T he study of political affairs is, arguably, one of the oldest intellectual concerns among the many fields of specialized knowledge that are pursued today by scholars and researchers. Political theorists began teaching the principles of good government from very early
times-centuries before the birth of Christ. Almost as soon as efficient writing was developed, they started recording their ideas about politics. Not long after a standard alphabet came into wide use in Greece (about 500 B.C.), philosophers such as Plato (427-347 B.C.) had developed relatively elaborate ideas about the nature of government. As was noted in Chapter 3, his Republic, which sets forth his views about the nature of justice and how rulers should be selected, is the oldest book on political philosophy to survive.