Center for Interdisziplinary Research

The Rule of the Few

Aristocratic Policy, Communication and 'Noble' Lifestyle in Antiquity and Early Modern Times

Date: March 1 - 3, 2006
Organizers: Hans Beck (Montreal), Peter Scholz (Frankfurt/Main), Uwe Walter (Bielefeld)

The workshop aims at emphasizing the phenomenon of the 'rule of the few' as a linking element of ancient political cultures. We intend to re-conceptualize the tension between the aristocratic openness and permeability, on the one hand, and the exclusive and frequently monopolizing nature of its rule, on the other. We will address the differences between Greek aristocracies and the Roman nobility. In comparison to the Roman elite gentilized structures have had a marginal influence on Greek aristocracy. In which way does this affect the Greek governing and ruling style, its representation, ethos and habitus? What were the substantial differences between the Greek and Roman concepts of individual excellence (areté and virtus). Finally, we will investigate in which way aristocratic rule in antiquity may be distinguished from interpretations of similar phenomena in the Middle Ages and early modern times. Two presenters will contrast these with ancient forms of aristocratic rule. Furthermore the concept of social 'prominence' is to be discussed from an ethnologist and a sociologist point of view.

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