Giovanni Giorgini

«Plethos», «Ochlos», «Demos». Multitude and People in Classical Greece

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In what age, occasion or circumstance did the mass of non-aristocratic citizens in a Greek city develop from being a multitude into being a people? When was it first conceptualized as an active political agent instead of a shapeless aggregate of poor, unfortunate human beings who did not have the right to participate in the political choices of the community they lived in? The author identifies Cleisthenes’ reforms of 508/7 BCE as the turning point in which the Athenian demos appeared on the political scene as an active agent for the first time and then investigates the conceptual underpinnings of democracy. He concludes by examining the powerful objections raised against «the rule of the people» by such authors as Plato, Aristotle and the Pseudo-Xenophon.


  • Multitude
  • People
  • Democracy
  • Classical Athens


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