The Basileis In The Odyssey

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At first glance, the basileis, the chief, could be seen as a wealthy monarch with absolute power, but the reality is that the basileis is a servant of his people, the demos, who allow him his authority and provide him his wealth. The demos rely on the basileis to be the pillar of their society. He must make decisions, whether easy or hard, for his people in order that his people can focus on their livelihood. He must strive to create and maintain alliances with his people, creating a sense of peace in addition to providing security. Although he is the definitive leader of his people, a basileis does not have absolute power. The demos allow him to dominate society, but not control it. The basileis levies no taxes but rather the people present gifts to him in…show more content…
Without the basileis, the demos do not have a definitive voice, and seem to be inept of leading themselves. This cannot be better exemplified by the Odyssey during Odysseus’s absence. “Not once have we held assembly, met in session since King Odysseus sailed in the hollow ships.” which was approximately three years later (Odyssey 2.94). While Odysseus was lost and presumed dead, there was a power vacuum in society from his absence that needed to be filled. Telemachus, referring to the suitors set to replace Odysseus, argues, “Now we have no man like Odysseus in command to drive this curse from the house. We ourselves? We’re hardly the ones to fight them off.” (Odyssey 2.95) The demos did not wholly support Telemachus because he was young and considered “a boy inept at battle”,(Odyssey 2.95). The demos only wants a strong leader, which is why they did not completely support Telemachus, the rightful heir, because he could not fill the role of his father. To the demos, the basileis is a necessity to social operation, as the people of the demos do not have the time to deal with social and political

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