Greek bribery

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Hesiod (c. 700 bc) Greek poet

Pericles (c. 495—429 bc) Athenian statesman and general


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Much of the Greek vocabulary for bribery is noticeably neutral (‘persuade by gifts/money’, ‘receiving gifts’), although pejorative terms like ‘gift‐swallowing’ are found in Hesiod. In Attic tragedy, we hear of accusations of bribery against e.g. seers like Tiresias; Thucydides' Pericles affirms that he has not taken bribes; clearly the normal expectation was that politicians did. Accusations of bribery are frequent in the 4th‐cent. orator (see invective), partly because it was necessary to prove bribery in order to make a treason accusation (eisangelia) stick. See also corruption.

Subjects: Classical Studies.

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