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Bryn Mawr Classical ReviewsRoberts has given us an excellent study of [the Athenian] legacy...Athens on Trial deserves praise both for its conception and its execution.
— Eric W. Robinson
The Classical Athenians were the first to articulate and implement the notion that ordinary citizens of no particular affluence or education could make responsible political decisions. For this reason, reactions to Athenian democracy have long provided a prime Rorschach test for political thought. Whether praising Athens's government as the legitimizing ancestor of modern democracies or condemning it as mob rule, commentators throughout history have revealed much about their own notions of politics and society. In this book, Jennifer Roberts charts responses to Athenian democracy from Athens itself through the twentieth century, exploring a debate that touches upon historiography, ethics, political science, anthropology, sociology, philosophy, gender studies, and educational theory.
"A first-rate intellectual and cultural history."--Stephen Goode, The Washington Times
"Roberts . . . writes with learning, wit, acerbity, profundity, and engagement on the vicissitudes of the idea [of democracy] in its supposedly original Athenian form."--Paul Cartledge, New Statesman & Society
|Preface and Acknowledgments|
|Pt. 1||Classical Greece||23|
|Ch. 2||The Athenian Experiment||25|
|Ch. 3||The First Attacks on Athenian Democracy||48|
|Ch. 4||Democracy and the Philosophers||71|
|Pt. 2||Playing With the Past||93|
|Ch. 5||Roman Adaptations||97|
|Ch. 6||Recovering the Greeks||119|
|Ch. 7||Monarchists and Republicans||137|
|Ch. 8||The Debate over Athens and Sparta||156|
|Ch. 9||Athenian Democracy in the Age of Revolutions||175|
|Ch. 10||A Shift in the Sands||208|
|Pt. 3||Modern Transformations||227|
|Ch. 11||The Turning of the Tide||229|
|Ch. 12||Athenians and Others||256|
|Ch. 13||Epilogue: The Old and the New||291|
Posted April 14, 2009
After special ordering this book and getting sidetracked 1/4 way through, I recently set out to return to and complete Athens on Trial. Currently, I am about 1/2 of the way through Chapter 9 (The Age of Revolutions). Since I am still a high school student, I actually hear attempts at many of the classical antidemocratic dogmas that Roberts writes about. Although most interested in reading this book are not surrounded by somewhat pretentious school mates, I expect that you will get just as much a kick out of Roberts' clarity and wit that I do. (I understand that what I said was a pretty big cliche).
While the text goes in to a great amount of detail, my experience has also been defined by some of the more surface-level factoids. I am ignorant of much of the ancient's influence, and occasional expository statements like "Plutarch probably taught people more (or less) about ancient history than all other classical authors combined,"(118) really help the reader understand the significance of the subjects that Roberts addresses.