Il regime politico di Argo e le sue istituzioni tra fine VI e fine V secolo a.C.: verso un’instabile democrazia
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1. Introduction. 2. The sixth century. 2.1 Literary evidence. 2.2 Epigraphical evidence. 2.3 According to Pausanias (II 19, 2), the king Meltas was deposed by the demos: however he was not the last king of Argos, as we have evidence about a basileus still in charge in the fifth century; it was just the end of the Temenid dynasty. Approximately in the same time, inscriptions attest a board of damiorgoi at Argos: probably, the Argive kings had lost their effective power and thus a transition occurred in the first half of the century from a monarchic rule to an aristocratic one. 3. The first three quarters of the fifth century. 3.1 Literary evidence. 3.2 Epigraphical evidence. 3.3 The introduction of the fourth tribe may be connected to the enlargement of the citizenship after the battle of Sepeia, providing the first step towards democracy. Although we know very little about democratic institutions, inscriptions often record resolutions of the council and particularly of the assembly. The ‘new citizens’ were partially thrown out of the city about 468 but this did not imply a change in the institutions: also as a consequence of mixed marriages between widows of the fallen at Sepeia and the ‘new citizens’, Argos was from that time on its way to democracy. 4. The last quarter of the fifth century. 4.1 The Corinthian embassy to Argos after Nicias’ peace (Thuc. V 27-28). 4.2 Additional proofs of Thucydides’ inaccuracy about institutional matters (Thuc. V 37, 2-3); and about the importance of the Argive assembly (Thuc. V 40-41; 59,5; 60,6; 61, 1). 4.3 Alliance between Argos, Athens, Mantinea and Elis (Thuc. V 47, 9). 4.4 Military organization: the generals; the martial court; the five lochoi; the Thousand. 4.5 Evaluations of the Argive government (Thuc. V 29, 1; 31, 6; 44, 1). 4.6 The oligarchic revolution of 417. 4.7 The restoration of democracy and the last part of the fifth century. 5. Conclusion. The evidence we have about democratic institutions is not complete. Nor can we safely assess when democracy was born: Sepeia was definitely a turning point, but no evidence of democratic institutions can be traced before about 480. We can say something more about years between 421 and 417. At that time Argos was a democracy, possibly a moderate one. But what is clear is that Argive democracy was unstable, because of the persistence of a strong oligarchic faction, whose members were able to occupy important offices.
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