Greek Oligarchies: Their Character and Organisation

Greek Oligarchies: Their Character and Organisation

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Greek Oligarchies: Their Character and Organisation

Greek Oligarchies: Their Character and Organisation

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Excerpt

The following dissertation was awarded the Hare Prize in 1894. The pressure of other work obliged me to postpone the preparation of it for the press until last year.

For the study of Oligarchic Constitutions in Greece there are no adequate materials. No oligarchic state has left us any historical literature; nor have we the record of the internal working of any oligarchy: in this inquiry, as in most branches of Greek history, we realise how little we know of any Greek states other than Athens. Our conception of oligarchic government, its character and its method, cannot fail to be partial and incomplete. If we except Aristotle's masterly treatise on political ideas and political forms, information on oligarchic constitutions is scattered over a very wide field, extending from the Lyrical poets to Plutarch. Inscriptions yield less that is valuable than we should expect or desire.

The lack of positive knowledge induced me to devote the first chapter to an examination of the place occupied by Oligarchy and Aristocracy in the Greek classification of constitutions. By a study of the definitions, which are, like the political terminology of the Greeks, too often vague and uncertain, we are able to arrive at the impression produced on the minds of the Greeks by the different governments, and thus we catch a reflection of their real character. In the second and third chapters I

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