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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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Parrhēsia across Politeiai

Parrhēsia across Politeiai

(p.129) 5 Parrhēsia across Politeiai
Dangerous Counsel

Matthew Landauer

University of Chicago Press

Chapter five begins with an analysis of parrhēsia (frank speech) in nondemocratic regimes. The chapter shows that parrhēsia could arise in two ways in the courts of autocrats. A ruler might try to elicit it from his advisers by signaling that frankness would be welcome. But even without such encouragement, advisers might willingly accept the risks of being punished and speak frankly. The chapter argues that the dynamic of parrhēsia in democratic Athens took similar forms and that much of the discourse of parrhēsia in Athens was predicated on similarities between the demos and an unaccountable tyrant. In both democracies and autocracies, advisers willing to speak frankly could offer a counterweight to flattering rhetoric. But an adviser’s parrhēsia in both regime types was a remedial virtue, necessitated by the asymmetries of accountability that structured advice giving in both regimes. Athenian rhetoricians faced with the question of how to serve as advisers to an empowered, unaccountable demos, were thus conscious participants in the longer tradition of Greek reflections on the possibilities and limits of political advice across political contexts.

Keywords:   autocracy, democracy, flattery, frank speech, parrhēsia

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