Josiah OberThe Rise and Fall of Classical Greece. The Princeton History of the Ancient World. Princeton; Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2015. xxv + 416 pp. $35.00. isbn 9780691140919 (hbk).The title of Josiah Ober’s new book signals its audacious scope. Ober seeks to elucidate the connection between political processes, economic growth, and cultural production across the entirety of the Greek world and over the course of more than three centuries. He argues that in the period between c. 600 and c. 300 bce, hundreds of relatively small, largely autonomous Greek city-states developed ‘citizen-centered’ political systems and impartial rules that protected citizens from exploitation and expropriation. Intense competition between individuals and communities was counterbalanced by institutions and cultural norms that facilitated interpersonal and interstate contacts and rational cooperation. This ecology incentivized investments in human, social, and material capital and reduced transaction costs. Growing stocks of capital and low transaction costs, along with intense competition and rational cooperation, drove continuous institutional and technological innovation that helped bring about sustained economic growth at rates that were, by pre-modern standards, unusually high. Economic growth in turn made possible remarkable cultural achievements. The resulting efflorescence was diminished though not terminated by the rise of a
Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek Political Thought – Brill
Published: Apr 4, 2017
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