A History of Greek Political Thought

By T. A. Sinclair | Go to book overview
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their action on any philosophical system, had or acquired political power and used it in attempts at reform. At Sparta1 the abortive plans of Agis IV ( 243 B.C.) and the more successful efforts of Cleomenes III to re-distribute large landed estates and to enfranchise helots were part of a plan to re-establish Spartan military power on the old Lycurgan model. But any proposal to divide up land (γη + ̑ς ἀναδασμός) was sure to cause alarm among owners everywhere. The reputation of another Spartan king, Nabis, at the very end of the century was blackened into that of the worst possible tyrant2 for similar reasons. Yet in the conflict between the Achaean league and the Romans in the next century it was not the wealthy who fought the invader to the last ditch, but the mob in Corinth and other cities, who were not finally defeated till 146 B.C. But the impact of Rome on Greek political thought belongs to our next chapter.


Only the barest minimum of the changed and changing background could be indicated at the beginning and end of the above chapter. In addition to the more general histories consult F. W. Walbank, in J.H.S. LXIV ( 1944), W. S. Ferguson, Hellenistic Athens ( 1911) and Greek Imperialism ( 1913) and W. W. Tarn, Hellenistic Civilisation ( 1927, 2nd ed. 1930). There is an abundant literature on Alexander culminating, as it were, in Tarn Alexander the Great ( 2 vols., 1948) in which Appendixes 24 and 25 are especially relevant. The constitutional position, if any, of the various cities is a complicated question: see, in addition to the above-mentioned works, A. H. M. Jones, The Greek City from Alexander to Justinian ( 1940) and the literature there cited. Equally complicated and variable were the leagues and federations. See by way of example the two inscriptions referred to in the Additional Note below. Two composite works, quite different from each other, must both be mentioned-- The Hellenistic Age (four lectures, Cambridge, 1923) and The Greek Political Experience (Studies in honor of W. K. Prentice, Princeton, 1941) especially Nos. VII to XII.

On these 'reforms' see K. M. T. Chrimes, Ancient Sparta ( 1949), ch. 1.
The dual kingship had ended with Cleomenes III ( Ob. 219 B.C.).


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