From Publishers Weekly
In ancient times war was universally held to be a natural condition, so Rome's claim to fight only just wars, hypocritical though it may have been, reflected a genuine conflict of values. University of Cambridge historian Finley brings to these reflections on ancient history an insistence that we avoid imposing our own preconceptions on the way things actually were. His short polemic reminds us that primary sources are inexact, archeological evidence is scanty, statistics are suspect, and that the ancients liked to invent; Thucydides' chronicles notwithstanding, we will never be certain what Pericles told the Athenian assembly in 430 b.c. Finley knocks sociologist Max Weber for putting too much emphasis on Greek demagogues' charisma; rabble-rousers' platforms and promises are what swayed the masses, he maintains. He asserts that it is up to each historian to ask the right questions and supply a meaningful conceptual framework, and this underlying credo gives these scholarly essays point and pith. February
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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'The most influential ancient historian of our time Indisputably the most valuable writing on ancient history since 1945.', New York Review of Books
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