Athens on Trial
The Antidemocratic Tradition in Western Thought
Jennifer Tolbert Roberts


The Classical Athenians were the first to articulate and implement the notion that ordinary citizens of no particular affluence or education could make responsible political decisions. For this reason, reactions to Athenian democracy have long provided a prime Rorschach test for political thought. Whether praising Athens's government as the legitimizing ancestor of modern democracies or condemning it as mob rule, commentators throughout history have revealed much about their own notions of politics and society. In this book, Jennifer Roberts charts responses to Athenian democracy from Athens itself through the twentieth century, exploring a debate that touches upon historiography, ethics, political science, anthropology, sociology, philosophy, gender studies, and educational theory.

Jennifer Tolbert Roberts is Professor of History at Southern Methodist University and Associate Professor of Classical Languages and History at the City College of New York and the CUNY Graduate Center. She is the author of Accountability in Athenian Government (Wisconsin) and, with Robert Zaller and Richard Greaves, Civilizations of the West (HarperCollins).