Studies in Greek History and Thought

Studies in Greek History and Thought

Studies in Greek History and Thought

Studies in Greek History and Thought

Synopsis

This is a collection of P.A. Brunt's writings on Greek history and thought--some previously published in journals and others unpublished until now. Subjects covered include Greek political history of the fifth century B.C. and ancient historiography--including an introduction to Thucydides designed for the more general reader, to which the author has now annexed a new study of Thucydides' funeral speech. Four essays concern the relationship between Greek philosophical thinking and social and political conditions, and of these, three, which constitute about a third of the volume, are new. Two examine the extent to which Plato and his pupils sought, or were able, to make any impact on the contemporary world, and the practicality of the model city in Plato's Laws; the third discusses Aristotle's theory of slavery in relation to the actual Greek institution and to other attempts to justify slavery as well as in the context of Aristotle's own ethical doctrines.

Excerpt

Of the chapters in this volume three are newly published, the rest are essays or reviews reprinted, more or less in their original format (though the footnotes have been, where necessary, renumbered in continuous series) with a few minor changes of substance and some verbal improvements. Significant insertions are placed within square brackets, but there is no indication of excisions. In addition I have rewritten one Addendum in Chapter 3, and substituted a lengthy Postscript in Chapter 6 for a brief statement of the same views. The Postscripts to Chapters 1 and 5 present some reconsideration of certain topics discussed in them, but not the results of fresh research.

The subject matter falls into three parts.

First, there are five essays on Greek political history in the fifth century. They were written long ago, but friends have encouraged me to think that they are still useful.

Secondly, there are two essays and two reviews on historiography. The nature and genesis of Chapter 6, with which the reviews are linked, are explained in its first footnote. The inclusion of Chapter 7 may seem incongruous with the title of the volume, but it will be found that Cicero's opinions on historiography were formed by his familiarity with the great Greek historians of both classical and Hellenistic times, if not by Greek rhetorical theory. I may add that my most substantial contribution to Greek historiography, or at least that which I have most laboured on, is to be found in the introduction and appendixes, especially the last, of my Loeb edition of Arrian Anabasis and Indica (two volumes, 1976, 1983). This contains a full assessment of his worth as a historian and many observations on that of his sources.

Thirdly, in four chapters (8-11) and in one review I have ventured on to ground more often trodden by specialists in philosophy. The subjects properly concern the history of ideas, which may be taken to involve an account not only of the processes by which they evolve and are linked, as it were by their own motion, but also of the political, economic, social or religious conditions from which they may arise and which they may affect. Political and social theory is obviously connected most closely with such conditions. The very presuppositions of Greek theory are revealing; for example the conception . . .

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