Leadership

Whatever the extent of ordinary political engagement, however, it was accepted that the polis needed to be led and Greek writers distinguished between good and bad

82 Pol. 1292b23—1293al 1.

83 Sinclair, Democracy, p. 123; Aristotle possibly exaggerated (AP 24.1-2) when he said that more than 20,000 citizens received hand-outs and public pay from Athens' imperial tnbute and internal revenues. It is doubted whether pay for jury service sufficiently compensated poor citizens for the time spent away from work.

character types who displayed certain essential qualities ofleadership. Foremost was the distinction between a citizen who gives leadership with nothing else in mind but the good of the polis and whose skill in oratory leads to that end, and the man who puts himself forward out of self-interest and therefore panders to the worst instincts of the mob. The latter were attacked in the mid fifth century by 'the best people', who attached to the neutral term used for a leader of the demos, demagogus, a pejorative connotation. Demagogues were, from then onwards, those who were said to have divided the community into factions. Instead of answering the crucial question: in whose interest does a leader lead? with reference to the good life of the whole, the demagogue was now said to answer it usually in terms of the poor faction in order to secure his own power base. At the same time the word demos, usually referring to all the citizens, came also to refer, pejoratively, to the common or lower people, the mob. And their right of free speech (parrhesia) whether or not they spoke in the Assembly, came to mean for the crypto-oligarch Isocrates in the fourth century bc, nothing more than slanderous behaviour.84

Aristotle noted that the character type of Athenian leaders underwent a great change after Perikles died (429 bc) and the Peloponnesian war ended with the Spartan victory (404/3). Until Perikles, Aristotle said that political leaders had largely been drawn from aristocratic families and it was many of these men, as we have seen, who were the architects of the reforms which completed the democracy itself. But after Perikles, leaders came from a different ancestry with different outlooks. Likewise, Thucydides (2.65), perhaps exaggerating, described an immense gulf between Perikles — as an astute, aristocratic leader, indeed, as a strategos, or general, ruling over a nominal democracy but where power was in his hands as its first citizen — and Perikles' successors, who instead of leading the people were led by them. A new breed of politicians whose wealth came from business and manufacture rather than agriculture was said to appeal directly to the poorer elements in the demos, thereby demonstrating the importance of isegoria in achieving full control by the Assembly over state affairs85 to the dismay of Socrates and Plato. Did these new leaders not only display non-traditional character traits but also hold to different values?

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