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7 The Comparative Approach in Grote’s History of Greece

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Chapter Summary

This chapter assesses George Grote's use of comparisons with a view to explaining their overall contribution to his History. It surveys his use of comparisons in relation to a number of important themes; source analysis; comparative ethnography; assessment of monarchy and tyranny; portrayals of early Athens and classical Athenian democracy; perspectives on religion and on military history. The author asks whether there is detectable a coherent agenda to Grote's use of parallels, and whether it corresponds to his openly-expressed methodological statements. Recent scholarship has demonstrated the ways in which nineteenth-century histories of Greece were very much involved with the ethnic construction of their classical subjects, developing them through Eurocentric lenses. Criticisms of Athenian democracy had been most sharply expressed in John Gillies' 1786 History of Ancient Greece and William Mitford's History of Greece.

Keywords: Athenian democracy; comparative approach; ethnography; George Grote; military history



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