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Greek and Roman Political Ideas: A Pelican Introduction (Pelican Books)

Greek and Roman Political Ideas: A Pelican Introduction (Pelican Books) [Kindle Edition]

Melissa Lane
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

What is politics?

What are the origins of political philosophy?

What can we learn from the Greeks and Romans?

In Greek and Roman Political Ideas, acclaimed classics scholar Melissa Lane introduces the reader to the foundations of Western political thought, from the Greeks, who invented democracy, to the Romans, who created a republic and then transformed it into an empire. Tracing the origins of political philosophy from Socrates to Cicero to Plutarch, Lane reminds us that the birth of politics was as much a story of individuals as ideas.

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Where it all began 6 July 2014
Even if we have never formally studied the ancient world, or for that matter the history of politics, most of us are uncomfortably aware that western thinking about politics is very largely a series of footnotes to Greek and Roman authors. Even the words themselves- democracy, republic, constitution, politics itself - are borrowed from Greek and Latin. Yet trying to engage with the original authors, even in translation, can be a daunting and confusing exercise.
One of the virtues of Melissa Lane's little book is that it helps to explain why this is so: the adventures of words like "democracy" and even "politics" itself have been so various that they now have little or no connection with the concepts the Greeks and Romans knew; Wisely, therefore, the author makes few attempts to relate Greek and Roman thinking directly to modern ideas and controversies, and thus avoids confusing the reader with fake similarities.
In addition, the author has elected, wisely it seems to me, not to offer potted summaries of great thinkers, but rather tackle eight more general themes, illustrated by examples from different writers. This provides a satisfying and evolutionary approach to the development of political ideas, as well as, inevitably, making one wonder whether the Greeks, in particular, didn't have all the answers already. (To which a proper response would be, no they didn't have all the answers, but they asked pretty mulch all the right questions.)
In summary, an excellent introduction, clear and well written, which places the Greek and Roman thinkers correctly in their times.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book 4 Aug 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Still reading this as a lot to take in. Very clearly written and easy to follow.
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 3 July 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
My 14 year son found it "intense" but "very good"
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