Jacoby's influential opinion that the Atthidographers were part of the political discourse of the fourth century has been the subject of revision in recent years. His critics have argued that the genre of Atthidography is primarily antiquarian and that to look for partisan political attitudes in the Atthides is a mistake. An examination of the work of Kleidemos, however, reveals a coherent presentation of the Athenian past designed to vindicate the democratic constitution and to demonstrate the close connection between the democracy and Athens' naval power. This emerges most clearly in Kleidemos's treatment of three important democratic heroes: Theseus, Kleisthenes, and Themistokles. By the fourth century, Theseus had already emerged as the most popular Athenian hero. His accomplishments were modeled in part on the deeds of Herakles and were recorded in vase painting and relief sculpture, and on the walls of the Stoa Poikile. Kleidemos presented a distinctive account of Theseus, emphasizing his role in founding the Athenian navy in preparation for the expedition to Krete. Kleidemos portrayed him as a leader capable of defending Athens and making peace with Athens' enemies, first the Kretans and later the Amazons. This is a king in the tradition of Euripides' Theseus in the Suppliants, the ruler of a free and democratic city. The connection between democratic leadership, Athenian might, and the naval power of Athens is also underscored in Kleidemos's handling of Kleisthenes. Again, the information provided by Kleidemos is distinctive, inasmuch as he reports that it was Kleisthenes who was responsible for the system of naukrariai, which he likens to the symmories of the fourth century. Unlike the version of the Ath. Pol., which imagines the Kleisthenic demes replacing the Solonian naukrariai, Kleidemos saw the demes and naukrariai as complementary divisions, the former organizing the state's resources for the upkeep of the navy, and the latter establishing the political basis for the democracy. Themistokles is also given unique treatment. Kleidemos records the anecdote according to which Themistokles was responsible for the Battle of Salamis because he found sufficient money to man the ships when the generals had run out of funds and had ordered the abandonment of the city. He used the disappearance of the gorgoneion of the statue of Athena as an excuse to ransack the baggage of the Athenians and collect enough wealth to pay the fleet. The story is as tendentious as the account in the Ath. Pol., which gives the credit to the Areopagos. Both versions demonstrate how Athens' past had become a battleground in the political debates of the mid-fourth century. Unlike the epitaphios logos with its emphasis on the eternal and unchanging glory of Athens, the "Atthis" of Kleidemos attempted to prove that the greatness of Athens rested historically on three foundations: the heroes of the democracy, the democratic constitution, and the navy.

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