27 Pages

Family and Neighbours

WithVictor Ehrenberg

No State in the history of the world was ever such a close community as the Greek Polis. Politically it was organized not simply as the sum of its individual members, nor as a number of co-operating bodies which represented the several classes and professions. The State was subdivided into a gradation of communities to which each individual citizen was bound, and the State was the supreme unit formed out of these subdivisions. We have to deal with these smaller and narrower communities which were, all of them, embedded in the greater whole of the State. We have to speak of the relations of the individual to his family, kinsfolk and neighbours. Hitherto our picture of Athenian life and of the Athenian citizen body has been concerned with its various social and economic functions. We are left with the task of inquiring into the general and common nature of the Athenian people; and a study of the smaller communities, especially those of house and family, can best take us the first steps towards that goal.