The next two chapters are a general discussion of ancient democracy. Of ancient states, Rome and Sparta evoked the most interest until the eighteenth century, when the political system of Athens came to be seen as "better" than that of Sparta.
How can such a brilliant, cultured society as the Athenian be so exploitative and have such a double standard? He concludes by urging historians to place themselves "towards the objective and dispassionate end of the spectrum" p.
I want to end my review on a personal note. Athenian democracy in particular has been the subject of this approach, and R. However, let us not forget that Athens was not atypical. Chapter 5 "Athenian Democracy and Us," pp.
Rhodes, Ancient Democracy and Modern Ideology. He goes on to consider scholars, such as Ober, who apply a contemporary approach to ancient democracy and who criticize those who do not, which R.
He is not unsympathetic to modern theory, and certainly does not peddle an atheoretical approach, but rightly urges caution. Have ideologies been responsible for the eclipse of objectivity by subjectivity? Yet there are still some Forrest and Stockton, for example who can write enthusiastically about Athenian democracy while noting the downside.
How methodologically sound, asks R. Understanding how institutions worked helps to understand how a state worked, but that is only one side of the coin. Against a background of simplification, economically-driven publishers, eye-catching titles, and the like, R.
He discusses what history is, what it means to people, how to approach it, and how it ought to be used. Critics may argue that he is too conservative or even that he has his own political agenda, despite what he says to the contrary cf.
The trick, as R. The other side of the coin is the dynamics of political activity p. Fashions in Scholarship," pp. The chapter begins with a survey of a number of British, European, Australian, and American scholars, from the nineteenth century to the present day, who have tried to explain how ancient democracy worked by analyzing its institutions pp.
And, if they have, then how accurate, or more ominously how inaccurate, a picture of the past in this case of Athenian democracy is being painted, and how much is history being abused as opposed to used?
Bryn Mawr Classical Review There are also aspects of the modern world that can be applied to ancient Athens, such as the condemnation of slavery or the need for political equality among men and women.
However, one of his virtues is that he is prepared to see and to think hard about all viewpoints and all approaches before making a decision on them. He terrified me then with his knowledge and incisiveness, and he still does for that matter though nowadays I believe that I can bluff better. As he says, the past is the past; "we are dealing with people who lived and died, who did things, who thought, said, and wrote things, and who had things done to them; communities which existed and which prospered or failed to prosper; events and processes which occurred; and a body of evidence which requires interpretation but which cannot be twisted so as to mean whatever we want it to mean" p.
With that in mind, we move to Chapter 4 "Democracy: By using a quote from V. This side needs to be treated more cautiously, however, and R.
Attitudes to ancient democracy from the Reformation to today are surveyed in Chapter 3 "Democracy: Then the rise of prosopography, with its focus not on institutions but on people and politics itself influenced by earlier prosopographical work in Roman historyis briefly traced pp.
In the first chapter "History," pp. Then came the opposing reaction of the relativists, especially in the U. As he says on p. He again turns to the differing views of Athenian democracy of Hansen, based on an analysis of institutions, and of Ober, based on the ideology of the people as influenced by people and the system today.London: Duckworth Classical Essays, Duckw orth, ISBN páginas.
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Attitudes to Athenian democracy have always been affectd by the circumstances of those studying it; but, after a period in which scholars professed objectivity and impartiality as their ideal, the possibility of attaining that ideal has been questioned, and ideological commitment and relevance to contemporary circumstances have returned into fashion.
How should we study the democracy of classical Athens? Attitudes to Athenian democracy have always been affected by the circumstances of those studying it.
This text examines the different approaches to its study and argues that objectivity should be strived for. Early democracy was established in ancient Athens, a Greek city-state, and was probably the single most powerful and stable democratic government in Greece.
Greek democracy has a powerful hand in influencing modern democratic practices. In his essay Ancient Democracy and Modern Ideology P.J.
Rhodes considers both modern and ancient attitudes toward democracy, particularly the radical Athenian democracy of the fifth and fourth centuries B.C. Rhodes discusses the various approaches classical scholars have adopted in their study of democracy.4/5(1).
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