Phaedra’s Shining Roses: Reading Euripides in Sixth-Century Gaza

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Federica Ciccolella


: In this contribution, I re-examine Xenophon’s negative portrayal of Critias in the Hellenica as a brutal and violent thug. The extant fragments from his once-extensive oeuvre, however, suggest that the historical Critias advocated an elite “counterculture” aimed at reintroducing the traditionally conservative virtues of moderation and good order into contemporary politics in Athens, which he viewed as corrupt and enervating thanks to the corrosive influence of the radical democracy. By attributing the bloody reign of terror of the Thirty as a whole to the desire for personal aggrandizement of its best-known member,  Xenophon effectively removes any theoretical or ideological underpinnings from its government, turning it instead into a stereotypical tyranny, thereby opening the door to oligarchic government in Athens in the future.

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