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The Ancient World: Comparative Histories

Series Editor: Kurt A. Raaflaub


War and Peace in the Ancient World
Edited by Kurt A. Raaflaub

Household and Family Religion in Antiquity
Edited by John Bodel and Saul Olyan

Epic and History
Edited by David Konstan and Kurt A. Raaflaub

Geography and Ethnography: Perceptions of the World in Pre-Modern Societies
Edited by Kurt A. Raaflaub and Richard J. A. Talbert

The Roman Empire in Context: Historical and Comparative Perspectives
Edited by Johann P. Arnason and Kurt A. Raaflaub

Highways, Byways, and Road Systems in the Pre-Modern World
Edited by Susan E. Alcock, John Bodel, and Richard J. A. Talbert

The Gift in Antiquity
Edited by Michael L. Satlow

The Greek Polis and the Invention of Democracy
Edited by Johann P. Arnason, Kurt A. Raaflaub, and Peter Wagner

Thinking, Recording, and Writing History in the Ancient World
Edited by Kurt A. Raaflaub

Peace in the Ancient World: Concepts and Theories
Edited by Kurt A. Raaflaub

Peace in the Ancient World

Concepts and Theories

Edited by

Kurt A. Raaflaub

















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Notes on Contributors

Susanne Bickel is Professor of Egyptology at the University of Basel, Switzerland, and director of the University’s King’s Valley Project. Her research focuses on Egyptian religion and culture (especially the funerary texts of the 3rd and 2nd millennium), temple iconography and epigraphy, and archaeology. Her book publications include La cosmogonie égyptienne avant le Nouvel Empire (1994); D’un monde à l’autre, Textes des Pyramides et Textes des Sarcophages (co-ed., 2004); Images as Sources (co-ed., 2007); Vergangenheit und Zukunft. Studien zum historischen Bewusstsein in der Thutmosidenzeit (ed., 2013).

Johannes Bronkhorst is Emeritus Professor of Sanskrit and Indian studies at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland. His main area of interest is the history of Indian thought in the broadest sense: religious, philosophical, and scientific. Among his most recent books are Aux origines de la philosophie indienne (2008); Buddhist Teaching in India (2009); Buddhism in the Shadow of Brahmanism (2011); Absorption: Human Nature and Buddhist Liberation (2012).

Kurt A. Raaflaub is David Herlihy University Professor and Professor of Classics and History Emeritus at Brown University in Providence, R.I. His research focuses on the social, political, and intellectual history of archaic and classical Greece and of the Roman republic, on the social dimension of ancient warfare, and on the comparative history of the ancient world. Publications that are relevant in the present context include War and Society in the Ancient World (co-ed., 1999); The Discovery of Freedom in Ancient Greece (2004); Origins of Democracy in Ancient Greece (co-author, 2007); War and Peace in the Ancient World (ed., 2007).

Hans Van Wees is Grote Professor of Ancient History at University College London. His main areas of interest are the social and economic history of early Greece, archaic and classical Greek warfare, and the use of iconographical and comparative evidence in the study of the ancient Greek world. Book publications relevant in the present context include Status Warriors: War, Violence, and Society in Homer and History (1992); War and Violence in Ancient Greece (ed., 2000); Greek Warfare: Myths and Realities (2004); A Companion to Archaic Greece (co-ed., 2009).

Robin D. S. Yates is James McGill Professor of East Asian Studies and History and Classical Studies at McGill University in Montréal, Canada. His research interests include early and traditional Chinese history, historical theory, archaeology of culture, Chinese science and technology, and all aspects of Chinese warfare. His book publications include Five Lost Classics: Tao, Huang-Lao, and Yin-Yang in Han China (1997); Women in China from Earliest Times to the Present: A Bibliography of Studies in Western Languages (2009); Birth of an Empire: The State of Qin Revisited (co-ed., 2013).

Series Editor’s Preface

The Ancient World: Comparative Histories

The purpose of this series is to pursue important social, political, religious, economic, and intellectual issues through a wide range of ancient or early societies, while occasionally covering an even broader diachronic scope. By engaging in comparative studies of the ancient world on a truly global scale, this series hopes not only to throw light on common patterns and marked differences, but also to illustrate the remarkable variety of responses humankind developed to meet common challenges. Focusing as it does on periods that are far removed from our own time, and in which modern identities are less immediately engaged, the series contributes to enhancing our understanding and appreciation of differences among cultures of various traditions and backgrounds. Not least, it thus illuminates the continuing relevance of the study of the ancient world in helping us to cope with problems of our own multicultural world.

In the present case, the problem of peace, an issue of crucial importance for all human societies (discussed in a comprehensive survey in an earlier volume of this series), is reexamined selectively and from a specific angle: what concepts and theories of peace ancient or early societies developed, what role these played and what impact they had, and why certain societies developed such concepts and theories and others did not. The comparative approach helps us understand successes and failures in humankind’s path toward peace, and sharpens our awareness of the problems our own troubled time has with this issue.

Earlier volumes in the series are listed at the very beginning of this volume. Volumes in preparation include The Adventure of the Human Intellect: Self, Society, and the Divine in Ancient World Cultures (ed. Kurt A. Raaflaub); After Slavery and Social Death (eds. John Bodel and Walter Scheidel).


Kurt A. Raaflaub

For the first time ever, our age has developed a discipline of “peace studies” (even if much that runs under this label should more properly be called “war studies”). Think tanks and academic, as well as political, organizations try to find ways and draw up blueprints to secure peace, and in international relations and political science the issue of “peace” has become highly prominent. All too often, though, even highly competent specialists pronounce as a simple fact that “peace” is a modern invention, that only the recent past has produced practical and viable proposals to establish a solid foundation for peace, and that all earlier civilizations advanced but naive ideals and impractical dreams on the subject. This volume refutes such assumptions, offers an opportunity to track the ancient origins of at least some modern ideas on peace, and looks specifically at ancient efforts to identify, explain, and resolve the relevant problems on a conceptual and theoretical level.

In 2007, I published in the same series a volume on War and Peace in the Ancient World. That volume’s contributions covered many ancient or early societies around the globe, and examined the question of how these societies dealt with one of the central and most urgent challenges posed to all of humankind: war and peace. The variety of responses to these challenges, which were revealed in those chapters, was illuminating.

As is often the case in endeavors of this kind, the collection of the evidence and assemblage of broad surveys is only the first step. Having gone this far, those involved consider it desirable and promising to add a second step (or more), to dig deeper, and to use the insights gained on this first step to explore specific issues and questions either across the board or in individual case studies. Usually, such follow-ups remain unfulfilled plans. In the case of war and peace, one particular question kept haunting us: why was it that among many highly accomplished ancient civilizations with a rich cultural, intellectual, and written record only a very small group—in fact, only two (China and Greece)—seemed to have developed an explicit discourse on peace and even specific concepts and theories of peace? What was it that kept others from doing so, even though at first sight they would have seemed perfectly capable of taking this step as well? This is the single question the present volume tries to answer.

In 2008, I convened a panel at the European Social Science and History Conference (ESSHC) in Lisbon. The contributors to the present volume joined me there to search for answers to these and related questions. Susanne Bickel (Basel) and Johannes Bronkhorst (Lausanne) explored the reasons of why Egypt and India did not develop a substantive and theoretical peace discourse, while Robin Yates (McGill) and I tried to explain why and how early China and Greece did. Hans Van Wees (UC London) served as a respondent. Our discussions were productive and we decided to aim at publication.

Given the success of the War and Peace volume, the Classics Editor of Blackwell Publishing (later Wiley-Blackwell and now Wiley), Haze Humbert, reacted very positively to the suggestion but worried about publishing a follow-up too soon. We decided to wait a few years. When we revived the project about three years ago, health problems, professional overextension, and urgent prior commitments on the part of various contributors caused a series of further long delays. All authors, though, had an opportunity to revise and update their chapters before submission. I am most grateful to them for their commitment, patience, and excellent contributions. I also thank Haze Humbert and her staff most sincerely for their trust and support.

I add here somewhat detailed summaries of the chapters’ contents.

Chapter 1: Abhorring War, Yearning for Peace: The Quest for Peace in the Ancient World

This chapter establishes a framework for the more detailed investigations of the subsequent chapters by offering a broad survey over the quest for peace in ancient or early societies. It begins with five brief case studies that range from the “Iroquois League” with its “Great Law of Peace” and early China to classical Athens, the late Roman republic, and the single extant discussion of peace in Greco-Roman literature preserved in Augustine’s City of God. These case studies support the thesis that it took war experiences of extraordinary intensity to prompt ancient or early societies to think more consistently and intensely about peace than they normally did, to challenge traditional concepts and norms, and to formulate new ones. Even such experiences, though, may not have been sufficient to trigger the development of concepts and theories of peace. It is the purpose of this volume to find out what concepts and theories did emerge in this area, what factors made them possible and why such factors seem to have had an impact only in some societies and not in others, despite the ubiquity of intense war.

For in all parts of the ancient world wars were frequent and brutal, firmly supported by ideology and, often, religion. Those in power depended on wars to legitimate their position and demonstrate their superiority. Constant warfare molded and conditioned entire societies. Victories were celebrated in poetry, historical records, and art. In contrast, concern for peace is less pervasive in the extant record: in some form, most religions advocated it, and imperial ideologies celebrated it. Although critics did not fail to point out the price to be paid for it, the benefits of long-lasting imperial peace were real enough.

Cults and monuments offer valuable insights. Overall, cults of peace were rare. In both Greece (especially Athens) and Rome, peace (eirēnē, pax), although widely desired, was recognized and celebrated by cult and monuments only late and primarily for political and ideological reasons, even in hegemonic and imperial contexts. The concept of concord (homonoia, concordia) emerged in reaction to severe civil strife and was soon supported by a cult, but it was eventually instrumentalized to emphasize unity in the context of the Macedonian kings’ and Augustus’s consolidation of imperial power. Moreover, all this pales in comparison to the ubiquity of war and victory cults in these same cities. Shrines and statues of war deities, vowed in wars, and monuments celebrating victories made of the center of Rome a vast “memorial space” that continually reinforced Roman identity and conditioned every new generation to emulate its ancestors. The same was true for Athens where public spaces were crowded with monuments celebrating martial exploits and with statues and temples of Victory (Nikē) and Athena as the ultimate warrior goddess. In democratic Athens and oligarchic Rome, collective governments fostered the celebration of martial values through communal cults and monuments. In imperial monarchies, by contrast, the commemoration of victories was integrated into monuments that focused on the person of the monarch and his tutelary deities. Overall, imperial reassertion and aspirations left little space for monumental expressions of peace.

The chapter’s final section deals with intellectual concerns with peace. The greatly interesting Indian and Chinese evidence will be discussed in separate chapters. In Rome, poets called for peace and praised Augustus for having achieved it. Historians were much more reluctant to do so, and politically engaged intellectuals had little to say on peace. Explanations include the charged topic of civil war—on which not even the victors liked to dwell—and the perspective of the leading class, to which peace was but a consequence of a well-functioning state; especially in the crisis of the late republic, debate therefore focused on the latter. Greek thinkers found it easier to deal with stasis that played out in a sphere over which the citizen communities had control; external war proved much more intractable. Still, in both areas the Greeks came up with remarkable, even theoretical, solutions that will be the subject of a separate chapter as well.

In sum, in most societies numerous obstacles prevented the emergence of a substantive discourse on peace, let alone of concepts and theories of peace. The chapter ends by formulating, as a thesis, three conditions that enabled societies to develop such concepts and theories: exceptionally harsh war experiences, which made peace an urgent need; a capacity for abstract and philosophical thinking; and the political and critical independence of the thinkers.

Chapter 2: Concepts of Peace in Ancient Egypt

“Peace,” Susanne Bickel emphasizes, is not naturally given but a cultural product and, as such, varies greatly in the understanding of societies and periods. It needs to be examined in a conceptual context—considering world view, cosmology, theology, and moral values—and in a social-political context, looking at specific constellations, outside stimuli, and necessities to which society reacts. The Egyptian world view is dominated by a concept of antagonism that drives the universe and society: disruptive forces and deities oppose the forces and gods representing order, justice, and harmony. The equilibrium in the universe and society needs to be maintained by constantly overcoming (even violently) the tensions created by an intrinsic antagonism of opposing forces.

In the social and moral value system, the ideals of non-violence, self-control, and respect for social status are described with terms related to the semantic field of peace. “Peace” here designates both a personal attitude (non-aggressiveness) and condition (safety from attack). Such emphasis on “peacefulness,” however, has no place in the sphere of politics and foreign relations. The Pharaoh’s obligation is to fight to keep the universe in balance and his country safe. Accordingly, in foreign relations “peace” means subjection and a condition imposed by the victorious pharaoh on others. Bravery and victory are his prime qualities. The need to fight wars is never questioned, world view and economics foster domination and imperialism, and no discourse on peace can develop in these conditions. Nor is there space for concepts such as internal opposition or civil war.

The Egyptians aimed at controlling (directly or indirectly) neighboring regions to the south and east. In their ideological construct, supported by economic needs, the peaceful and orderly Egyptian interior was opposed to a wicked and criminal outside world that constantly aimed at attacking the Egyptian order. For the longest time, ideology, not real threats, thus justified wars that kept reaffirming the pharaoh’s divinely sanctioned mission. Hence, there was no need to develop a concept of peace in opposition to warfare. Eventually, new powers arose in West Asia and forced the Egyptians to maintain a large army and to engage in frequent warfare to defend their dominant position. Even so, the pharaohs “imposed peace” from a position of superiority upon those who surrendered. The conquered and crushed enemy symbolized peace. War was fought outside of Egypt’s borders and only marginally affected the country’s population itself. Even when this, too, changed and Egypt lost its independence, conditions never favored the development of a concept of peace as an alternative value.

A unique exception is the peace treaty concluded between Ramesses II and the Hittite king Hattusili III in the aftermath of the battle of Kadesh (c. 1275 BCE). The well-documented treaty establishes peace as an equitable agreement on the basis of parity between the partners and defines peace as a state of non-violence, non-aggression, and mutual respect and aid. Yet, in a spectacular clash between ideology and the reality of politics, Egyptian self-presentation still embeds this treaty in the traditional framework depicting the pharaoh as the universal victor and Egypt’s total control over the outside world.

Overall, then, both conceptual and ideological dispositions and the reality of Egyptian politics and history failed to offer an opportunity to reflect about peace as a political value. As Bickel concludes, “there was no necessity to create such a concept, nor even an interest in doing so, because (during the third and second millennium) Egypt was much more powerful than its neighbors and potential opponents, and later (in the first millennium) there was no possibility because the opposing forces overpowered Egypt and integrated the country into their political entities.”

Chapter 3: Thinking about Peace in Ancient India

Johannes Bronkhorst begins with the famous rock inscriptions of the Mauryan emperor Aśoka. Turned Buddhist, he regretted the violence caused by his conquests and promoted righteous rule (dharma). Yet Aśoka himself did not renounce violence, and his successors did not follow his precepts. His empire turned out to be one of many attempts to unite “the world” (the Indian subcontinent) in a single state and thus to create peace through universal rule. Paradoxically, the “ultimate aim of permanent and universal peace led in practice to ceaseless and relentless war.”

Two major and very different intellectual currents (the Brahmins and Buddhists) dealt with the Mauryan legacy. The Brahmins used a pragmatic approach, exemplified by the oldest extant treatise on statecraft (Arthaśāstra) that explicitly claims to advise rulers. The goal of any ruler is to conquer the world, and the treatise discusses ways to achieve this goal and, as a basic condition, to establish and secure the ruler’s power. Permanent and universal peace is only achievable in this way, even if it is a distant goal or dream. More limited peace between or within kingdoms is not to be despised but a means to an end, to be abandoned when an opportunity emerges to gain power over others. Brahmanism was no religion but an ideology, a vision of a highly stratified society, with Brahmins occupying the highest positions and kings creating and expanding kingdoms. Other texts, too, confirm that Brahmanical teaching promoted the use of force and war to expand one’s realm whenever the gains were likely to be larger than the risks. Hence, overall, Bronkhorst emphasizes, the “Brahmanical political tradition… was not actively in search of peace.” Rather, the “victory of Brahmanism in the realm of religious, social, and political ideas expressed itself in what might be called a celebration of war, both in reality and in rhetorical contexts.” Brahmins certainly wanted to live in peace but only in conditions that were favorable to them, and this concretely meant, under rulers who were powerful and successful, and whose aspirations were supported by the Brahmins’ acceptance of war.

In sharp contrast, Buddhism was not pragmatic but idealistic, teaching a path, open to all (high and low), to avoid rebirth, which required followers to abandon society, refrain from violence, and survive by begging. The Buddhist theoreticians’ main problem eventually was how to reconcile their nonviolent ways with the needs of the world. Their ideal was a righteous ruler who conquered the world in an unobjectionable manner. The solutions they proposed were initially impractical and unrealistic, and in the early centuries Buddhism was not able to produce constructive thoughts concerning political peace—although in the real world in which they lived peace was greatly important to them. Apparently, they had early on yielded certain areas of intellectual activity, including matters of statecraft, to the Brahmins as specialists with useful advice to offer and impressive manuals to back it up. This changed only with the emergence of a tradition that the most recent Buddha had in his earlier lives led a normal life, and even been a competent king. The stories told about this showed that one could be a committed Buddhist, even aspire to become a future Buddha, and still occupy a role in society. Logically, then, a Buddhist could also be involved in killing and war—if he did so for righteous reasons. This in turn opened the way for Buddhists to serve as royal advisors, profiting from the expertise of the Brahmins, even adapting some of their manuals, and borrowing the use of magic and spells to protect their kings. However successful the Buddhists were, though, “their competition with the Brahmins offered no opportunity to develop ideas about political peace. Quite on the contrary, where Indian Buddhism had originally looked with disapproval upon all forms of violence, including political violence, in the course of time they found ways to justify and contribute to it.”

“Indian antiquity,” Bronkhorst concludes, “has produced no credible ideas about political peace,” despite the importance of mental peace in its culture. As a result, “war was endemic in India for all but the few periods in which one kingdom succeeded in uniting a major part of the subcontinent under a single ruler. Thinking about political peace did not play a credible role in ancient India and never exerted a noticeable influence.”

Chapter 4: Searching for Peace in the Warring States: Philosophical Debates and the Management of Violence in Early China

Robin Yates takes issue with the long-dominant opinion that, beginning with Confucius, all thinkers in China’s “Warring State” period (476–221 BCE: a period tormented by ceaseless war) agreed that peace could be established only by a unitary empire, and that this opinion prevailed throughout Chinese history virtually into the present. In fact, there were wide-ranging debates with many competing opinions about political and philosophical issues that were relevant in this context. Nor is the search for a system to overcome war and establish lasting peace to be confused with a “pacifist” attitude. In its early history, Yates emphasizes, China “was among the most inventive cultures in the arts of war;” it was “never a pacifist culture and Confucianism was never a pacifist ideology.”

In the “Spring and Autumn” period (770–476), the state system disintegrated and competition among numerous polities increased. Such competition made administrative reorganization and centralization necessary, which was not possible without new types of experts who were able to offer advice and leadership, apply innovative solutions to the practical challenges of government, execute the rulers’ policies, and integrate increasing numbers of commoners into the state structure. Members of lesser lineages embarked on such careers, supported by an education that was provided by professional teachers. Confucius was the first teacher of such experts, and soon many more schools were founded that specialized in such teaching. They all were confronted with the challenge of solving the anarchy of incessant warfare and social dislocation, of finding a way to establish lasting order and peace, and of defining the qualities and methods by which a ruler might achieve this.

Although it is difficult to determine to what extent the experience of intense and incessant war directly prompted a discourse on war and peace, philosophical debates about crucial political issues (including war and peace) thus began in the sixth century and intensified with the increase of competition among states. Apparently, though, the ideas of the philosophers had little immediate impact. Rather, the administrators of the various states sought their own solutions. Investing great resources into coercing the population to serve their rulers’ needs, both economically and militarily, the states were increasingly able to establish order within their boundaries. This made it possible for philosophers and theoreticians to think about peace abstractly and to engage in a debate about the nature and realization of an ideal peace. Conceptually, many early Chinese thinkers saw “peace” not as the absence of war but as a condition with positive connotations. Yet of more immediate concern were the notions of order and disorder. Other political developments prompted a vigorous debate about the value of hereditary succession vs. merit-based rulership and of the qualities of a “true ruler.” In some of these debates, the issue of war and peace was confronted head on, including discussion of detailed policies and institutions that a ruler could enact to achieve “perfect peace.”

Against the majority’s view that war could be ended only through the methods of peace (though what these methods were to be was vigorously contested), a group of “militarists” argued that unity could be created only by force; hence they focused on developing military, legal, and economic methods to strengthen their states and overcome the others by military might alone. Those who prevailed in the end (thinkers at the court of Qin) promoted a simple and pragmatic solution: peace “was to be created by the subordination of the weaker to the stronger, by military means if necessary, with only a thin veneer of morality or justification.” Under the Qin and Han dynasties, internal unity and peace were indeed established, even if at great cost in lives and property.

Still, Chinese philosophers “endorsed the importance of the ruler ensuring peace and harmony with the cosmos.” They as much as the rulers and statesmen themselves realized, however, that the maintenance of peace required the maintenance of a strong army and readiness to go to war. War and peace alternated with the rhythms of the cosmos. Perpetual peace was impossible and even unnatural.

Chapter 5: Greek Concepts and Theories of Peace

A strong concern for peace and just war connects Homer and Thucydides. The Iliad stands at the beginning of a long, intense, and public discourse on war and peace that can be traced through archaic poetry and philosophy to the dramatists and historians of the fifth century. The pervasiveness and public nature of this discourse seems to distinguish the Greeks from other ancient societies. Moreover, from early on, it included conceptualizations of war and peace as central communal issues, and attempts at theoretical categorization and analysis. Thucydides marks both a rapid intensification and increasing theorization of this discourse.

Three examples in and after the time of Thucydides illustrate innovative Greek efforts to establish peace by containing endemic inter-communal war and overcoming destructive intra-communal conflict (stasis): large-scale organizations to secure “international peace,” a blueprint for peace requiring profound changes in thinking and attitudes, and the use of amnesty and geographical separation to eliminate stasis from the community.

Such efforts profited from the emergence of politically oriented philosophers (sophists) who enhanced the ongoing discourse on war and peace by adding theoretical sophistication. Thucydides’ “pathology of civil war” thus incorporates a theoretical analysis of the causes and characteristics of stasis. Among various proposals offered to resolve this problem, those applying constitutional theory and aiming at a “mixed constitution” seemed especially promising. Containing endemic war proved more difficult, but new initiatives were built on theoretical foundations as well: thus, attempts were made to improve inter-polis collaboration in “common peace” treaties and create an improved alliance system by limiting hegemonic power and strengthening the allies’ influence. Other debates focused on mentalities by changing deeply ingrained attitudes toward war and empire, and on economic and social conditions by supporting trade to enhance interdependence among poleis and by supporting the lower classes to make them less dependent on and eager for war. By focusing on possibilities to overcome war and conflict, all these initiatives contributed to theoretical debates about peace, and hints survive in the evidence that peace was thematized directly in such debates as well.

In conclusion, it cannot be accidental that precisely in the period when warfare became much more pervasive and brutal, and when philosophy and political theory focused increasingly on political issues, the Greeks began to think in new ways about war and peace and to seek innovative and at least partly theoretical solutions to create peace by overcoming war and stasis.

Chapter 6: Broadening the Scope: Thinking about Peace in the Pre-Modern World

Prominent modern views consider peace a recent invention and dismiss earlier discussions of peace as idealistic or pious dreams, failing to yield practical results. On the contrary, Hans Van Wees points out, the chapters in the present volume demonstrate that the ancient world was not only deeply concerned with the issue of peace but produced, on the conceptual and theoretical levels, complex and sophisticated ideas about causes of war and possibilities to attain political peace. In some cases, these ideas were pragmatic enough to yield practical results.

In the ancient Near East, we find a concept that seems common in Bronze and Iron Age empires throughout the ancient world: a ruler is charged by the gods to maintain order (and in this sense peace) within his realm and harmonious relations between the human and divine worlds. By contrast, the Romans believed, like the builders of the ancient Chinese empires and modern imperialists, that peace could be established only by imperial conquest. Both these views assumed that maintaining peace necessitated force and that coercive power was legitimated by the desire for peace.

In stark contrast, in pre-imperial China, India, and Greece a range of ideas emerged that essentially rejected the use of force and cultivated inner balance and virtue as conditions for peace on the individual, state, and international levels. These ideas were often impractical and politically unsuccessful, but they were important because they assumed that endemic war and violence were the result of problems internal to human society and not due to external forces or a cosmic order: if people, officials, and kings pursued selfish goals and used violent means to achieve them, these attitudes needed to be changed to overcome war and violence. Methods to achieve peace thus relied on self-control and consent rather than coercion. Even small changes along those lines could reduce the likelihood of violence and war.

Another approach thought of peace as being the result of negotiations between individuals or collectives with competing self-interests. This approach underlies modern thinking about peace, concepts such as “balance of power,” or the expectation that institutionally supported international trade will reduce threats of war. Far from being modern inventions, Van Wees argues, such ideas developed in ancient Greece on very similar lines. He traces this development from early Greece to Thucydides’ analysis of the causes of wars that is based on a rational calculation of expected gains, costs, and risks.

Such ideas, known today as “Realism,” broke fully through in the fourth century. They underlie “Common Peace” treaties, in which responsibility for maintaining peace was imposed on both the hegemonic power and the collective of signees, and are expressed powerfully by Plato, Isocrates, and Xenophon, who considered lasting peace desirable not least because peace was more profitable than war. The theories and practical solutions offered by Greek intellectuals anticipated nineteenth-century Liberal peace theories. Since, moreover, in Greece commoners economically often depended on war, some thinkers recognized that peace required the elimination of structural social and economic problems plaguing Greek communities. Their solutions included nonviolent ways to increase public revenues that could be spent on a welfare program supporting the lower-class citizens.

In conclusion, Van Wees proposes to add two structural factors to the list of conditions for the development of a substantive and even theoretical peace discourse in antiquity: the need to legitimate and consolidate certain forms of power (most obviously, empire) and the need for an intellectual response to the development of increasingly centralized and competitive states. Fourth-century Greeks went furthest in their intellectual and political efforts to create remarkably “modern” ideas about peace; this fact may be due to a strong sense of common ethnic and cultural identity and economic interdependence. All this requires further research and corroboration, especially on the levels of a broad “intellectual history” that “places ideas in their contemporary context,” and of a broadly comparative approach as it is offered in this volume.