Democracy and Participation in Athens

R.K. Sinclair

Cambridge University Press 1988
A book review by Danny Yee © 1996
The Athenian democracy is one of the more intriguing of political milieux: it is a source for much of our modern conception of democracy, but it is also quite singular in many of its features. Democracy and Participation in Athens is not, however, a popular introduction or a comparative study. Though lucid and readable, it is solidly in the tradition of classical scholarship, firmly tied to the literary and epigraphical evidence and to a dialogue with alternate interpretations within the same tradition. It would be difficult to follow without some prior familiarity with Athenian history.

Though he briefly recounts the origins of the democracy, Sinclair concentrates on the period from 450 to 322. His focus is on the motivations of individuals, both ordinary citizens and leaders: the central chapters consider the opportunities of citizens, their responsibilities, the extent of their participation in the political process, and the hazards of leadership and its rewards. Sinclair also enters into the debates over the sovereignty of the demos and the balance between Ekklesia, Boule, and Dikasteria. His concluding chapter looks at evaluations of the Athenian democracy by critics, both ancient and modern.

December 1996

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%T Democracy and Participation in Athens
%A Sinclair, R.K.
%I Cambridge University Press
%D 1988
%O hardcover, bibliography, index
%G ISBN 0521333571
%P xv,253pp