Tyranny and Bad Rule in the Premodern West
This introduction to the volume outlines the broader questions raised and answered through a cross-chronological study of tyranny and bad rule. It argues that, as an inversion of the norm, ‘badness’ illuminates the corresponding positive social and moral values of a community. Simultaneously, political debate reflects historical power structures, authors, and audiences: thus, shifts in the discourse of bad rule are pertinent to political, cultural, and intellectual history. Furthermore, the introduction proposes that the discussions of tyranny in this volume—for all their often radical variations—are sufficiently coherent across two millennia to speak of a premodern Western tradition, which the authors define as the ‘dynamic exchange of ideas’. The common thread is formed by virtue ethics, in their Greek, Roman, and Christian incarnations. In conclusion, the introduction provides a summary of each chapter.
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