As argued in recent decades by linguists such as G. Lakoff, Z. Kövecses, J. Charteris-Black, A. Musolff or R.W. Gibbs, conceptual metaphor is a reflection of patterns around which human thought and action are organized, and can be expressed in a number of indirect ways both in everyday language and ... (Show more)
As argued in recent decades by linguists such as G. Lakoff, Z. Kövecses, J. Charteris-Black, A. Musolff or R.W. Gibbs, conceptual metaphor is a reflection of patterns around which human thought and action are organized, and can be expressed in a number of indirect ways both in everyday language and socio-political discourse. Classical Athenians described their city-state as a political community ‘based on speeches’, where orators made appeals to their audiences’ shared identities in the political institutions of the city. In their publicly delivered speeches, Athenian in-group identity is referred to not only as a legal status but also a set of normative rules of conduct presented before civic audiences through elaborate rhetorical measures. Athenian speakers and politicians, just like their modern counterparts, could thus go to great lengths to exploit people’s sense of being ‘themselves’ as opposed to ‘others’. This paper argues that metaphorical appeals to shared identities could prove to be a rhetorical skeleton key, employed whenever speakers were striving for favourable reactions from their audiences, but as such, these were also drawn from deeply rooted cultural notions.
The citizenship laws of democratic Athens prescribed that only those of dual citizen descent could ‘share in the city’. Various classical authors eagerly resort to the metaphorical language of ‘sharing in the polis’ (metechein t?s pole?s) to encapsulate citizens’ socio-political status. We find this language in Pericles’ mid fifth-century citizenship law, and the definition of the citizen introduced by Aristotle, which limits it to the political activity of male enfranchised members of the community. Its significance was acknowledged with reference to equal participation of men and women in polis religion in Athens by J. Blok.
This paper will discuss the possible effects and roots of such language of belonging to – and participating in – the polis, quite common in Greek legal and political discourse. It will particularly look at how concepts linked to ‘sharing in the polis’, from conceptual domains seemingly so distant from each other, such as ownership, religious sacrifice, and allotment of land could be used in classical Athens to reframe current political issues through ideas at the core of Greek thinking about poliadic citizenship.
In analysing such concepts, this paper will draw upon modern theories in cognitive linguistics and discourse analysis, including Conceptual Metaphor Theory, Critical Metaphor Analysis, and metaphorical framing theories, in order to unfold some common ideas and experiences that might have stood behind the conceptualisations of political status and participation in ancient Greece, and to explore the ways in which civic identity was constructed, reframed, and exploited in classical Athenian rhetoric. (Show less)