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Enduring Empire

Enduring Empire: Ancient Lessons for Global Politics

Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    Enduring Empire
    Book Description:

    An exploration of the ways in which ancient theories of empire can inform our understanding of present-day international relations,Enduring Empireengages in a serious discussion of empire as it relates to American foreign policy and global politics.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-9792-8
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. 1 In the Mirror of Antiquity: The Problem of American Empire
    (pp. 3-19)

    We have been asked to compare the experience of empire in antiquity with contemporary articulations of empire and to consider whether lessons drawn from the ancient past may shed light on the imperial trajectory of contemporary international politics. The Western imagination has long been troubled by the question of how we moderns stand in relation to antiquity; indeed, it is possible to write histories of modern political thought in terms of that question.¹ To think of the matter in this way is to essentially ask what we and our forebears think and have thought about antiquity; but in the way...

  5. 2 Democracy and Empire: The Case of Athens
    (pp. 20-40)

    American democracy has often been compared to Athenian democracy, both favourably and unfavourably.¹ Many authors, for instance, have claimed that Athenian democracy provided more opportunities for genuine participation and a deeper meaning for citizenship than modern democracy. Hannah Arendt, inOn Revolution, cited ancient democracy as the inspiration for the American and French revolutions.² Others, like Saxonhouse, have pointed out that there has been a tendency to view Athenian democracy in an idealized way, ignoring its many ʹinternal contradictions.ʹ³ Others suggest that ancient democracy did not have much influence on modern democracies and perhaps even had a negative influence. Hansen...

  6. 3 Empire by Invitation or Domination? The Difference between Hegemonia and Arkhē
    (pp. 41-53)

    Academics and political commentators have routinely compared the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta with the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union.¹ Despite the almost 2,500 years that separate these two events, the comparison is motivated by the belief that the history of this ancient war can help us better understand contemporary international relations and warfare. Indeed, this is the very kind of analysis that prompted Thucydides to writeThe History of the Peloponnesian War. Early in book 1 he admits that ʹit will be enough for me, however, if these words of mine are judged...

  7. 4 The Freedom to Rule: Athenian Imperialism and Democratic Masculinity
    (pp. 54-68)

    In his ground-breaking work on empires and imperialism, Michael Doyle argues for a broad, flexible, and historically wide-ranging conception of empires. In this paper I follow Doyle and use the term ʹimperialismʹ to mean, broadly, state-based exploitation of others, including the maintenance of control over other statesʹ internal and external politics.¹ To put the matter into a more distinctively ancient idiom, imperialism exemplifies foreign policy in the tyrannical mode. For Doyle, the richly documented ancient empires of Classical Greece and Rome prove to be as illuminating for the study of imperial dispositions, centre–periphery relations, and systemic analyses as the...

  8. 5 Liberty and Empire, with the Benefit of Limited Hindsight – or, What Herodotus of Halicarnassus Saw
    (pp. 69-76)

    Liberty and Empire, with the Benefit of 2500 Years of Hindsight:that, or something like it, is what I would have titled this book. Certainly the other contributors have taken full advantage of this imposing parade of centuries, joining in looking back on antiquity from the vantage point of today. For all their differences in other respects, Ryan K. Balot, David Edward Tabachnick, Barry S. Strauss, David Hendrickson, Toivo Koivukoski, and Leah Bradshaw all bring the baggage of Americaʹs travail in Iraq to their analyses of the policies of ancient Athens. Such an exercise is not just pardonable but even...

  9. 6 Empire and the Eclipse of Politics
    (pp. 77-95)

    In Western political thought, the organization of political communities has been conceived principally between two poles,polisand empire. The Greekpolis, as we know, was a small entity, characterized by a strong sense of citizenship and participatory assembly, and encapsulating what Hannah Arendt called theres publica.Public display, common deliberation, and friendship (according to Aristotle) were core elements of political life in this classical Greek model. In contrast to this, the ancient world also offers us the legacy of empire. Empires aim for growth, not self-sufficiency; they breed bureaucracy rather than deliberative assembly; and they eschew the slow...

  10. 7 Imperial Compulsions
    (pp. 96-113)

    The attitude that changing times, and especially moments of crisis, require new modes of thinking and acting, is a recurrent theme in the history of political thought, and one that represents a moment of opportunity for reflection and recollection. Consider, for example, an argument made by the Corinthians to the Spartans in the fifth century BCE, during the ramp-up to the Peloponnesian War, urging the land-based city to quit its conservative, inward habits and engage more forcefully with the dynamic Athenian empire, ʹalways an innovator, quick to form a resolution and quick at carrying it out.ʹ¹ The Corinthian ambassadors continue...

  11. 8 Rome and the Hellenistic World: Masculinity and Militarism, Monarchy and Republic
    (pp. 114-126)

    In January of 49 BCE, the army of C. Julius Caesar stood on the banks of the Rubicon, the boundary between Caesarʹs legally assigned province and Italy proper. Caesar faced a decision. The Senate in Rome had demanded that he step down from his governorship of Gaul, which he had held for ten years; it had, indeed, already named a successor to the post; and when Caesar failed to respond, it had declared him a public enemy of Rome. We are told that the recalled governor hesitated at the Rubicon about what to do. To submit to the Senate meant...

  12. 9 Imperial Power in the Roman Republic
    (pp. 127-146)

    The Roman army was not a perfect machine, easily overcoming all opposition in a relentless drive towards world conquest. I have long argued¹ that the Romans acquired and maintained their empire only at great cost to themselves, and that any explanation of what drove them to do this must address values and culture – the Romansʹ perception of what was at stake and their priorities that dictated victory at all costs. In particular, they perceived foreign policy as a zero-sum game of honour in which oneʹs perceived ability to inflict violence was the essential, irreducible item on which everything depended....

  13. 10 The Rise of Global Power and the Music of the Spheres: Philosophy and History in Ciceroʹs De re publica
    (pp. 147-163)

    Cicero is popularly known as the last great republican statesman. From the standpoint of politics and political history, this characterization is indubitably just. Nonetheless, Cicero was much more than a politician. His contributions to Roman life were as expansive as the borders of the republic and nascent empire that was the almost singular object of his extraordinary attentions. Cicero was an orator, lawyer, poet, translator, political theorist, and philosophic historian of Rome. It is these last two in particular – philosophic historian and political theorist – that press most profoundly on our present politics. Of especial interest is the manner...

  14. 11 Machiavelliʹs Model of a Liberal Empire: The Evolution of Rome
    (pp. 164-184)

    Empires were not unknown to the classical political philosophers either in theory or in practice. Plato and Aristotle were well aware of the alternative to the Greekpolispresented by the Persian empire and, in Aristotleʹs case, the Alexandrian empire. Cicero defended the idea of theres publicaagainst the emerging imperial ambitions of Pompey, Caesar, and Octavian. Nor is it the case that classical political philosophy was simply hostile to the concept of empire. Both the Platonic and the Xenophontic Socrates used Cyrus the Great and the Persian Empire as a foil for thepolis, sometimes to the detriment...

  15. 12 Post-9/11 Evocations of Empire in Light of Eric Voegelinʹs Political Science
    (pp. 185-214)

    In a 1961 speech that was later published as ʹWorld-Empire and the Unity of Mankind,ʹ Eric Voegelin (1901–1985) stated that the ʹage of empire is coming to its end in our timeʹ because imperial evocations could no longer be considered coherent.¹ Voegelin did not live to see the end of the Cold War and the subsequent ascension of the United States to ʹhegemonʹ and ʹhyperpowerʹ status. Nor did he live to see the resurgence of political Islam, with its aspirations for a global caliphate. While these phenomena might disprove Voegelinʹs claim, their characteristics, and the ideologies that purport to...

  16. 13 Athens as Hamlet: The Irresolute Empire
    (pp. 215-226)

    Readers of Thucydides come away with an impression of Athens as the original example of imperial hubris. Athens preached freedom at home while ruling fellow Greeks abroad; it committed notorious war atrocities such as those on the island of Melos, where it massacred all the men and enslaved the women and children; it committed aggression by invading innocent states like Syracuse. Athenian hegemony lasted about seventy years, from 478 to 404 BCE. It was brought down only by its own overconfidence and egotism.

    These criticisms of Athens are, in fact, a brilliant caricature. Athens could be severe, exacting, meddling, and...

  17. Contributors
    (pp. 227-230)
  18. Index
    (pp. 231-239)