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Few concepts have witnessed a more dramatic resurgence of interest in recent year than corruption. It is, however, a concept that dates back to antiquity with this recent popularity representing the latest iteration in a long history of contestation over corruption. In one of the first surveys of the variable contours of meaning invested in the term, from antiquity through to the end of the eighteenth century, this book explores the significant role corruption has played in political discourse through the centuries. It finds that corruption was not always a concept particular to the abuse of public office, but was often applied to more nebulous fears of moral, spiritual and physical degeneration. This book marshals both historical and conceptual analysis to demonstrate a conceptual oscillation between restrictive 'public office' and expansive 'degenerative' connotations of corruption that persisted until the second half of the eighteenth century when the public office conception overtook and finally superseded the degenerative one. The result is a survey that is fundamental to the understanding of modern ideas of corruption and represents an invaluable tool to both students and scholars of the subject.