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The Telos Reconciliation Dossier (IG XII.4.132): Democracy, Demagogues and Stasis in an Early Hellenistic Polis

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 September 2019

Matthew Simonton*
Arizona State University*
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This article examines the remarkable inscribed monument IG XII.4.132, a dossier of documents dealing with political strife and reconciliation in the small island polis of Telos, as an important new piece of evidence for democracy in the early Hellenistic period. Placing the monument in its historical, geographical and political context, I argue that the background to the strife was most likely the activity of ‘demagogues’ in the courts of democratic Telos. Furthermore, we should view the terms of the reconciliation against the backdrop of issues of community service, publicity and memorialization, all contested political topics in the late Classical and early Hellenistic periods. The dossier shows that the kinds of ‘high politics’ and stasis that affected major poleis could be found also in the small cities of the Greek world, with important local variations. The document sits at a historical crossroads in terms both of judicial practices (including the use of foreign judges) and of constitutional forms (democracy and oligarchy).

Research Article
© The Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies 2019 

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* Earlier versions of this paper were given at the Society for Classical Studies meeting in Toronto in 2017, at a lecture for the Program in Ancient Studies at Indiana University at Bloomington in 2017 and at the Association of Ancient Historians meeting at the College of William and Mary in 2018. I thank especially Scott Arcenas, Ben Gray, James Kierstead, John Ma and Eric Robinson for comments and criticisms. Any mistakes that remain are my own. This article is dedicated to JMS, who gave much-needed support when I conceived, researched and wrote the piece. Thanks to the tip of a local woman on Tilos at Megalo Chorio, we were able to locate the (much-weathered) inscription SEG 3.717.