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Description de l’éditeur
The 2,500 year story of democracy, from ancient Greece to the twenty-first century
In this erudite and highly technical history, Cartledge (After Thermopylae), emeritus professor of Greek culture at Cambridge University, revisits the roots of democracy to understand how ancient Greeks understood and practiced it. Fundamentally distinct from democratic theories espoused today, the Greeks' notion of democracy emphasized the "rule of the poor" over the rich, creating a political system that was, to its detractors, little more than mob rule. As Cartledge moves through the history of this largely (but not solely) Athenian institution, he finds it constantly under threat from internal and external forces seeking to either pervert democracy or supplant it with oligarchy. Such turbulence means that there is no singular Greek democracy of which to speak, and Cartledge runs through a number of versions as they were implemented and practiced. In comparing these differing species to one another and, in the final chapters, to the democratic systems birthed in the early modern era Cartledge teases out what is essential and what is adaptive about ancient democracy. Piecing together a cogent narrative from a series of largely incomplete, inaccurate, or contradictory sources many of them secondhand is very difficult, but Cartledge nevertheless manages to bring ancient democracy to life, warts and all.