An Oligarchic Democracy: Manipulation of Democratic Ideals by Athenian Oligarchs in 411 BC
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This paper explores the stratagems of the Athenian oligarchs on their way to power in 411 BC. It focuses on political propaganda – the cynical manipulation of democratic ideals, principles and procedures for the purpose of promoting oligarchy as a different form of democracy. The study challenges the widely accepted view of a moderate Theramenist faction in an attempt to demonstrate that until the oligarchs have usurped power there is no justifi cation for differentiating between extremists and moderates among them. As to the historiography of the revolution, the paper argues that, for all its weaknesses and deficiencies, on the whole Thucydides’ account is a genuine attempt to free history from the distortion of propaganda, whereas the parallel account of the Aristotelian Athenaion Politeia, despite recent attempts at its rehabilitation and validation, appears by and large to have achieved precisely the opposite effect – perpetuating by means of systematic omission and commission the historical distortion generated by propaganda.
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