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By Kellam Conover

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A Relational Approach to Bribery The relational approach adopted here begins with the simple claim that bribery entails both social relations and norms. First, bribery is never conducted in a social vacuum: there are always at least two participants linked by some kind of social tie, even 29 Conover Bribery in Classical Athens Chapter One if that tie is as bare as an arms-length bureaucrat-citizen relationship. Second, and this is precisely the phenomenon captured by defining bribery as a kind of “illicit payment” or “abuse,” bribery implies a violation of some norm.

3; cf. Plut. Them. 5-6=Phanias fr. 24 Wehrli. 26 Understanding the significance of the events at Artemisium requires moving past the standard view. This section presents a case for how a relational approach can help. Two aspects of a relational approach to bribery lend themselves particularly well to the Athenian context. Because the Athenians had no word for ‘bribe’, the Athenian vocabulary of bribery focused on compensation and the violation of social norms. As we saw in the previous section, these were the two critical components in a relational model of bribery.

112-13, Hdt. 1, Lys. 10, Xen. Cyr. 3. Cf. Theog. 192-3.

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