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Stasis, political change and political subversion in Syracuse, 415-305 B.C.


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Betts, DJ 1981 , 'Stasis, political change and political subversion in Syracuse, 415-305 B.C.', Unspecified thesis, University of Tasmania.

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The thesis examines the phenomena of Otlois, political change and
political subversion in Syracuse from 415 to 305 B.C. The Introductory
Chapter gives a general outline of the problems in this area, together with
some discussion of the critical background. As the problems involved with
the ancient sources for the period under discussion lie outside the
mainstream of the thesis, these have been dealt with in the form of an
Central to the question of civil strife is the problem of definition
and causation. The First Chapter is therefore concerned with the
terminology used by the Greeks to describe their civil disturbances,
together with a discussion of Aristotle's theory of revolutionary cause and
the preservation of constitutions. The conclusion reached in this chapter
is that, although revolutionaries were often motivated by their own personal
ambitions, their ability to gain support from other sections of the
community and, on occasions, carry out successful revolutions, lay in the
fact that the government itself had been inadequate in some areas.
Chapter Two deals with the nature and type of revolutionary activity
in Syracuse from the point of view of the revolutionaries. This involves an
examination of their motivation and method. Their method was dependent, in
the first instance, on the means available to them. This led to a
discussion of their use of propaganda, the availability of arms and manpower
and the use of speed, secrecy and personal violence. Allied to the means
available is the extent of support gained by revolutionaries. It is found
that there were four main areas of support — group and family associations,
the Syracusan people, exiles, and allies and outside powers. The extent of
support from each of these areas is therefore reviewed. Next, the problem is analysed from the point of view of the various governments. The Third Chapter discusses the problems facing those
governments and their attempts to maintain their constitutions or position,
along with the failures that led to outbreaks of revolutionary activity. It
is found that Syracuse had its own inherent problems due to the diversity of
their population and the tendency of the Syracusans to entrust command to a
single ruler. The success of that single ruler was due to his capacity to
command mercenaries, to gain capable and loyal subordinates, to keep the
goodwill of the people and to deal with any opposition. Each of these
aspects is examined but it is also found that, despite his capability, the
single ruler's position always remained threatened since his position was
usually unconstitutional. The final section of this chapter therefore
involves a discussion of the constitutional difficulties facing the various
governments and their failure to find an adequate constitutional arrangement
that allowed for the role of the single ruler.
Beneath the personalities and capabilities of the various individuals
opposing or controlling the government, lay the fundamental problem of Greek
social and economic attitudes. Chapter Four discusses the general aspects
of these attitudes and the stresses on the Syracusan constitution caused by
the widening of privilege and the change of values that had occurred by the
end of the Fifth Century and continued throughout the Fourth Century B.C.
In an examination of the specific problems of the economic situation at
Syracuse it is found that this was an area in which both governments and
revolutionaries alike failed, even though many revolutionaries gained
support from the people by the promise that they would improve the economic
situation of the poor.
The final chapter reviews and assesses the constant problems that led
to a recurrence of civil strife in Syracuse from 415 to 305 B.C., with
reference to what may be regarded as general Greek problems and what were
peculiarly Syracusan or Sicilian problems.

Item Type: Thesis - Unspecified
Authors/Creators:Betts, DJ
Copyright Information:

Copyright 1981 the author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

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Thesis (M.A.)--University of Tasmania, 1981

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