The Use And Abuse Of History

Paperback
Few writers have taught us more about the ancient world than M. I finley. This provocative and wide-ranging collection of his essays contains illuminating discussions of some major issues- the nature of the Spartan state, the development of Greek law, mythological thinking in the Greek historians, utopian ideas old and new. Yet Finley's immense and detailed knowledge of ancient societies is matched by his equally challenging insights into far larger topics of historical technique (can archaeology and anthropology really teach us much about ancient history?), the dangers of easy generalizations (was there ever really a Greek nation?) and the ways in which we all use the past to deal with our present problems (why have political activists from Isocrates to Edmund Burke and F. D. Roosevelt all preached a return to some kind of 'ancestral constitution?) The final chapter considers the boldest question of all- what the classical tradition still has to offer and why it is still worth studying history and the ancient world.