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Spin, Democracy, Death. “Old Oligarch,” Gorgias’ Epitaphios. Preview. Old Oligarch Spins Democracy. Old Oligarch on Democracy. “… I do not think well of their [having] chosen to let the worst people be better off than the good .”

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spin democracy death

Spin, Democracy, Death

“Old Oligarch,” Gorgias’ Epitaphios


Old Oligarch Spins Democracy

old oligarch on democracy
Old Oligarch on Democracy

“… I do not think well of their [having] chosen to let the worst people be better off than the good.”

“Yet their policy is also excellent in this very point of allowing even the worst people to speak.”

oo spins democracy s positives
OO Spins Democracy’s Positives
  • Justice
    • Right of the stronger (might as right)
  • Appeal
    • Pleasure (to hēdu) of the stronger

Old Oligarch et al.

  • O’Regan on Clouds
    • Finish up…
  • Clouds Debate
    • Good versus Bad Argument
  • The “Old Oligarch”
    • A New Spin on Democracy
  • Class Project
    • Democracy Respun

Old Oligarch et al.

clouds debate
Clouds Debate

Good versus Bad Argument

the old oligarch
The “Old Oligarch”

A New Spin on Democracy

author genre speaker audience
Author, Genre, Speaker, Audience
  • Author
    • unknown (composed ca. 420s)
  • Genre
    • sophistic epideixis
  • Speaker
    • Athenian oligarch
  • Audience
    • non-Athenian anti-democrats

Old Oligarch et al.

comparison shopping
Comparison Shopping…

Old Oligarch

Periclean Funeral Oration

“In name, [our government] is called a democracy, because it is managed not for a few people, but for the majority”

“The greatness of our city has caused all things from all parts of the earth to be imported here, so that we enjoy the products of other nations…”

  • “I pardon the people themselves for their democracy. One must forgive everyone for looking after his own interests”
  • “Whatever the delicacy (to hēdu, “pleasure”) in Sicily, [etc.], all these have been brought together into one place by virtue of naval power”

Old Oligarch et al.

through a lens
Through a Lens…
  • Despotic/oligarchic democracy? (Michels)
    • “The preponderant elements of the movement, the men who lead and nourish it, end by undergoing a gradual detachment from the masses and are attracted within the orbit of the ‘political class’ ” (Political Parties)
  • Charismatic democracy? (Weber)
    • “… devotion to the exceptional sanctity, heroism or exemplary character of an individual person, and of the normative patterns or order revealed or ordained by him” (Economy and Society)
  • Pragmatic democracy? (Finley)
    • “What counts is that the people expected results and at times, sometimes for long periods, felt satisfied with them” (Ancient History)

Old Oligarch et al.

gorgias epitaphios
Gorgias’ Epitaphios

Epitaphic topoi, Gorgianic Figures

epitaphic topoi
Epitaphic topoi

The speaker’s challenge

“May I find the power to say what I wish! May I find the wish to say what I must!”

cf. Thuc. 2.35.1


“. . . though they have died, the loss we feel has not.”

cf. Pericles’ Samian Epitaphios

The good death

“their trophy of triumph, their gift to the god — the sacrifice of themselves.”

cf. Thuc. 2.43.1

Old Oligarch et al.

gorgianic figures
Gorgianic Figures

Basic concept

  • Colon
    • rhetorical unit

Word repetition

  • Anaphora
    • colon beginning
  • Antistrophe
    • colon end
  • Anastrophe
    • end/beginning

Other figures

  • Antithesis
    • contrast
  • Homoioteleuton
    • end rhyme
  • Isocolon/parisosis
    • same/similar-length successive cola
  • Paronomasia
    • word play

Old Oligarch et al.

class project
Class Project

Democracy Respun

our epideixis
Our epideixis..

Old Oligarch et al.