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Why the athenians forgot Cleisthenes: Literacy and the politics of remembrance in ancient Athens

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Chapter Summary

This chapter aims to contribute to the growing dialogue on the interplay between politics and literacy in Greek antiquity by exploring one specific aspect of this interplay, an aspect that has so far received less attention than it deserves. At the same time, it is also offered as a contribution to what can be called “memory studies,” another area of emerging interest among classicists. There are two main arguments in the chapter. First, the author suggests that the case of Athenian amnesia was a good deal more serious than is generally recognized; Cleisthenes was in fact never at any point remembered as the founder of democracy by his fellow citizens. Second, the author proposes that the agency most responsible for this remarkable mass memory lapse was in fact none other than Cleisthenes himself.

Keywords: Athenian amnesia; Athenians Forgot Cleisthenes: Literacy; Athens; Cleisthenes; founder of democracy; literacy in Greek antiquity; Politics; politics of remembrance; Remembrance



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