Talking to Tyrants breaks new ground in the study of Classical Greek history and
political thought, exploring the previously unexamined question of how citizens
of Greek city-states approached interaction with kings, tyrants, and other
absolute rulers. Throughout history, states that value collective government and civic
liberties have struggled with how to deal with communities that reject these
values. Modern, western democracies continually debate how to reconcile their
beliefs in human rights and public institutions with the apparent need to
maintain contacts with a range of dictatorships and authoritarian regimes.
Greek poleis of the fifth and fourth centuries BCE faced similar
Through a close reading of several Greek authors, in particular Herodotus, Xenophon, Isocrates and Plato, Talking to Tyrants details the different strategies that these authors depict, adopt, or recommend for enabling communication between the very different worlds of the Greek city state and the monarch’s court. The study is further informed by contemporary Intercultural Communications Theory, which provides a powerful framework for examining the ways in which individuals from different cultures and political systems interact.