In these interconnected essays the late Geoffrey de Ste. Croix defends the institutions of the Athenian democracy, showing that they were much more practical, rational, and impartial than has usually been acknowledged. A major essay provides a new view of Aristotle's use of sources in The Constitution of the Athenians, on which so much of our knowledge of Athenian constitutional history depends. Ste. Croix also argues that commercial factors had much less
influence on Greek politics than modern scholars tend to assume, and that there was no such thing in any Greek state as a `commercial aristocracy'. As always, he works out these general positions with the utmost
lucidity and pungency, and in meticulous detail. Though written in the 1960s, these hitherto unpublished essays by a great radical historian will still constitute a major contribution to contemporary debate. The editors and other specialists have supplied an updating Afterword to each chapter, and the book contains a thorough index.