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Chapter Summary

The ancient Graeco-Roman world offers many parallels with highly developed modern societies with regard to the problems of boundaries between state powers and individual rights. Literary works, historiography, and even the reporting of rumours in both eras are couched as if they come in response to an insatiable desire by ordinary citizens to know everything about the lives of their leaders, and to hold them to account, at some level, for their abuse of constitutional powers for personal ends. Greek and Roman writers had a deep fascination with how powerful individuals stepped over boundaries and affected their public responsibilities. The quasi-historical foundation stories of Athenian democracy and the Roman republic depict democracy being introduced in direct response to sexual misdeeds by despots or their families.

Keywords: ancient Graeco-Roman world; Athenian democracy; historiography; state powers



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