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The Greek Concept of ελευθερια


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  • 自由のギリシア的理解


<p>The idea of ελευθερια as conceived by the ancient Greeks was primarily political As against external forces, it meant independence from any foreign rule, something to be defended at any cost in face of the terror of foreign encroachment and in the state itself, it meant not to be under the rule of a tyrant, something to be long commemorated when successfully achieved As they recognized such a state of being as established among themselves, and as they observed furthermore the fact that all the other peoples (βαρβαροι) were invariably under absolute despotism, they came to be strongly convinced that freedom was just the word for the Greeks only As a result, it did not strike the Greeks as being strange to treat the 'barbarians' as δουλοι, though theoretically they were not absolutely without doubt regarding the master-slave relation among themselves To them the situation appeared as natural as the racial difference between the two And, though what we call the idea of equality (ισηγορια, ισονομια) had been early cultivated among the Greeks, it was destined to be kept within that boundary, never crossing over the barrier between the Greeks and the barbarians It has been criticized that the Greek concept of ελευθερια was narrow and limited, not only from the view-point above stated, but also on the ground that the ελευθρια known to them was political only, and never had anything to do with individual and personal liberty However, could one be justified to acknowledge such a statement ? In Book VIII of the Republic Plato states that the supreme good sought for m democracy is the liberty, which is explained as 'the state of being able to do whatever one desires to do' (εξουσια ποιειν οτι τιζ βουλεται) And we find a similar concept of liberty employed by Aristotle, Politics V 1-2, in his definition of demociacy We might possibly say that m ancient Greece, at least in those democratic states, personal liberty was not unknown either Not only do we read this m those philosophical works just mentioned, but also in the historical writings of Thucydides E g to the mind of those men on the Scilian expedition, their mother country now far away was, first of all, a country of greatest ελευθερια, where every man was free to enjoy his daily life subject to no control (πατριδοζ τηζ ελευτερωτατηζ και τηζ εν αυτη ανεπιτακτου4 πασιν ειζ την διαιταν εξουσιαζ) And the Epitaphian Oration of Pericles might well be regarded as a decisive vote (ο κολοφων) for one in the position of defending the ελευθερια of the Greeks, for Pericles is here found ensuring personal liberty in everyday life as well as political freedom Such personal liberty, however, as is supposed to have been realized in a state such as Athens, was something which could only be secured and defended provided that the independence of the state and the political freedom were ensured, something too delicate to stand by itself And this is the very reason why Pericles had in addition to lay great emphasis on the necessity of observing the law written or unwritten as an essential condition in order that they might keep their mutual relationship untouched with any infringing on the interests of the others Maintenance of the balance, however, between the ordinance of law and personal liberty was left to the good sense of individuals, the harmony between the two being optimistically just expected, and, apart from this, there was hardly to be found any positive principle sufficient to guarantee that harmony Nor was this all, the increasing tendency towards making slight of the laws, which found its theorization in the so-called νομοζφυσιζ controversy, exposed this balance to the danger of being overthrown Such was the radical form of personal liberty which Plato perceived in the decadence of democracy, where law was utterly disregarded, σωφροσυνη lost and every επιθυμια liberated, resulting in anarchy, which in its turn was</p><p>(View PDF for the rest of the abstract.)</p>



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