By Arlene W. Saxonhouse
Unfastened speech within the historical democracy used to be no longer a secure correct yet an expression of the liberty from hierarchy, awe, reverence and disgrace. That freedom was once challenged by way of the results of the rejection of disgrace (aidos) which had served as a cohesive strength in the polity. via readings of Socrates's trial, Greek tragedy and comedy, Thucydides's heritage, and Plato's Protagoras, this quantity explores the paradoxical connections among loose speech, democracy, disgrace, and Socratic philosophy and Thucydidean historical past.
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Extra resources for Free Speech and Democracy in Ancient Athens
These are the fruits which a dull ease and cessation of our knowledge will bring forth among the people. How goodly, and how to be wisht were such an obedient unanimity as this, what a fine conformity would it starch us all into? doubtless a stanch and solid peece of frame-work, as any January could freeze together” ( 1999: 35–6). The repression of free speech leaves all with that “dull ease” that dims our moral character and our thirst for knowledge. We find a similar concern with the educative capacity of this freedom surfacing frequently today.
The Rome that Machiavelli describes is marked by frequent conflict between the nobles and the plebs and in the First Book of the Discourses Machiavelli recounts many of those disputes. 29 Citizens in a flourishing regime, Machiavelli tells us, must be able to give vent to their dissatisfactions with those who rule over them. Deference destroys the regime. The tale of Thersites looms large in the shadows here. Sounding somewhat more like Locke than the author of The Prince, Machiavelli suggests that the opportunity to criticize one’s leaders serves as a restraint on the actions of leaders, thus protecting the liberty of a people.
Of course, the portrait of the participatory Athenian democracy is overdrawn. Not all citizens participated, and certainly not all who lived in Athens were citizens. 23:25 P1: JZP 0521819857c01 CUNY201B/Saxonhouse The Legacy of Free Speech 0 521 81985 7 October 11, 2005 23:25 25 at the University of Chicago, Alexander Meiklejohn eloquently presents the dependence of a self-governing people on their practice of free speech. 17 An appreciation for the ancient world guided his multiple pedagogical efforts.
Free Speech and Democracy in Ancient Athens by Arlene W. Saxonhouse