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Republicanism, Rhetoric, and Roman Political Thought


  • Page extent: 206 pages
  • Size: 229 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.31 kg


 (ISBN-13: 9781107425279)

Republicanism, Rhetoric, and Roman Political Thought develops readings of Rome's three most important Latin historians - Sallust, Livy and Tacitus - in light of contemporary discussions of republicanism and rhetoric. Drawing on recent scholarship as well as other classical writers and later political thinkers, this book develops interpretations of the three historians' writings centering on their treatments of liberty, rhetoric, and social and political conflict. Sallust is interpreted as an antagonistic republican, for whom elite conflict serves as an outlet and channel for the antagonisms of political life. Livy is interpreted as a consensualist republican, for whom character and its observation helps to maintain the body politic. Tacitus is interpreted as being centrally concerned with the development of prudence and as a subtle critic of imperial rule.

• Only recent book focusing primarily on the Roman historians and aimed explicitly at political theorists and philosophers • Interdisciplinary in scope and focus, with appeal to classicists, political theorists and political philosophers • Addresses two of the most prominent recent debates in political theory and political philosophy: republicanism and rhetoric


1. Introduction; 2. An ambiguous republican: Sallust on fear, conflict, and community; 3. Channeling conflict through antagonistic rhetoric in the War with Catiline; 4. Exemplarity and goodwill in Livy's From the Founding of Rome; 5. Tacitus on great men, bad rulers, and prudence; 6. Tacitus' moral histories; Epilogue.


'Daniel Kapust's nuanced exploration of the relationship between rhetoric and deliberation provides a timely contribution not only to the renewed scholarly interest in Roman political thought but also to how we think about our contemporary politics.' Dean Hammer, John W. Wetzel Professor of Classics and Professor of Government, Franklin and Marshall College

'Republicanism, Rhetoric, and Roman Political Thought is erudite, well written, and original. Daniel Kapust deserves praise for so seriously and systematically presenting the historians of the Roman Republic as political thinkers. Through Kapust's efforts their ruminations on rhetoric and liberty resonate from their age to our own.' John P. McCormick, University of Chicago and author of Machiavellian Democracy

'Daniel Kapust's masterful and visionary book … traces the vexed relationship between republican liberty and oratorical eloquence in the writings of three major historians of Rome … It is testimony to Kapust's scholarly skill that, in relatively brief compass, the volume is able to engage in wide historical coverage without sacrificing any depth or profundity. Kapust identifies in his Roman sources a largely unexamined thread in the Western tradition - a compelling alternative to both Aristotelian and liberal accounts of politics - and demonstrates why this strand of thought is important and merits attention … stands alone as a unique contribution to philosophical debate … will … have considerable impact not only on political theorists, but also on the related disciplines of philosophy, classics, and history. Very few scholars are able to straddle the divide between historical research and contemporary theoretical issues as elegantly and insightfully …' Cary J. Nederman, Texas A&M University

'Kapust masterfully reads the trinity of Roman historians in the light of Cicero so as to explore the relationship between rhetoric and liberty in each, and in doing so, he identifies major themes across the Roman writers that are echoed in contemporary republican and rhetorical scholarship. The result is a resource for understanding the complexities of liberty, rhetoric, and conflict in political communities. We've needed a book like this for a long time.' Victoria Emma Pagán, University of Florida

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