Written by one of the leading ancient historians in the world today, this book re-examines the nature of Greek politics and democracy and explores the ways in which they have been perceived since the Renaissance. In a wide-ranging discussion, Vidal-Naquet shows how the nature of political life in Ancient Greece has been interpreted and re-interpreted throughout the centuries, from the first critics of Greek democracy, through the rediscovery of democratic values in the eighteenth century, to the writings of Marx and Renan. He analyzes the distance separating the moderns from the ancients, and argues that people in the eighteenth century were divided over whether to support Sparta or Athens, virtuous austerity or slightly degenerate luxury.
He discusses how certain myths, originating in Ancient Greece, were transformed by succeeding generations. Focusing on the myth of Atlantis, he argues that, in the course of three centuries, it has been used to promote various forms of modern nationalism, despite the fact that Plato originally invented it for pedagogical and philosophical purposes.
Politics Ancient and Modern will be welcomed by students and researchers in Ancient history, Classics, and the history of political thought.show more