The challenge of Periclean Athens to the students of civilizations is unmistakable: the city and its empire reached a level of culture and well-being scarcely paralleled in the history of man elsewhere. And like the characters in a Greek tragedy, the city and its leaders and citizens were busy in their time of glory making provision for their own tragic decline.
"I have tried to suggest in general terms," says the author, "the meaning of Periclean Athens, addressing my interpretation to laymen. . . With the increasing mass of specialized research on ancient Athens, it is imperative to catch a general notion of the significance of the whole. . . The result is a picture of a complex society, as any great civilization is bound to be, with its magnificent achievements and its faults."
This first volume in The Centers of Civilization Series does indeed give a clear picture of Athenian civilization, its literature, philosophy, and political and judicial writing; its painting, sculpture, architecture, music, and drama; and even the arts of war.
Above all, the book suggests to modern readers the supreme importance of decision in all of man’s affairs, and the frightful consequences of wrong decision, once it is made.