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Scepticism About Community: Polybius on Peloponnesian Exiles, Good Faith (Pistis) and the Achaian League

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This article examines the ethical foundations of Polybius' political thought, taking as a case study Polybius' ideological representations of groups of Peloponnesian exiles. It argues that relevant passages belong to a wider Greek tradition of paradigmatic representations of exile groups. When considered alongside that tradition and the rest of Polybius' work, these passages show Polybius to be self-consciously sceptical of traditional Greek community-oriented ethical and political notions. They show him to be offering an alternative, less idealistic 'limited' conception of good political organisation, which gives special weight to punctilious respect for law, contracts, procedures, fair play and strict reciprocity.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2013

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  • Historia, first published in 1952 by Karl Friedrich Stroheker and Gerold Walser is an international, peer-reviewed journal on Greek and Roman antiquity. Articles are in English, German, French and Italian. It features original articles on Greek history, the Roman Republic and Empire as well as late antiquity. It covers all aspects of political, economic, religious and social life and deals with legal, archaeological, numismatic and epigraphical questions.
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