Tag Archive for ‘kinship’
This is a brief note to introduce the next formal Booklog, which will be a discussion of Euripides’ Orestes, a rather strange play that pits the claims of family not only against each other but against those of friendship. I hope that it can be used to highlight certain older ideas about kinship and friendship as a means of pointing our way out of the moral trap of liberalism (which includes most of what is called conservatism).
After the defeat of the Persians in 480/479 Athens was united as never before. There was little division in the social classes, and leaders of the Alcmeonid party like Aristides cooperated with rivals like Themistocles and even with Cimon, of the enemy Philaid clan, in the continuing war against Persia. The lowest class, the day-laboring thetes , was doing better than ever as rowers in the fleet. Ostracism (votes to expell prominent leaders) continued to play a part in ensuring harmony. Normally, all magistrates had to undergo a scrutiny at the end of their year of office, but the process of ostracism was more rigorous. Every year the Assembly voted on whether or not to hold an ostrakophoria, and if it decided to go ahead, 6000 votes against a citizen was enough to exile him for ten years, though he did not lose his property, as he would have in the case of a real exile. On the other hand, an ostracized Athenian was forbidden to leave the region, lest he intrigue with enemies.