The Defeat of Athens in 404 BC in The Federalist

Abstract : References to classical antiquity were of great importance in the public debate on the ratification of the United States Constitution in 1787 and 1788. This paper asks how the defeat of Athens in the Peloponnesian War of 431 to 404 BC was used in the most important and most influential document of political thought from this period, The Federalist, a collection of essays written by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay in defence of the Constitution. The defeat of Athens is interpreted in these essays as a prime example of the failures and dangers that resulted from unrestricted popular government, a view that reflected contemporary concerns about the internal stability and safety of the new political order as well as the preoccupations prevalent in the ancient and early modern texts that were The Federalist’s authors’ sources.
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Hans Kopp. The Defeat of Athens in 404 BC in The Federalist. KTÈMA Civilisations de l'Orient, de la Grèce et de Rome antiques, Université de Strasbourg, 2017, 42, pp.97-114. ⟨halshs-01669232⟩

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