Places of citizenship in Athenian forensic oratory

Plastow, Christine (2023). Places of citizenship in Athenian forensic oratory. In: Filonik, Jakub; Plastow, Christine and Zelnick-Abramovitz, Rachel eds. Citizenship in Antiquity: Civic Communities in the Ancient Mediterranean. Rewriting Antiquity. London: Routledge, pp. 355–368.



There is a strong relationship among citizenship, place, and social practice. This chapter focuses on the rhetoric of citizenship through two forms of placemaking, defined by connecting places to ideologies or procedures of citizenship. The chapter examines the use of two Athenian places related to citizenship in the forensic speeches: the Propylaia and the Bouleuterion. The Propylaia is an example of a space connected with ideology: it is not used so much as experienced as part of a number of civic rituals and activities associated both with citizenship and with Athenian victory and superiority. As a result, it holds rhetorical power as a reminder of the lineage and heritage of Athenian citizenship. The Bouleuterion, by contrast, is associated with procedure as the site of a large amount of everyday citizen activity necessary to the running of the city. In rhetorical terms, then, it can be useful as a synecdoche for the democracy and holds particular potency as a site for the potential corruption of the city if the judges fail to do their job. The chapter ends with an examination of two passages from Aeschines that employ the concept of the removal of the Propylaia and the Bouleuterion to Thebes, which solidifies the ideological power and association with Athens and Athenian citizenship of these two sites, and inverts other rhetorical uses to make a particularly powerful political argument.

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