glory (Kleos) (= the central aristocratic value for man) and bravery (andreia) (= the predominantly male behaviour to achieve glory) we are led to the fragile/ephemeral human existence and human impotence or bewilderment (amichania). 2) Stage of maturity of ancient lyric poetry Its proponents were Alcaeus, Sappho (Lesbian monody) and Anacreon. Here we have the second overturning of traditional coordinates of the old poetry. On the one hand, in her poetry Sappho puts forward the doctrine that gives precedence to the absolutely personal choice of the individual over stable, collective preferences and values of the collective body (of epic origins). On the other hand, Alcaeus delineates the acuteness of political struggles and translates it into genuine poetry, whereas Anacreon transforms the passion for wine and love into high art (that is, into art that pleases and makes us contemplate). 3) Stage of golden age of lyric poetry Its proponents were Ibycus, Alcman, Pindar, Bacchylides, Simonides, Callinus, Tyrtaeus, Solon, Theognes and Mimnermus. At this stage we have, on one hand, Choral poetry whose features are the following, according to the proponent: Ibycus is distinguished for his multilevel musical composition with organic unity and consistency of pre-classical style and contrasts the song to the works of war mastery as a means to secure posthumous fame. Alcman develops the poem in a linear and alternative way (Campbell 1988), while with Pindar we have the culmination of ancient Hellenic lyricism, an achievement of antique technique with a robust visualization, multifaceted verbs, and deep religious enthronement of the Delphi oracle, while he restores the rights of myth in the field of lyric poetry, composing a combined genre of lyric narration. Bacchylides is distinguished for his technique of excellence

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(Campbell 1992), while he exaggerates the theatrical structure of the chorus, and Simonides—with his contemplative, mourning poetry— expresses ecumenical humanism. On the other hand, in Elegy, with its main theme, the relationship between the person and the city, we have the following proponents: Callinus is distinguished for his hortative warrior song, which is simple in terms of language, structure and content. Tyrtaeus writes martial exhortation, more complex in terms of ideological process, and dependent on Homer. Solon uses high verses, gives the theoretical basis of his legislation for Athens through a profoundly theological political proposition, elaborates on the traditional notion of fate, and processes the complex of “guilt and punishment” in an inventive and impressive way, thus paving the way to develop the central reflection of Aeschylus’ tragedies. Finally, with advisory poetry, Theognes complains about the decline of the values of the old aristocracy, and Mimnermus is distinguished with a melancholy tone in his poetry. In the following sub-sections, we will look at six of the aforementioned lyric poets with their poems and the way they relate to our subject under discussion, while we will pay special attention to the political lyric poetry of Lesbos.

5.2 A  rchilochus (First Half of the Seventh Century BCE) Archilochus was born to an aristocratic father and slave mother on Paros at the beginning of the seventh century BCE.  He participated with his father in the colonization of Thassos and the establishment of the colony, but he knew what deprivation and poverty were. Due to these circumstances, he was forced to become a mercenary. He returned to Paros and fell in love with the daughter of the local ruler without the consent of her father, though. He abandoned his place and became a mercenary again. The humble origins of his mother and his participation in the colonial movement brought him experience and he developed the language of the popular classes which pushed him to adopt the position of questioning aristocratic values and became an ardent


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exponent of this stance. Proponents of aristocratic thought condemned and criticized him as a result. His poetry, in which his turbulent life is reflected, is a mixture of war incidents, unlucky love and betrayal of friendship, all narrated with realism, genuine feeling and a love for truth. The poet does not hesitate to satirize himself many times, disregarding public opinion, because he believes that a man must strive to appreciate his life at all times. So he becomes a strict judge even of himself proving that he is above all a lover of truth. On the one hand, his infallible judgement of the right and the worthy and his zeal to serve it by cauterizing and battling wrongs with his pen, and disregarding completely any reward from the audience of his time is the driving force that pushes Archilochus into composition of both caustic and bitter poems. On the other hand, he does not lack high reflection combined with a deep and spirited feeling that he undoubtedly transmits through his poetry. He did not innovate only in lyrics but also in language. Spontaneous, simplistic, enriched with the elements of spoken discourse but without falling into the humble and vulgar, realistic and free from all conventions, his poetry is far removed from the grandeur of Homeric language. He eliminates the weight of epic verse with many cosmetic adjectives and descriptive similarities. In Archilochus, thoughts dance spontaneously through slow rhythm and versatile verse, transferring something of the rhythm of everyday life. In addition, new words, unknown to the epic, carry through his poetry the new conditions and the different concepts that began to emerge in a world that was constantly changing. Only in his elegies does he faithfully follow the poetic linguistic tradition, and he does this in order to express emphatically his distance from epic ideas and the content of the Homeric world which he does not express.

5.2.1 Ideas: Issues in Archilochus’ Work Archilochus’ art combines the traditional with the radically novel as an expression of an era that abandons the era of heroism and “men’s glories

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(klea)” for the sake of a whole new discovery, the discovery of I, Here and Now. These elements are united and transformed into a remarkable poetic creation through the art of a gifted and sensitive poet. In many instances he expresses the knowledge of traditional truth with an anti-traditional and subversive voice. However, Archilochus’ poetry never ends in an inanimate loudness but keeps the measure of profound lyricism. Even when he describes something, the description is never an end in itself, but aims at the deeper meaning of the essence lying behind the phenomena. For example, bad weather and storms at sea give rise to fear, which leads us to the fear of war and the unexpected changes affecting human destiny. Archilochus is the first poet who, through his poetry, expresses a great truth, drawn from the experience of life and the struggles on battlefields; humans are unstable and change, joy and pain do not have permanence, and everything always moves on the basis of a rhythm, the eternal law of constant rotation and rewinding of human things. This knowledge he conveys to the people of his era who were already experiencing the instability of a changing world (“tyranny”, the creation of the city-state, the changing role of the citizen, colonization, the challenging of aristocracy). In the face of man’s “impotencer or bewilderment” (amichania) and repeated misfortunes, Archilochus proposes “endurance” (tlemosyne), but also moderation and self-sufficiency together with the awareness of human limits.

5.2.2 The Highest Value of Life Homer wanted his heroes to fight and either to defeat or to be overcome upright but proud, always imposing, under the burden of unspeakable difficulties. Archilochus rejects this picture. For him, the rescue of life, the moment of survival and the struggle that every man undertakes to make his life worthy in his everyday world are important. There is no respect for the Homeric ideology of heroism, when he himself, in a satirical mood, tells us that he once threw his shield to be saved. Thus, he strips the heroic splendour from war, making life itself the highest good, worthy of being fought for. No heroism moves him if he is not capable of sustaining life.


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Nothing is beyond death. Death is oblivion (lethe), and the posthumous glory so highlighted by Homer is no longer there. When one dies, one is no longer respected by one’s fellow citizens, nor is one famous because the living seek the love of the living, the poet confesses in an excerpt in his poetry for the first time. Elsewhere with the same boldness that stems from his inner freedom and his love for everything, Archilochus breaks away from and overthrows the Homeric vision that wanted all the virtues to coincide in one person, and expresses the view that he prefers the short and crooked general to the tall and imposing, as long as the former has an inner power and substance. Poem D60-114W I love not a tall general nor a straddling, nor one proud of his braids nor one part-shaven; better to be short and bowlegged to behold, but to stand firm on his feet, full of heart.

This poem, masterfully tied and well structured, separates the interior from the external gifts that a general has to possess, while at the same time he gives precedence to his inner value. In these few lines, Archilochus describes in a perfect way the model of the heroic general in order to overthrow it at the same time, even expressing his personal preference and making us aware in this way of the change that occurs in the awakening man of his time, who can no longer be dazzled and subordinated to the imposing appearance of the leader and thus to his power, but challenges, judges, reacts to and rebels when this leader proves to be unworthy of his office. This differentiation from the Homeric ideal of the inseparable unity of virtues (mental and physical) in the same person is profound. Homer’s world believed and wanted the outer and inner gifts to be inseparably bound to the same person. This is the code of honour for the epic warrior, this is the model of the hero for the epic, a hero that gathers on his face and combines in a harmonious whole external beauty with inner virtue. So, it is the ideal of a new era: a brave soul does not necessarily reside in

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a nice body, but it can also be found in bodies that are externally disadvantaged; what matters is the virtue of the soul, which makes the general or the leader stand in the battle “firm on his feet, full of heart”. And it is this same mental force that pushes the fighter of everyday life to stand firm and cope with any adversity he faces. It does not matter if he is handsome in appearance and has economic and social power. What is of prime importance is inner radiation and moral splendour, inner beauty and richness, which do not wear away and account for the man’s existence every moment in his life. Poem 6D-5W One of the Saians (Thracian tribe) now boasts of my shield I discarded it unwillingly near a bush, a flawless armament. But I saved myself. Why should I care for that shield? The hell with it! I’ll get another one, just as good some other time.

The ideal of the Homeric warrior and one of his most important traditional values is to die in battle fighting with courage and self-denial and to achieve status and esteem post-mortem. The goal and way of life of the Homeric superior man, the one that guides his thought and directs his actions, is to crave for post-mortem reputation and the recognition of public opinion. This chivalrous perception Archilochus overthrows with a heroic and satirical mood, but with self-sarcasm and an honesty that moves. His unique approach to poetic discourse was likely to provoke, on the one hand, criticism from his contemporaries, but, on the other hand, admiration and imitation by his descendants. While Archilochus was himself a warrior and fought in battles and risked his life in the fire of war, as a poet he removed himself far from the image of the soldier, who comes back either victorious from the battle carrying his shield, or defeated and transported dead on it. Between glorious death and a simple life, the poet prefers the latter, acknowledging it as the supreme good and the most precious value that is irreplaceable. The ideal of the epic warrior now looks like a dream utopia and fades


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away into his soul, as the mercenary’s everyday reality comes to sweep through his life like a tidal wave. Thus, he chooses to abandon his shield to save his life. He confesses his act with a humorous mood and extreme realism. Poem D67a-128W Soul, my soul, bemuddled with impossible cares, stand up and defend yourself hurling your breast right at the enemies’ ambushes, standing right up against them, foot firmly planted. And if you win, be not openly rejoiced, nor beaten grieve not collapsing in your home. But rejoice in delightful things and in ills grieve not overly. Just know what sort of “rhythm” possesses human beings.

Through the presence of eternal alteration and alterability that prevails in humanity, the poet aims to advise himself and his fellow humans directly to follow the “golden mean” in pleasant or unpleasant situations they face in their lives. The law of eternal alteration or recurrence and change of human things is something that is first realized by the ancient lyric poets. There is a rhythm in human life, a restriction on movement, a lasting transition from high to low, a law that gives life to the characteristic of diversity. This new knowledge was later expressed in Ionic philosophy, with Heraclitus being the main proponent. The golden mean is to avoid any distress, standing between exaggeration and lack. The concept of the golden mean was developed by the Greeks and was worshipped by them through generations, covering all areas of their lives and their actions. With Archilochus we find ourselves in the Archaic age, a time of major migrations and movements, upheavals, and political formations, where the individual is aware of himself as a self-sufficient person, acquires the responsibility of the citizen and tries to discover the laws governing not only the life of the community, the city-state, but also those governing their individual course. Myth and mythical narratives are no longer satisfying, and they do not give adequate answers to the individual’s questions. Within this context and out of this need to know and understand, to deal with the problems of his life was born Archilochus’ lyric poetry.

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Archilochus used the first great monologue of ancient Greek literature. Archilochus surprised his contemporaries but he also surprises us with his technique, a real innovation for his time. Indeed, Archilochus here speaks to himself in his attempt to cope with the plight of his afflictions. There is something new that Archilochus’ poetry—a poetry which was born out of the new era—expresses. When Odysseus remembers, the memory relates only to an old experience that resembles the present one. No other knowledge is available to the hero. Instead, our poet-hero realizes the instability and variability that governs the world and the human individual, the rhythm that governs nature and the people’s destiny, and which is an early trace of the perception of objective law prevailing in the natural course of existence, an idea that later appears in Ionic philosophy and historical thought (Heraclitus/Herodotus). It is not by chance that the word ‘rhythm’ is unknown to Homer and rarely to poetry. Archilochus also differs in something else: in the person’s attitude towards this rhythm, which leads him to bewilderment (amechania: lit. lack of any means): He calls upon his will to resist and fight as many “cares and troubles” (kedea) bewilder him and make him wonder. It is a fact that people of Archaic times thought and felt the external world through contradictions and tensions. Such tension, however, they realized is also present in the inner world of the individual, a knowledge that now enabled them to conceive the soul as a unity where successive or at the same time “opposing” situations prevail. Man is always undergoing mental changes and conflicts that have their counterparts in alternations of fortune and destiny and which make him realize that everything is based on a fragile balance. Thus, bewilderment (amechania) vis-à-vis his physical, social and internal changes now becomes an attitude to life, and he faces the question, the impasse, from which he struggles to free himself, trying to control the passions of his soul. So, the poet’s soul must first recover from the “bewildering troubles” (amichana kedea), overcome the fear of defeatism, and, having escaped inertia caused by the previous situation, face the enemy. Strong resistance and action is what the poet is interested in. He has to deal with enemies that strike him not only head-on and openly, but also sneakily or from behind, by setting ambushes to hurt him. He has to resist all of them by shaking his chest. The image is


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borrowed from the military arena and has been transferred to the arena of life. Archilochus does not speak about warfare but about the struggle of everyday life. Nor is it a battle in the moral sense, for the prevalence of good or evil, but for the ability to deal with and withstand pain. And the enemies are not his war rivals, but the various adversities faced in human toil for a living. This may imply here—at a personal level—those people with whom he himself came into conflict (e.g. with the inhabitants of Thassos) and who slandered, insulted and abused him, that is, they set him traps. Poem D58-130W Thou shouldest entrust all things to the gods; often they raise upright those that be laid low on the black earth through misfortunes, and often they overthrow men and lay them on their backs though they stand firm enough; then cometh much trouble, and a man wanders in need of food and distraught in mind.

What man is and how weakly or strongly he faces the relentless blows of fate has become a great question mark in the soul not only for the scholar or sensual poet, but also for the simple man of every day and every age. Thus, through the uncertainty of “tomorrow”, the preference and the meaning of “now” springs out and is revealed. And so lyric poetry, with Archilochus’ pioneering poetry—and more specifically in passage D58—manages to maintain its current but not ephemeral (in the modern meaning of the term) character. The traditional notion of human instability and volatility returns forcefully and dramatically in Archilochus’ poetry, a man who, like many of his contemporaries, felt deeply in his soul the burden of unexpected changes in life. Against the unmistakable spirit of the Homeric man, Archilochus’ man appears more real, more vulnerable and dramatically weaker in the face of what the gods will send him every day. But if his nature is subject to such profound changes, as a consequence of the changes and the instability of the world, then time takes on other dimensions as it dominates over the man by regulating his life. Therefore, what matters is the moment and the condition of the individual within

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it. Man’s struggle that is carried out every moment against the unexplored forces that change every hour of his life is signalled differently. Through this struggle, he tries to be honoured and reach the ultimate goal, that is, to achieve happiness. Thus, the current situation and the struggle of the weak person against the various forces of life that fight him are deified. The ‘I’, ‘Here’ and ‘Now’ achieve the position of Homeric fixed and constant characters and unchanging eternal time. Against the old belief in his desperate dependence on arbitrary and unexplored forces that suddenly change his life unexpectedly, the lyric individual now alters his or her feelings and reactions. He or she is bitterly aware of how “ephemeral” and vulnerable the individual is to the changes of the day, and how futile are the human issues. The prevalence of the individual over the omnipotence of the moment and the salvation of his life is now (with lyric poetry) the new ideal, which is projected through the spirit of realism brought by the new conditions of political and social upheavals in Greece (colonization, fall of aristocracy, etc.) The human individual—the toiler for a living—and the poet together with their creations now feel themselves “ephemeral” and, through the projection of “I” and “Now” leave behind the “eternity” of the epic, and give us, their descendants, “eternal”, immortal works for our ephemeral human existence.

5.3 S  imonides of Ceos (First Half of the Sixth Century BCE) Simonides was born at Ioulis of Ceos (today’s Tzia) around 556 BCE and died in the court of tyrant Ieron in Agrigento, Sicily around 468 BCE. His father was called Leoprepes. Simonides is considered to be the proponent of the ancient Greek enlightenment, a man who combined philosophers’ spirituality with poets’ deep sensitivity. That is why he influenced his time as a spiritual man, while he was appreciated and respected by later generations. During his years the chorus (choral chant) blossomed and its later development owes much to this poet.


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Simonides lived in a period of pleasant change as well as riots (the expansion of public holidays—e.g. Dionysia, Panathenaia [sixth century BCE], the rise of powerful tyrants in Sicily, the Persian wars and Persian defeat, defeat of the Karhidonians, and the strengthening of the Greek city [fifth century BCE]), which prepared the climate appropriately so that his gifted poetic nature would then bring the chorus to its prime. Of course, Pindar and Bacchylides contributed to the development of the choral chant with their work, too. At the age of thirty he left his hometown and came to Athens, at the invitation of Hipparchus, Peisistratus’ son, a tyrant of Athens who loved letters and the arts, and took a hefty pay for his support. The poet should have felt comfortable inside the tyrant’s court. However, none of his poems has survived from this period. We know, nevertheless, that he then wrote dithyrambs, for which he won fifty-six awards in the Dithyrambic races. Along with poetry he taught dancing. He was not only an inspired poet, but also a man with distinct education and politeness, elements that made him a poet of rare quality. His spiritual independence, his sparkling spirit and his deep sense of life, combined with spiritual discipline and simplicity—elements of the strict morals of the island and the Ionic character of the poetry of Ceos—were interwoven in Simonides with his sincerity and seriousness. With all these “gifts” it was no coincidence that Simonides was able to fully understand the enormous changes of his time and to harmonize them in his own style and in his own beliefs. His deep philosophical reflection and his humanitarian spirit made him a great intellectual of his time and a proponent of enlightenment. His work, in which he uses folk language several times, presents a variety of themes. He makes man and his tragic fate the centre of his poetry. Many times the profound knowledge of life and the philosophical mood of Simonides leave tones of pessimism in his work. But out of this mood Simonides’ humanism springs, which is often manifested in his poetry—especially, his love and compassion for the human individual and for those who suffer. Nothing is capable of stopping the decaying power of Time, neither the reputation nor the achievements and the monuments of man. Simonides criticizes the archaic worldview of the immortality of works of

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art, which made the sculptors and poets flaunt themselves. The power of Physics can also break down the most ambitious structures, for gods are omnipotent. Only one thing can last, the glorious death for the homeland. Simonides also sets new standards for virtue. He rejects the aristocratic perception that a “good” man is the rich, the fortunate, the handsome. Because, if these things are lost through changes in fortune, the man’s “goodness” (with the old meaning of the word) is lost. Only gods can be happy forever. Thus, “virtue” for Simonides can be neither acquired nor maintained by a man, but it is something given to him by the gods as a gift. And, certainly, it is not what comes out of the aristocratic ideas of “courtesy”, wealth, honour, or skill in battle. For the poet, such a man can never exist, because no one can possess all the virtues required by the aristocratic ideal. For Simonides, virtue is when a man does nothing disgraceful knowingly. What is important now is not the act; this is a new criterion of virtue that Simonides introduced in his era in a revolutionary way. “Disgraceful” is no longer the “ugly”, but the one who performs morally disgraceful acts. The man is no longer considered “bad” or “crooked” when he loses the aforementioned “goods” of the aristocratic ideal, nor he is “good” when he succeeds. Nor does that matter. What weighs now is if, by his will, he does works that are “disgraceful” and of which he must be ashamed. Thus, “good” is what is not “disgraceful”, that is, morally unacceptable. This ideal of virtue, which he considers the main objective of every human act, he opposed to the old aristocratic concept. It is no longer something that belongs exclusively to a class, because of hereditary supremacy, but it can become a possession of every person through his personal effort. Such a virtue consists of works of justice and the services that the man offers to his city. Since you are a human being (man), never say what will happen tomorrow. Nor, if you see a happy man, say how long he will be so. For not even the flick of a wide-winged fly is as swift as the change of fate. (Poem 6 D-335P)

A real event is the occasion for the composition of this lamentation. When the poet was in Thessaly, at a festive banquet in the courtyard of


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the Skopas family, the roof of the palace collapsed and the host Skopas, his relatives and all his friends who were there met a tragic death. The only one who was saved at that time was the poet Simonides, who was being entertained with the gathered ones, but at the time of the tragic incident that he was outside the palace. This tragic personal experience shook him up so deeply that he wanted through this particular lament to share it with all the people. The poet seems to propose prudence and modesty in our judgements about the future. No one can foresee what will happen tomorrow. It is a “tomorrow” not distant and vague at all! It is not the future tense vaguely, but it is tomorrow’s day. So tragically frivolous is human fate. Death and misfortune can come at any time. Wealth or power or social status do not matter because death is often unexpected and always inevitable above all and everything. He does not make distinctions. “Because all things come to one dread Charybdis, both great virtues and wealth,” he had written in another poem (Fragment 38).

5.4 Solon Solon used poetry as a means of defending his legislative and political work and spreading his political ideas. In his iambs, he talks about himself, his work and his motives, whereas in the poems written in elegiac verse he attempts to found theoretically his efforts and teach his fellow citizens. The following passage refers to his great reforming work in lifting the burdens on farmers probably in 594/3 BCE, when hektemoroi (poor farmers who were forced to deliver five-sixths of their crops to rich lenders) were exonerated from debt, the practice of selling them as slaves due to debts was abolished, and the land was “liberated” from the lethia landmarks, that is, the terms indicated as mortgaged property. Solon answers with the poem the accusations of those who claimed that he had misused the confidence of those who had appointed him a “mediator” but that he did not keep his promises. He recalls the important consequences of his reform and the way he had done his work, always

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respecting moderation and keeping equal distance between the parties. The language of the poem, as in other poems of Solon, is simple and almost prose-like. From the goals I set, when I summoned the demos (the people), which I left before I succeeded in it; Right good witness shall I have in the court of Time the great mother of the Olympian gods, dark Earth, whose so many fixed landmarks I once removed, and have made her free that was once a slave. Many who had been sold—some justly, some unjustly, I brought them back to Athens, their God-built birthplace, as well as others who that had been exiled through urgent penury, who no longer spoke the Attic speech as they were wandering so far and wide; and those that suffered inhuman servitude in the city, who were trembling before the whims of their owners, these made I free men. And I did so with the power I was given, combining justice and power, and what I promised I kept them. And ordinances I wrote, that made straight justice for each man, good and bad alike. Had another than I taken the goad in hand, a foolish man and a covetous, he had not restrained the people; for had I been willing to do now what pleased this party and now what pleased the other, this city would have mourned many men. That’s why I resisted all with vigour, I turned at bay like a wolf in a herd of dogs.

5.5 Tyrtaeus Tyrtaeus composed his wartime elegies at a time of great danger for Sparta, when, during the Second Messinian War (c.640–620 BCE), the subjugated and demoted Messinians revolted against the Spartans. With his elegies—perhaps sung by the warriors accompanied by the flute, when they were on the battlefield—Tyrtaeus urges the Spartans to fight to the death in the front line for the homeland. The arguments of his warfare, as does his language, follow the Homeric tradition. But in Tyrtaeus, not only personal prowess but also the heroic death in favour of the whole are glorified. The first place in the values displayed is virtue, which, however, now no longer denotes “skill (in something)” but bravery in battle.


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The following excerpt, apart from urging the soldiers to suppress the revolt, also shows the debauchery of poorer classes. For it is a fair thing for a good man to fall and die fighting for his native land, whereas to leave his city and his rich fields and go begging is of all things the most miserable, wandering with his dear mother and his aged father, with little children and wedded wife. For hateful shall such an one be among all those to whom he shall come in bondage to Want and loathsome Penury, and does shame his lineage and belies his noble beauty, followed by all evil and dishonour. Now if so little thought be taken of a wanderer, and so little honour, respect, or pity, let us fight with a will for this land, and die for our children and never spare our lives.

5.6 Theognes Theognes lived in Megara around the middle of the sixth century or at the end of the seventh century BCE, at a time when in his homeland the controversies between his fellow aristocrats, the “good” or esthlous as he calls them, and the ascendants of the inferior social strata, the bad (or the wicked) ones, were intense and led to the victory of the latter. As a fanatical aristocrat, he fought passionately against both democracy and t­ yranny, seeing with grief that nobility as a political reality can no longer stand. His work is strongly influenced by these experiences. A collection of elegies (about 1400 verses or lines) is attributed to him. These are mainly “counsels” (admonitions) that are addressed to the young Cyrnus and express aristocratic morality. Their content is often political, but there are also lyrics with moral, erotic or other content. In the passage that follows, the poet assures Cyrnus, for whom he had already composed elegies, that he has secured immortality for him thanks to his poetry. Cyrnus, I give you counsels good intent, I shall give you the counsels which I learnt from good (noble) men in my own childhood. Be wise and ask for yourself neither honours nor virtues nor substance on account of dishonourable or unrighteous deeds. Know these, and with people bad (wicked) you should not wish to be together. Cleave unto the good and at their tables to eat and to drink,

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and with them to sit, and please those who hold great power. Cyrnus, my child, of good men you shall learn good, but if you mingle with the bad (wicked), you shall lose whatever good you have. Think of these, and consort therefore with the good, and someday you will say: “that’s an aright counsel”.

5.7 Pindar (522 or 518–438 BCE) Pindar was born to an aristocratic family of Thebes in Boeotia. From an early age he was taught poetry and music and gained a reputation as a great poet very early in his life. He was connected with the aristocratic circles in Athens, at a time when he saw its glory decline. He wrote mostly victory odes and hymns, very often for a fee. In each of the odes we distinguish three main parts: the winner’s praise, a mythical narrative and again the winner’s praise. However, this tripartite scheme was not always strictly enforced. There were, in other words, cases where the myth (e.g. the Seven Pythian Ode) was missing, whereas there were also cases where the myth was the element that closed the poem. The ode usually started with a prayer or invocation to a deity, and then there was a reference to the winner’s name, the manner of the struggle and the conditions of victory. All this was enriched many times with other information, which concerned the athlete’s family and other athletic victories of the same in the past. It is noteworthy that the ode contained only a small amount of information on how the particular event took place, which was not happening accidentally or unnecessarily. What is most praised is the celebration in honour of the winner—his family’s feast and his city—rather than the victory itself. That event gave it the official character of a national or religious celebration. Indeed, in Pindar, the victory ode differs very little from the religious hymn. The transition from the winner to the myth was usually done with the help of an epigram. In addition, epigrams followed the narration of the myth. But what use do myths and ideals have in a victory ode, intended to commemorate the victory of an athlete? The mythical narrative, sometimes concise and sometimes analytical, which was also the main body of


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the ode, created obvious or latent associations of the mythical hero with the victor or victory or with events of his life. Thus, the present was connected with the past, and the particular temporal victory took on a religious character and rose to the realm of the eternal, to the world of values. That is why every time the choice of myth and its use served the primary purpose of the victory ode, that is, the praise of the winner. At this point the winners/athletes resemble the ancient heroes of myths, and their victories in athletic races are paralleled by the poet with earlier victories of heroes on the battlefield or even older victories over monsters and wild beasts. But let us read one of his poems: The big city of Athens (is) the most beautiful preamble to set the background for the hymns of the powerful generation of Alcmaeonides for winning the horserace. Why in what country, in what house, if you dwelt, could you say that their name is more famous for the reputation in Greece? Because in all the cities they talk about the citizens of Erechthus, Apollo, who built your miraculous temple in the sacred Python. And they lead me five victories at Ishmia, a special one at Olympia of Zeus, and two from Kirra, Megacles, yours and your ancestors. And my joy is great for your new success, but I am sorry that envy is the reward for the fine works. Because, as it is said, if steady bliss flourishes permanently in the human being, it may bring both good and bad.

Pindar is generally accustomed in his victory odes—something that he does here—to praising, besides the honoured winner, for whom he writes the ode, the victories of his ancestors. It is a fixed tactic, serving poetic goals, while it is also connected with the poet’s political poetry. His belief in the value of aristocratic descent is known, and he himself descended from an aristocratic generation. Thus, referring to the victories of Megacles’ grandparents, he praises not only the specific house of the Alcmaeonides but, more generally, the aristocratic generation. His victory is not the result of fortune, but of the winner’s competence and his whole generation. This competence of the winner/athlete—translated not only into physical vigour, grace and beauty but also into technical skill, discipline, self-restraint and wisdom, in a word in “Virtue” (Arete)—is the product

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of Megacles’ internal power and the education he acquired from his ancestors. With all these elements, the victory ode gains a public character and the celebration in honour of the winner is surrounded with the official atmosphere of a national or religious celebration, which brightens even more the honour offered to his face and surrounds his name with more glamour.

5.8 Lesbos (Alcaeus, Sappho) 5.8.1 Alcaeus The ancient tradition says that one of the old aristocratic families in Lesbos was the Penthilid clan, who descended from Penthilus, who was Atreides Orestes’ son. Another aristocratic family was the Archaeanaktides and the third largest such family was the Cleaneactides. These three families owned almost all the land of the island, and many people worked for them as slaves. The slaves possessed nothing; they only cultivated the earth, and took either a portion of the crops from the nobles, or worked for a pittance. Social dissatisfaction and the rise of trade brought social differentiations even within the ranks of the aristocracy. On the one hand, money, as a solvent acid, had increasingly reduced large strata of the population into sordid poverty, and, on the other hand, destroyed many of the landowners themselves, either because they were forced to share their property or because, for one reason or another, they could not compete with other nobles, and especially those who, out of usury, had a lot of money in their hands. Thus, on the one hand, wealth, fields and money were accumulated in the hands of an oligarchy, and, on the other hand, there were small landowners and landless peasantry who suffered and were destitute. Alcaeus, the poet, who was an aristocrat by birth, expresses his noble perceptions in a song, when emphatically he claims: “No poor has a value nor any honour”.


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From such social diversification, which was widening with the increase in exchange trade, which in turn encouraged the appetite for unbridled wealth, there emerged a small class of sailors and merchants, as well as a mass of small owners, who were nothing more than degraded great landowners. Political competition was rife in such circumstances. Old institutions on which the state had been built were dismantled year after year, and the balance in society was overthrown because the agricultural oligarchy was facing outcry and hatred everywhere. New institutions had to be established and, above all, new productive relations required that there be a fair written law that would settle not only commercial transactions but also relations created by the new conditions of rural economy. It is historically established that around 625–620 BCE a revolutionary movement was organized, whose leader was called Megacles. Aristotle (Politics E, 1311b–1313) informs us that Megacles and his friends attacked the Penthilids, and killed many of them. But that movement did not prevail. It seems that in the meantime the Penthilids organized an anti-movement and seized power, until a man called Smerides overthrew them. Those movements were the precursor to the civil war that began shortly thereafter. Around 615 BCE, the “tyrant” of Lesbos was Megalagyrus. In 612 BCE, another “tyrant”, Melanchrus ruled Lesbos. He was a popular leader. This is deduced from some of Alcaeus’ lyrics. The ancient tradition also says that Melanchrus was opposed not only by the two older brothers of Alcaeus—Antimenidas and Kikys—who were the leaders of the reactionary faction, but also by Pittacus. Melanchrus’ murder took place in the years 610–608  BCE.  From then onwards, Pittacus’ political career took off. Mytilene was upset by the civil war and among the parties there was the perception that the evil should be stopped and steps should be taken so that the revolutionary outburst of the poor and landless peasants would be stopped. As in Attica and elsewhere, the small farmers and merchants in the social struggles supported sometimes one party and sometimes the other, so the middle class, having seen Melanchrus becoming too “leftish”, supported the nobles. Melanchrus was assassinated by this reinforcement of the rural aristocracy in 608 BCE.

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Neither party antagonism nor class struggle came to an end at this point, however. This is why, after Melanchrus had been assassinated, another popular leader appeared, whose name was Myrsilus. So, after a while the people took over power again and established Myrsilus as their tyrant-governor. That occurred around seven or eight years after Melanchrus had been murdered. But the class struggle continued. The nobles were still powerful and omnipresent. It was no more than two or three years later that a new conspiracy was organized. The anti-popular rich landowners (geomoroi)—those who possessed property in land—had as their foremost purpose to murder Myrsilus. The leader of the conspiracy was Alcaeus and someone else whose name was Fanias. But that movement failed, and Alcaeus escaped and went to Pyrra. It is understood that, although the reactionaries were forced to leave Mytilene, they did not abandon their revolutionary plans. They soon organized a new conspiracy and this time they succeeded in killing Myrsilus; this may have been in 595 BCE. At that time Alcaeus was at his peak and he had achieved fame and prestige. That is why in one of his songs he called his friends to drink, to rejoice and to get drunk, because their sufferings had ended. Myrsilus was murdered, and the nobles were strong in power. And now let every friend drink and get drunk whether willingly or forcibly, since Myrsilus died.

The rich landowners (geomoroi), though they were now ruling, did not much enjoy their victory because the Athenians sent an army and took the ancient city of Sigeion. The Athenians wanted to occupy the old area of Troad in order to have access to the Propontis (the Sea of Marmara). So a battle between the citizens of Mytilene and the Athenians began, which followed many similar battles over the years. The Mytileneans, who had taken this place years ago, did not want to retreat from it; their commercial dealings with the coasts of Thrace and the northern Aegean compelled them to keep Sigeion at any cost. The Mytileneans, around 594 BCE, sent an army led by Pittacus and Alcaeus to expel the Athenian army which was under the command of the general Phrynon. In the first battle that took place, the Mytileneans


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were scared. The Athenians seemed to be more and better equipped. Alcaeus even left the battlefield after he had thrown down his shield in order to be able to flee, as we saw earlier. But Pittacus did not lose heart. When he saw that the Athenians had an overwhelming military advantage, he devised a plan to eliminate Phrynon. If the Athenians lost their leader, they would leave Sigeion. So he challenged the Athenian general to a duel and, with a net hidden under his shield, he managed to entangle Phrynon to make him defenceless and then he killed him. Pittacus’ feat made him famous on Lesbos and his political influence grew. At the time, Sigeion was in the hands of Mytilene and only later did Peisistratus manage to re-occupy it. Pittacus’ success, which was due not only to his bravery but also to his wit and the good organization of the Penthilid expedition, brought their party to power, and from then on, Pittacus became the focus for the hopes of the Mytileneans. The ancient tradition even says that the Mytileneans gave Pittacus half the area of Sigeion, but he did not accept the donation; instead, he distributed it to the Mytileneans. Such a gesture naturally made him even more popular. It seems, however, that he distributed the land of Sigeion to the poor farmers of Mytilene, thus, he temporarily solved the social problem of Mytilene, which was the cause of so many revolutions. He had understood why Mytilene was so tormented by civil war, and he did his best to satisfy the aspirations and demands of the poor farmers. With his politics, most of the nobles were in agreement, because—the poor farmers having been sent away from the island—they were relieved of a great deal of misery, since the revolutionary outbreak of Mytilene died out. For some time the class struggles calmed down. But in order to implement his programme, Pittacus needed new legislation, and it was necessary for him to assemble all the power in his hands, since he faced reaction from the party of the rural aristocracy, whose leader was Alcaeus. He was thus named and appointed a “tyrant”, but without implementing terrorist measures, and without being indifferent to the opinion of others. It seems that he had Dynomenus as a supporter and counsellor, who may have been the leader of the popular mass. Pittacus’ policy was a policy of compromise and interchange.

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Whatever happened in Attica during Solon’s time seems to have repeated itself in Mytilene during Pittacus’ time. As in Attica, big and rich landowners compromised to prevent poor farmers gaining any power; the big landowners and the middling farmers agreed to prevent a revolutionary uprising of the popular masses. In Athens the leader of such a compromise movement was Solon, in Mytilene it was Pittacus. Pittacus was the right leader to represent the interests both of the Penthilids who were tired of social struggles and of the group of middle-­ class farmers and merchants whose political programme was to maintain social order and implement new legislation that would protect and serve their own interests. At the same time, however, the reactionary landowners, who did not agree with the middle agrarian strata, organized a new party whose leader was Alcaeus. Nevertheless, Pittacus’ party was more powerful, and because the conditions favoured his rise to power, Pittacus became the tyrant around 594–593 BCE. This is revealed by what Plutarch writes in Solon’s biography. He claims that the friends of the Athenian wise man condemned him because he hesitated to become a tyrant, as did Pittacus in Mytilene, and that the latter brought order to his country. Alcaeus, however, did not agree at all with the Penthilids and other nobles. He and his party began to oppose Pittacus. He even began with his songs not only to criticize Pittacus, but to blame him and organize a new conspiracy. At that time, Pittacus was forced to use his power and catch the poet who propagated rebellion. But later, he let him go. However, Alcaeus continued his opposition. He might have thought that Pittacus had not punished him with exile or prison because of weakness, and Alcaeus’ hostility became more systematic than before. Alcaeus mocked the clan of the Penthilids who had made their Pittacus son-in-­ law, despite the fact that Pittacus came from a low and humble family. What a shame for the Penthilids to give a girl of their aristocratic family to a son of an immigrant, the son of Yrra. However, the traditional view of Pittacus’ humble origins based on Alcaeus’ writings is false and stems only from the poet’s hatred and libellous account. Pittacus, who is famous for his wisdom throughout Greece, could not be but from a noble family. To be educated and to travel as well as to be heard and take a prominent place on the island, he cannot have been


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insignificant and of humble origins. If he had been, the Penthilids, one of the noblest families of Lesbos, would not have made him a son-in-law. Alcaeus, however, being unable to blame the Penthilids for anything else, claimed that they had groomed Pittacus, who was not from an aristocratic father. Political passions and hatred blind Alcaeus so much that he falsifies history and distorts systematically. And just like Alcaeus, Sappho imitated him in his views. She also, with the poison of class hatred, vilified the leaders of the people’s class who were in power and ruled that island of the Aegean. One of Alcaeus’ songs, though fragmented in many places, not only gives us a good insight into the psychology of the poet, but also tells us how much the political opponents of Pittacus (that is, Alcaeus’ friends and followers) misjudged him and maligned him. And let him (Pittacus), being proud of his kinship with the Atreides lineage, let him devour the state as he did with Myrsilus, until such time as Mars chooses to give us success. So, let us also forget his wrath and let us relax from this factional strife and the civil warfare stirred up amongst us by one of the Olympian gods to lead the people (aristocrats) to the havoc and give Pittacus an enviable glory.

Pittacus, faced with opposition from Alcaeus, who led a great party and wielded much power, could not implement his political compromise programme. He had to crush the reaction first. So, he started taking and implementing terrorist measures, prompting Alcaeus and his influential followers to escape abroad. This time the poet could not find a refuge in Pyrra, because things had changed, and Pittacus was dear to the whole island, so he was forced to flee to Egypt. That may have been the second time the poet lived away from his country in exile. It was at that time that he certainly wrote most of his factious poems, which are very typical. In one of these he writes: I do not know where the winds blow; swells rise here, and there. And we in our black ship go borne in their middle, distressed, under tempest. The deck is flooded. Our sails are everywhere open to light, in great slashes. The ropes were loosened and anchors dropped.

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In other words, his circumstances resemble the abnormal situation in Mytilene with a big storm, on which his ship (the Mytilene state) is tossed about. Here, as in other poems, Alcaeus is implicitly referring to Pittacus’ regime. In another factious poem, Alcaeus propagates revolution in an allegorical way: Let us strengthen the ship’s sides as quickly as possible, and act in a safe harbour; and let no craven hesitation seize any of us, for clear before us stands a great ordeal. Remember what our forefathers were saying: “Now is the time every man to show that he is whom we have been expecting.” And let us not put to shame by cowardice our noble fathers lying under the earth….”

Both in this and as in the above poem, Alcaeus likens the state to a boat and calls his friends and followers to be men in the sea storm of the state and not to put to shame their fathers, who had overthrown Melanchrus, Myrsilus and other people’s leaders. His class hatred makes him see everything as black and dark and all his hopes hang on his conspiratorial energy and determination. He thus begs Zeus in his poem to give him the power and the means to overthrow Pittacus: And so, let Zeus welcome this trial, let him throw the lightning, a sign that he took a decision one day that the will of the Blessed is a bountiful yoke to our black people that suffered greatly. But right now I want to make just this supplication to Zeus. Let the sun no longer light up the light on the cursed, whoever comes out of the Cleanax family and that from the Yrra and that from the Archaeanax. And then, oh, to the Saviour Zeus, I am going to offer a libation, a libation with honey and wine, as what occurred that Myrsilus ended up losing his life.

Alcaeus, however, was not lucky this time. No matter how well he organized his movement, he did not succeed because Pittacus wielded greater power, since he was now supported by the big families of the Penthilids, the Cleaneactides and the Archaeanaktides. Nevertheless, Alcaeus’ movement once again brought upheaval, and that led Pittacus to call a referendum, as we would say today, and received a new mandate


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from all the ranks to govern. And thus he was not called a tyrant any more, since he was an elected ruler and took the title of a judge or an elective prince (aesymnetes).

5.8.2 S  appho In the years that Mytilene suffered from social struggles—and especially in the years of Myrsilus, Pittacus and Alcaeus—Sappho was a mature woman and famous for the rich lyricism of her poetic production (Campbell 1982). She was also a noblewoman. She was probably born in Erresos, but grew up in Mytilene. But due to the fact that she was left an orphan, she was raised by some of her wealthy relatives. We do not know when she was born; the only information we have is that she had two brothers, Haraxos and Lahiros. The earliest (indirect) testimony about Sappho is that of the Parian Marble (Chronicle). In this Chronicle it is written that in 605  BCE Sappho was forced to leave Lesbos after the people’s upheavals or after the failure of the attempt to murder Myrsilus; she went to Syracuse where reactionary landlords ruled. As we have seen above, about 605/4 BCE, the first murder attempt against Myrsilus was organized, but failed. Then, Sappho, due to the fact that her relatives took part in that conspiracy, escaped to Sicily. She stayed there for approximately ten years, and turned to Mytilene in 595/4 BCE, when Myrsilus was no longer there. From her family upbringing and social position, Sappho took a hostile stand against the demos (people) and middle-class farmers. Aristocratic as she was, she hated the new class and did whatever she could to defend the ideals of the old aristocracy. In such an abnormal period, a woman like her, with a distinctive personality, could not remain indifferent to the political events in her homeland. Not only did she remain faithful to her aristocratic family traditions, but she also became the head of the aristocratic female cycle of Mytilene. That is why, as did Alcaeus, she hated the family of the Penthilids who raised Pittacus to the highest office of the state. Once a noble daughter named Mika broke away from her circle and joined the girls of the oppo-

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site party, which was on the side of the family of the Penthilids. She grew very angry and, in one of her poems (which has reached us as a fragment), she hauled her over the coals. You Mika, but I will not allow you (to calm down); you have won the daughter’s love from the Penthilides family, a bad girl, we (you left with us), a song full of sweetness that has a voice as sweet as honey—it sings … and nightingales—(you) being wet with dew (Fragment 71)

She also despised the new plutocracy that had a lot of money, but it did not come from the old big families. That is why, in one of her poems, among others, she emphasized: “wealth without virtue is a bad neighbour.” By saying “virtue” she gave this word the inflection that the old nobles attached to it. And to show that the new rural aristocracy of money was uncivilized, she says in another poem: What peasant girl can enchant (a man), wearing a peasant dress, and lacking the grace to keep her ankles covered. (Fragment 30)

Whereas in another song, despising the women of the new plutocracy, she talks about one of them, who seemed to be a wife of a wealthy man or an official: You will soon be dead and buried and no one will ever mention / long for you again because none of the Pierian roses has ever embellished your life, and so unknown and a pale shadow dressed in darkness, in the ghastly dead you will wander in Hades. (Fragment 40)

References Aristotle. Politics. Available at Accessed 3 Nov 2017. Budelmann, F. (2009). The Cambridge Companion to Greek Lyric. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Bury, J. B., & Meiggs, R. (1977). A History of Greece. London: Macmillan.


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Campbell, D.  A. (1982). Greek Lyric Poetry: Volume I.  Sappho and Alcaeus. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Campbell, D. A. (1988). Greek Lyric Poetry: Volume II. Anacreon, Anacreontea, Choral Lyric from Olympus to Alcman. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Campbell, D.  A. (1991). Greek Lyric Poetry: Volume III.  Stesichorus, Ibycus, Simonides, and Others. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Campbell, D. A. (1992). Greek Lyric Poetry: Volume IV. Bacchylides, Corinna, and Others. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. De Ste Croix, G. E. M. (1981). The Class Struggle in the Ancient Greek World: From the Archaic Age to the Arab Conquest. London: Duckworth. Miller, A.  M. (1996). Greek Lyric: An Anthology in Translation. Indianapolis: Hackett. Osborne, R. (1996). Greece in the Making, 1200–479 BC. New York: Routledge. West, M. L. (2008). Greek Lyric Poetry. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

6 Greek Drama: Aeschylus

According to Robert Garland (1998), Attic drama, state-funded, deeply bourgeois-oriented and fundamentally sacred, can at first glance give the impression of a veiled means of enhancing social compliance. The truth was very different. Although the drama unfolded within a religious context, drama playwrights did not see as their goal to offer pious platitudes or to promote apathetic obedience to the will of the gods. On the contrary, they were not afraid or ashamed to present the Olympian gods as degenerate or even morally repulsive, whenever that fitted their purposes (Saïd 2006). What drama did primarily was to provide a framework within which issues of public and private interest could literally be revealed and presented to the public. In other words, its purpose was not to act as a moral referee, but rather to express harsh moral choices that determine human existence, to explore the problematic nature of man’s relationship with the gods, and to demonstrate the capacity of man (and the gods) for evil (Winnington-Ingram 1985). As such, drama often

All extracts are from (open access) literature/index.html, and translated from Greek to English. For an English translated version, see

© The Author(s) 2018 S. Georgoulas, The Origins of Radical Criminology,



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served subversive rather than conformist goals. There is no more eloquent proof of the central importance of drama in the life of the Athenian community by the fact that the hard-line conservative Plato suggested that drama playwrights along with all the poets, should be banished from his ideal state because he was afraid of their influence on the morals of his contemporaries. Especially Aeschylus focuses on personal conflicts (Murray 1978), on issues of power and its abuse (Sommerstein 2010), and commends political news. In the preface to his thesis, Marx quotes Prometheus’ response to Hermes (Mercury) (in the work Prometheus Bound, line 968) “With this offer of paid service, rest assured, I’d not change my hard lot, not I”, adding that the Aeschylean Prometheus is the finest saint and witness of philosophical chronology (Marx and Engels 1975). Aeschylus is the dramatist of a new age, the expression of change. That change is proclaimed in another Aeschylus work, Suppliant Women, performed probably in 463  BCE, where a mythical king responds to a call for protection with thoughts that do not fit a king at all: King It is not my own house at whose hearth you sit. If the whole city is threatened by pollution, let the people / the whole city find an answer. … Chorus But you are the city, The suppliants (that is, the Chorus) respond and emphasize his personal responsibility; and he responds: King I have already declared that, though I am ruler, I will not do this thing without the consent of my people (demos) … [lines 365–401].1 But let us look at the seven surviving tragedies by Aeschylus, the theatrical playwright of the Archaic period.

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6.1 Seven against Thebes This tragedy, which was the third part of a “trilogy” (Laius, Oedipus, Seven against Thebes), and the “satirical” drama Sphigx complemented the necessary “tetralogy” for Aeschylus’ participating in dramatic contests. It is a poetic transformation based on the data of the Theban mythological circle. Starting from Peloponnesian Argos, an expedition against Boeotian Thebes is being carried out to claim Polynices’ rights over the throne of Thebes against the king Eteocles, who was his brother. That campaign is ineffective, and among the killed leaders, are both brothers. The “city foremen” (the Chorus in this case), who fill the city’s power gap, take the political decision to characterize Eteocles as defender of the city and Polynices as its traitor, to commemorate the former and to leave unburied the latter. Their sister, Antigone, states that she will not submit to the decision of the agencies of power, but she does not fulfil her decision in this play to bury her brother. In the project we have witnessed a triptych of tribulations with the consecutive extermination of the three generations of agnatic descent (Laius, Oedipus, Eteocles and Polynices). Aeschylus focuses on the issue of an armed claim of power, where its two contenders hold the main roles. It all starts with the impiety of a forefather, which put into action the divine will that a family would be eliminated with successive blows with the ultimate mutual extermination of the agents of the third generation. This trilogy was presented in 467 BCE and won the first prize. It was the first time that ancient tragedy was dealing with an important issue for radical criminology, an issue that Sophocles later pointed out, Antigone’s refusal to accept the laws of her city, based on a moral code, a human rights issue of non-desecration of the dead body. The prologue of the tragedy begins with the thesis that the ruler of a city should have “the right reason and discourse” as understood by the people he rules. Eteocles Men of Cadmus’s city, he who rules from the stern and guides its helm with eyes untouched by sleep has to speak about the concerns of the State with words correctly [lines 1–2].


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As the plot unfolds, another important social development of the era is also recorded. The Women’s Chorus, expressing the old spirit, laments and seeks support from the gods’ statues. The new ruler characterizes such an act as “dispirited cowardice”, condemns it and threatens that anyone who continues this traditional behaviour will be considered a criminal and will be sentenced to death, the highest punishment, and that because there are essentially no gods if there is no city. Eteocles You intolerable things! I ask you, is this the best way to save the city? Does it hearten our army here besieged, when you fall before the gods’ statues that guard the city … but when she is afraid, she is an even greater evil for home and city. So now your cries as you rushed here and there have rattled the citizens into dispirited cowardice. … Now if anyone disobeys my authority—whether man or woman or something in between—a sentence of death will be decreed for him and by no means he will escape being destroyed by public stoning. … but then, it is said when a city is captured the gods are also lost [lines 181–5/190–2/196–9/218]. When the Warriors’ couples who are to fight at the seven gates of Thebes are presented, a particular reference is made to one of the opponents who is presented as a “just” man among the “lawless”. His attributes, which make him just, are that he does not want to appear the bravest but to be the bravest and makes careful resolutions. He is a new model as opposed to the heroic model of the previous era. Even he who is in “evil partnership”, is in danger and may be dragged down in ruin along with the “lawless”. Scout No sign was fixed on his shield. For he does not wish to appear the bravest, but to be the bravest, as he harvests the fruit of his mind’s deep furrow, where his careful resolutions grow. I advise you to send wise and brave opponents against him. …

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Eteocles Alas, the pity of fate’s omen when a just man associates with the most lawless! In all things, nothing is more evil than evil partnership … [lines 591–600]. Eteocles A prudent, just, noble, reverent man and a great prophet, as he has mixted with impious, rash-talking men against his own judgement, men stretching out in a procession that is long to retrace, and, if it is Zeus’s will, he will be dragged down in ruin along with them [lines 610–14]. In the midst of this tragedy, the ambiguous view of law is presented through a representation on a shield (reminiscent of a similar Homeric image). On Polynices’ shield there is a woman who is claimed to be “Justice” (Dike) that will bring him back to his homeland, reminding that from the opponent’s side it is fair to move his opposition to Eteocles for power. After several lines, Eteocles refuses to attach justice (justify) to this move made by his brother, but doubt remains and the fact that law is a characteristic that both parties can invoke in a conflict. Scout He holds a shield, a perfect circle, newly-made, with a double sign cleverly fastened on it: a woman modestly walking in the fore leading a man in arms, being hammered gold. She claims to be Justice, as the letters indicate, “I will bring this man out of the exile and he will take his father’s city to his home and will come back” …. [lines 642–8] Eteocles Indeed, Justice (Dike) would justly be false to her name, if she should ally herself with a man who thinks every evil. Trusting in this fact I will go and stand against him—I myself in person. Who else would do such a just claim? [lines 670–3] But it is not just the concept of law and justice, but also the effects of a bad act or “the curse” that are different in different social strata.


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Chorus For the compensation is heavy when past curses are fulfilled, and once the deadly curse has come into existence, it does not pass away. When the riches of the rich people has grown too great, it must be thrown away [lines 766–71]. The tragedy ends with Antigone’s “rebellious” disobedience in a decision that the new city leadership has set, not to bury the body of her brother Polynices. Recognizing the risk of her disobedience, without feeling ashamed and against the will of the powerful, Antigone decides to refuse the order, while in the end others are persuaded (by her reasoning)—the first half of the Chorus—thus acknowledging the right on this side of the conflict. Antigone I at least will say something to the rulers of the Cadmeans: even if no one else is willing to share with me his burying, I will bury him alone and risk the peril of burying my own brother. Nor am I ashamed to act in defiant opposition to the rulers of the city [lines 1032–6]. … Herald I forbid you to act thus in violation of the city. Antigone I forbid you to say useless words to me [lines 1048–9]. … Antigone He was done injustice and gave injustice in return [line 1055]. Herald But his act was against all the citizens, not only one man. Last of all the gods Erida (Strife) is who’s going to judge it. Antigone I will bury him. Put an end to your big talk [lines 1056–8]. …

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First Half-Chorus We, at all events, will go and bury him with her, following the funeral procession. For this grief is shared by all our generation, and the city recognizes different things as just and right at different times [lines 1074–7].

6.2 The Persians This is the only surviving ancient Greek tragedy that draws its theme from a historical event, the defeat of the Persians in the Strait of Salamis during the third Persian expedition to Greece in 480 BCE. The playwright was not motivated by the easy triumph of the Greek victory; he presents the topic from the loser’s point of view, not to sneer, but to philosophize on human things. It is a study of a defeat: the “hubris”, the Persians’ insolence caused the “nemesis”, the wrath of the deities as a lawmaking process. The tragedy is staged in the Persian palace. The characters of the playtext move in an atmosphere of unbearable suffering: the Chorus of the elders of the royal court (from which the name of this tragedy comes), the widow Queen Atossa, the dead King Darius (resurrected, according to the theatrical convention and poetic license), the overwhelmed King Xerxes. The Persians were performed in 472 BCE, with Aeschylus winning that year. Within this tragedy two different social systems are presented in historical development. On the one hand, democracy is the main feature of equality or, as Aeschylus vividly puts it: Atossa And who is set over them as leader and is master of their host? Chorus Of no man are they called the slaves or vassals [lines 241–2]. On the other hand, the system of aristocracy is in crisis, according to Aeschylus: Chorus And those who dwell on the Asian land no longer obey the laws of the Persians and taxes no longer pay tribute at the compulsion of their lords, nor will they


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prostrate themselves to the earth and do them reverence; for the royal power has perished utterly. … No longer will men keep a curb upon their tongues; for the people are set free and utter their thoughts freely, now the yoke of power has just been broken [lines 584–94].

6.3 Suppliant Women This tragedy, which was the first part of a trilogy (The Suppliants, Egyptians, Danaids), is a poetic transformation based on the mythological cycle of the Peloponnesian Argos. The play-text takes its title from the Chorus of the fifty Danaids, the fifty daughters of Danaus, who escape from Egypt to Argos, to avoid their marriage with Aegyptos’ sons of the same number. The asylum seekers are based on the mythological facts of their relationship with Argos: they are the descendants of Io, the Argean, once chased by Hera’s jealousy and, while wandering, she arrived in Egypt and, having joined with Zeus there, gave birth to Epaphos, the founder of their family. The role of the king is to be the “chosen vessel” where the tragic element of human fate will develop: on the one hand, if he accepts the Danaids’ supplication, he leads his country into a showdown with unwanted contingencies and events, such as in a war with the Egyptians; on the other hand, if he expels them from his country, he violates the “law of hospitality,” insults Xenios Zeus (the protector of strangers and foreigners),2 and with the possibility that the Danaids may commit suicide in the field of the divine altars, it forms the instinct in the country of the inevitable “miasma (lit. pollution, contagion)” with unpredictable painful consequences, according to the preconceptions of this era. The king eventually overcomes his feelings and thoughts for the people, and he demonstrates his personal responsibility for overcoming the harsh dilemma by incorporating it in a collective context: the citizens of Argos, having democratic features, will strengthen his apparent deviation from accepting the claim or, otherwise, will legitimize his refusal to implement the code of ethics so persistently promoted by the Chorus.

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King Pelasgus is the tragic character of the drama. Aeschylus gives him the opportunity to put his right to his case: The dilemma he faces is not a case that can have any personal effects; because of his position he must care about the consequences of his decisions and actions on his fellow citizens; his duty is to investigate the legality of Danaids’ flight, and the potential law of those who persecute them. Furthermore, he must preserve his personal reputation or his loyalty in the interests of his country and, finally, he must weigh the issue as a whole and combine the noncombined. Pelasgus’ first decision, though not categorically formulated, is to take care of the direct interest of his country, which is the same as refusing to accept the supplication. This decision is instantly shaken by the wording of the Danaids’ threat, that their wilful death will inadvertently damage the country of the king. And here the second decision comes, reversing the first decision, despite his hesitation and reservations. The popular assembly of Argos granted immunity to the Danaids. Aeschylus’ The Suppliants has neither the usual “plot” nor any reference to the “persons of the drama”. In the past, this tragedy was considered to be the oldest of Aeschylus’ surviving works, and that it must have been performed not much later than the 70th Olympiad (500–472 BCE) and before the performance of The Persians. However, a papyrian passage leads to a revision of this chronology and changes the date of the performance of this tragedy and that of the overall trilogy to 463 BCE. The tragedy deals not only with the complexity of evil, how an action can cause harm, but also with its corresponding inertia as the Chorus puts it: Chorus Lord of the Pelasgians, varying ills befall on mankind, and nowhere can you find the same form of evil [lines 328–9]. King Pelasgus wonders what to do: to succumb to supplications and risk a war that will bring evil to his city or not to get involved at all. What is fair and just in this case? King How then can I show you respect?


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Chorus If you do not surrender us to Aegyptus’ sons at their demand. King A serious request—to take upon myself, to start a new and dangerous war. Chorus But Justice (Dike) protects those who join her. King True, if she had a share in the matter from the beginning. Chorus Show reverence for the altar of your city that is crowned like this. King I shrink when gazing upon these shaded shrines [lines 340–7]. However, the decision to do justice will be taken by all the people of the city. As a local authority, they do not accept that their authority is without accountability. Chorus But you, aged in experience, learn from one of younger birth. If you show mercy to a suppliant, the offerings of the pure man (or man of holiness) are welcomed by the gods… from a man of holiness. King Do not sit at the hearth of my own house! If the city is stained by pollution in its commonalty, in common let the people strive to work out the cure. As for myself, I will pledge no promise before I have communicated these events to all the fellow citizens. Chorus You are the city, you are the people. Since you are the ruler no one judges, you rule the altar, your country’s hearth by your will’s sole ordinance; and,

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enthroned in sole sovereignty, you determine every issue. Keep from pollution! [lines 361–75] The people can easily blame those who rule, which is why they should turn to him using a specific element: the people are well disposed to the weak. King … Aged father of these maidens / girls, take these boughs in your arms and place them upon other altars of the country’s gods, so that all the people see the sign that you have come in suppliance. And let no random accusation fall against me; for the people could complain against those who rule. It may well be that some, stirred to compassion at the sight, will hate the wantonness of the troop of your enemy men, and that the people will be more friendly towards you; for all men are well disposed to those who are weaker [lines 480–9]. The people eventually decide unanimously for the weak “suppliants”, recognizing that gender does not matter since women have rights, too. Chorus Nor did they cast their votes for the side of the males, disregarding the women’s rights. [lines 634–5] The suppliant women’s gratitude to the city and its inhabitants is expressed in their wish that the city should care for everyone’s happiness and avoid the war. Chorus May the people who rule the city guard its rights and care for the happiness of all And, before they are taken to war, let them solve, without damaging, the differences with the strangers / foreigners3 [lines 698–703].

6.4 P  rometheus Bound This is a tragedy that is full of elements of radical criminology. Recalling a corresponding reference by Hesiod, we have a hero who defies the laws of authority, which, with the aid of the state/power4 and violence punish


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him. This tragedy, which was the first or the second part of a trilogy (Prometheus Bound, Prometheus Unbound, Prometheus the Fire-Bringer), is associated with the myth of the Titan Prometheus (Vellacott 1961). The other two works of the trilogy have not survived, but from what is unfolded in the work that we do have and from the details of the relevant myth, the Titan (i.e. Prometheus) is a philanthropic deity, who in this work is punished by Zeus with crucifixion on the Caucasus, where his relatives and much-suffering Io (during her endless wandering) visit him. Prometheus Unbound must have portrayed the Titan’s release by Hercules, and Prometheus the Fire-Bringer may have contained the theme of celebration with which the Athenian people must have welcomed the liberated Titan and honoured him with a torchlight procession. In this play-text (i.e. Prometheus Bound), a matter of interest to the deities is played out at the human level. Their differences are not solved. We see only one phase of their dispute with a partial result, the crucifixion of the merciful Titan. From this point of view, the work is a terateia,5 that is, a stage impression with a parade of deities, one of whom is transformed into human form. In all these scenes, two issues prevail. One issue is the Titan’s selfless activity to benefit people that is repaid with his own misery. Prometheus’ role is saving the people, while Zeus’ overpowering will lead to their extinction. Prometheus’ great benefits to humans are the removal of the spectrum of death by implanting hope in their souls and the offering of fire that has been the trigger for the development of the arts. The other issue is the recruitment of harsh means by Zeus to secure a recent, coupled winning power. In the introduction of this play-text we become witnesses to a cruciform scene. Being crucified, the Titan endures uncomplainingly the phases of his execution. His crucifiers are three, two who are speaking and one who is silent—the last for theatrical economy, since Aeschylus used two actors. The third of the crucifiers can be seen from another point of view: Violence, the personalization of coercion, makes its presence perceptible in its awful form; it is the supervisor of a process. The Power/State, the personification of power, is the merciless exercise of the powers of the dominant god, Hephaestus is the executor of a command he cannot violate.

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This first scene gives us a very human Hephaestus: he feels the need to apologize to bound Prometheus, whom he is nailing on the rock for the execution of a mandate; he is foretelling Prometheus his future misery and comments with indignation on such a reward for the prisoner’s benevolent action; he feels the burden of the surveillance exercised over him by the Power/State and Violence, observing their cruelty and heartlessness, and, deep inside, he is trying to make the ordeal as painless as possible. It may be the bound’s martyrdom and the fear of the consequences of any negligence or deviation from Zeus’ command that weigh on him, which will be reported by the “king’s eyes” that accompany him. The Power/State—which dominates from the position of the powerful, the caretaker—shows little sympathy to the bound. For it the execution of the mandate takes precedence and, in view of this attitude, has a dynastic attitude towards the named god (i.e. Hephaestus), threatens him, orders him, and, having shown cruelty and heartlessness throughout the scene, his abominable face culminates with a final expression of sarcasm. However, the Titan Oceanus (lit. the Ocean), the father of the Oceanids, comes and thus, they do not listen to the prospect that Prometheus would have hoped for. The visitor expresses his sympathy to bound Prometheus and proposes a realistic approach to the new data based on self-knowledge and avoidance of insolence, thus allowing hope to be shown that by brokering he will persuade Zeus to free Prometheus from his plight. But Oceanus’ well-intentioned purpose is wreaking havoc on the bound Titan’s tough resistance, showing that a “realistic” soft response to state violence is undesirable. The tragedy begins with the orders of the State/Power to Hephaestus to execute the punishment imposed by Zeus on Prometheus because he must respect power and authority. Power/State And now, Hephaestus, hurry; yours is the charge to observe the mandates laid upon you by the Father—to clamp this miscreant upon the high craggy rocks in shackles of binding adamant that cannot be broken. For your own flower, flashing fire, source of all arts, he has stolen and bestowed upon the mortals.


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Such is his offence; for this he is bound to make requital to the gods, so that he may learn to respect Zeus’ sovereignty and cease his philanthropic ways [lines 3–11]. In a series of subsequent passages, Zeus’ power is presented as tough, as the Power’s/State’s behaviour is hard when she executes Zeus’ commandments. Hephaestus … for Zeus’ heart is hard, and everyone is harsh whose power is new [lines 34–5]. Power/State I agree; yet how is it possible to disobey your father’s commands? Do you not fear that more? Hephaestus Yes, you are ever harsh, pitiless and steeped in insolence [lines 40–2]. This authority affects all subordinates: Power/State Everything is troublesome apart from gods’ being in command; no one is free apart from Zeus. Hephaestus I agree with this, and I don’t have to say otherwise [lines 49–51]. Any hesitation in the execution of the commandments of the authority brings about similar threats. Power/State What! Shrinking again and groaning over Zeus’ enemies? Take a heed of your not grieving for yourself [lines 67–8]. Zeus’ new power has made laws that destroy all the previous ones according to the Chorus’ statement:

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Chorus For there are new rulers that have the power and authority in Olympus, and Zeus, who has illegally the power, governs with new laws and what was mighty before he now brings to nothing [lines 147–51] Zeus’ cruelty (and the use of “law” for his benefit) will be stopped only with conflict and change in power. Chorus … But he in malice, has set his soul inflexibly and keeps in subjection the race sprung from Uranus; nor will he be stopped, until he has satiated his soul or another seizes his impregnable empire by some device of guile [lines 163–8]. … Prometheus … I know that Zeus is harsh and keeps justice in his own hands; nevertheless, one day his judgement will soften, when he is crushed in such a way [lines 189–91]. … Chorus Sadly, Zeus, holding the power by self-appointed laws, displays an overweening spirit towards the gods of old [lines 402–5]. In this cruelty of punishment Oceanus presents a “realistic” solution; that is, Prometheus’ mild reaction and apology, a solution rejected by Prometheus because it leads to an individual rather than a collective benefit. Oceanus … and I want to give you the best advice, although you yourself are wise. Know thyself and adapt yourself to new ways; for new also is the Ruler among the gods [lines 310–13]. ….


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Oceanus … Put away your wrathful mood and ask to be redeemed from these miseries [line 317]. … Prometheus … but do not trouble yourself; for your trouble will be vain and not helpful to me—if indeed you want to take the pain. … For even if I am in sore plight, I would not wish affliction on anyone else. No, certainly, no! [lines 345–6, 347–8] But no power is meant to be in power eternally. Even Zeus’ power that seems eternal will eventually fall. Change is the only constant according to the words of Prometheus written by Aeschylus in the different passages below. Chorus Why, what is fated for Zeus except to hold eternal sway? Prometheus This you must not learn yet; do not be over-eager. Chorus Surely, it is a solemn secret that you conceal in mystery. Prometheus Think of some other subject, for it is not the proper time to speak of this [lines 519–23]. … Prometheus Ah, you would hardly bear my sufferings, that is, my fate is never to die; for death would have freed me from my sufferings. But now there is no end to my sufferings until Zeus loses his power.

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Io What! Is it true that one day Zeus shall lose his power? Prometheus You would be delighted, I think, to see that happen Io Why wouldn’t I be happy, since I suffer at Zeus’ hand? Prometheus Then you may rejoice because that’s what will happen … [lines 752–60]. … Prometheus Worship, adore, and fawn upon whoever is in power. But for Zeus I care less than nothing. Let him do his will, let him hold his power for a little while— since he will not rule over the gods for long [lines 937–40]. … Prometheus … as young you took your power a while ago, and you think indeed that you inhabit heights beyond the reach of grief. Have I not seen two rulers being cast out of these heights? A third, the present ruler, I shall live to see him being cast out in ruin most shamefully and most quickly. Do you think I quail and cower before these new gods? [lines 955–60] This belief in certain change makes Prometheus disdain offering a service to each authority, preferring his present state to this (offer): Prometheus With this offer of paid service, rest assured, I’d not change my hard lot, not I. Hermes Better, no doubt, to serve this rock than be the trusted messenger of Father Zeus! [lines 966–9]


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6.5 The Oresteia Trilogy 6.5.1 Agamemnon In this first (and more extensive than the other two) part of Aeschylus’ trilogy Oresteia, the playwright and poet draws his subject from the Mycenaean mythological cycle. In the play-text, the chief of the mythical Trojan expedition returns to his kingdom, to Peloponnesian Mycenae, after the fall of Troy; immune to the ten-year secret war, he will become an unsuspecting victim of a well-woven trap by his wife Clytemnestra and her lover Aegisthus. The scheming queen will lie to the elders for her intentions and will lead Agamemnon, with the outpouring of his hesitations, to go into his palace for the last time and become he and with the seer Cassandra (the daughter of King Priam of Troy) victims of his wife. The work will close with Clytemnestra’s justification of her abominable act and Aegisthus’ threats of punishment for those who do not show loyalty to the new power holders. This tragedy is part of the chain of successive circles of the mythical framework of the Pelopids of the Peloponnese. It is the continuation of a killing principle that will not close with what is done in this play. The mythical king of Mycenae carries on him an ancestral curse, which will bequeath to the circle of his immediate descendants. The play is dominated by the characters of Agamemnon, Clytemnestra and the Chorus. The first (Agamemnon), unsuspecting what awaits him, presents the image of a mature leader who does not hurry to give an account of his expedition, the second (Clytemnestra) with strenuous sophistication leaves no room for any suspicion, and the third (the Chorus) as a collective character has such a dynamic presence as in no other work of ancient dramatic poetry. This work clearly records how the change of power, even in a violent way, defines in its own interest the concepts of justice and injustice, defines crimes and grants punishments. King Agamemnon sacrifices his own daughter in the beginning of the Argean expedition against Troy, in order for it to be successful, an act that is legitimate.

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Chorus Then the great king spoke and said: “It is a hard fate to refuse obedience, and hard, if I must slay my child, the glory of my home, and at the altar-side stain a father’s hand with streams of a virgin’s blood. Which of these is not bad? How can I desert my fleet and fail my allies in arms? For that they should with all too impassioned passion crave a sacrifice to lull the winds—even a virgin’s blood—is legal. May all be for the best.” [lines 205–16] Chorus … impious, unholy, unsanctified actions, … So, he dared to be the victimizer of his daughter (by sacrificing her) so that he might win a war waged to avenge a woman, and as a start for the voyage of a fleet! [lines 224–7] The Chorus of the elders, who are the essential criticism of Aeschylus’ era, condemn the act and lead to a wider condemnation of the unbridled wealth, discovering the notion of “law” at the time of the tragedy: Chorus Now recklessness stands revealed! Recklessness of those who place warlike fury above law, as they fill their homes with too much abundance, beyond the measure. Let it be without harm, enough to satisfy a sensible man. For riches do not protect the man who in wantonness has avidly kicked the mighty altar of Justice (Dike) [lines 374–84]. They continue with an amazing reference to the people’s power. Chorus Heavy and loud is the people’s voice charged with wrath, if they are angry and the debt of the people’s curse is paid. [lines 457–8] And they continue repeating the social condemnation of wealth: Chorus But Justice (Dike) shines through smoke-begrimed dwellings and esteems the virtuous life. From gilded palaces, where men’s hands are foul, she departs


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with averted eyes and makes her way to pure homes, without worshipping the forged power of wealth [lines 773–81]. But when Aeschylus gives the floor to the royal generation, he repeats with the same clarity the revelation that interest and power determine law, crime and punishment. Clytemnestra, after her husband’s assassination and assumption of power, “threatens” those who disagree, inviting them to learn to be prudent. Clytemnestra It’s now that you would condemn me to exile from our city, and say that I am hatred by my own people and have the curses of the citizens; though then you had nothing to urge against him that lies here, who, counting as if she were a sheep to be slaughtered, when the sheep were plenty in his fleecy folds—he sacrificed his own daughter, the very fruit of the pain of my labour/travail, to charm the blasts of Thrace. Is it not he whom you should have banished from this land in requital for his polluting deed? But, when you hear about my deeds, you are a stern judge. Well, I warn you: threaten me thus on the understanding that I am prepared, on equal terms, to let you have power over me if you shall vanquish me. But if the god shall bring the contrary to pass, slowly, of course, you shall learn to be prudent, after you have been taught a lesson [lines 1412–25]. In the same spirit, Aegisthus first reminds of the historical relativity of law and justice and injustice in relation to the past of Agamemnon’s father, when his power was threatened. Aegisthus For Atreus, the lord of this land, this man’s father, exiled from his house and his city my father, Thyestes, to speak it clearly, his own brother, because his power was challenged [lines 1583–6]. … Chorus Aegisthus, excessive triumph amid distress and crimes I do not honour. Are you saying that of your own intent you slew this man and did alone plot this

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pitiful murder? I’m telling you in the hour of justice that you yourself, be sure of that, will not escape the people’s curses and death by stoning at their hand. Aegisthus You speak like that, you who sit at the lower oar, when those upon the higher bench control the ship? You will learn now that you are an elder how difficult it is at this age to learn how bitter it is at your age to be told to be prudent. Bonds and the pangs of hunger are far the best magic when it comes to instructing the old. Do you have eyes and can’t you see them? [lines 1612–23]. Only a few lines later, Aegisthus becomes clearer. With his power and riches he determines the penalties for the disobedient: Aegisthus Now, with his riches I shall endeavour to control the people; and whoever shows disobedience, I’ll yoke with a heavy collar, and in truth he shall be no well-fed trace-horse! It will be rather hunger, the loathsome comrade in darkness, that shall make him gentle [lines 1638–42] The tragedy becomes more poignant with Aegisthus’ call on those who react to his authority not to “pollute” justice. Aegisthus But to think that these men should let their wanton tongues thus blossom into speech against me and cast about such insults, putting their fortune to the test! To reject that whoever has the authority, he has prudent thought! Chorus It would not be like men of Argos to bend before a man as low as you are. Aegisthus I will take a revenge in days to come. Chorus No, if fate shall guide Orestes to return home.


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Aegisthus From my own experience I know how exiled people feed on hope. Chorus Keep on, grow fat, polluting justice, since you can. Aegisthus Know that I will get back to you for your insolent folly. Chorus Brag in your bravery like a cock beside his hen. Clytaemestra Do pay attention to their idle yelpings. I and you will be masters of this house and order it aright [lines 1662–75].

6.5.2 The Libation Bearers/Choephoroi In this second part of the Oresteia trilogy, Orestes, exiled from his mother, after a long displacement returns to his homeland. His sister, Electra, commissioned by her mother to offer conventional “libations” (choes) (hence the title of the tragedy), is at first startled at Agamemnon’s tomb and after a while she shares the joy of recognition with her brother. Then, the plan of vengeance is devised, which will lead Agamemnon’s murderers to become Orestes’ victims, and by avenging his father’s murder, Orestes will become matricidal. Shortly before committing matricide, there is a mother/son confrontation where there a lot of issues are clarified: Clytemnestra’s erotic attachment to Aegisthus, her view that Agamemnon’s slaughter is due to a divine arrangement and that serious consequences await Orestes if he kills his mother. After he has killed his mother, Orestes attempts to justify his act to the Chorus, but his mental intrusion begins shortly, as the Erinyes (Furies)—the three goddesses of vengeance and retribution who punish men for crimes against the natural order—begin to afflict his soul. He leaves to find his salvation in the mystic hearth of the Delphic Apollo.

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In the ­second part of the Oresteia, the playwright holds fixed proportions with the first part. Both here and there we have an appearance of a character after many years of absence (i.e. Agamemnon/Orestes), in both a (female) person welcomes the person that comes back after a long absence (Clytemnestra/Electra), in both we have two victims in the end (Agamemnon and Cassandra/Aegisthus and Clytemnestra), in both there is an effort to justify a devious act, and in both the victimizers of the ongoing “family crime dance” recognize the degree of their personal contribution to the perpetuation of guilt. The tragedy begins with the female prisoners from Troy who admit that they fall back either to the just or to the unjust, to those who rule by force: Chorus But I, for since the gods laid constraining doom about my city and led me from my father’s house to a slave’s lot, it is fitting for me to govern my bitter hate, even against my will, and submit to the wishes of my masters, whether just or unjust. I have to subdue to those who determine (my fate) by force, veiling my heart’s bitter hate [lines 75–81] But they continue to hope that they will take revenge or (their right is determined alternately but not in opposition) if their oppressor’s life is lost, Chorus Pray that some divinity or some mortal may come to them— Electra As judge or as avenger, do you mean? Chorus Say in plain speech, “One who will take life for life.” Electra And is it right for me to ask this of the gods?


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Chorus How could it not be right to repay an enemy with ills? [lines 119–23] However, several lines later they take the same thesis, when addressing Agamemnon’s children. Chorus Oh, children, Oh, saviours of your father’s house, speak not so loud, dear children, in case someone should overhear and report all this to those who have the authority, merely for the sake of rumour. I wish I could see them dead in the ooze of flaming pitch! [lines 264–8] Law changes position as power changes hands, says the same Chorus of women just a few lines below: Chorus You mighty Fates, through the power of Zeus grant fulfilment in the way to which Justice now turns. “For a word of hate let a word of hate be said,” Justice (Dike) cries out as she exacts the debt, “and for a murderous stroke let a murderous stroke be paid.” “Let it be done to him as he does,” says the ageold wisdom [lines 306–14]. This is a thesis that Orestes also repeats, not distinguishing between the concepts: power and justice. Orestes Power with power will be struck; law with law [line 461] According to the Chorus, freedom comes with fire and when the legal authority and the property of the previous ruler are taken over by the new one. Chorus … Now is the moment when the blood-stained edges of the blades that lay men low are utterly forever to destroy the house of Agamemnon. Or else, kindling a flaming light in the cause of freedom, burning along with the lawful authority, he (Orestes) will have his father’s rich possessions [lines 859–65]

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6.5.3 The Eumenides In the third part of the Oresteia trilogy, the theatrical action originally develops in the area of the Delphic oracle and then in Athens. Apollo advises Orestes, who has resorted to his temple, to go to the Temple of Athena on the Athenian Acropolis and wait for his case to be ruled out, and cast out the dormant Erinyes. At the Athenian court of Areos Pagos (lit. Ares rock; known also as Areopagus), Erinyes are Orestes’ accusers and Apollo is his advocate. The trial is conducted in the form of a “contest of words”, i.e. with arguments and counter-arguments, and in the final vote of judges there is a tie. Athena, who chairs, gives the solution, that in the event of a tie, the accused is exempt from the charge. And so there are no consequences for Orestes. The Erinyes are persuaded by Athena to move to Athens and to be worshipped there as Eumenides. Here, the poet seems to combine the myth with reality by making clear hints on elements of the internal and external politics of Athens. The solution to such and similar problems is not easy; it comes as a culmination of a tough confrontation, a conflict between the old and the new. The completion of the Oresteia with this work has set up a life-shape for people of all time. Through the characters that move at the human or the divine level, there are displayed individualized universal patterns of the eternal conflict between the old and the new, between a position and an opposition, with the function of a “ternary system” in one composition—a deep philosophical reflection thus underpins the Oresteia. The Aeschylean discourse is poetic, but also does not cease to be a political one—the poet seems to oscillate in an elaborate way between poetic and political ethics. Almost four years before the performance of the Oresteia trilogy, the Athenian politician Ephialtes (lit. Nightmare), with his political reforms, had stripped the old aristocratic parliament of Areos Pagos of its political jurisdiction and had limited its legal transactions to trials of murder, insignificant from a political view. Aeschylus displays the political realism of accepting the evolution of political affairs and of limiting its goal to those who remain after the political reforms. The authentic reason of Athena, which conveys the Erinyes’ speech, gives the measure of the political compromise of the great poet who accepts the necessity of popular justice as a more appropriate substitute for the old


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self-rule, represented by the primordial activity of the evildoers of Erin, who maintained the infertile function of the feud. When the conflict between the divine powers (the older power represented by the Erinyes and the younger, represented by Apollo), with direct suggestions and threats to the court, makes the atmosphere heavy, Athena gives the solution: she favours Orestes, justifies her vote and in the genre of a ‘reasoning myth’, that is, a mythological interpretation of an older institution, she formulates a procedural rule so that the accused is acquitted of the charge in cases of a tie. And while the accused is at the peak of his anxiety, Athena announces the result of the vote, which is in any case shaped with her personal intervention: she has voted in advance for Orestes. The divine intervention has given a solution that would be difficult for human measures in this transitional phase between the old and the new institutions; the goddess of wisdom introduces the charismatic clause to exempt the accused when the opinion of the members of the court is divided. The third part of the Oresteia trilogy, performed in 458 BCE and winning the first prize, is the most political work by Aeschylus. The new democracy of Athens and its law with the respective institutions prevail at the expense of the old state and the corresponding legal institutions, and this is stated by Aeschylus as clearly as possible. At the beginning of this tragedy, Orestes is referred to as the one who honours mortals and spoils the old (legal) provisions: Chorus Although he is a prophet, he has stained his sanctuary with pollution at its hearth, at his own urging, at his own bidding; against the gods’ law, he has honoured mortal things and caused the ancient allotments to decay [lines 169–73] The Erinyes, representatives of the old institutions, are referred to as judges of the law. Chorus Come now, let us also join the dance, since we are resolved to display our horrible song and to declare our allotted office, how our party rules the affairs of men. We claim to be just and upright. No wrath from us will come stealthily

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to the one who holds out clean hands, and he will go through life unharmed but whoever does harm, as this man has, and hides his blood-stained hands, as avengers of bloodshed we appear against him to the end, presenting ourselves as upright witnesses for the dead [lines 307–20] In a “perfect” law given by the Fate: Chorus What mortal, then, does not stand in awe and dread of this, when he hears from me the law the gods gave me with the consent of my Fate? [lines 389–93]. However, Athena, representing the cradle of the new democracy, is not afraid of the Erinyes but urges Orestes to defend himself from the accusations they address him: Athena What do you want to say to this, stranger, in turn? After you talk about your country and family and fortune, then defend yourself against this charge; if indeed, relying on the justice of your case, you sit clinging to my image near my hearth, as a sacred suppliant, like Ixion [lines 436–41]. In one of the most important passages Athena establishes a new institution of law with the participation of the people who will judge law with testimonies and evidence. Athena … But since this matter has fallen here, I will select judges of homicide bound by oath, and I will establish this as an eternal institution. Summon your witnesses and proofs, sworn evidence to support your case; and I will return when I have chosen the best of my citizens, for them to decide this matter truly, after they take an oath that they will pronounce no judgement contrary to justice [lines 482–9] The first decision is ready to be made, and Athena in an extensive speech, invites the people’s judges neither to accept despotic power, nor to be corrupted by profits, nor to change laws with bad influences either:


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Athena Hear now my ordinance, people of Attica, as you judge the first trial for bloodshed. In the future, even as now, this court of judges will always exist for the people of Aegeus. And this Hill of Ares (Mars), the seat and camp of the Amazons, when they came with an army in resentment against Theseus, and in those days built up this new citadel with lofty towers to rival his, and sacrificed to Ares, from which this rock takes its name, the Hill of Ares: on this hill, the reverence of the citizens, and fear, its kinsman, will hold them back from doing wrong by day and night alike, so long as they themselves do not pollute the laws with evil streams; if you stain clear water with filth, you will never find a drink. Neither anarchy nor despotic authority—this I counsel my citizens to support and respect, and not to drive fear wholly out of the city. For who among mortals, if he fears nothing, is just? Stand in just awe of such majesty, and you will have a defence for your land and salvation of your city, such as no man has, either among the Scythians or in Pelops’ realm. I establish this institution, untouched by greed, worthy of reverence, quick to anger, awake on behalf of those who sleep, a guardian of the land [lines 681–706]. The decision is announced, Orestes is acquitted, and the Erinyes experience the death of old laws and the coming of change. Chorus Younger gods, you have trampled on the ancient laws and have taken them from my hands! [lines 778–9].

Notes 1. In this section because quotations are taken from play-texts, apart from the line numbers, the names of the characters will be given; e.g. Chorus (symbol of the people [demos] of a given city), King, etc. 2. Xenios, an adjective, derives from xenos, a noun, that pertains to both a “stranger” and a “foreigner” in Greek. Xenios Zeus (or Jupiter) was Zeus who protected the rights of hospitality offered to a stranger or a foreigner. 3. See footnote 2 about the amphisemy of the Greek word xenos which can be translated in English as “stranger” and/or “foreigner”.

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4. The Greek word kratos is amphisemous and denotes either “power, authority, sovereignty, dominion” or the “state” (a geographical area in which power is exercised by the [representatives of the] people over the people). 5. Terateia literally means an act of relating marvellous or unnatural occurrences or appearances of monsters (teras: monster, something extraordinary).

References Garland, R. (1998). Daily Life of the Ancient Greeks. New  York: Greenwood Publ. Group. Marx, K., & Engels, F. (1975). Collected Works (Vol. 1). London: Lawrence & Wishart. Murray, G. (1978). Aeschylus: The Creator of Tragedy. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Saïd, S. (2006). “Aeschylean Tragedy”. In J. Gregory (ed.), A Companion to Greek Tragedy. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing. Sommerstein, A. H. (2010). Aeschylean Tragedy (2nd ed.). London: Duckworth. Vellacott, P. (1961). Prometheus Bound and Other Plays: Prometheus Bound, Seven against Thebes, and The Persians. New York: Penguin Classics. Winnington-Ingram, R.  P. (1985). “Aeschylus”. In P.E.  Easterling and B.M.W.  Knox (eds.), The Cambridge History of Classical Literature: Greek Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

7 Pre-Socratic Philosophy

7.1 T  he Importance of Pre-Socratic Philosophy The study of Pre-Socratic philosophers is important because they are the founders of philosophy and science, which are still inseparable (Kirk et al. 1983). Their fundamental thinking lies at the heart of the rational interpretation of the world and life, the foundation of European thought and Western culture (Hussey 1972). Many elements of Pre-Socratic philosophy are in one or another way present in modern thinking (Luchte 2011). But if the foundation of modern civilization by the Greeks was a static event without internal power and the possibility of a continuous feedback of our thought, through the fertilizing power of this primitive thought, then, of course, the study of ancient Greeks in general would no longer make sense (Graham 2010). That is why when we say that Pre-­ Socratic thought is the beginning of philosophy we do not simply mean that philosophy begins with the Pre-Socratics but also that they are an

All extracts are from (open access) literature/index.html, and translated from Greek to English. © The Author(s) 2018 S. Georgoulas, The Origins of Radical Criminology,



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inexhaustible source of philosophical reflection, a living force that fertilizes and feeds the human spirit in the eternal search for truth. Heidegger in his Introduction to Metaphysics (2000) aptly observes that in the Pre-Socratics can be found the beginning of philosophical problems in the sense that these are fundamental cosmological and anthropological problems and not, of course, in the sense of a metaphysical view of philosophical problems that they are living organisms born from the Pre-Socratics’ fertile reasoning that exist in the same form today. In this case, of course, it would not be possible to deal differently with philosophical problems, something that is a given historical reality. Admittedly, Pre-Socratic philosophy is primarily a philosophy of nature and cosmology that seeks to explain natural phenomena and the true nature of things and the world as a whole. But this does not mean that the interest of the Pre-Socratics is confined to exploring nature in the strict sense of the term and excludes mental and spiritual phenomena. This would be impossible, since the separation of the spiritual and psychic elements from the natural per se was unknown to the Pre-Socratics. The physical and the psychic coexist with one another. And this outlook is not just Pre-Socratic but a wholly ancient Greek one.

7.1.1 Pre-Socratic Philosophy as Dialectic of Myth The relationship of myth and rational thought is not an opposition of falsehood and truth as positivism teaches. According to Descombes (1980) myth is not a stuttering of science, as the theory of the history of science teaches. Rather, myth is inherent to science. Briefly, the following positions are observed: (a) the birth of philosophical reflection in Greece also meant a radical critique of mythical tradition; (b) this critique was developed along with a series of social changes that took place in Greece through trade, travel, production, the development of scientific knowledge and the formation of open democratic city-states; (c) if the development of philosophical reflection in Greece went along with rationalization of this knowledge that did not mean that thought was cleansed of its mythical elements and was moving towards the realm of pure reason. Philosophical discourse always operates

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with its obvious or latent mythical elements (images, metaphors, allegories), and it may owe its charm to them. It is not only the practical rational spirit that contributed to the birth and development of philosophical reflection in Greece, nor the tendency for unity, synthesis and organization of knowledge that makes science, but also the mythical thought expressed by the iconic, representational, imaginative language and language of analogies. There were poets and thinkers, whom Aristotle called “theologians”, i.e. people who are in a pre-scientific and pre-philosophical stage of thought and who hold some rational view of the world, such as Homer and Hesiod, old orphic cosmogonies, Epimenides, Acusilaos of Argos, Pherecydes of Syros, and so on.

7.1.2 The Problem with Sources Completed works by the Pre-Socratic thinkers have not survived. We only have a few and scattered interconnected passages from the writings of Post-Socratic philosophers and later commentators. With further processing of the sources by carefully studying the context within which the extracts have been saved, by investigating each author’s particular intentions in giving us one or more passages, by juxtaposing the various extracts written by the author himself and, of course, by referring to the historical, social and cultural context in which the philosopher’s thinking takes place, one can achieve an approximate correct reading of these ancient texts. Thus, these various texts require a particularly delicate and careful treatment. It is especially crucial in the case of texts which with varying degrees of certainty we consider to be excerpts from the books by the Pre-­ Socratics themselves. The interpretation difficulties are not due to the fact that these texts are difficult to understand but to the fact that they are very easy to misinterpret and may not be appreciated in the thinker’s own terms and within the whole archaic spirit within which he or she wrote. The general difficulty, of course, lies in the fact that our Pre-Socratic thinkers are known only by short extracts, that is, by short references in the works of Post-Socratic writers. These passages are pieces detached


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from a set, the original book in which they functioned differently than now when they are isolated and fragmented. The fragmentary texts should therefore be used with a great deal of caution and reservation, with a subtle mind and controlled imagination, discreetly and critically. Ancient writers who first treated these texts in a variety of ways and for various purposes have already taught us through their mistakes, their bias and prejudice, with their frivolous interpretations and misinterpretations, how careful we should be.

7.2 A Radical Reading of Ancient Philosophy In German Ideology, Marx and Engels use ancient philosophy as a weapon of struggle. In their chapter on the ancients, we are provided with a short history of Greek philosophy, a militant, contentious philosophy that goes to the roots of the great tradition of materialism and dialectics. In this work Marx and Engels show that ancient Greek philosophy is not just a matter of academic interest but holds an important place in the arsenal of materialism and dialectics. The founders of scientific socialism identify a number of key positions among the main proponents of ancient philosophical thought, such as Democritus, Epicurus, the Stoics, and the Sceptics, and draw attention to concepts such as Democritus’ euthymie, the epicurean ataraxia, the Sceptics’ aphasia or hedone (pleasure) in the Cyrenaic and other hedonistic schools. In the last case, in particular, we have one of the brightest examples of the revolutionary but also the cognitive importance and value of the method of historical materialism: By taking the concept of ancient philosophy, hedone (pleasure), and following it through its historical journey from antiquity to modern society, Marx and Engels bring to light social situations and class conflicts that this concept expresses, each time hidden, wrapped up in the cloud of ideology. Thus, historical analysis becomes a revolutionary discourse; the correct interpretation of the teaching of one or another philosophical school of antiquity becomes a revolutionary weapon.

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The concept of division of labour is one of the most important in the work of Marx and Engels. We should recall that in German Ideology we find the elaborated position that humans’ deliverance from the slavery of unilateral employment is a major element of their liberation. In this chapter this position finds its complete scientific foundation: the contradiction between the revolutionary technical basis of capitalism and unilateral employment, with its faded specializations, creates the conditions for humans’ liberation from the coercion of the natural and not deliberately divided activity where every work of humans becomes a strange and contrary force that enslaves them and which humans cannot control. In Marx’s Capital the requirement for humans to be liberated from alienation also acquires its fundamental productive dimension: liberation from unilateral employment is a matter of life and death for the productive structure of society itself. Having these positions as a guide, we can understand the references to ancient writers on the issue of division of labour, from Homer and Archilochus where division of labour is a matter of satisfaction of individual inclination. Does the importance given to ancient Greek thought by Marx and Engels and other important theorists of Marxism mean that in this thought there are fertile seeds that give birth to revolutionary consciousness at all times? We can find the answer to Engels’ dialectics in the Preface to his Anti-­ Dühring. In this Preface, Engels emphasizes the need for the natural sciences to emerge from the deadlock of metaphysics as quickly as possible and return to dialectics. For this return, he points to two paths: The first is the path of ancient Greek philosophy. And the reason is because in this philosophy the different thought is presented in its original simplicity, undisturbed by the enchanting obstacles that seventeenth- and eighteenth-­ century metaphysics put in its path—by Bacon and Locke in England and Wolff in Germany—with which it (metaphysics) excluded their (natural sciences) own progress from understanding of the whole in a view of general interrelation of things. The ancient Greeks just because they did not go far beyond to break off to analyse nature still see nature as a whole; they viewed it in general. The universal interconnectedness of natural phenomena had not yet been proven with respect to the particulars. For ancient Greeks, it is the result of direct viewing. This is the inadequacy of


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ancient Greek philosophy, which was forced to explore other ways of viewing. But it is in exactly that, that its supremacy lies over all its later metaphysical opponents. This is the primary reason that makes it necessary for philosophy and so many other scientific fields to turn again and again to the achievements of the ancient Greek philosophers whose universal talents and activity have secured a place that no other people could claim in the history of human progress. The other reason is that the many forms of ancient Greek philosophy contain in embryo form almost all the later philosophical worldviews. That is why theoretical physics is obliged to return to the ancient Greeks if it wants to follow the history of the birth and the development of general principles that it presents today. And this view is increasingly coming to the foreground. Thus, Marxism views ancient Greek thought and integrates it into the historical field. It sees it neither as an “unnecessary burden” nor as pseudo-­ humanistic nor as useless for problems of life as viewed by realists. Especially the Preface by Engels deserves to be studied and analysed with care by those who wish to avoid falling into the traps of empiricism and positivism of the fragmentary and obscure knowledge of technocratism and ultimately of metaphysics. For these dangers only dialectics saves, and only this, with its overall view and creative historicism, keeps revolutionary thinking alive in all disciplines. But let us see analytically this Pre-Socratic ancient philosophy through specific passages.

7.3 Extracts: Philosophers 7.3.1 Ionic Thought The genesis of philosophy and science begins in the sixth century in Miletus, the metropolis of Hellenism in Asia Minor. Miletus was then at the peak of its cultural, economic and spiritual flourishing. It was a commercial city with a bustling life and lively social struggles. In the old days, the demos (people) were in power after their violent abolition of aristoc-

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racy. As we have seen, the aristocracy of landowners and merchants was overcome by the power of the tyrant, supported by the demos. It is natural that the Milesian philosophers, as they are called, are appreciated in the history of philosophy because they have the privilege to be the oldest of all philosophers. They are the first proponents of an unprecedented move in the development of Western cultural and intellectual activity: the philosophy of science.  Anaximander Based on sources, we know that Anaximander was born around 610 BCE and died shortly after 546 BCE. He was not just a theorist but also a man of action. According to tradition, he was the founder of Apollonia, a colony of the Milesians in the Pontus. His interests, as the details of his theories show, were: astronomy and meteorology, cosmogony, life and anthropology, biology and geography, and the history of civilization. His intention was to provide a universal picture of the physical course of things from the beginning to their present stage. Anaximander is a pioneer in the field of science. Of course, we should not imagine science at that time growing in specialized research areas. Anaximander was a thinker who wanted to give a general description of the whole universe. Knowledge of the whole world was then a philosophy along with science (pro-philosophy and pro-science). Anaximander gave a most remarkable interpretation of the world based on a very important concept, the term arche or initium (the beginning or first principle). But if infinity were perceived only in relation to all things that were conceivable in a relationship of mutual dependence, then what should we think of the relationships between things themselves? This question is critical and the answer to it opens up broader horizons in order to see a richer image of the world that Anaximander conceived. Aristotle attributes to Anaximander the view that opposites lie in the one (the infinite) and come out of it with the biological function of separation (secretion). But are the derivatives of the infinite, contradictory things? It is not unimportant that Archaic thought works with opposite pairs or opposites. The cosmic war, which finds a special place in


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Heraclitus’ thought, is a very old idea that is reflected in the Homeric battle of the gods and is presented in Anaximander’s thought at a theoretical level for the first time. In what form does the infinite contain the opposites in it and how do they develop to form a world, what is their behaviour and mutual relationship, are questions that are enlightened through the content of Fragments 2 and 3. Genesis and Destruction of the Worlds Beginning is an infinite nature out of which all the worlds and situations of decoration are made in them, and the source of which things are made is also the ultimate basis to which they end up being worn out according to necessity. … [And he says that at] the beginning of this world something productive of heat and cold from the eternal being was separated therefrom, and a sort of sphere of this flame surrounded the air about the earth, as bark surrounds a tree; then this sphere was broken into parts and defined into distinct circles, and thus arose the sun and the moon and the stars.

Out of the infinite, seminal forces are formed, being capable of giving birth to dry and fluid, hot and cold. These opposites are here understood as elementary masses distributed in the order of the various regions of the world: the mass of the earth is in the centre, surrounded by the liquid element, after the mass of the air and in close contact with them there is the cosmic fiery “crust”. Anaximander understood these great cosmic sets as opposites: the earth is dry and the water is wet, the heat is hot and the air chilly. These were thus by their very nature at war with each other. Their relationship necessarily entailed the tendency of each to penetrate into the space of its opposite and to gain power against it. On the one hand, the fiery element did not only affect the air, its immediate enemy, but it was able through the air to erode the liquid by changing some of it into water vapour. On the other hand, the cold air could change the water vapour that resulted from the above erosion into a wet matter again. The result of such a war was to break the fiery crust into rings that formed the sun, moon and stars, and partially to reveal the earth that was initially covered with the liquid element. Thus, from the living beings, who were born and

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originally all lived in the sea, certain creatures and among them people were found onshore, deprived of their fish-like characteristics. The worlds in Anaximander undergo constant cycles of genesis and decay: genesis, as the seminal elements are separated each time from the womb—the infinite—and decay as the worlds are reabsorbed by their own source. Anaximander, like Heraclitus, Parmenides and Empedocles, believes in the inevitable cosmic event of death, but this death is not an annihilation here but a prerequisite for new life. Thus, the worlds in Anaximander are mortal and dissolve when they exhaust all their possibilities of existence but, with their death, they return back to the spermatic condition from which they began. From these seeds, the worlds are again regenerated in the same way: the seeds infused by the infinite are preserved fertile, that is, they are capable of giving birth again to opposite elemental cosmic masses. Anaximander wanted to give an answer to the problem of how our world has reached its current stage. And he explains its course by demonstrating the source from which it began. The second problem, which is not unrelated to the first, is how the world works. The function of the world is understood here as a system of opposing forces. The dry and the wet, the hot and the cold and all the opposites that make up the world tend to be mutually eroded by their own nature. Earth and water are necessarily in a state of conflict (dampness, for example, that prevails in a rainy season is presented as a victory of the liquid element on the dry that was dominating before). Fire again and water are by their own nature contrary, and when they meet, their conflict is inevitable: their natural tendency is to neutralize one another, that is, the fire to change the water to water vapour and the water to extinguish the fire. This cosmic war is described in terms of reciprocal justice in the well-known text by Anaximander, as analysed below. Cosmic Justice For these they pay the damages they do and get compensation from each other for injustice they accept according to the definition of time.

All things are here to be controversial. They are described as taking part in a contest and exchanging damage and compensation between them.


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Thus, justice consists of the balance of opposing factors and is achieved by balancing retribution to damage. It is natural when injustice happens to cause the offender’s reaction that then receives compensation sooner or later and satisfaction of the offence. In Anaximander’s text, it is said that compensation for any damage is inevitably given in a timely manner, that is to say, where appropriate, there are time intervals in which one pays for the damage one has done. If, therefore, all compensations are made at regular intervals, the period of injustice should always be followed by a corresponding period of compensation and satisfaction. This relationship of analogy was mythologically expressed in the person of Tantalus, whose punishment was determined from time to time by the very fact that defined his error: the gods accepted him in their society, he ate from the divine food and became immortal, but he stole this food to give it to mortals. His punishment, therefore, was necessarily endless, since he could not die. It is evident that those that participate in this cosmic game of damages and compensations are cosmological opposites that are thus interwoven in mutual relations and represented as members of a state where contributory law prevails. The hypothesis that the justice Anaximander talks about has a place in the infinite should be abandoned. Because it is obvious that the members he means are acting in a hostile way to each other, they are definitely warring members. In the “state” of the world, therefore, the smallest and most basic social unit in which it is possible to understand how to play the game of damage and compensation is not one individual thing, but each pair of opposites. What, then, are the opposites about which Anaximander talks? It seems to be the cosmological factors of all kinds, and, more particularly, the two main pairs of opposites: dry/wet, warm/cold for all the things of our world, both for animals and humans. In the case of the first two ­cosmogenic factors, it is obvious that they are mutually opposite: when one gains power, the other loses it, and it loses as much as its opponent wins. But as time goes by, it develops and forces its opponent to pay the penalty for its insult. It is very natural that the hot tends to erode the cold, the fire the water, the day the night, the winter the summer, and vice versa. But that does not mean that the world is the theatre of a naughty war of all against all. There is a measure governing the actions and reac-

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tions of all. When, for example, a warm thing meets with its weaker water, it “does wrong” to it forcing it to transform into an airy state. Then, an equivalent energy is required from a cold thing, to act on this gas mass to bring it back from the atmosphere to its previous liquid state. There are, of course, limits to the conquering tendencies of the opposites, and they all have equal rights in the world. If the right to act unlimited in the world was recognized to the hot, the world would be destroyed once by fire. And if the liquid could extend indefinitely at the expense of others, the world would be destroyed by floods. Thus, the primacy of one and the other is partial and alternating at regular intervals. Typical phenomena are the summer and the winter that depict exactly the alternating victory of the warm and the cold at the turn of the annual cycle. The temporal regularity in the meteorological phenomena of the universe lies in a balancing order of the opposing factors of the change of the seasons in the annual cycle. Thus, it is possible to understand that differences and disputes are settled by the interested parties themselves, and the world as a whole is a self-regulating system of opposing factors. The reason is that the factor “time” essentially determines the function of justice in the world. All the irregularities of things are definitely marked over the course of time, and things are inevitably compensated for them. Nothing has special privileges in the world to avoid giving the compensation required. Everything is interconnected with everything and subject to reciprocal constraints. It would be impossible to touch one of the factors of the cosmic cluster without overturning the whole. Since, therefore, everything and everybody pays for their errors, i.e. they pay compensations proportionate to the damages they have committed, and because there are limits to dominant and conquering tendencies of things, the world is a self-sufficient, autonomous and self-controlling system of counterbalancing factors. Anaximander’s conception of the world as an autonomous and self-­ reliant organization is probably one of the few examples of genius in this era. Here, particularly functional and important ideas are the following: the world is dominated by an inherent law and not by a supreme power or god; law regulates relationships between opposing cosmological factors, which are all equal; the cycle of justice and retribution does not


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depend on the arbitrary strangeness of a sovereign king rather than a law inherent in the world—a despot that works between equals. This law expresses, in one sense, the principle of causality. If things collide with each other and are willing to pay for the damage they cause, it is self-evident that the opposites are bound in causal relationships between them: some forces are responsible for certain events that would not have happened without their action. Thus, in saying that injustice inevitably brings punishment, Anaximander is declaring that the cause (aitios, originally meaning the person held responsible for something, the guilty one) follows the result. The question that remains to be asked here is what role the infinite plays in the function of cosmic justice. The infinite contains, of course, and rules everything, but we cannot imagine it going into individual differences. Because, if it took the side of one of the warring factions, that would lead to disorganization of the world. The infinite is the highest guarantee of the balance of the world as a whole and not the agent of justice in the world. Therefore, law, by which the relations of opposing cosmological factors are interpreted here, is a law of retaliation or a law of retribution. Thus, Anaximander finds in the human state the plan of the structure and function of the “major state” of the world; or rather he sees the reflection of a social problem in the cosmological problem. The “revolution” that Anaximander performed first in the (re)presentation of the world had somehow been prepared in the mythical tradition. Justice (Dike) expressed the way the whole world exists, and, more particularly, the idea of a dynamic balance of all things, emphasized by the fact that Justice represented a rhythm in the temporal flow of things. In The Iliad, Zeus, Hades and Poseidon are considered equals: here the distribution of the universe in equal shares is illustrated, in the sky, in the sea and in bleak darkness. This just distribution is due to the perception that the gods that dominate in these areas of the world are equal. The mythical tradition, however, did not provide any sure guarantee for the order in the world. Whereas Hesiod had declared the reassuring idea that Zeus represented mighty justice, the very mighty god and his instruments had the power to intervene in the work of the world’s administration and to bring arbitrariness to the detriment of its normal operation. For example, Zeus could arbitrarily intervene in the order of the world and make the sun hide so a day would become a night. An eclipse

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of the sun was, of course, treated not as the result of Zeus’ arbitrariness but as a phenomenon that arouses awe and provides augurs for people. In Homer there had already been some incidents that showed that a deity was able to temporarily suspend the physical order according to its will; for example, Hera intervenes in the operation of nature and arbitrarily disturbs the order of time by making the sun set, despite its will, before the regular time. Again, Athena intervenes arbitrarily and does not allow the regular entrance of the day, thereby prolonging the duration of the night illegally. Sometimes the night comes all at once. In the myth of Thyestes, the paradoxical phenomenon of the reverse course of the sun is presented: Atreus would become a king, if the sun had ever followed the opposite direction in the sky. Indeed, the sun had sunk to the east, and Atreus drove away Thyestes and became a king. Anaximander’s “revolution” appears to go against this realm of arbitrariness and terror, which was behind the apparent stability of heaven and earth, first and foremost. His purpose was to deliver the world from such mythical creatures and provide a scientific explanation that justifies regularity and the stable balance of the world based on certain facts and phenomena of nature. This conception of the world as a comprehensive living and meaningful system was an important and valuable legacy in later philosophy.  Xenophanes Xenophanes, a spirit of revolutionary nature, was strongly against values handed down, against luxury, the excessive appreciation of sports achievements, and, above all, against the anthropomorphic representation of the gods. As an antidote to the criticism of values handed down, Xenophanes came up with wisdom. [Fragment B 2] What if a man win victory in swiftness of foot, or in the pentathlon, at Olympia, where is the precinct of Zeus by Pisa’s springs, or in wrestling,—what if by cruel boxing or that fearful sport men call pankration he become more glorious in the citizens’ eyes, and win a place of honour in the sight of all at the games, his food


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at the public cost from the State, and a gift to be an heirloom for him,—what if he conquer in the chariot-race,—he will not deserve all this for his portion so much as I do. Far better is our art (wisdom-sofia) than the strength of men and of horses! These are but thoughtless judgements, nor is it fitting to set strength before goodly art (sofia). Even if there arise a mighty boxer among a people, or one great in the pentathlon or at wrestling, or one excelling in swiftness of foot—and that stands in honour before all tasks of men at the games— the city would be none the better governed for that. It is but little joy a city gets of it if a man conquer at the games by Pisa’s banks; it is not this that makes fat the store-houses of a city.

What is this sofia that is shown here as superior to the power of men and horses? And what is the value and importance of the power of the spirit that is just to be considered superior to physical strength? The word wisdom does not have the meaning we give to it. The expression our sofia (ημέτερησοφιή: emetere sofie) means: our craft in our own art. Art, which here means poetry and good wisdom, serves, according to the order of the discourse, the thinker’s belief that when the poet composes his discourse with craftsmanship and power, he is of greater importance and value than a champion, for sofia (wisdom/art) in this sense has the power to act to improve the order in the state. Therefore, sofia, as in the ancient Greek language in general, means craftsmanship in an art, and it is natural that when a poet says our own sofia, he means his own art and his fellow artists, that is, poetic art. Xenophanes also addressed some problems about the nature, boundaries and function of human knowledge, as shown in the following fragments: [Fragment B 34] There never was nor will be a man who has certain knowledge about the gods and about all the things I speak of. Even if he should chance to say the complete truth, yet he himself knows not that it is so. But all may have their fancy.

[Fragment B 35] Let these be taken as fancies something like the truth.

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Xenophanes’ thought moves, it seems, between two levels of reality: between the one, representing the dominant divine factor, and all the specific things that are made and worn out. The unborn, immovable and un-ruined divine moves all that are born, all variable and perishable things. At both levels of reality, Xenophanes does not recognize any possibility of pure and definitive knowledge. Sources of knowledge are experience and induction. What illuminates the process of knowledge is speculation and hypothesis or supposition. As far as the things of the world are concerned, Xenophanes is an empiricist. The knowledge here is not entirely verifiable on the basis of empirical data because the possibilities of direct observation are limited to people. Thus, he distinguishes those things that are obvious, empirical, perceived, and those that we simply conclude or speculate about. In the latter case, this is just a possibility. For the first time we come across in the history of philosophical reflection the concept of probability. Observation is here methodically distinguished from theoretical hypothesis. True are those things that are empirically verified, and those that are taken for granted are probable if they look like the true ones. The criterion for the certainty and validity of knowledge is the ability to verify it based on our experience. However, since we cannot limit ourselves to those things that are empirically verifiable, we resort to assumptions that are simply probable knowledge. The probability of a theoretical acceptance depends on its degree of similarity to true, real empirical data. It is clear, therefore, that Xenophanes’ attitude towards the problem of knowledge reveals a critical and rational spirit. This is further highlighted by a passage that shows that Xenophanes’ thought was alien to a dogmatic attitude towards things: [Fragment B 38] If god had not made brown honey, we would think figs far sweeter than we do.

With this example, he states that quality is presented in things in a grading that makes them have a relative character. Why, if there were no honey in nature, we would have the impression that figs are much sweeter than they now taste since there is honey. Xenophanes, therefore, seems to


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have an idea of the relative character of qualities, which fits well with the whole critical mind-set of his thought.  Heraclitus Just as Miletus in a period of great prosperity shaped a thinker like Anaximander, Ephesus gave birth to Heraclitus. This city was at the acme of its prosperity in the sixth century BCE and garnered great wealth through trade. There was a strong class of traders, whose power, of course, was based on wealth. The rupture between the old nobles and the ever-­ rising commercial plutocratic class was inevitable. And those who lost out in that controversy were the nobles, as we have seen. Heraclitus was an aristocrat, the son of an old royal family (but he had greatly conceded his royal rights to his brother). As an aristocrat, as he saw the rise of democratic forces in his society, it was natural for him to have feelings of dissatisfaction about the course of social and political affairs. But even though Heraclitus was a “reactionary”, in the history of philosophy he must be seen as a great spirit and for centuries to the present day he has been amazing the world with the magnitude and power of his thought. But this new spirit that Heraclitus brought to the world was paradoxical. The writing of his thought is esoteric, polygonal, plastic, and his discourse has an esoteric meaning that is not easily revealed. The fragments that have been saved are, for the most part, aphorisms, short phrases, with dense and comprehensive meanings which are architecturally structured and written in encoded language, full of ambiguous words; they are fragments that require special treatment, if their meaning is to make sense. The various difficulties with interpretation that are presented in the area of Pre-Socratic thought generally are magnified in Heraclitus. That is why Heraclitus was considered difficult to understand and that is why he is called “The Obscure”. His obscurity seems to be due to the form of discourse, his elaborate style and the polysemy of the terms he uses. Heraclitus’ teaching can be summarized in the following main propositions:

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• The world moves incongruously. The change of the world (of the social world, too) is the continuum and constant feature of its course. This is the theory of universal flow. • The world is not a static structure that a god or man has built but is an everlasting living fire that flashes constantly in moderation and social proportions. • The world is constantly in a state of conflict. War is the father and king of all. • All the conflicting forces of the world end in harmony. The cosmic war is not being carried out in an irregular manner. There is a constant regularity and lawmaking that governs all movements, changes and opposing moments of things.

Movement and Change Heraclitus expressed the idea that the world is a current that is constantly moving with the image of a river. If the world presents the image of the river whose waters flow unceasingly, then the unbridled movement of the world is the only aspect of its existence: [Fragment Β 12] Ever-newer waters flow on those who step into the same rivers

[Fragment Β 91] It is not possible to step twice into the same river … the waters are scattered and brought together again … they form and dissolve, and they approach and depart.

The Fire [Fragment Β 30] This world, which is the same for all, no one of gods or men has made. But it always was, is, and will be: an ever-living Fire, which is kindled with measures, and goes out with measures.


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[Fragment Β 31] The transformations of fire: first, sea; and of the sea half is earth, half fiery lightning … Earth spreads like Sea pours out, and is measured by the same amount as before it became earth.

[Fragment Β 90] All things are an interchange for fire, and fire for all things, just like goods for gold and gold for goods

[Fragment Β 64] All things are ruled by the Thunderbolt

In Fragment B 30, Heraclitus rejects the view that this world, the decorated and harmoniously ordered whole of the world, is a divine or human creation. And he asserts that no god or man has ever called the world into existence and life. Heraclitus’ view that he proposes as an antidote is that the world has never had a beginning and will never have an end: the world has existed for ever, it exists and will always exist, because it is eternal living fire that lights and fades away with measure. The fire is eternally alive and lives with death and rejuvenation in other forms. There are two opposing movements of transformation of the fire that are the very movement of life in the world: the one movement is earth– sea–fire and the other fire–sea–earth (in Fragment B 31). The first movement deletes the upward path and is the path in which the fire fires with a defined change rate, and the second deletes the downward path, the course in which the fires goes out according to a certain measure of change. The proportions are respected in all transformations, because the whole course of being is circular and thus the upward and downward path is one (in Fragment B 60): for example, what gives the dry element is replenished by marine fumes. Thus, fire, which Heraclitus uses to express the variability of all things, the continual plasticity and eternal life of the world is never consumed by everything and is, despite their constant changes, the source of the life of the world.

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The sun was for him the most eloquent phenomenon that daily confirmed his view that the movements in the world are subject to a constant law. As in Fragment B 30, fire is interrelated to the concept of measure, depending on where the sun represents the cosmic fire that is subject to a certain law. Heraclitus asserts: [Fragment Β 94] The sun will not overstep its measures; if it does, the Erinyes, the handmaids of Justice (Dike), will find it out and bring it back in order.

The law-order to which the sun is subject is to follow a certain orbit in space and time, to rise and set at specified hours and at specified points of the horizon. The world is presented here as the image of the sun. It is the most characteristic, impressive and immediately perceived of all natural phenomena that shows that a physical body follows faithfully and unceasingly a certain regularity of movements. And the principle of measure as in all natural things is presented in the form of Justice (Dike) that represents the natural way of the existence of all things.

War [Fragment Β 89] One must know that war is common to all and strife is justice, and that all things come into being through strife and necessity.

[Fragment Β 53] War is the father and king of all: some he has made gods, and some men; some slaves and some free.

War seems to be here a name that denotes the common power that moves all things. If everything is done in accordance with this war, which is a common factor to all, and this is necessity, this does not mean that


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the world gives the image of a dramatic conflict and is guided by an evil principle. War or strife is obvious, the dominant power of the world, but it does not favour any of the conflicting parties; it is a common factor of all the conflicting forces of the world, impartial and just. Strife even forms the basis of cosmic justice. A world of peace would not, of course, need justice. In Fragment B 53, war is shown as the generative and dominant power of all. War is father and king. His children and his citizens are all the concrete things between them and people. After that, war is indicative of the historical battlefield. It distinguishes gods and people first and then separates slaves and free people. In the latter case, it is obvious that war assumes its common meaning. Winners in a war are free and the defeated become slaves.

Unity of the Opposites [Fragment Β 67] god is day and night, winter and summer, war and peace, surfeit and hunger; but he takes various shapes, just as fire, when it is mingled with spices, is named according to the pleasure of each.

[Fragment Β 10] Units are whole and not whole, what is drawn together and what is drawn asunder, the harmonious and the discordant. The one is made up of all things, and all things are made up of the one.

[Fragment Β 51] It is not understood what opposes to itself agrees with itself. Opposing harmony is like the arc and the lyre.

[Fragment Β 54] The invisible harmony is superior to the visible one.

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[Fragment Β 123] Nature loves to hide.

If the fragments of war (Fragments 80 and 53) are attempting to define the law of contradiction, Fragments 10 and 67 express the view on the unity of opposites. But why does Heraclitus use the term god to declare that the opposite is the one? The use of this term is obviously emotional and Heraclitus would like to refer to the meaning of the one and only cosmic factor, which is illustrated with the qualities of god and divine law. This divine factor, constituting the unity of all opposites, is called here god, but it could also be called reason (logos), the wise or even war. Heraclitus’ view is that the opposites constitute a unity, since one goes to the other. Because if the day becomes night and the night becomes day, if the winter goes to the summer and summer goes to the winter, if war brings peace and peace brings war, if satiation leads to hunger and hunger leads to satiation, one cannot doubt about the unity of the opposites. The reason (logos) that runs through the opposites is common, and, therefore, the proportion of their mutual transformations is determined by internal law. On the other hand, in contrast to a whole, opposing qualities or situations that coexist in a single entity, it is obvious that they are considered in their unity. Sea water, for example, is both the cleanest and the dirtiest; it is drinkable for fish and salvation for people but non-drinkable and devastating (in Fragment B 61). In the mysteries the sacred and the profane coexist (in Fragment B 14), the good and the evil belong at the same time to the sick who are operated on by doctors (in Fragment B 58), the just and the unjust to the god, the ugly and the nice, the good and the evil are (opposites for the people who distinguish them) the one (in Fragment B 102), the Beginning and the end in the circle is the one (in Fragment B 103), straight and crooked characterize the movement of the screw (in Fragment B 59), life and death coexist in the bow, whose name is life (bios). Another view on the unity of the opposites stated in Heraclitus’ text, although with few examples, is the view on the interdependence of ­opposites. If there were no injustice in the world, we would not have


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known Justice (Dike) at all (in Fragment B 23), if there were no sun, the night would have made no sense. The same interdependence occurs between the opposites sickness/health, fatigue/rest (in Fragment B 111), living/dying, new or young/aged, sleeping/awake (in Fragment B 88), cold/hot, wet/dry (in Fragment B 126). The one is only conceivable in terms of its dependence on the other, its opposite. Finally, Heraclitus expresses the view of the synthesis of the opposites: those which are contrary are synthesized and what disagrees is led to agreement and harmony. This view is generally expressed (in Fragments B 10 and 51), but we do not find examples of specific opposites in their composition within the text. There is only the image of the river that scatters its currents and gathers them again (in Fragment B 91). The important thing in Heraclitus’ thought is that what is good for one can be bad for the other; objective reality is governed by laws that have no absolute “moral” sense of justice.  Anaxagoras The dialectics of Heraclitus’ thought continues in Anaxagoras’ work. [Fragment Β 8] The things that are in one order are not divided nor cut off from one another with an axe, neither the warm from the cold nor the cold from the warm.

The aforementioned fragment seems to be in favour of Heraclitus’ view that the opposites are interconnected and that one cannot exist without the other. In Anaxagoras’ philosophy the opposites are not considered to be constituent substances like seeds, but in any case all things share their properties in a way that is otherwise justified in the original mass of matter. The question, which is fundamental, refers to the nature of the opposites. Are the opposites simple properties of things? The particular function of opposites is to act as agents of changes and transformations of matter. But their action requires that the opposites be regarded as points on a continuous line. That is why it is said that in the united world the opposites have not been separated from each other

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“with an axe”. As in the original material mass, so in all things of the world the opposites appear internally connected. Otherwise it would not be possible for a hot thing to become cold, dry to become wet, bright dark and vice versa. Thus, in order to describe the internal structure of the formed world in relation to the primitive matter out of which it has emerged, Anaxagoras offers an additional argument to support his general position that “there are proportions of everything in the whole”. All things contain parts, not only seeds and materials of the unformed matter, but also the specific opposing things of this world in its formed state: hot–cold, wet–dry, and so on.

7.3.2 Ancient Philosophy in Magna Graecia Of similar importance with Ionic thought was the philosophy that was developed in Magna Graecia (Lower Italy). Here, we will discuss two proponents with corresponding saved fragments that are related to the subject of our study: Alcmaeon of Croton and Empedocles of Acragas (Agrigentum).  Alcmaeon of Croton Alcmaeon of Croton claims that health is the equality of forces and is a state in which fluid, dry, cold, warm, bitter, sweet and the rest have equal rights; in contrast, monarchy among them, that is, the individual sovereignty of one element over the others, creates disease. Health, on the contrary, is a symmetrical blending of qualities. In a system, its basic forces, although they may be opposing, are in principle equivalent. When they balance, the system works harmoniously. Harmony is disturbed when a force gains power over its normal measure, and disharmony is the imbalance caused by illness. Health is the result of the equal distribution of the strength of each of the constitutive qualities the body consists of. If this balance of constituent forces is disturbed, and one force prevails over others, the result is sickness. Thus, treatment, which means restoring the disturbed balance, involves putting in order the force that violated the principle of equal rights in the state of


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the body. Of course, the question arises as to whether there is an underpinning for Alcmaeon’s political idea here, that is, monarchy is a form of government that is observed in morbid social organizations, while democracy is a form of governance of healthy states.  Empedocles of Acragas (Agrigentum) Within the same framework as Alcmaeon’s, Empedocles formulates his theory that the world has its roots in four points, and that its movements are regulated by two opposing forces: love (philotes) and strife (neikos). The equivalence of elements and forces ensures the normal cyclical course of the world, that is, the constant exchange of periods of cosmic evolution: [Fragment B 17] I shall tell thee a twofold tale. At one time it grew to be one only out of many; at another, it divided up to be many instead of one. There is a double becoming of perishable things and a double passing away. The coming together of all things brings one generation into being and destroys it; the other grows up and is scattered as things become divided. And these things never cease continually changing places, at one time all uniting in one through Love, at another each borne in different directions by the repulsion of Strife. Thus, as far as it is their nature to grow into one out of many, and to become many once more when the one is parted asunder, so far they come into being and their life abides not. But, inasmuch as they never cease changing their places continually, so far they are ever immovable as they go round the circle of existence. A period of growing love (philotes).

[Fragment Β 35] But now I shall retrace my steps over the paths of song that I have travelled before, drawing from my saying a new saying. When Strife was fallen to the lowest depth of the vortex, and Love had reached to the centre of the whirl, in it do all things come together so as to be one only; not all at once, but coming together at their will each from different quarters; and, as they mingled, strife began to pass out to the furthest limit. Yet many things remained unmixed,

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alternating with the things that were being mixed, namely, all that Strife not fallen yet retained; for it had not yet altogether retired perfectly from them to the outermost boundaries of the circle. Some of it still remained within, and some had passed out from the limbs of the All. But in proportion as it kept rushing out, a soft, immortal stream of blameless Love kept running in, and straightway those things became mortal which had been immortal before, those things were mixed that had before been unmixed, each changing its path. And, as they mingled, countless tribes of mortal creatures were scattered abroad endowed with all manner of forms, a wonder to behold.

Based on the fragmentary presentation of the various phases of this cosmogenic course, we infer that the present phase of the world is justified only at the time when the force of Strife (Neikos) is in its development. Surely, the world in its present state is a world of motion and multiplicity. It is not a world without controversy and conflicts, and, consequently, we must not be in the phase of the triumph of Love (Philotes). It is not a broken world either, and, therefore, we are not in the state of Strife (Neikos). The world tends to go towards disorder and is on a course of increasing “entropy”. It is, therefore, going through that stage in which Strife’s (Neikos) force is growing more and more. We have left the happy world of Love (Philotes) behind us and we are heading towards Hate that is in full growth.

7.3.3 The Followers At the end of the Archaic period and at the advent of the classical, a series of eminent philosophers continued to follow the philosophy advocated by the Pre-Socratic philosophers of Ionia and Magna Graecia on the issues they raised. We discuss two of them here in relation to the present study in preparation for the later discussion of the Sophists. The first we discuss is Archelaus from Athens who is mentioned as Socrates’ teacher.  Archelaus from Athens According to what is characteristic to Ionian physics, Archelaus undertook to explain genetically the origin of morals, law, state, and culture in


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general. He may have been influenced by the thought of his contemporary Protagoras, but such a connection cannot be asserted for certain due to the lack of any historical testimony. Archelaus taught that law and the bad are such by their own nature, instead of them being unconventional. It is most likely that Archelaus explained, when describing the origin of morals, law and the state, that justice was formed gradually in different peoples, and depends on the mainstream views, on law that has not been developed evenly everywhere, that is, justice is not by nature; it is not in reality but it is in the dominant and mainstream opinion.  Democritus The most important of the followers of the Pre-Socratic philosophers and Socrates’ contemporary is Democritus, who became a leading figure of the democracy of Abdera (Thrace, Greece). Democritus proposed some interesting views on epistemological issues, as shown at least in the following passages from the existing fragments: [Fragment B 9] Sweet exists by convention, bitter by convention, colour by convention; atoms and Void (alone) exist in reality.

[Fragment Β 117] We know nothing in reality; for truth lies in an abyss.

[Fragment Β 102] In all things, equality is fair. On the contrary, excess and deficiency are not good, in my opinion.

[Fragment Β 171] Happiness does not dwell in flocks of cattle or in gold. The soul is the dwelling-­ place of the (good and evil) genius.

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Furthermore, Democritus repudiates the widespread belief in fate and fortune, and explains that fortune or luck is a find and creature of undecided and weak-willed people. [Fragment B 119] Men have fashioned an image of Chance as an excuse for their own stupidity. For Chance rarely conflicts with Intelligence, and the well-balanced sharp sightedness set most things in life can be set in order.

In addition to the above, a great leap in the concept of freedom is carried out by Democritus in three respects. Firstly, in Democritus the concept of freedom and slavery is standardized. Secondly, the concept of freedom is based on the standardized situation of the free citizen of the democratic cities of Greece at the time of the triumph of democracy (fifth century BCE). Thirdly, the stabilization of the position of the free person identified him with the free citizen, and freedom assumed the concept of political freedom. It was Democritus who, for the first time in the history of human thought, sees humanity as an active element in history. In Heraclitus, we find the assertion that the law of the struggle of opposites acts objectively, regardless of the will of humanity. In Democritus we have the possibility of the free person choosing the political regime under which he wants to live, the regime that guarantees the maximum limit to freedom. So, Democritus places before the man-citizen the problem of choice: If an authoritarian, dynastic regime is supposed to give him more prosperity, must he sacrifice democracy? In other words, must political freedom be sacrificed on the altar of “prosperity” that deprives man of his freedom? For the philosopher of the age of democracy, life within a democratic constitution is identical to freedom, that is, the position of the free person, whereas life without political freedom is identical to slavery. Now, even if democracy happens to be poor, this should not make the person choose the so-called “prosperity” of a despotic regime. Thus, freedom acquires a double definition, and the position of the free person acquires a double meaning: one who is not a slave is free, and the citizen of democracy is truly free. Life under despotic regimes is the


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status of being slave. For the citizen of the democratic cities of the fifth century BCE the choice was self-evident: As you cannot prefer the status of the slave to the position of the free, you cannot prefer the “prosperity” that a despotic regime can offer you over the poverty that can make your life difficult under the regime of democracy. Man has the ability, Democritus asserts, to change bad into good, harmful into beneficial. Where Heraclitus will say that the sea is the element in which only the fish can live while it is disastrous for humans, Democritus will say that humans found a way to float, thus overcoming the danger and being able to benefit from the deep waters. Therefore, humans are able to escape the bad, transform it into the beneficial, change the forces of death into forces of life, and with this position he gives the measure of his belief that the citizen of the fifth century BCE had against various forces, that is, the measure of freedom against forces that stood hostile to it. It cannot go unnoticed the leap that Democritus’ dialectics makes vis-à-vis Heraclitus’ dialectics. But in Fragment 172, this leap in dialectics acquires more significance, because it is connected with humans: humans can act upon nature by transforming their art and craftsmanship into something beneficial. The boundaries of human freedom thus are overcome through the very action of humans. Humans, by their actions, can be freed from the bonds that their nature imposes, transforming evil into good, altering into life factors that were once the factors of death. Humans can act on their h ­ istorical destiny, expanding the limits of their freedom. They can act on their psychic world by freeing themselves from the fear of the supernatural, from the fairy-tales of post-mortem torture, since they have true knowledge as their weapon.

7.3.4 The Sophists The end of the Archaic period witnessed a new philosophical movement: the Sophists. The Sophists openly questioned the total sovereignty of the city over the individual and proclaimed the equality and freedom of the citizens. They denied the legitimacy of the institution of slavery and the purpose of the sterile nationalism of Greek cities. They were the first to recognize natural law as a basis for respect for human dignity. That was one more

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reason why they came into conflict with the aristocratic regime, which at every turn blamed them or expelled them. The Sophists established what later would be the trilogy (or trivinium) of the seven medieval free sciences: rhetoric, grammar and dialectics. These three pillars of the sophistic system had three philosophical bases: • Ethical Relativism: What is considered to be right or wrong differs from society to society; therefore, everyone’s ethics are relativistic. The moral for each individual consists of many factors, which are subjective on that basis. • Ethical Cynicism: Since morality prevents one from taking advantage of the circumstances, why should one be moral? The sophists argued that social ethics is shaped on the basis of self-imposed criteria that exploit the individual and often goes against everyone’s own interests. So why should one not follow one’s own “ethics”? • Philosophical Scepticism: If everything entails a variety of views, why then should a single view be considered right or known? Since all things are subjective and each person perceives reality from a different perspective, there are many truths and not just one that everyone is called to accept as the most correct. The Sophists were the first to take on the radical control of all the traditional beliefs based on a methodical and demanding rationality, and were the first to attempt to interpret the world and life in relation to man and only man. They were the first to highlight the relativity of knowledge and pave the way not only for free thinking but also for absolute doubt vis-à-vis metaphysics, morality and religion. They were the first to reach the extreme limits of rationalism and scepticism. The most important proponents of the Sophists that we will examine in the present study are Protagoras, Gorgias, Isocrates and Antiphon.  Protagoras Protagoras was born in 481 BCE. He was one of Democritus’ pupils, and adopted many elements of his philosophy, such as the materialistic view


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of everything and the individuality of being. He is considered the first professional (thus, paid) sophist and a pioneer of his kind. Protagoras respected the democratic virtues of justice, other people’s opinion and the processes of peaceful persuasion as the foundation of community life and the necessity of community life for the very survival of the human race. In general, as he argues, the subject of teaching is private wisdom, so that one can rule one’s home as well as one can, and in politics exercise one’s ability to lead it to the best in words and actions. There are at least two main treatises by Protagoras: (1) (About) Truth. This is a model of irresistible arguments. Protagoras creates a new world where the gods no longer have a role. This means that the Sophist resigns from any relationship with being. He started with the phrase “man is the measure (of everything)”. This principle by Protagoras means that “being” goes back to the phenomena: there is no truth beyond the senses and personal views. The proposition is applicable both to the senses and to all judgements: our assessments of good and bad are subjective and relativistic. They have no value but for ourselves. (2) Antilogiae (lit. counter-arguments) or contrasting arguments (dissoi logoi). This dissertation consists of two books in which Protagoras taught how to support two different views. He professes that there are two positions on anything. The author prefers one, but he defends both. If we accept that for each position (thesis) there is an opposition (antithesis), and that one can choose and support either, then the whole tradition of contrasting arguments, where two parallel views collide through two parallel long-term debates and arguments, is of importance. Protagoras is considered to be the oldest and most important founder of the anti-technocratic theory of politics. The principle that applies to all arts and sciences, the sovereignty of specialists, is recognized as just right for politics. And this art has to be practised only by the experts who really know it, and only they can apply it properly. However, specialists in the science and art of politics are all, “everybody”, the normal people. And

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since they are all experts in politics, everyone can and should be able to exercise their skill and participate directly in state administration. This can only be achieved under the regime of direct democracy, which guarantees citizens the freedom and equality of civil rights. Protagoras establishes his theory of politics in his social philosophy. This very important aspect of his worldview is identified in its basic points with the corresponding aspect of Democritus’ worldview. He exposes it with the help of the well-known myth of Prometheus. The history of humanity is an upward course in general, from inferior to superior. Humans were created in a certain phase of evolution of nature after other animals had been created, as beings non-social and compelled to fight for their lives and their survival. In this struggle they discovered (with Prometheus’ help) the artificial production of fire and the various practical arts necessary for the satisfaction of their material needs. Humans were still non-social, unable to live in organized groups, in society and state, and, thus, could not deal with wild beasts effectively. In their efforts to overcome that great danger, they discovered political art, the art of social coexistence and the administration of the state. This art, according to the myth, was given to the people by Zeus (through Hermes). The knowledge of politics is available to all people since they become social beings and to the extent that they need to be social beings. This art, like all others, is acquired. It is achieved by training by appropriate teachers. The best teacher of politics is the democratic city-state. The purpose of existence in the city-state is the acquisition of knowledge and the exercise of politics by all citizens and, with its institutions, status and cultural life, it produces and reproduces knowledge of science and the art of politics by all citizens. His theory establishes the basic principles of the regime of direct democracy, and, more particularly, the institution of the election of the rulers by lottery and the principle of majority; that is, decisions on the most important issues of the state should be made by the people, the whole population, based on the opinion of the majority. Protagoras refutes the existence of absolute truths and acknowledges only relativistic “objective” truths. The most right is the true one. The criterion of truth is relativistic. So, in no majority can we recognize the monopoly of truth. Any majority can make mistakes, and these mistakes


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can make the minority stand up and persuade the majority with arguments for the correctness of their own views. This will only happen in conditions of free speech and in the free expression of all opinions. Protagoras was the legislator of the Panhellenic colony of Thourioi, founded by Pericles’ encouragement. The rule of Thourioi could only be democratic, because the people were inspired by the constitution of Athens.  Gorgias Gorgias was born in 483  BCE, and is known as the “nihilist” of the Sophists. Tradition says that he was Empedocles’ pupil, and Plato associates his name with the Empedoclean Resource Theory. Gorgias identifies himself as a teacher of rhetoric and admits that his art concerns debates in the courts and in the Ecclesia of Demos (assembly of the people). He was a sort of an “itinerant orator” or a sophist teacher. He practised the art of rhetoric in many cities and organized public exhibitions of his rhetorical skills in the great Panhellenic centres of Olympia and Delphi. A special feature of his exhibitions was to challenge a variety of questions from the audience and to give answers without preparation. Gorgias’ rhetorical method was based on a relativistic philosophy similar to that of Protagoras. If there were some truth that was universally valid and could have been transmitted to another, then undoubtedly only that truth, backed up by undeniable testimonies, had to be conveyed, but for the Sophists this kind of truth did not exist.  Isocrates Isocrates, for his part, defended democracy. In On the Peace he judges the imperialistic politics of Athens and Sparta. He praises the ancestral democracy for the good understanding that had been secured between the people, especially among the rich and the poor, and, as the highest honour of democracy, he stresses the reconciliation that followed the fall of the Thirty Tyrants—a reconciliation that would be the prime symbol of concord and peace for all.

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  169  Antiphon A very significant extract by Antiphon shows how deeply the social and political thought of the Sophists had reached, in their perception that nature gives birth to all people equal and free and that by nature no one is destined to be rich or poor, Greek or barbarian. Social conditions make us respect those who are born to good homes; while those who are of humble origin we despise. Thus, we all become barbarian in our relations with our fellow human beings, despite the fact that we have all been born equal by nature—both the barbarians and the Greeks—and we are all endowed by nature with the same necessary organs, without discrimination, since we all breathe with the mouth and nose and eat with our hands, says Antiphon (Fragment 44). No further or special analysis is needed. The meaning of the aforementioned fragment comes out crystal clear. The first lines refer to social ­discrimination, and from them Antiphon begins to openly say to the Greeks that they should not pride themselves on their freedom—and their difference from the “barbarians”—because they themselves also behave like the barbarians when they bow their heads to wealth and descent, when they forget people’s natural equality and they respect and fear those who descend from “good ancestors”. With Antiphon, the Sophist who lived in the second half of the fifth century BCE, the concept of freedom still makes a big step. The one who is free is not someone who enjoys the rights of the citizen of the democratic city, but the person who does not recognize any special privileges for anyone and accepts no discrimination between the superior and inferior; that person is only conscious of people’s natural equality—whether they are Greeks or barbarians. Otherwise, he becomes barbarian himself. Undoubtedly, Antiphon’s political thought follows the perception of the initial concept of people’s equality as we saw it in Democritus, and so we have reached the concept of class distinction within the democratic city. This proponent of the enlightenment of the fifth century BCE draws a distinction between natural and positive law (ius positum; human-made law) to show that positive law and, consequently, every power has a despotic character, and is contrary and hostile to nature because laws define what the eyes should see and what they should not, what the ears should


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hear and what they should not, what language must say and what not and what to do with the hands and the legs; they even monitor the mind as to what it must want and what it should not. Laws rather prevent people from being closer to nature than encourage them, says Antiphon, to move on to another concept of freedom. For Antiphon, what is from nature is “true”, what is from law he calls common belief or popular opinion, “doxa”. Regarding the belief that anyone who violates the law without being caught goes unpunished, Antiphon argues that if one violates nature, the harm that is done is the same whether he or she is caught or not and that when one violates nature, one is done harm not because people think so or because he violated human laws but because he violated the truth.  C  ontrasting Arguments (Dissoi Logoi) of the Sophists, Thrasymachus and Power How the Sophists rejected the absoluteness of concepts such as law and injustice,the good and the bad, and showed their relativism as “to whom/ which” is illustrated in the following statements and arguments: The fish do not live out of the water, humans do not live in the water, the fall of Troy was good for the Achaeans but bad for Trojans, the victory of Sparta in the war with Athens would be good for the Spartans and bad for the Athenians, illness is good for the doctors and bad for the sick, the worn-­ out shoes are good for shoe-maker but bad for the consumers, and so on. It is conspicuous that the true originator of the art of contrasting arguments (dissoi logoi) is Heraclitus; it is directly connected with the dialectics of this Ephesian philosopher, who first put forward the general concepts—good, bad, just, unjust—to test their relationship with a particular subject (e.g. the sea is saving for fish but pernicious for man, therefore what is good for one subject is bad for another, and so on). It was only natural that this dialectical logic came to extend to the problem of freedom and its related problem of power. It is fortunate that the brightest sample of dissoi logoi (contrasting arguments)—such a burning problem—has been preserved for so many centuries, and it is ironic that this bright sample of the method (which is

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Heraclitus’ by origin) has been saved thanks to its greatest enemy, Plato: in the dialogue of Thrasymachus with Socrates, in his book Republic. In the first book of the Republic, which was intended to be an autonomous dialogue “about justice”, the important but unrecognized Sophist Thrasymachus supports the view that there is no general law for all, that there is one law in one place and another in another place, and if there is any general law, it is only the law of the stronger—the one who holds the power (this is one of the most remarkable elements of the dialogue: that Thrasymachus means the law of the stronger as an enforcement of law that serves the interests of the social stratum that possesses and exercises power). Other cities, says Thrasymachus, have tyranny, others democracy, others oligarchy. Each of these regimes makes laws in its own interest: ­democracy makes laws that serve the interests of the demos (the people), tyranny makes tyrannical laws, and so on, and each regime reinforces these laws as “just” to the ruled. Consequently, Thrasymachus concludes that there is no general definition of law; law is what interests those who hold and exercise the power, and whoever violates it is considered to be an offender, he is lawless and punished. The established authority, whatever it is, enforces its own law with the power that is given to it; it enforces its own law with the power that it is given by state power, and so everywhere law is one—and this is the only generalized concept of law: the law that benefits and gives advantage to the stronger, that is, the power holders. What Thrasymachus offers as the only definition of law for any reasonable man, Socrates will try to reverse with the arguments of “art”. Every art has an interest in practising as perfectly as possible, serving the best of those who depend on it. Medicine serves the interests of the sick, horsemanship the horse’s interest, the captain of the ship the sailor’s interest, the shepherd the interest of his flock. Thrasymachus will fight back with the elementary argument that the shepherd does not care and does not grow the sheep for their own sake but for the sake of their boss. Law belongs to the one who holds the power, to the stronger. To the weaker, the ascending and the ruled, only the harm belongs. Injustice rules the naive, the just and brings them to do what interests their ruler, and this is done everywhere—in both private and public life—and culminates in the most complete injustice that


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makes happy the unjust and unhappy the just and those who refuse to become unjust. This perfect injustice is nothing but tyranny. If a private person commits one of the offences committed by the tyranny, he will face a heavy punishment; he will be termed a thief, a sacrosanct, adulterated, a burglar, an offender. But when one seizes not only the property of the citizens, but also one enslaves them, this person will not hear any of these pejorative words. On the contrary, he will be praised that he has managed to reach the peak of injustice, Thrasymachus claims bitterly before coming to a seemingly unexpected conclusion: Complete injustice is stronger than justice; it fits more to the free and to the one who wants to rule. The Sophist has made an extremely complete analysis of the character of power by calling things by their own name, removing the “moral” encirclement with which Socrates wrapped up the concept of “justice” and power. All the analysis by Thrasymachus puts to the test the Socratic conception that rulers are the “shepherds” and the ruled the flock, a conception that contains two elements: on the one hand, the citizen is deprived of a subject, and, on the other hand, the good of the “flock” depends on the shepherd’s ability, thus preparing the ground for the shape of the ideal state (Republic) that would be governed by the philosopher-­kings with absolute powers. Thrasymachus strongly criticizes Socrates for his own perception. The Sophist takes the opposite position: As the shepherds take care of their sheep and oxen for the good of their boss and not for the good of the sheep themselves, so the rulers when they are real rulers—when they have substantial powers—are concerned about how they will benefit and not how they will benefit those under their authority. So, Thrasymachus arrives at the notion of “the alien good” (allotrio agatho), the good that belongs to the other, and with it he defines justice. The concept of the “alien” good is important since it explicitly states that justice is a good from which one can get alienated, be deprived of; a good that can be appropriated by the “other” (person) and used to the detriment of those who lack it. Thus, the “alien” becomes an extremely dynamic concept that contains the relationship of the ruler and the ruled, and acquires its specific meaning with the noun that completes it: justice is agathon—a good, some-

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thing that benefits. The point is that it is not a general good, it is not for all, but only for those who have the power to hold it and benefit from it; it is in fact the interest of the stronger. For those who are deprived of it, it is “alien”, but good for others. But even the “persuaded and serving” themselves, the subordinates and the ruled do what is in the ruler’s interest, whereas whatever they do is harmful to them; they make the ruler happy but not themselves. Therefore, the ruled (people) themselves are in fact an “alien good”, the good for others and not themselves, thus they themselves become alienated. Thrasymachus’ alien good contains the notion of alienation, the concept that came to play an important role in later philosophical and political thought through an in-depth exploration of the concept of freedom.

References Descombes, V. (1980). Le même et l’autre. Quarante-cinq ans de philosophie française (1933–1978). Paris: Editions de Minuit, 1979. Trans. Modern French Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980. Engels, F. Anti-Dühring. Available at works/1877/anti-duhring/index.htm. Accessed 3 Nov 2017. Graham, D.W. (ed.) (2010). The Texts of Early Greek Philosophy: The Complete Fragments and Selected Testimonies of the Major Presocratics, 2 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Heidegger, M. (2000). Introduction to Metaphysics, Trans. Gregory Fried and Richard Polt. New Haven: Yale University Press. Hussey, E. (1972). The Pre-Socratics. London: G. Duckworth & Co. Kirk, G. S., Raven, J. E., & Schofield, M. (1983). The Presocratic Philosophers (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Luchte, J. (2011). Early Greek Thought: Before the Dawn. London: Bloomsbury Publishing. Marx, K., and Engels, F. The German Ideology. Available at Accessed 3 Nov 2017.

8 Concluding Note

What has motivated me to make this long journey into the past and why have I chosen this era? Like any written text, so its author is the product of his/her time. I live in Greece, in a country where policies are implemented and their victims are the people of the country; rights that have been won by decades of struggles have just been lost, and democracy has disappeared. At the same time, in this situation where transnational/ state/corporate crimes are normal, criminological (and not that only) thought, apart from a few exceptions, is absent, and when it declares itself present, it simultaneously declares its faith in the TINA theory (i.e. There Is No Alternative). Bleak darkness has fallen, and the worst is that at the present moment there is a new evil coming, that most people are beginning to get used to this situation, to legitimize it; it has becoming their habitus, their second nature. We ought to react with actions and words. And with regard to the latter, we have to keep the flame of hope lit, in the way we know, with the tools and concepts we have learned. We have to support critical thinking in the field of crime study, outlining even if only dimly a better future. But how do we keep the field open to follow the alternative? By weeding out the seeds that have started rooting from TINA’s omnipotence, showing how this other path was taken in the past. © The Author(s) 2018 S. Georgoulas, The Origins of Radical Criminology,



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History is essential to an understanding of the modern era. It is indeed amazing if one thinks that in a system that regarded the majority of people as beings without human substance, where excessive political powers came to dominate, and where the whole of the population suffered very low living standards and a lack of education, that a radical train of thought was born and with it works that have deserved the title of immortality, and despite terrible upsets in the state there was the birth of an ideal and its first operation, that of radical democracy. Modern radical criminology would benefit from following the journey we have taken here. If we are to understand the discipline’s relation to institutional practices and concerns, if we are to understand some of the key terms and conceptions that structure the discourse, then we will have to ask genealogical questions about the constitution of the science and examine the historical processes that led to the emergence of this disciplinary specialism (Garland 2002). In Homeric epics, conflict is something given in the relationships of people and gods, and the final dominant power decides on the rules. Not everyone has the same price and value. However, retaliation as a judicial mechanism is already a characteristic of that era. There is a process of justice that involves the participation of a wider public. Hesiod presents king-judges as hawks who have no respect for the law, who are paid to make judgements in the buyer’s best interest. Lyric poetry has an immediate political goal. In the conflict between the rising city (demos) and the lost aristocracy, it takes a position (whether on one side or the other, depending on the poet). At the same time part of the lyric poetry highlights the instability and variability of human things, the vulnerability of the individual’s existence, and calls him to resist and fight, to stand upright and defend himself. With the dramatic plays written by Aeschylus, the ideals of the new radical democracy are brought to the forefront, and with them the roots of a radical concept of evil and good, crime and justice are clearly depicted. Aeschylus focuses on personal conflicts, on issues of power and its abuse, and commends political news. According to Marx, Aeschylus is the finest saint and witness of philosophical chronology. Pre-Socratic philosophy is a weapon of struggle within the tradition of materialism and dialectics, as a revolutionary discourse that cannot be

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included in postmodern and metaphysical worldviews, precisely because it was born in a particular historical period. The world is composed by the opposite, is worn out and reborn through a constant war, according to Anaximander. Heraclitus stresses that the change of the world is the only constant and a constant feature of its course, as it occurs due to ongoing conflict. War is common and justice is dispute, and everything happens through dispute and necessity, he will say. Whatever is good for one, can be bad for the other, objective reality is governed by laws that have no “moral”, an absolute notion of justice does not exist. Archelaus from Athens explains that law is not “in nature,” but is only in the dominant view, while Democritus makes a real radical rupture in philosophy. Humans have the ability to change good into evil, harm into benefit; this is an active part of social reality, and it can and must change the whole distorted situation described by previous philosophers. Last but not least, the Sophists argued for moral and philosophical relativism and at the same time proclaimed citizens’ equality and freedom; they also claimed that law should respect human dignity, something that went up against the aristocratic establishment. We ought to challenge those in power, morality, religion; we should respect democratic principles, others’ opinion and peace. We ought to be against the technocratic perception of politics and highlight the importance of people, the poor, direct democracy and those institutions that support it. Power and authority have no right to monopolize truth, and we have the duty to resist social discrimination due to wealth and origin. All are equal. Indeed, re-reading nowadays the works by Homer and Hesiod, lyric poetry, Aeschylus’ tragedies, and Pre-Socratic philosophy up to the Sophists has given me the hope that another future is not only necessary but also feasible, and ultimately will come. This hope, I have endeavoured to convey to the readers of the present work.

Reference Garland, D. (2002). Of Crimes and Criminals: The Development of Criminology in Britain. In M.  Maguire, R.  Morgan, & R.  Reiner (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Criminology (pp. 7–50). Oxford: Oxford University Press.



Achaean, 47, 48, 52, 53, 58, 61, 64, 170 Achilles, 30–31, 49, 51, 56, 57 Aeolian, 25, 27, 48, 69, 74n3 Aesymnitai, 28, 29 Agathon, 172 Amechania, 87 Antithesis, 166 Aphasia, 140 Archaeology of knowledge, 4 Areios Pagos, 32 Aristocracy, 7, 12, 17, 22, 26, 28, 37, 38, 51, 67, 77, 81, 83, 89, 97, 98, 100, 104, 105, 113, 142–143, 176 Aristotle, vi, 10n1, 16, 19, 25, 28, 29, 35–38, 77, 98, 139, 143

Ataraxia, 140 Athena, 55, 131–134, 149 B

Boule, 13, 38 C

Chance, 69, 87, 150, 163 Change, vi, 3, 7–9, 11–38, 41, 45–48, 60, 75, 83, 84, 86–91, 108, 115, 121–124, 130, 133, 134, 138, 144, 145, 147, 153, 154, 158, 164, 177 Charondas, 16 Chorus, 81, 89, 90, 108–110, 112–117, 120–122, 124–130, 132–134, 134n1

 Note: Page numbers followed by ‘n’ refer to notes


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180  Index

City-state, 11, 12, 14, 15, 17–19, 33, 68, 138, 167 Cleisthenes, 38 Coinage, 18–20, 76 Colonies, 17, 21, 22, 26, 81, 143, 168 Conflict, vi, 2, 3, 6–8, 10n1, 15, 18–20, 25, 26, 28, 29, 34, 37, 42, 45, 55, 65, 70, 71, 75, 76, 78, 87, 88, 108, 111, 112, 121, 131, 132, 140, 145, 153, 156, 161, 163, 165, 176, 177 Constitution, 13, 15, 25, 37, 38, 163, 168, 176 Cosmic/cosmology, 143–149, 153, 155–157, 160 Curse, 103, 111, 112, 124–127 Cynicism, 165


Elegy, 81, 82, 93, 94 Eliaia, 32 Enlightenment, 89, 90, 169 Ephemeral, 6, 50, 80, 88, 89 Epic, vi, 5, 6, 12, 28, 29, 32, 38, 42, 43, 46–51, 79, 80, 82, 84, 85, 89, 176 Epigram, 95 Equality, 8, 9, 11, 24, 34, 38, 113, 159, 162, 164, 167, 169, 177 Erida, 71, 112 Erinyes, 128, 131–134, 155 Eternal, 6, 73, 83, 86, 89, 96, 122, 131, 133, 138, 144, 154 Eumenides, 8, 131 Eunomia, 73, 78 Euthymie, 140 F


Demos, 7, 9, 20, 27, 34, 37, 38, 43, 46, 51, 68, 78, 93, 104, 108, 134n1, 142, 143, 171, 176 Despotic, 8, 133, 134, 163, 164, 169 Dialectics, 8, 138–142, 158, 164, 165, 170, 176 Dike, 73, 111, 116, 125, 130, 148, 155, 157 Discourse, 4, 5, 8, 82, 85, 109, 131, 138, 140, 150, 152, 176 Dithyrambs, 90 Doric, 25 Drama, 5, 79, 80, 107–134

Fate, 54, 57, 61, 81, 88, 90–92, 111, 114, 122, 125, 127, 129, 130, 133, 163 Freedom, 9, 18, 21, 38, 84, 130, 163, 164, 167, 169, 170, 173, 177 G

Genealogy, 5, 72, 176 Genesis, 142, 144–145 Geomoroi, 99 Golden mean, 86 H

Hedone, 140 Hektemoroi, 92


Hero/heroic, vi, 7, 8, 19, 36, 42, 46, 48–50, 56, 67, 68, 83–85, 87, 93, 96, 110, 117 Hoplite, 23–25 Hymn, 43, 45, 47, 69, 95, 96 I

Iambs, 92 Initium, 143 Injustice, 9, 10, 29, 32, 33, 37, 51, 62, 64, 70, 124, 126, 145, 146, 148, 157, 170–172 Innovation, vi, 15, 87 Ionian, 25, 27, 46–48, 161 J

Just, 9, 110, 171



Materialism, 8, 140, 176 Matricidal, 128 Metoikoi, 33 Miasma, 114 Mycenaean, 11, 12, 41, 42, 67, 124 Myth/mythology, 18, 28, 41–44, 49–51, 67, 68, 78, 80, 86, 95, 96, 118, 131, 132, 138–139, 149, 167 N

Nemesis, 51, 71, 113 New criminology, 1 Noble, 7, 15, 17, 20, 21, 24, 26, 28, 29, 32, 34, 37, 38, 43, 44, 47, 50, 52, 54, 61, 75–78, 94, 97–101, 103–105, 111, 152


Kedea, 87 King, 6, 7, 12, 13, 15, 29–31, 49–55, 58, 60, 63, 65, 70–73, 78, 108, 109, 113–117, 124, 125, 134n1, 149, 153, 155, 156 Kleos, 80 Kratos, 72, 135n4


Ode, 95–97 Odysseus, 30, 49, 50, 52, 58, 60, 62–65, 87 Opposite, 8, 104–105, 143–146, 148, 149, 156–158, 163, 172, 177 P


Landowners, 13, 20, 34–36, 38, 47, 97–99, 101, 143 Lawless, 59, 63, 110, 111, 171 Logos, 157 Love, 8, 49, 60, 65, 69, 78, 80–82, 84, 90, 105, 160, 161

Peace, 9, 65, 156, 157, 168, 177 Peisistratus, 36–38, 41, 42, 47–48, 90, 100 Philosophy, 5, 8, 9, 17, 28, 38, 86, 87, 137–173, 176, 177 Poetry, 5–7, 17, 28, 38, 48, 68, 75–105, 124, 150, 176, 177

182  Index R

Relativism, 9, 165, 170, 177 Resistance, 87, 119 Rhapsodes, 45–47 Rhapsody, 30 Rhythm, 82, 83, 86, 87, 148

Trilogy, 7, 8, 57, 109, 114, 115, 118, 124–134, 165 Truth, 4, 5, 8, 9, 72, 82, 83, 107, 127, 138, 150, 162, 165–168, 170, 177 Tyranny, 5, 9, 15, 18, 37–38, 83, 94, 171, 172


Sacred, 12, 27, 28, 43, 56, 58, 68, 76, 96, 107, 133, 157 Scepticism, 165 Sceptre, 31, 50, 51, 53 Slave, 7, 13, 20–22, 33–36, 60, 63, 81, 92, 93, 97, 113, 129, 155, 156, 163, 164 Sofia, 150 Solon, 7, 29, 32, 35–38, 47, 80, 81, 92–93, 101 Strife, 8, 69, 71, 72, 102, 112, 155, 156, 160, 161 Struggle, 8, 18, 32, 73, 76, 80, 83, 87–89, 95, 98–101, 104, 140, 142, 163, 167, 175, 176 T

Theology, 44 Theophrastus, 29


Vengeance, 30, 63, 71, 77, 128 Via, 72, 74n5 Virtue, 84, 85, 91, 93, 94, 96, 105, 166 W

War, vi, 8, 13, 21–25, 38, 42, 47, 54, 55, 61, 65, 75, 78–80, 82, 83, 85, 88, 90, 93, 98, 100, 114–117, 124, 125, 143–146, 153, 155–157, 170, 177 Z

Zaleucus, 16 Zeus, 34, 49, 53–59, 63, 65, 69, 72, 73, 74n5, 76, 77, 96, 103, 111, 114, 118–123, 130, 134n2, 148, 149, 167