This introductory chapter provides an overview of the book's main themes. This book examines one peculiar, but apparently quite popular, means by which pro-democrats in ancient Greece facilitated large-scale mobilization in defense of their democracy: the promulgation of tyrant-killing legislation— the promulgation, that is, of laws and decrees that explicitly encouraged individuals to “kill a tyrant.” The Athenians promulgated the earliest known tyrant-killing law—called the decree of Demophantos—in June 410, immediately after the democracy, which had been overthrown in the coup of the Four Hundred, had been reestablished. That decree required all Athenians to swear an oath both to kill “whoever overthrows the democracy at Athens or holds any office while the democracy is overthrown” and to reward anybody who kills such a man.
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