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The World of Prometheus: The Politics of Punishing in Democratic Athens

The World of Prometheus: The Politics of Punishing in Democratic Athens

Paperback Politics of Punishing in Democratic Athens

By (author) Danielle S. Allen

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  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Format: Paperback | 464 pages
  • Dimensions: 154mm x 230mm x 30mm | 762g
  • Publication date: 15 December 2002
  • Publication City/Country: New Jersey
  • ISBN 10: 0691094896
  • ISBN 13: 9780691094892
  • Edition statement: Revised ed.
  • Illustrations note: black & white illustrations

Product description

For Danielle Allen, punishment is more a window onto democratic Athens' fundamental values than simply a set of official practices. From imprisonment to stoning to refusal of burial, instances of punishment in ancient Athens fueled conversations among ordinary citizens and political and literary figures about the nature of justice. Re-creating in vivid detail the cultural context of this conversation, Allen shows that punishment gave the community an opportunity to establish a shining myth of harmony and cleanliness: that the city could be purified of anger and social struggle, and perfect order achieved.Each member of the city - including notably women and slaves - had a specific role to play in restoring equilibrium among punisher, punished, and society. The common view is that democratic legal processes moved away from the 'emotional and personal' to the 'rational and civic,' but Allen shows that anger, honor, reciprocity, spectacle, and social memory constantly prevailed in Athenian law and politics. Allen draws upon oratory, tragedy, and philosophy to present the lively intellectual climate in which punishment was incurred, debated, and inflicted by Athenians. Broad in scope, this book is one of the first to offer both a full account of punishment in antiquity and an examination of the political stakes of democratic punishment. It will engage classicists, political theorists, legal historians, and anyone wishing to learn more about the relations between institutions and culture, normative ideas and daily events, punishment and democracy.

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Author information

Danielle S. Allen is Associate Professor in Classical Languages and Literatures, Political Science, and the Committee on Social Thought and the College at the University of Chicago. She is a 2001 recipient of a MacArthur Foundation fellowship.

Review quote

"A very impressive debut, rich enough in arguments, approaches, theories, and facts that one can disagree with a lot of it and still find much which is useful and convincing."--James Davidson, London Review of Books

Back cover copy

"Danielle Allen's book is a strikingly original contribution to classical Greek social and intellectual history and to the study of Greek legal practices. It also has crucial relevance for important debates within contemporary political and legal theory, including the practical implications of communitarianism and jury nullification."--Josiah Ober, Princeton University"This is an original and refreshing study. . . . It allows us to reconsider contemporary issues, such as jury nullification and communitarianism, from a new perspective. Its range and depth of argument will make it a useful resource."--Craige Champion, Allegheny College

Table of contents

PREFACE xi INTRODUCTION 3 PART ONE: THE PRELIMINARIES 13 CHAPTER ONE What Is Punishment? 15 Introduction 15 "Revenge" versus "Punishment": Rereading the Oresteia 18 Studying Punishment as Authority: Reading the Prometheus Bound 25 Precis 35 CHAPTER TWO Institutional Context 39 Introduction 39 Penal Institutions and Democratic Power 40 The Lay Prosecutor and the Parameters of Judgment 45 CHAPTER THREE Cultural Context 50 Anger/Orge 50 ThE Agon and Honor 59 Reciprocity 62 Social Memory, Social Knowledge 65 Language 68 Conclusion 72 CHAPTER FOUR Punishment and Its Tragic Problems 73 The Mythic Imaginary 73 Method 75 Disease and Remedy 77 Power Tyranny, and Law 86 Conclusion 94 PART TWO: THE PROCESS OF PUNISHING 97 CHAPTER FIVE Initiation, Part One 99 Knowledge, Power, Action 99 Investigation 102 Initiation: Metics, Proxenoi, and Xenoi 107 Initiation: Slaves 109 Initiation: Women 111 CHAPTER SIX Initiation, Part Two 122 The Male Citizen Prosecutor 122 Back to the Bees and Wasps Again 128 The Household: Women and Men Together 134 City as Collective 141 CHAPTER SEVEN The Negotiation of Desert, Part One 147 The Magic of Speech 147 Pity and Anger 148 The First Norm of Public Agency: Deserving to Punish and Dispelling Charges of Sycophancy 151 CHAPTER EIGHT The Negotiation of Desert, Part Two 168 Introduction 168 The Second Norm of Public Agency: Using Social Memory and Law 168 The Rule of Judgment versus the Rule of Law 179 The Rule of Law in Plato and Aristotle 183 The Third Norm of Public Agency: Shaping the Democratic Community 190 CHAPTER NINE Execution 197 War Peace, and the Formalism of Punishment 197 The Details: Punishments and Their Executors 200 Tvo Forms of Memory: Remembering and Forgetting 202 The Symbolism of Remembering and Forgetting 205 War and Peace, the Body and Silence 213 Punishments of Reintegration 224 Punishments that Redefine the "Whole" Community 232 The Amnesty 237 PART THREE: INTERVENTIONS IN THE CONVERSATION 243 CHAPTER TEN Plato's Paradigm Shifts 245 The Symbol of Leontios 245 Reform over Reciprocity 247 The Erasure of Orge 251 Undoing the Athenian "Principle of the Public": The Republic 257 The Just City and the Power of the Symbol 263 The Incurables and the Necessity for Anger/Orge in the Just City of the Laws 277 CHAPTER ELEVEN Aristotle's Compromises 282 On Justice and Desert 282 EPILOGUE: The Reform of Prometheus and Promethean Rebellion 293 APPENDIXES A. The Number of Magistrates in Athens 305 B. The Nature and Scope of Arbitration in Athens 317 C. The Relative Frequency of Penal Words within Each Orator 323 D. Further Argument about the Decree of Cannonus 324 E. Catalog of Cases of Punishing (or Attempts at Punishing) in Tragedy 326 ENDNOTES 333 BIBLIOGRAPHY 405 INDEX 431