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Herodotus and the Philosophy of Empire

Ann Ward

Publication Year: 2008

In Herodotus and the Philosophy of Empire, Ann Ward treats the classical writer not as a historian but as a political philosopher. Ward uses close textual analysis to demonstrate that Herodotus investigates recurring themes in the most important forms of government in the ancient world. This analysis of The Histories concludes with reflections on the problems of empire, not only for the Persians and the striving Athenians, but for our own government as well. To this end, Ward contrasts Herodotus on empire with the assumptions underlying speeches and writings of Paul Wolfowitz, Colin L. Powell, Joseph S. Nye, Jr. and Robert W. Merry.

Published by: Baylor University Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii

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pp. ix-x

The present work stems from the support and inspiration that I received from teachers to whom I owe a special debt of gratitude. My teacher and mentor Mary Nichols has provided me her friendship, patience, and wisdom throughout my studies and career, and without her this book would not have been possible. I also wish to give special thanks to my teachers Michael ...

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Chapter 1. Introduction

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pp. 1-22

In the Histories, Herodotus offers a political science that combines freedom for thought with action and deliberation and culminates with Athens’ manifestation as the best regime. Herodotus’ defense of Athenian democracy occurs within the context of his transcultural system of regime analysis, including Egyptian theocracy, Scythian nomadism, Persian monarchy, ...

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Chapter 2. Egypt and Scythia: The Pious and the Poetic Regimes

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pp. 23-64

In Herodotus’ narrative, Egypt and Scythia represent two opposing but parallel ways of life, the principles of which we will find combined in various ways by Herodotus’ Persians, Athenians, and Spartans. It is important, therefore, to consider Herodotus’ Egyptians and Scythians, as they are the two cultures whose complex syntheses are reflected in the ways of life of the ...

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Chapter 3. Persia and Regimes in Theory

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pp. 65-106

Herodotus’ Persians are both “rationalists” and imperialists; as such they combine rest and motion, the two principles that govern nature. The character of Persian rationalism, first revealed by the Persian chroniclers, is to grasp at the universal and that which is at rest while ignoring the particular and that which is in motion. The Persian intellect seeks to understand a nature that ...

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Chapter 4. Athens and Regimes in History

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pp. 107-158

In Herodotus’ survey of actual historical regimes, Athens stands at the peak of the political possibilities that he explores.1 It is Athens, not Sparta, which is responsible for preserving Greek freedom against Persian attempts to incorporate Greece into a Persian empire ruled by a single Persian king. Crucial for Athens’ service to Greek freedom is the Athenian mind’s inclination ...

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Conclusion: Herodotus and the Role of the Historian

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pp. 159-172

The Histories provides a solution to the problem of empire. Apparently desired by Athens at the end of the book, empire and the imperialist impulse is a fundamental problem of politics, identified by Herodotus in his work. Herodotus in the Histories shows the Athenians, and others like them, that they can satisfy intellectually the desires and dreams that motivate the pursuit ...

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Epilogue: 9/11 and the Politics of Empire

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pp. 173-190

The war between “civilization” and “terrorism” has emerged in the eyes of many as the greatest war of our time.1 Brought most dramatically into public view by the attacks on the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, the “war on terrorism” has given rise in the United States to various pragmatic approaches to making the world safe from the ...


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pp. 191-228


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pp. 229-236


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pp. 237-248

E-ISBN-13: 9781602582330
E-ISBN-10: 1602582335
Print-ISBN-13: 9781602580077
Print-ISBN-10: 1602580073

Page Count: 260
Publication Year: 2008

Edition: 1