Download e-book for kindle: Citizenship in the Western Tradition: Plato to Rousseau by Peter Riesenberg

By Peter Riesenberg

ISBN-10: 0807844594

ISBN-13: 9780807844595

Meant for either normal readers and scholars, Peter Riesenberg's instructive booklet surveys Western principles of citizenship from Greek antiquity to the French Revolution. it's impressive to watch the endurance of significant civic beliefs and associations over a interval of 2,500 years and to profit how these beliefs and associations traveled over area and time, from the traditional Mediterranean to early sleek France, England, and the US.

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Extra info for Citizenship in the Western Tradition: Plato to Rousseau

Sample text

Further, it appeared that Sparta was hardly a city in any meaningful sense, but rather an agricultural community with peculiar institutions that could not possibly have contributed anything to the roots we search for in our past. Putting aside these and other misconceptions, we can see that the war society of Sparta gave a great deal to the foundation of Western citizenship. Its contribution came out of the very nature of its constant war or preparation for war, in which performance on the battlefield in the service of the com- Page 8 munity conveyed the highest honor.

Battlefield glory is powerful enough to alter society's basic hierarchies. To this total commitment the alternative is more than removal from the community, greater than oblivion. It is disgrace, shame remembered and celebrated generation upon generation. This moral and constitutional program of "good order" Tyrtaeus sums up in the word eunomia. 5 This special citizenship developed because of the particular conditions that shaped the Spartan polity. Her citizenship developed against the backdrop of war and fear of rebellion.

Then, as Sparta needed new hoplites, she expanded the citizenry, in effect creating a hierarchy of citizenries. Eventually, the very success of the hoplite armies in bringing new territories and peoples under her rule changed the nature of Spartan life. The citizen became an awesome, apprehensive warrior ruling a large population, which was excluded from public life and which included not only the servile Helots but also the Perioikoi, who lived in Page 10 dependent villages. Their political and military concerns being constant, Spartan citizens were, therefore, denied any career other than the military, any success other than victory.

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Citizenship in the Western Tradition: Plato to Rousseau by Peter Riesenberg


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