Politics and the Street in Democratic Athens

A Gottesman

In his new book, Politics and the Street in Democratic Athens (Cambridge University Press, 2014, Print / Online), Alex Gottesman explores the informal political structures that helped to shape events in the more widely documented institutions of assembly, council, and courts in Democratic Athens. Identifying the cryptic utterances and odd descriptions of ancient Greek literature for evidence of puzzles not yet explained by historians, Professor Gottesman patches together patterns of interactions and associations that point to a public sphere centered around the Athenian Agora.

The boundaries between formal and informal political structures were rather porous and they changed over time. Professor Gottesman describes an ancient form of publicity stunts which raised awareness among the public of legal and political issues and procedures. These publicity stunts brought citizens and non-citizens, high born and low, men and women, and slave and free together in a complex network of informal association. Professor Gottesman then speculates on how these informal networks influenced the more famous democratic political institutions of ancient Athens.

I spoke to Alex Gottesman about his new book, Politics and the Street in Democratic Athens, on March 27, 2015.

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—Fred Rowland

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