University of Tasmania
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Stasis, political change and political subversion in Syracuse, 415-305 B.C.

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posted on 2023-05-27, 01:05 authored by Betts, DJ
The thesis examines the phenomena of Otlois, political change and political subversion in Syracuse from 415 to 305 B.C. The Introductory Chapter gives a general outline of the problems in this area, together with some discussion of the critical background. As the problems involved with the ancient sources for the period under discussion lie outside the mainstream of the thesis, these have been dealt with in the form of an appendix. Central to the question of civil strife is the problem of definition and causation. The First Chapter is therefore concerned with the terminology used by the Greeks to describe their civil disturbances, together with a discussion of Aristotle's theory of revolutionary cause and the preservation of constitutions. The conclusion reached in this chapter is that, although revolutionaries were often motivated by their own personal ambitions, their ability to gain support from other sections of the community and, on occasions, carry out successful revolutions, lay in the fact that the government itself had been inadequate in some areas. Chapter Two deals with the nature and type of revolutionary activity in Syracuse from the point of view of the revolutionaries. This involves an examination of their motivation and method. Their method was dependent, in the first instance, on the means available to them. This led to a discussion of their use of propaganda, the availability of arms and manpower and the use of speed, secrecy and personal violence. Allied to the means available is the extent of support gained by revolutionaries. It is found that there were four main areas of support ‚ÄövÑvÆ group and family associations, the Syracusan people, exiles, and allies and outside powers. The extent of support from each of these areas is therefore reviewed. Next, the problem is analysed from the point of view of the various governments. The Third Chapter discusses the problems facing those governments and their attempts to maintain their constitutions or position, along with the failures that led to outbreaks of revolutionary activity. It is found that Syracuse had its own inherent problems due to the diversity of their population and the tendency of the Syracusans to entrust command to a single ruler. The success of that single ruler was due to his capacity to command mercenaries, to gain capable and loyal subordinates, to keep the goodwill of the people and to deal with any opposition. Each of these aspects is examined but it is also found that, despite his capability, the single ruler's position always remained threatened since his position was usually unconstitutional. The final section of this chapter therefore involves a discussion of the constitutional difficulties facing the various governments and their failure to find an adequate constitutional arrangement that allowed for the role of the single ruler. Beneath the personalities and capabilities of the various individuals opposing or controlling the government, lay the fundamental problem of Greek social and economic attitudes. Chapter Four discusses the general aspects of these attitudes and the stresses on the Syracusan constitution caused by the widening of privilege and the change of values that had occurred by the end of the Fifth Century and continued throughout the Fourth Century B.C. In an examination of the specific problems of the economic situation at Syracuse it is found that this was an area in which both governments and revolutionaries alike failed, even though many revolutionaries gained support from the people by the promise that they would improve the economic situation of the poor. The final chapter reviews and assesses the constant problems that led to a recurrence of civil strife in Syracuse from 415 to 305 B.C., with reference to what may be regarded as general Greek problems and what were peculiarly Syracusan or Sicilian problems.


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Copyright 1981 the author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (M.A.)--University of Tasmania, 1981

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