Democracy: A Life

Democracy: A Life

by Paul Cartledge


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Ancient Greece first coined the concept of "democracy," yet almost every major ancient Greek thinker-from Plato and Aristotle onwards- was ambivalent towards or even hostile to democracy in any form. The explanation for this is quite simple: the elite perceived majority power as tantamount to a dictatorship of the proletariat.

In ancient Greece there can be traced not only the rudiments of modern democratic society but the entire Western tradition of anti-democratic thought. In Democracy, Paul Cartledge provides a detailed history of this ancient political system. In addition, by drawing out the salient differences between ancient and modern forms of democracy he enables a richer understanding of both.

Cartledge contends that there is no one "ancient Greek democracy" as pure and simple as is often believed. Democracy surveys the emergence and development of Greek politics, the invention of political theory, and-intimately connected to the latter- the birth of democracy, first at Athens in c. 500 BCE and then at its greatest flourishing in the Greek world 150 years later. Cartledge then traces the decline of genuinely democratic Greek institutions at the hands of the Macedonians and-subsequently and decisively-the Romans. Throughout, he sheds light on the variety of democratic practices in the classical world as well as on their similarities to and dissimilarities from modern democratic forms, from the American and French revolutions to contemporary political thought. Authoritative and accessible, Cartledge's book will be regarded as the best account of ancient democracy and its long afterlife for many years to come.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780199837458
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 04/05/2016
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 1,025,224
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Paul Cartledge is A.G. Leventis Professor of Greek Culture Emeritus at the University of Cambridge. He is an honorary citizen of modern Sparta and holds the Gold Cross of the Order of Honor awarded by the President of Greece. His previous books include The Cambridge Illustrated History of Ancient Greece (Cambridge, 1997, 2002), The Spartans (Random House, 2004), Alexander the Great (Random House, 2005), Thermopylae (Random House, 2007), Ancient Greece (OUP, 2009), and After Thermopylae: The Oath of Plataea and the End of the Graeco-Persian Wars (OUP, 2013).

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Maps
Prologue Introduction: Lost in Translation? Modern and Contemporary Appropriations of Democracy I

Chapter 1 Sources, Ancient and Modern
Chapter 2 The Emergence of the Polis/Politics/the Political: Modern and Contemporary Appropriations of Democracy II

Chapter 3 The Emergence of Greek Democracy I: Archaic Greece
Chapter 4 The Emergence of Greek Democracy II: Athens 508/7
Chapter 5 The Emergence of Greek Democracy III: Athens 508/7-451/0
Chapter 6 Greek Democratic Theory?

Chapter 7 Athenian Democracy in Practice c. 450-335
Chapter 8 Athenian Democracy: Culture and Society c. 450-335
Chapter 9 Greek Democracy in Credit and Crisis I: Fifth Century
Chapter 10 Athenian Democracy in Court: the Trials of Demos, Socrates and Ctesiphon

Chapter 11 Greek Democracy in Credit and Crisis II: The Golden Age of Greek Democracy (c.375-50) and its Critics
Chapter 12 Athenian Democracy at Work in the 'Age of Lycurgus'?
Chapter 13 The Strange Death of Classical Greek Democracy: a Retrospect

Chapter 14 Hellenistic 'Democracy'? Democracy in Deficit c. 323-86 BCE
Chapter 15 Roman Republic: a sort of Democracy? I: Polybius's Roman Constitution
II: the 'Millar Thesis'
Chapter 16 Democracy Denied: the Roman and Early Byzantine Empire
Chapter 17 Democracy Eclipsed: Late Antiquity, European Middle Ages & the Renaissance

Chapter 18 Democracy Revived I: England in the 17th Century II: France in the late 18th and early 19th Centuries
Chapter 19 Democracy Reinvented I: the United States in the late 18th and early 19th Centuries II: Tocqueville's America
Chapter 20 Democracy Tamed: 19th-century Britain

Epilogue Democracy Now: Retrospect & Prospects
Endnotes: References and Further Reading

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