• Tradition and Innovation in the Kosmos–Polis Analogy

    Carol Atack (see profile)
    Philosophy, Ancient, Political science, History, Homer
    Item Type:
    Book chapter
    Aristophanes, democracy, Classics, Ancient philosophy, history of political thought
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    The analogy between the divine order of the kosmos and the human order of the polis was well established in Greek thought and the basis of a persistent but evolving political cosmology that attempted to link human and divine. The analogy is well attested in both literary evidence and the use of kosmos-derived terms in archaic political structures from several Greek cities. But this analogy was unstable, as philosophical ideas of nature and the divine challenged one side of it and the development of the civic microcosm of the polis, and particularly radical Athenian democracy, challenged the other. The traditional form of the analogy represented by Homeric epic was inherently conservative, in placing Zeus and kings (basileis) in the same position in each side of the analogy, controlling the ordering of cosmic and civic elements respectively, and the office of kosmos, seen particularly in the cities of Crete, replicated that. This chapter explores the use of analogies between macrocosm and microcosm in the political language of the polis, evidenced by epigraphy, and in a range of literary genres from Homeric epic to old comedy, historiography and philosophy.
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    Last Updated:
    2 years ago
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