The Greek city-state or polis is the earliest advanced form of social organization in the western world; it was the dominant political structure in the Mediterranean area from the eighth until the late fourth century BC, when it was transformed into a basis for world civilization by theconquests of Alexander the Great. The experience of the polis is the starting-point for western political thought.Fourteen new essays by leading scholars from Britain, Denmark, France, Italy, and North America present leading aspects of this phenomenon. The Greek city is placed in the general context of Mediterranean history and its impact on the urbanization of Italy is assessed. Other chapters consider thegeography of the polis and the relationship between city and countryside, its political and religious institutions, and the distinction between public and private spheres. The first essay seeks to define then uniqueness of the phenomenon of the polis, and the last assesses the reasons for itsdecline.The book is written for the general reader and the student of social sciences as much as for professional historians of the ancient world. It presents a variety of contemporary approaches to the phenomenon of the polis.