Hutter's study explores the origins of classical conceptions of politics in the theory and practice of friendship in ancient Greece. It analyzes ancient Greek society as one in which political space was organized in terms of the metaphor of friendship. Tracing the importance of male friendship groupings in Greek society, and comparing them to similar formations in primitive societies known to us through anthropological data, it shows how political processes were conceived as friendship processes, and demonstrates how important friendship groupings were for these processes.
Greek political philosophies are seen as universalizations of the principles of friendship. Hutter shows to what extent Platonism and Aristotlelianism as well as Stoicism received their inspiration from the practice of friendship. In particular, the theory and practice of Greek democracy are seen to be derived from the principles of friendship.
Finally, the book shows the application of Greek theories of friendship to Roman society by Cicero. Noting the differences and similarities between Greece and Rome, it explores the redefinition that the theory of friendship underwent when applied to the Roman context. The concluding chapter briefly discusses the role of friendship in mass society and its politics.