Athens has, at different times and from different points of view, been cited as a model of moderate democracy and triumphant humanism, or, on the contrary, as an illustration of the disorders due to demagoguery and misguided imperialism. Professor Mossé looks beyond these judgments to discuss the exceptional destiny of Athens – a city which for two centuries dominated the Eastern Mediterranean world, but then faded from the political scene when Rome extended its control over the whole Mediterranean.
The history of Athenian democracy does not end in 404 BC, as is sometimes thought, when the city capitulated to Sparta at the end of its Golden Age. Athens in Decline, first published in 1973, demonstrates how the city experienced another seventy-five years of greatness, and survived, more or less curtailed, under Macedonian domination. She examines the reasons for the final collapse and follows the stages of a decline which was not wholly without grandeur.