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Aristoteles und die Kunst des Verschweigens. Die aristotelische Darstellung von demokratischer Bürgerrechtsverleihung, Areopag und nomothesia im Licht externer Quellen

Gertrud Dietze-Mager


The article discusses the discrepancy between Aristotle’s representation of the Athenian politeia and the information contained in external sources. First we examine his statement that the demagogues manipulate the size and structure of the citizen body by admitting persons of doubtful background in order to broaden their power base. The external sources show no such practice in Athens in the 5th nor in the 4th century: they prove that the three mass citizenship grants in Athenian history were not due to demagogic manipulation but to situations of need, and that on top citizenship criteria became increasingly strict. Next his picture of the 4th century Areopagus as an institution stripped of political and constitutional powers is critically assessed against external sources which show that Aristotle’s description does not match the facts. The article finally tries to clarify why Aristotle chose to never mention the Athenian nomothesia in his writings. It concludes that not only the way in which he presents information about the Athenian state, but also, and more importantly, his decision to exclude information from his narrative are influenced by his conservative views and seem to be guided by his wish to paint a dark picture of the contemporary Athenian politeia.


Areopag; Bürgerrechtsgesetze; ‘extreme’ Demokratie; Manipulation; nomophylakia; nomos; nomothesia; psephisma; Redner – Areopagus; citizenship laws; ‘extreme’ democracy; manipulation; nomophylakia; nomos; nomothesia; orators; psephisma.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7358/erga-2022-002-gdie

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