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Death to Tyrants!Ancient Greek Democracy and the Struggle against Tyranny$
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David A. Teegarden

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691156903

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691156903.001.0001

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The Anti-Tyranny Dossier from Eresos

The Anti-Tyranny Dossier from Eresos

(p.115) 4 The Anti-Tyranny Dossier from Eresos
Death to Tyrants!

David A. Teegarden

Princeton University Press

The earliest extant inscriptions from Eresos record punitive actions taken by the Eresian dēmos against tyrants and their descendants. This chapter argues that the “anti-tyranny dossier” documents Eresos's transition from an unstable, nondemocratically governed polis to a stable polis governed by an authoritative dēmos. The argument is presented in three parts. The first part interprets the actions recorded in the first two texts of the dossier. Therein, it argues that Alexander ordered the Eresians to try the two tyrants in order to establish the pro-democrats' threat credibility and thus stabilize the new democratic regime. The second part interprets the actions recorded in the third, fourth, and fifth texts. The argument in that section is that the exiles' attempts to return to Eresos were potentially destabilizing because they suggested that exogenous factors (i.e., events outside of Eresos's new unilateral deterrence game set up by the trial) might undermine the dēmos's threat credibility. The third part interprets the action documented in the sixth text. It argues that the pro-democrats, now confident that the kings would not intervene on behalf of tyrants, proactively ended their potentially destabilizing struggle with tyrants by definitively proclaiming the permanent credibility of their threat.

Keywords:   Eresos, tyrant-killing law, ancient Greeks, anti-tyranny, dossier, punitive action

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