What Makes a Demagogue? The Figure of the Rhetor in the Closing Years of the Peloponnesian War

Tomás Pacheco Bethencourt

Streszczenie w języku polskim


It is usual to associate the word “demagogue” with bad political leadership. At worst, it is also usual to think about a leader that uses deception and feeds on the more primal emotions of the people to get what he wants. But, in reality, answering the question of what a demagogue was is far from easy. Thus, this paper hypothesizes that there is no substantial difference between a demagogue and a rhetor in Athenian democracy. As its method, the paper analyses the context of use of the term by the different actors as to shed some light on their intentions. First, the paper examines the concept of “demagogue” and how the term appears in the democratic tradition, by focusing on its usage in the works of authors such as Aristophanes, Lysias and Thucydides. Next, it refers to the way in which adversaries of Athenian democracy, especially deriving from philosophy, used the term. As this paper will show, there is a significant difference between the two usages, the former being descriptive and the latter pejorative. Finally, the paper concludes that both in the descriptive and pejorative sense, being a demagogue meant to be a rhetor, a leader of the demos.


Słowa kluczowe


Athenian democracy, Peloponnesian War, leadership, political assembly, demagoguery, tyranny, political rhetoric

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Bibliografia


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17951/k.2020.27.2.15-28
Data publikacji: 2021-01-26 15:37:16
Data złożenia artykułu: 2020-04-07 11:42:37


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