Janet Coleman's two volume history of European political theorizing, from the ancient Greeks to the Renaissance, is the introduction which many have been waiting for. It treats some of the most influential writers who have been considered by educated Europeans down the centuries to have helped to construct their identity, their shared "languages of politics" about the principles and practices of good government, and the history of European philosophy. It seeks to uncover and reconstruct the emergence of the "state" and the various European political theories which justified it. In this volume, Coleman discusses the acknowledged great works of Greek, Roman, and early Christian writers to show how the historical contexts in which certain ideas about ethics and politics became dominant or fell from dominance help to explain the ideas themselves. Throughout she draws on recent scholarly commentaries written by specialists in philosophy, contemporary political theory, classical languages and cultures, and on ancient and early Christian history and theology.
Janet Coleman shows that the Greeks', Romans' and early Christians' arguments can be seen as logical and coherent if we can grasp the questions they thought it important to answer. The author strikes a balance between trying to understand the philosophical cogency of ancient arguments on the one hand, and on the other, elucidating why historically-situated Greeks, Romans and early Christians thought the ways they did about politics; and why we often think otherwise. The volume will meet the needs of students of philosophy, history and politics, proving to be an indispensable secondary source which aims to situate, explain, and provoke thought about the major works of political theory likely to be encountered by students of this period and beyond.
"These volumes cover the scholarship of the last four decades with considerable care and in an impeccably cosmopolitan manner...in its second volume, the best single-volume history of medieval political thought to put into the hands of any intelligent and serious student...Coleman's History is a fine achievement and of clear use value throughout. It breathes the spirit of a very different epoch, while providing help for all of us who must deal, in our respective roles, with the ideas that it chronicles." John Dunn, University of Cambridge.