Research group: Ancient, medieval, and early modern studies (RAMES)

Open seminar: The Road More Travelled, the Story Less Told: Uncovering the Ancient Roots of Modern Oligarchy

Ingvar Mæhle

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Open seminar: The Road More Travelled, the Story Less Told: Uncovering the Ancient Roots of Modern Oligarchy


At the Department of Archaeology, History, Cultural Studies and Religion, under the auspices of the Research Group for Ancient, Medieval and Early Modern Studies.


In a review of Matthew Simonton’s Ancient Greek Oligarchy – A Political History (Princeton 2017), Paul Cartledge summed up both the present situation within the field of ancient political history and the likely future influence of this book very succinctly:


In contrast to the huge amount of work done on ancient and modern democracy and democrats there is a yawning abscence of work on ancient – or modern – oligarchs and oligarchy. That gap is now triumphantly filled by Matthew Simonton´s brilliant book on oligarchy in the ancient Greek world.


Over three days, September 25-27th , we invite students and colleagues alike to take part in the open lecture (wednesday) by Professor Simonton and our seminar on oligarchy, ancient, medieval and modern (thursday and friday). Our second guest and keynote speaker is professor in Social Sciences, Stuart Robinson, who will address the theme from contemporary experiences with oligarchy and democracy, looking backwards to their ancient roots. Detailed program below.


Organizers:     Ingvar B. Mæhle, Associate Professor in Ancient history (AHKR)

                        Peter Hatlebakk, PhD fellow in medieval and early modern history (AHKR)

                        Sotiria Koutopetrou, MA in Ancient History (AHKR)


Questions:       Contact Ingvar. B. Mæhle on email: ingvar.mahle@uib.no or phone: 92400730


Wednesday September 25th, 1215-1400h

Open lecture: Ancient Greek Oligarchy

Professor Matthew Simonton, Arizona State University:

Aud. A, Sydneshaugen Skole: http://rom.app.uib.no/romInfo/q.php/134/105


Thursday September,26th, from 0900h to 1600h:

Seminar day 1: Ancient and medieval political systems

Seminar room 2 (408) Jussbygget, Magnus Lagabøtes plass 1: http://rom.app.uib.no/romInfo/q.php/124/408


0900    Coffee

0915    Introduction (Ingvar B. Mæhle, UiB)

0930    The Not-So-Iron Law: The Surprising Failure of Ancient Greek Oligarchy (Matthew Simonton, ASU)

1015    Democracy and Oligarchy as Opposites on a Continuum: The Gliding Scale Model (Ingvar B. Mæhle)

1100    Break

1115    The oligarchs of the late Roman Republic and their sources of power (Per-Bjarne Ravnå, UiN)

1200    Lunch

1330    Petrus Crassus: A Jurist in the Eleventh Century - and his Political Theory (Leidulf Melve, UiB)

1415      Oligarchy in the Middle Ages (Sverre Bagge, UiB)

1500    Roundtable discussion

1630    End of day 1


Friday September 27th, from 0900h to 1600h,


Seminar day 2: Early modern and modern political systems

Seminar room 1, Øysteinsgate 3: https://www.uib.no/ahkr/kart


0900    Coffee

0915    The Role of Ancient Greek Political Roots in Contemporary Democratic Mythology (Stuart Robinson, UiT)

1000    Sparta meets Eidsvold: Elite formation and national independence founded on certain lessons from Universal History (Peter Hatlebakk, UiB)

1045    Break

1100    The Modern Hellenic Republic a Liberal Oligarchy? (Sotiria Kousopetrou, UiB)

1200    Lunch

1330    The ‘Pathos of Liberty’: Mixed Feelings & Questionable Boundaries at the Democratic-Oligarchic Juncture (Stuart Robinson, UiT.)

1415    Roundtable discussion

1600    End of day 2