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Athens on Trial: The Antidemocratic Tradition in Western Thought [Paperback]

Jennifer Tolbert Roberts

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Book Description

Jan. 26 1997

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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From 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,
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"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

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5.0 out of 5 stars History and memory in the making of history Aug. 8 2001
By John C. Landon - Published on
This excellent work recounts the history of views on Athens and democracy over history, with a reminder of just how recently our good opinion of democracy, and therefore of Athens, resurfaces as an aspect of modernism. This change occurring during the rise of the modern, and not really complete til the nineteenth century,at best, is a world historical change of paradigm that reversed the crypto-Platonic authoritarianism of the long millennia after the waning of the great Classical flowering in the onset of the Hellenistic. This restoration requires close study of the still ambivalent views even of many of our great early modern thinkers, and is seen in Rousseau's preoccupation with the Spartans. This work highlights an essential understanding required to understand not only the Greeks but the rise of modern democracy.

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