Blogs > Cliopatria > From Odysseus to Perikles

Jan 5, 2004 8:41 pm

From Odysseus to Perikles

I am a chronic hooky-player - I blather on other people's blogs when I should be writing my own. Well, I say 'should'...but that's debatable. Another way of looking at it is that I'm simply giving my readers (all two of them) a rest. I'm heeding Henry IV's advice to Hal, and making myself a rarity, so that people will want more instead of less.

There is an interesting discussion of the Odyssey at City Comforts. I'm trying to remember if Odysseus is really a king, or merely the biggest landowner on the island. Ithaka was a pretty rocky, unprosperous island, in any case - but Odysseus was rich enough to provide meat for the suitors for nearly ten years. I have an idea he was an anax rather than a basileus or a turannos, but I'm not sure. Anax is usually translated as 'lord,' I think, as in lord of the manor.

The question came up in connection with a comparison of Homeric Greece with 5th century Athens, triggered by this comment:

But one thing that struck me was Vandiver's depiction of ancient Greece as a place where there was no law, where justice was private vengeance, where there was no state to claim a monopoly on the use of force to punish.

How sociologists and political theorists would love to know what happened during the transition - exactly how the Athenians decided to give the state that monopoly. If we could read their speeches - would they sound like Hobbesians, or Lockeans, or Rousseauans? Or something no one has even thought of.

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