By Antony Andrewes
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Extra info for Greek Tyrants
This is markedly different from the classical sense of democracy, which is conceived on the model of fifth-century Athens and means the constitution in which all free adult males were full voters. The word demokratia itself is perhaps no older than the fifth centuryâthat is, than the first institution of democracy at Athensâand it is not very likely that Aristotle had found an earlier use of it in a different sense. More probably he has in mind some shift of the root-word demos, a word with a longer history.
It refers to the his- torical period and not to the world of mythology, since it places Argos on its classical site between Tiryns and the Arcadian border, which became the centre of the Argolid only in the historical period. It is the illogicality of the second section that impels one to break the poem up, for there is no sense in naming the best, and then adding something that is better still. The 40 THE GREEK TYRANTS first section once stood alone, a proverbial list of excellent things. The second and more discursive section was added in honour of Argos when Argos had eclipsed Chalcis in military power.
Demos, the people, can mean the whole community, including everyone within it whether the community is large or small. It can also mean, not everyone, but the mass of the people in 36 THE GREEK TYRANTS contrast to a privileged classâit can have, that is, a party and not a national sense, an ambiguity that has attacked the word for "people" in many languages. This party sense appears in Solon's poems side by side with the more comprehensive sense, and it was probably in Solon's lifetime, in the early sixth century, that it began to have a party meaning.