The Ends of Self-Government
This conclusion summarizes the book's main themes and their significance for self-government in the twenty-first century. Ancient Greek myths remind us that rage provokes rage, brutality begets brutality, and atrocity evokes atrocity. The Iliad calls into question its characters' certainty that success in warfare is the highest form of human accomplishment, thus undermining the audience's eagerness to celebrate physical combat and violent vengeance above all else. Ajax warns against overconfidence in the value of democratic institutions alone, while Hecuba warns against the failure to uphold farsighted absolute standards of compassionate justice and humanity. Although the Athenians continued to employ violence in their relations with other “citizen-communities,” their experience and above all their stories remind us that self-government is necessary for a successful society and a fully realized human life.
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