Founders of democracy unsung | Part 3: Lack of historical recognition

Both Cleisthenes and Thrasybulus played important roles in the independence of Athens, and its existence as a democracy. Yet both their roles were downplayed by succeeding generations. Athens indeed spun the murder of the tyrant Hipparchus by a pair of disgruntled lovers into a fight against tyranny, but neglected Cleisthenes’ place in the true origins of the democracy. The citizens of the polis welcomed the freedom and democracy restored by… Read more

Founders of democracy unsung | Part 2: Re-establishment of democracy by Thrasybulus

In part 1, we looked at the role of Cleisthenes. Now, in part 2, we look at the re-establishment of democracy by Thrasybulus. Thrasybulus played an instrumental part as a general in Athens’ victories in the “Ionian War” during the years 411–407 BCE as well as the (temporary) return of Alcibiades to Athens. However, after the defeat of Alcibiades’ fleet at Notium in 406 and the departure of that loved… Read more

Founders of democracy unsung | Part 1: Cleisthenes’ democracy

Imagine a United States in which George Washington was never celebrated as the “Father of his Country” or the “Indispensable Man”! Imagine a Great Britain in which knowledge of the Magna Carta had been relegated to specialists in constitutional history, or a France which did not celebrate Bastille Day! Yet this seems to have been the situation in ancient Athens in regard to the founder of its democracy, Cleisthenes son… Read more

The improvised craft

The travelogue of the Homeric Odyssey can be split into four distinctive parts which may be envisaged as follows: the passage through the Aegean Sea; the Cyclopeia, which takes place in the Mare Lybicum off the northern coast of Africa; the blockages to his return by the Sirens, Scylla, Charybdis, Hēlios Hyperíōn and Kalypsō; and finally the period on Scheria and the return to Ithaca. During this time Odysseus is… Read more

The Idealized Ship | Part 2: Huge, hollow and swallowing

In this section we will consider the ships that are described as megakētēs [μεγακήτης], usually translated as huge, hollow, and gaping. The word is made up of two parts, mega [μέγα-, “great”], and an adjective form of kētos [κῆτος, “any sea-monster”]. A related word is kētōeis [κητώεις], which means “full of hollows”. In a ship’s geometry the epithet describes the threatening form of the forefoot [steira] of the ancient Greek… Read more