Talking to Tyrants in Classical Greek Thought

BookTalking to Tyrants in Classical Greek Thought

Talking to Tyrants in Classical Greek Thought

Liverpool Studies in Ancient History


May 1st, 2023





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 challenges.
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.

Author Information

Daniel Unruh is Supervisor in the Classical Tripos at the Faculty of Classics, University of Cambridge. This is his first book.