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Dangerous CounselAccountability and Advice in Ancient Greece$
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Matthew Landauer

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226654010

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226653822.001.0001

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The Tyrant: Unaccountability’s Second Face

The Tyrant: Unaccountability’s Second Face

(p.59) 2 The Tyrant: Unaccountability’s Second Face
Dangerous Counsel

Matthew Landauer

University of Chicago Press

Chapter two pursues the link between tyranny and unaccountability in Greek thought. Figures such as Aeschines, Herodotus, and Plato argue for a close relationship between unaccountability and the excesses of the tyrannical life. Through a reading of Aristophanes’ Wasps and Xenophon’s account of the trial of the Arginusae generals, the chapter shows how portrayals of the demos as an unaccountable tyrant could work to undermine the identification of jurors and assemblymen as justifiably unaccountable idiōtai (private citizens). It argues that the demos-tyrant analogy not only provided a useful framework for criticizing the character of democratic rule but was also used to analyze the nature of other political relationships in the democratic polis. In particular, it helped conceptualize the asymmetric relationship between an unaccountable collective decision-maker (the demos in the assembly and jurors in the courts) and the accountable advisers (e.g. orators) who attempted to persuade it.

Keywords:   Arginousae Generals, Aristophanes, political trials, tyranny, unaccountability, Wasps

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