An Intellectual History of Political Corruption by Bruce Buchan, Lisa Hill (auth.) PDF

By Bruce Buchan, Lisa Hill (auth.)

ISBN-10: 1137316616

ISBN-13: 9781137316615

ISBN-10: 1349339121

ISBN-13: 9781349339129

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325–c. 391 CE) discoursed on the increased opportunities that empire provided for corruption, understood here in both the narrower and broader senses. Commenting on increasing disturbances under Constantius II, he wrote that the latter ‘fattened’ his friends ‘with the marrow of the provinces . . without consideration for justice or right’, thereby fomenting ‘internal revolt’. 108 Each new generation of Rome’s leadership would become more degenerate, thereby exposing the constitution to collapse.

251 The ambiguities of gift and patronage relations, however, should not blind us to what many contemporaries considered corruption to be. There is a good deal of certainty about what corruption consists in when we look at the histories and legal records of the period; nonetheless, it was also true that the gift played a central role in social, political and economic relations. Custom quite frequently conflicted with the law and was often used as a justification for flouting it. Another complicating and confusing factor here is that, even in the literary sources that communicate a high morality about corruption, there are still conflicting viewpoints, not only between authors, but also between statements made by the same author.

200 6. 1. 203 Bribery was one thing, but bribery that hurt the interests of the polis was quite another. 204 Hypereides makes a similar point: ‘Whether someone took money you see, is not as grave an issue as whether he took it from an improper source’. 207 Hypereides insists that it is quite acceptable to enjoy some perks from public office and, further, that it is Conceptions of Political Corruption in Antiquity 37 understandable that the courts might turn a blind eye in such circumstances. 208 In this case, Hypereides is referring to a case of embezzlement from the state involving vast sums in which the accused [Demosthenes and Demades] have, by their actions, ‘threatened the very body politic’.

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An Intellectual History of Political Corruption by Bruce Buchan, Lisa Hill (auth.)

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