Athens on Trial: The Antidemocratic Tradition in Western Thought

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Bryn Mawr Classical Reviews
Roberts 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
New Statesman & Society
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
The Washington Times
A first-rate intellectual and cultural history.
— Stephen Goode
Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Roberts 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
Bryn Mawr Classical Reviews - Eric W. Robinson
Roberts has given us an excellent study of [the Athenian] legacy...Athens on Trial deserves praise both for its conception and its execution.
The Washington Times - Stephen Goode
A first-rate intellectual and cultural history.
New Statesman & Society - Paul Cartledge
Roberts . . . writes with learning, wit, acerbity, profundity, and engagement on the vicissitudes of the idea [of democracy] in its supposedly original Athenian form.
From the Publisher

"Roberts 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, Bryn Mawr Classical Review

"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

Bryn Mawr Classical Reviews
Roberts 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
Library Journal
Roberts (history, Southern Methodist Univ.) traces the antidemocratic tradition in Western thought from antiquity to the present, locating its origin in reactions to Athenian democracy. Fully cognizant of the difficulties attendant upon getting a true and accurate picture of any period in history--difficulties that become more onerous the further back one peers--she succeeds in convincing the reader of her thesis through the impressive, almost breathtaking wealth of detail she supplies for each period. Her knowledge is both wide and deep, touching on questions ``not only of historiography, but also of ethics, political science, anthropology, sociology, psychology, philosophy, gender studies, and educational theory.'' This study belongs in all pertinent academic collections.-- Leon H. Brody, U.S. Office of Personnel Mgt. Lib., Washington, D.C.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691029191
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 1/6/1997
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 426
  • Sales rank: 1,019,100
  • Product dimensions: 6.03 (w) x 9.14 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments
Abbreviations
Ch. 1 Introduction 3
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
Notes 315
Selected Bibliography 379
Index 393
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 14, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    An extremely original concept, accompanied by an incredible amount of research.

    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.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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