Alkaios on the role of Mytilenian aristocracy in the economic life during stasis

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The purpose of this paper is to analyze the evidence concerning different activities of aristocracy and if possible to define its role in the economic life during a very specific period in the history of archaic Mytilene, i.e. stasis. Alkaios’ poetry provides valuable information on the problem in question. Alkaios is one of the main witnesses and participants in the described events. Besides that, lyrics of Sappho, Alkaios’ contemporary, is used, her poems provide concrete examples which complete Alkaios’ evidence. The results of archaeological investigations corroborate the data of the written sources and shed light on those spheres of aristocracy activities that have not got evident representation in the authentic sources. We are talking about agriculture and the role of aristocracy in this economic sector and moreover about the land as a main source of material well-being of aristocracy. After all the land issue was always in the focus of poleis policy in time of peace as well as during turbulent political strife. Analyzed information from the set of available sources testifies to a very complicated role played by Mytilenian aristocracy in the economic life of Mytilene during stasis that is difficult to evaluate unambiguously. An important evaluation criterion of the role is possession of civil rights of which the losing party may be deprived during stasis while having to flee into exile. In the first case the role may be positive and in the second one negative.

About the authors

Yelena Ivanovna Solomatina

Institute of World History Russian Academy of Sciences

Author for correspondence.

Research Fellow Detachment for Comparative Studies of the Ancient Civilizations

32A, Leninsky pr-t, Moscow, Russian Federation, 119334


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