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Edinburgh University: Prof Dame Mary Beard – Gifford Lectures – #5/6 – The Ancient World and us – Tyranny And Democracy

19/10/2019

 

Earlier this evening Beard’s lecture focused on tyranny and empire. More specifically it focused on “how the Roman empire has, or has not, been used to justify imperial domination in the modern world” with a particular interest in how “we see the British empire through a Roman template.”

She began by pointing out that Greece and Rome have often been perceived as opposite examples of political cultures to emulate (depending on the time and place in history one is generally seen to be a good example while the other is taken to be a bad example). As Beard noted, for several centuries Rome was the dominate example to emulate until around the time of the “revolutionary politics of the eighteenth century” and it wasn’t until “the nineteenth century that the tables turned – and as we saw yesterday – Athenian democracy (which had generally been written off before as a pretty disastrous experiment in mob rule) came to be seen as the preferential model.”

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