Ancient history and modern thought interact in multifarious ways. While modern concepts can help us to understand, or serve to obscure, ancient reality, the remote past can also be used as a point of reference for contemporary debates about political issues and strategies. In fact, pundits and politicians alike are used to invoking the lessons of (ancient) history in order to justify their recommendations and decisions. This is often done in a most arbitrary and selective way, without regard for the fact that the interpretation of history is too complex a task to yield uncontroversial and straightforward answers to contemporary problems. Nevertheless, it would be rash to dismiss this kind of analysis as unsuitable for academic research; for it should not be overlooked that it can help to broaden the understanding of structural patterns and give a sense of the variety of options available to decision-makers.
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