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  • Cited by 6
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    This book has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Stacey, Peter 2014. The Princely Republic. Journal of Roman Studies, Vol. 104, p. 133.


    Pradeau, Jean-François 2004. L'Ébriété Démocratique la Critique Platonicienne de la Démocratie Dans Les Lois. The Journal of Hellenic Studies, Vol. 124, p. 108.


    Eckersall, Peter 2011. The Emotional Geography of Shinjuku: The Case ofChikatetsu Hiroba(Underground Plaza, 1970). Japanese Studies, Vol. 31, Issue. 3, p. 333.


    Ober, Josiah 2008. What the Ancient Greeks Can Tell Us About Democracy. Annual Review of Political Science, Vol. 11, Issue. 1, p. 67.


    Millett, Paul 2005. The Trial of Socrates Revisited. European Review of History: Revue européenne d'histoire, Vol. 12, Issue. 1, p. 23.


    Moles, John 2005. The thirteenth oration of Dio Chrysostom: complexity and simplicity, rhetoric and moralism, literature and life. The Journal of Hellenic Studies, Vol. 125, p. 112.


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    The Cambridge History of Greek and Roman Political Thought
    • Online ISBN: 9781139053716
    • Book DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521481366
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Book description

This book, first published in 2000, is a general and comprehensive treatment of the political thought of ancient Greece and Rome. It begins with Homer and ends in late antiquity with Christian and pagan reflections on divine and human order. In between come studies of Plato, Aristotle and a host of other major and minor thinkers - poets, historians, philosophers - whose individuality is brought out by extensive quotation. The international team of distinguished scholars assembled by the editors includes historians of law, politics, culture and religion, and also philosophers. Some chapters focus mostly on the ancient context of the ideas they are examining, while others explore these ideas as systems of thought which resonate with modern or perennial concerns. This clearly written volume will long remain an accessible and authoritative guide to Greek and Roman thinking about government and community.

Reviews

‘It would be hard to think how this superb collection of essays about Greek and Roman political thought could be improved. … There could be no better introduction than this collection of well-written, scholarly and absorbing essays.’

Source: Literary Review

‘It is impossible to do justice here to the sweep of this volume … It belongs on the shelf of every student of politics.’

Source: The Anglo-Hellenic Review

'… is nothing less than the very first general and comprehensive treatment of its subject in the English language … The broad and inclusive conception of [the book] is reflected not only in the range of authors discussed, but also in the heterogeneous authorship of the volume itself … It is not easy to do justice to a volume of this kind … There can be no doubt that this well-organized, accessible and carefully produced volume will remain one of the standard overviews of Greek and Roman political thought for years to come.'

Source: Arctos

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Page 1 of 2


  • 1 - Greek political thought: the historical context
    pp 7-22
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521481366.003
  • View abstract
    Summary
    In all the explicit Greek political thought or theory one possesses, and in a good deal of other informal political literature besides, the rule of the nomoi or of plain Nomos in the abstract was a given within the framework of the polis. The typical ancient polis was a republic, not a monarchy, nor a fortiori an extra- or anti-constitutional tyranny or dictatorship. Greek religion, moreover, like Roman, was system ideologically committed to the public, not the private, sphere. All ancient Greek culture was inherently performative and competitive, and Greek intellectuals reflected the competitiveness of politics in both the manner and the matter of their own internal disputes. The dominant tradition of ancient Greek political theory, as opposed to mere political thinking or thought, that took its rise round about the same time was dedicated to the proposition that the Simonidean formula was a necessary but not a sufficient condition of political virtue and excellence.
  • 2 - Poets, lawgivers, and the beginnings of political reflection in archaic Greece
    pp 23-59
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521481366.004
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The beginnings of political reflection just like the development of political institutions, concepts, and terminology, must have been closely connected with the evolution, experiences, and concerns of the early polis and its society. For an earlier stage, Homer and Hesiod are the only guides. Socially and economically, the Homeric polis is dominated by a group of noble families among whose heads the paramount leader holds a precarious position of pre-eminence. Hesiod, usually dated in the early seventh century, sees the wellbeing of the community threatened by irresponsible actions of its basileis. Solon's political reforms included the introduction of property classes which determined the level of political participation available to the citizens and replaced birth by wealth as criterion for political power. The ideal of eunomia stands for the political resolution of crisis and stasis and for the integration of the polis. It represents the aim of the Archaic lawgivers and encapsulates the main concern of early Greek political thinking.
  • 3 - Greek drama and political theory
    pp 60-88
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521481366.005
  • View abstract
    Summary
    This chapter shows how the festival of the Great Dionysia is a major political event in the Athenian calendar, which proclaims its roots in the democratic polis at all levels of its organization and practice. Political theory's appropriation or refusal of ancient drama will depend in part on its description of the institution of theatre as political. The festival of the Great Dionysia, the major occasion for tragedy and comedy in the polis, was the largest formal collection of citizens in the calendar. There are several plays which have become mainstays of writing on political thought because of their express content. The chapter discusses two exemplary works in more detail where and how political argument, political thought, and political theory can be located. The two of the most commonly discussed works are: Aeschylus Oresteia and Sophocles' Antigone, both of which have long held centre stage in the discussion of tragedy and political theory.
  • 4 - Herodotus, Thucydides and the sophists
    pp 89-121
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521481366.006
  • View abstract
    Summary
    This chapter begins by considering three Athenian texts of the fifth and fourth centuries BC. The first is a fragment of what was probably a satyr play. The second text is from drama: Aristophanes' comedy The Clouds. A young man's choice between good and evil is the theme of the final text, a summary written in the first half of the fourth century of a fifth-century prose work that has not itself survived. Plato presents the sophists as a group of itinerant and rival individuals, mainly from poleis other than Athens, where they make their greatest impact. Herodotus, and his successor Thucydides, the founders of Greek historiography, took as their main theme the two great crises of fifth century Greek history: the Persian War of 480-479; and the Peloponnesian War of 431-404. Herodotus and Thucydides belong in a history of political thought above all because, whether as norm or problem, the polis is itself centrally at issue in their works.
  • 5 - Democritus
    pp 122-129
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521481366.007
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Discussion of the ethical and political views of Democritus of Abdera cannot avoid preliminary consideration of the evidence for that area of his thought. Scepticism about the authenticity of the ethical fragments is grounded in two primary considerations, first the silence of Aristotle and Theophrastus on Democritus' ethical writings and secondly the fact that the sources for the bulk of the fragments, the collections of Stobaeus and 'Democrates', cannot plausibly be thought to have been compiled from direct access to texts of Democritus. This chapter proceeds on the following assumptions. A substantial amount of the Democritean material in Stobaeus derives from Democritus' own writings. Grounds for greater confidence in the genuineness of a quotation from Stobaeus are provided when that quotation is also ascribed to Democritus by a writer earlier than Stobaeus. The 'Democrates' sayings represent a stage of transmission of the tradition more distant from Democritus himself than that represented by those passages counted as genuine.
  • 6 - The Orators
    pp 130-141
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521481366.008
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Since the corpus of orations by Athenian orators is composed of speeches by highly successful speech-writers, the corpus, read as a whole, provides an indirect guide to the political ideology of democratic Athens in the late fifth century and throughout much of the fourth. Ideology is sometimes regarded as antithetical to rational thought. In the late fifth and fourth centuries, rhētorikoi seeking students, logographoi hoping to impress potential clients, and rhētores intent on influencing a reading public circulated orations in written form. The rhētores developed ideas about the character and roles appropriate to citizens and leaders in a just democratic society. Notably, these ideas focused on the purposes and results of speech and willed collective action, rather than on the nomos-phusis distinction so central to other genres of Greek political thought. Demosthenes develops an argument focused on the pragmatic basis of Athenian democracy.
  • 7 - Xenophon and Isocrates
    pp 142-154
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521481366.009
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Xenophon and Isocrates, contemporaries of Plato, had the opportunity to learn from Socrates and other philosophers who aimed to produce political virtue. Xenophon appears to endorse a wide distribution of honours in the Athenian democracy according to the principle that he attributes to Socrates throughout Memorabilia. Xenophon's Hiero addresses the reform of rulership toward knowledge when it dramatizes the instruction of Hiero the tyrant of Syracuse by Simonides the wise poet - producing a well constructed dialogue in the Socratic style. Plato and Aristotle followed a long tradition of considering the constitution of the Spartans a model government, even while they criticized some of their customs. Panhellenism meant concord and equality among the poleis of Greece, for conquest of the Persians and greater Greek prosperity; it seems to apply to the international arena the equation of homonoia with military success within the polis.
  • 8 - Socrates and Plato: an introduction
    pp 155-163
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521481366.010
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Telling some stories of Plato's 'development' is the characteristic strategy of one of the two main schools in Platonic interpretation, although each 'developmentalist' is liable to tell a somewhat different story of exactly which intellectual moves show Plato 'progressing', and which are the dialogues where such progress is made. This chapter discusses the arguments and evidence for the controversy between developmentalists and Unitarians. But it is important to see how quickly the opening question, about whether the views of the historical Socrates can be recovered from Platonic texts, has led us to enter the lists of a debate as to how to read those texts themselves. In short, the 'Socratic problem' depends on and leads to a broader 'Platonic problem'. For Plato and all Plato's readers Socrates was never so distinctive as in his death, which followed the nadir of the city's defeat by Sparta in the Peloponnesian War and two bloody, if brief, suppressions of democracy.
  • 9 - Socrates
    pp 164-189
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521481366.011
  • View abstract
    Summary
    This chapter discusses striking continuities between 'Socratic' and 'mature Platonic' thought, of a sort sometimes missed by 'developmentalists', where continuities concern attitudes to the good, the ideal, the sciences and practical politics. It explores these continuities and contrasts as they show up in the three overtly political 'Socratic' dialogues: the Protagoras, the Apology and the Crito. The differences between the approaches of Socrates and the mature Plato to politics do not reside in their attitudes to whether the central question of politics is about institutional arrangements, or rather about science. The notion of a science is central to both. The difference resides rather in a different place-the alleged existence of irrational desires which the mature Plato asserted against Socrates, with the consequent playing down of the Socratic concern for intellectual dialogue in one's relations with all others. Most of the Western philosophical tradition since Plato has, perhaps unfortunately, followed the mature Plato rather than Socrates on this point.
  • 10 - Approaching the Republic
    pp 190-232
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521481366.012
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Republic's view of justice and injustice emerges from Book IX's treatment of the tyrannical soul in an altogether more convincing light. The whole Anytus section has been designed to explore the general political implications of the question Socrates and Meno have been debating of whether virtue can be taught, and specifically to argue that if there are any teachers of virtue, they are not to be found among the leading statesmen of the Athenian democracy in its great period: Themistocles, Aristides, Pericles, Thucydides son of Melesias. The dialogue closest to Gorgias in its preoccupation with democratic rhetoric is Menexenus. The challenge Glaucon and Adeimantus throw down is developed over ten pages of taut, sophisticated, lucidly organized and deadly serious philosophical argumentation. The introduction of the idea of philosopher rulers is the greatest of all the revolutionary moments Plato has prepared for readers of Republic.
  • 11 - The Politicus and other dialogues
    pp 233-257
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521481366.013
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Whatever new sense of 'realism' one ultimately wishes to attribute to the Plato of the Politicus, it appears at best as a kind of qualification to, or as corrective of, an argument of which the main preoccupations lie elsewhere. This is the starting-point for the account of the Politicus. The dialogue has four main components: a long series of 'divisions' aimed at defining the politikos, the 'politician' or the 'statesman', together with his 'art' or expertise; a cosmological myth, inserted into the divisions at an early stage; a discussion of the role of law in ideal and actual societies; and a description of the role of the statesman in 'weaving together' complementary character traits or kinds of temperament among the citizens. Finally there is a specific discussion of connections between the Politicus and the Timaeus-Critias, and of the relationship of the Politicus to the Laws.
  • 12 - The Laws
    pp 258-292
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521481366.014
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The Laws can be considered the first work of genuine political philosophy in the Western tradition. This chapter discusses the structure and content of the Laws. The interpretation of the Laws depends crucially on its relation to Plato's two great political dialogues, the Republic and the Politicus. How is this relation to be understood? The Laws accomplishes three things in a single stroke. It completes a programme which had been sketched in the two preceding works; it revises the model of the state which they had drawn; and finally it portrays a practical realization of that model. In the Laws as in the Republic, man is a complex unity in whom rational and irrational elements coexist. The polarity between control and compromise in the field of political institutions relates to a larger question, that of the limits of education, taken in the restricted sense given to this term in Book 1.
  • 13 - Plato and practical politics
    pp 293-302
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521481366.015
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The most celebrated instance of the involvement of the Academy in practical politics is Plato's own Sicilian adventure. The fullest accounts of this are given in the two works: Plutarch's Dion and the Seventh Letter, and indeed it has sometimes been suspected that the Seventh Letter is the sole source from which all other accounts of the affair derive. It has sometimes been suggested that the political thought of the Seventh Letter is a confused amalgam of Republic and Laws. This is principally because the passages just referred to conjure with the ideal of a philosopher ruler, whereas in other passages the writer represents his main purpose as having been to advise Dionysius on the need to introduce constitutional government and the rule of law throughout Sicily, in terms reminiscent of Laws. The Seventh Letter treats the Sicilian adventure as Plato's one real opportunity to turn word into deed, and to put his philosophy into political practice.
  • 14 - Cleitophon and Minos
    pp 303-309
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521481366.016
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The Cleitophon and the Minos are specifically political in content, and each is quite striking in its own way. The particular interest of the Cleitophon is the mildly critical and ironic tone which its author uses (critical, that is, of 'Socrates' in the Republic, and hence of Plato). Cleitophon is named after its main speaker, who makes a brief appearance in Book 1 of the Republic (34oa-b), during Socrates' conversation with Thrasymachus. The connection with the Republic seems to be made immediately, by Socrates' opening remarks. The Minos is in many ways an attractive and accomplished dialogue. But it is a strange mixture: while it is written in a manner which closely resembles that of the so-called Socratic dialogues, its subject-matter is more akin to that of the Politicus and the Laws; at the same time it contains important elements which are at odds with what we find in the undisputed parts of the Platonic corpus.
  • 15 - Aristotle: an introduction
    pp 310-320
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521481366.017
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The key to Aristotle's conception of politics is the figure of the legislator. In proposing a general study of legislation Aristotle indicates two distinct sorts of reason for undertaking the enterprise. First, successful lawgiving, and the ability to assess the merits of particular legislation, are largely matters of experience. Second, Aristotle complains that his predecessors have left the field of legislation uninvestigated. Aristotle's identification of the true politician with the architectonic lawgiver reflects a common Greek understanding of how their political institutions were and indeed should be created, which is reflected, for example, in popular conceptions of the work of Lycurgus and Solon, in the role actually assigned to lawgivers in the foundation of colonies, and not least in the legislative project of Plato's Laws. At its most general and fundamental level Aristotle's analysis of the polis is a highly abstract exercise in rational choice theory.
  • 16 - Naturalism
    pp 321-343
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521481366.018
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Aristotle's political naturalism presupposes his philosophy of nature. In the Metaphysics and works devoted to natural science, especially Physics II, Aristotle analyses the concept of nature and develops distinctions which resurface in the Politics and the ethical treatises. This suggests that Aristotle's account of nature in his natural philosophy sheds light on the role of this concept in his political philosophy. The Politics begins with two observations: First, the polis as the most authoritative and inclusive community aims at the highest good. Second, some have erroneously thought that there is only one type of rule, which is called by different names depending on the number of subjects: despotic, household, kingly, political. Aristotle argues against this that different forms of rule are appropriate for different forms of natural association. Aristotle undertakes his defence of his naturalistic doctrines: the polis exists by nature; a human being is by nature a political animal; and the polis is prior by nature to the individual.
  • 17 - Justice and the polis
    pp 344-365
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521481366.019
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Aristotle's own thoughts about justice are shaped by his canvassing of the available alternatives for whatever bits of the truth they might contain. Aristotle's dialectical method is well illustrated by his contribution to the by then traditional nature-convention (nomos-phusis) debate. As with any Aristotelian virtue, the character of justice is to be determined by looking to the nature or functioning of the creature whose virtue it is. When Aristotle says that political justice, which characterizes relations between citizens of a polis, is both conventional and natural, he is carving out a new position on the traditional question. Aristotle thinks of individuals as essentially social or political in a sense which ties the good of any individual to the good of his fellow citizens. In the ideal polis all citizens are virtuous. The justice of a political structure has become, in Aristotle, a matter of fairness to individual citizens.
  • 18 - Aristotelian constitutions
    pp 366-389
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521481366.020
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Plato gives grounds enough for Aristotle's generalized complaint about others who write about constitutions, that they say nothing of practical use. Though a more generous, and probably more accurate, reading would be that the cities of the Republic and the Laws are meant to provide models, to which societies would approximate by selecting, modifying and adapting the ideal institutions and laws in accordance with the prevailing conditions. Even a cursory comparison of the Politics with Plato's Republic, Politicus and Laws is sufficient to demonstrate the very close connections between Aristotle's political thinking and Plato's. Under Aristotelian kingship and aristocracy, and the special constitutional form called polity, by contrast, is put to proper use. The form of constitution called politeia or polity is clearly central to Aristotle's scheme. It is probably best described as an attainable ideal, which has close connections with something people call, not wholly misleadingly, aristocracy.
  • 19 - The Peripatos after Aristotle
    pp 390-395
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521481366.021
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Later Peripatetics attempted to square Aristotle's polis-centred ethical and political outlook with the larger Stoic vision of human beings as citizens of the world. Aristotle's polis-based perspective is likely to appear narrow and backward-looking, given the loss of autonomy apparently implied by the absorption of a large part of the Greek world, a process which began a decade and a half before his death, into the empires instituted by Alexander and his successors. The pseudo-Aristotelian Economics, itself marks the integration of the structure of the polis into the wider world of the Hellenistic kingship, identifying four forms of administration, oikonomia: those belonging respectively to the king, the satrapy or province, the polis and the individual household. This analogy provides a justification of a sort for the curious notion or fiction of offering a handbook of advice for the orator and politician, operating within the context of the polis, to an autocrat with imperial ambitions.
  • 20 - Introduction: the Hellenistic and Roman periods
    pp 397-414
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521481366.022
  • View abstract
    Summary
    In the Hellenistic period moral philosophy threatened to break free. Both Epicureans and Stoics placed their emphasis on the individual, his conduct and his goals. Those goals, pleasure for the Epicurean and goodness for the Stoic, were no longer to be sought within the framework of the poleis, but in the setting of the universe. The works of Xenophon and Isocrates included prototype kingship treatises. The Classical philosophers had ranked monarchy high, Plato in the Politicus designating it the best form of government, provided only a king could be found who was wise, while Aristotle concedes that the 'one best man' should be sovereign in some circumstances. For information as to the style and content of the Hellenistic kingship treatises we are largely dependent on the symposium of pseudo-Aristeas' Letter to Philocrates and complete works from the Roman period beginning with Seneca's de dementia which is usually taken as true to type.
  • 21 - The Cynics
    pp 415-434
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521481366.023
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Any picture of Cynicism must be a synthesis of widely different types of material and of thousands of different items, each of which should, ideally, have been subject to exact scrutiny. The synthesis must also allow for the possibility of difference between different Cynics and different periods of Cynicism. In the reconstruction of Diogenes' life and activity, the general distortions in the ancient traditions about Cynicism are exacerbated by the fact that Diogenes was himself a flamboyant self-dramatist, who provoked extremes of admiration, hostility and imaginative invention, thus inspiring a rich and varied Diogenes-legend. The main outlines of Diogenes' activities in Athens and Corinth are clear. This chapter discusses the evidence regarding Diogenes' celebrated 'cosmopolitanism'. Numerous ancient sources link Diogenes with 'cosmopolitan' sentiment. The false attribution of that sentiment to Socrates is naturally explained as retrojection of Diogenic material upon the 'father' of the whole Cynic-Stoic 'succession'.
  • 22 - Epicurean and Stoic political thought
    pp 435-456
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521481366.024
  • View abstract
    Summary
    For evaluating the theoretical stance of Epicureanism and Stoicism towards politics and the life of the polis as they actually were, however, the crucial evidence is supplied by their answers to the question whether the wise person is engagè. The two leading treatments of the issue relating to politics, by Epicurus and by Chrysippus, third head of the Stoa, were offered in each case in works entitled On Modes of Life, in which the authors evidently debated alternative views of the right choice of life for a rational person. These treatises stood in a long tradition: one sees it develop from Plato in the Gorgias and Republic through Aristotle into the Hellenistic Lyceum, where Theophrastus and Dicaearchus debated the problem. The disagreement of Stoics might not have been readily apparent from the foundation document of Stoic political thought, Zeno's Republic, which shared themes in common with Cynic repudiation of the city, and especially with Diogenes' work of the same name.
  • 23 - Kings and constitutions: Hellenistic theories
    pp 457-476
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521481366.025
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Throughout the Hellenistic period kingship and constitutional theory continued to occupy the attention of philosophers of all four major schools, though none of their works has survived. The literature on kingship, directed mainly to the kings of Macedonia, presumably discussed the character of a desirable monarch. It gave shape and substance to a tradition that continued throughout antiquity into the Middle Ages. More specific evidence for the thought of the period comes from two pseudonymous texts that contain advice for a king ('Aristotle' To Alexander and 'Aristeas' To Philocrates), and two historical texts that use contemporary theories to describe and interpret political history (Polybius and Diodorus Siculus). These date from, or reflect the thought of, the second century BC, and each addresses the political realities of one or more of four of the major powers of the time: the Macedonian monarchy, the Egyptian monarchy, the Achaean democracy, and the Roman Republic.
  • 24 - Cicero
    pp 477-516
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521481366.026
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Cicero's political philosophy is described as creative. His political philosophy needs to be illuminated by the concrete circumstances of his own age. Cicero himself considered as true patriots those who supported the collective authority of the Senate, and he often described such men as boni. The ethics of Roman society showed a remarkable degree of continuity from the late third to the mid-first century. The vocabulary of such men is shaped by their aristocratic preoccupation with war and politics. During the years of political frustration, Cicero took time from practical politics in order to write. His first choice of topic is instructive. Cicero's main project was to provide a philosophical encyclopaedia in Latin for his Roman audience. The ethos of the Roman Republic, to which Cicero gave personal philosophical expression, was to possess a lasting appeal, particularly through the influence of de Officiis. Under the pressure of contemporary crises, Cicero modified and articulated their insights for posterity to reappropriate.

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