The Rise and Fall of Classical Greece

Princeton University Press, 2015 M05 4 - 448 páginas

A major new history of classical Greece—how it rose, how it fell, and what we can learn from it

Lord Byron described Greece as great, fallen, and immortal, a characterization more apt than he knew. Through most of its long history, Greece was poor. But in the classical era, Greece was densely populated and highly urbanized. Many surprisingly healthy Greeks lived in remarkably big houses and worked for high wages at specialized occupations. Middle-class spending drove sustained economic growth and classical wealth produced a stunning cultural efflorescence lasting hundreds of years.

Why did Greece reach such heights in the classical period—and why only then? And how, after "the Greek miracle" had endured for centuries, did the Macedonians defeat the Greeks, seemingly bringing an end to their glory? Drawing on a massive body of newly available data and employing novel approaches to evidence, Josiah Ober offers a major new history of classical Greece and an unprecedented account of its rise and fall.

Ober argues that Greece's rise was no miracle but rather the result of political breakthroughs and economic development. The extraordinary emergence of citizen-centered city-states transformed Greece into a society that defeated the mighty Persian Empire. Yet Philip and Alexander of Macedon were able to beat the Greeks in the Battle of Chaeronea in 338 BCE, a victory made possible by the Macedonians' appropriation of Greek innovations. After Alexander's death, battle-hardened warlords fought ruthlessly over the remnants of his empire. But Greek cities remained populous and wealthy, their economy and culture surviving to be passed on to the Romans—and to us.

A compelling narrative filled with uncanny modern parallels, this is a book for anyone interested in how great civilizations are born and die.

This book is based on evidence available on a new interactive website. To learn more, please visit:



1 The Efflorescence of Classical Greece
An Ecology of CityStates
A Theory of Decentralized Cooperation
Measuring Efflorescence
Fair Rules and Competition
6 Citizens and Specialization before 550 BCE
7 From Tyranny to Democracy 550465 BCE
8 Golden Age of Empire 478404 BCE
10 Political Fall 359334 BCE
11 Creative Destruction and Immortality
Regions of the Greek World Population Size Fame
King City and Elite Game
Derechos de autor

9 Disorder and Growth 403340 BCE

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Términos y frases comunes

Acerca del autor (2015)

Josiah Ober is professor of political science and classics at Stanford University. His books include Democracy and Knowledge, Political Dissent in Democratic Athens, The Athenian Revolution, and Mass and Elite in Democratic Athens (all Princeton).

Información bibliográfica