Greek society developed more rapidly than did its values or the presuppositions on which the values were based. By the end of the fifth century the Greeks faced serious problems, not because they had abandoned traditional values to which they needed to be recalled, but because they retained them in a situation far different from that in which the values had developed and were appropriate.
In this book, Professor Adkins undertakes an examination of certain key value-words in the period between Homer and the end of the fifth century. The behavior of these words both affected and was affected by the nature of the society in which their usage developed. The author shows how only with a complete understanding of the implications and significance of these value-words can the essence of the Greeks and their society be grasped.