The Athenian Basileus to 323 BCE: myth and reality

Kevin O'Toole

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Abstract

The recent more critical analysis of the ancient sources that has led to broad acceptance by modern scholars that there was no ancestral monarchy in geometric Athens of a type comparable to monarchies to the contemporaneous east and south-east of the Aegean, needs also to be applied to the traditional account of the office of the annual Athenian Basileus. The absence of ancestral monarchy itself calls for a review of the traditional account of the origins of the office of the annual Athenian Basileus, based as it is on a genesis from such a monarchy. The notion that the Basileus was "the successor of the Bronze Age kings" is not sustained by a review of such Bronze Age evidence that there is. Similarly the notion that the Basileus was a "pre-eminent religious authority" in Demosthenic Athens, or even the individual in Athens "who had the highest responsibility in religious affairs", is not sustainable on a close and critical review of the ancient sources. Moreover, such a review of the ancient sources, including the Athenaion Politeia, leads to the conclusion that we do not have an adequate grasp of when the office was instituted, what the constitutional status of the annual Basileus was, or what the office actually did.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Publication statusUnpublished - 2012

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