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8 Grote’s Sparta/Sparta’s Grote

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Chapter Summary

This chapter begins with a confession: George Grote is one of the author history heroes, up there in the pantheon alongside Herodotus, Thucydides, Guicciardini, Gibbon, Macaulay - and Moses. The author wrote earlier that Grote was 'making a case' for democratic Athens. The rhetoric of objectivity in historiography of course forbade him from as it were coming out as a forensic advocate, but the fact is that he was a liberal, a utilitarian, and a philosophical radical, so that in his book authoritarian, conservative, and illiberal Sparta could hardly be represented as exemplary, and Grote deployed the full force of his rhetoric against it. After a rather brisk resume of the 'tribal' system at Sparta, Grote moves on to a more minute examination of the "orders of men who inhabited Laconia", that is, of the three main classes and statuses of the state's population: Spartans, Perioeci and Helots.

Keywords: George Grote; Gibbon; Guicciardini; Herodotus; Macaulay; Sparta; Thucydides



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