This series provides sophisticated and authoritative overviews of periods of ancient history, genres of classical literature, and the most important themes in ancient culture. Each volume comprises approximately twenty-five and forty concise essays written by individual scholars within their area of specialization. The essays are written in a clear, provocative, and lively manner, designed for an international audience of scholars, students, and general readers.




A Companion to the Roman Army
Edited by Paul Erdkamp

A Companion to the Roman Republic
Edited by Nathan Rosenstein and Robert

A Companion to the Roman Empire
Edited by David S. Potter

A Companion to the Classical Greek World
Edited by Konrad H. Kinzl

A Companion to the Ancient Near East
Edited by Daniel C. Snell

A Companion to the Hellenistic World
Edited by Andrew Erskine

A Companion to Late Antiquity
Edited by Philip Rousseau

A Companion to Ancient History
Edited by Andrew Erskine

A Companion to Archaic Greece
Edited by Kurt A. Raaflaub and Hans van Wees

A Companion to Julius Caesar
Edited by Miriam Griffin

A Companion to Byzantium
Edited by Liz James

A Companion to Ancient Egypt
Edited by Alan B. Lloyd

A Companion to Ancient Macedonia
Edited by Joseph Roisman and Ian Worthington

A Companion to the Punic Wars
Edited by Dexter Hoyos

A Companion to Augustine
Edited by Mark Vessey

A Companion to Marcus Aurelius
Edited by Marcel van Ackeren

A Companion to Ancient Greek Government
Edited by Hans Beck




A Companion to Classical Receptions
Edited by Lorna Hardwick and Christopher Stray

A Companion to Greek and Roman Historiography
Edited by John Marincola

A Companion to Catullus
Edited by Marilyn B. Skinner

A Companion to Roman Religion
Edited by Jörg Rupke

A Companion to Greek Religion
Edited by Daniel Ogden

A Companion to the Classical Tradition
Edited by Craig W. Kallendorf

A Companion to Roman Rhetoric
Edited by William Dominik and Jon Hall

A Companion to Greek Rhetoric
Edited by Ian Worthington

A Companion to Ancient Epic
Edited by John Miles Foley

A Companion to Greek Tragedy
Edited by Justina Gregory

A Companion to Latin Literature
Edited by Stephen Harrison

A Companion to Greek and Roman Political Thought
Edited by Ryan K. Balot

A Companion to Ovid
Edited by Peter E. Knox

A Companion to the Ancient Greek Language
Edited by Egbert Bakker

A Companion to Hellenistic Literature
Edited by Martine Cuypers and James J. Clauss

A Companion to Vergil’s Aeneid and its Tradition
Edited by Joseph Farrell and Michael C. J. Putnam

A Companion to Horace
Edited by Gregson Davis

A Companion to Families in the Greek and Roman Worlds
Edited by Beryl Rawson

A Companion to Greek Mythology
Edited by Ken Dowden and Niall Livingstone

A Companion to the Latin Language
Edited by James Clackson

A Companion to Tacitus
Edited by Victoria Emma Pagán
A Companion to Women in the Ancient World

Edited by Sharon L. James and Sheila Dillon
Edited by Kirk Ormand

A Companion to the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East
Edited by Daniel Potts

A Companion to Roman Love Elegy
Edited by Barbara K. Gold

A Companion to Greek Art
Edited by Tyler Jo Smith and Dimitris Plantzos

A Companion to Persius and Juvenal
Edited by Susanna Braund and Josiah Osgood


To My Teachers at Jesuit High School of New Orleans


Notes on Contributors


Note on Translations


PART I The Broad View

CHAPTER 1 Introduction: Rethinking the History of Greek and Roman Political Thought

Ancient Greek and Roman Distinctiveness

Ancient and Modern

Particular and General

Politics, Ethics, Citizenship

Supplementing Contemporary Theory

Significant Editorial Choices

The Provocation to Self-Criticism


CHAPTER 2 What is Politics in the Ancient World?

Politics as Formalized Institutions

Group Politics: Prosopography, Social Power, and Social History

Politics as the Site of Class Relations

Politics and Legitimate Domination

Politics as Inscribed Relations of Power: From Structure to Poststructure

Politics as Cultural Performance

Ancient Politics as Reflection

CHAPTER 3 Early Greek Political Thought in Its Mediterranean Context

“Influence”: Thoughts on Methodology

Distorted Greek Views of Cultural Imports: Importing Egyptian Laws

Greek and Near Eastern Laws, “Law Codes,” and Monumental Inscriptions with Legal Texts

Near Eastern Origins of Greek Political Values?


CHAPTER 4 Civic Ideology and Citizenship

CHAPTER 5 Public Action and Rational Choice in Classical Greek Political Theory

Public Action: Incentives, Nature, and Knowledge

Incentive Problems in Greek Literature

Herodotus on Utilities and Knowledge Aggregation

Thucydides on Innovation and Learning

Plato on Rational Choice in the Ideal State

Aristotle’s Rational Political Animals

CHAPTER 6 Imperial Ideologies, Citizenship Myths, and Legal Disputes in Classical Athens and Republican Rome

Problematic Analytical Terms: “Imperialism” and “Citizenship”

Citizenship Myths and Historical Realities of Imperial Expansion

Citizenship Myths at Work in Athens and Rome


CHAPTER 7 Gendered Politics, or the Self-Praise of Andres Agathoi

Gender in Theory

Gender in Practice

Rights, Habits, and Bodies

Manly Men

The Gender of Politics

The Rhetoric of Gender

Conclusion, or the Hair-and-Clothes Issue

CHAPTER 8 The Religious Contexts of Ancient Political Thought


Cult Practice

PART II Democracies and Republics

CHAPTER 9 Democracy Ancient and Modern


Democratic Values

Democratic Institutions

The Practices of Democracy

Ancient and Modern Democratic Practice and Institutions Compared

What Is the Use of Studying Ancient Democracy?

CHAPTER 10 “Rights,” Individuals, and Communities in Ancient Greece

CHAPTER 11 Personal Freedom in Greek Democracies, Republican Rome, and Modern Liberal States

CHAPTER 12 The Mixed Constitution in Greek Thought




The Mixed Constitution in Retrospect and Prospect

CHAPTER 13 Republican Virtues


CHAPTER 14 Roman Democracy?

PART III The Virtues and Vices of One-Man Rule

CHAPTER 15 The Uses and Abuses of Tyranny

Historical Background: One-Man Rule in Ancient Greece

The Ideological Construction of Tyranny in the Archaic Period

Fifth Century Uses of the Concept of Tyranny

Tyranny in the Fourth Century

CHAPTER 16 Hellenistic Monarchy in Theory and Practice

Can Scholars Speak of “Hellenistic Monarchy” as a Political Category?

The Theory of Monarchy in the Hellenistic Age

Hellenistic Kingship in Practice


CHAPTER 17 The Ethics of Autocracy in the Roman World

Political Thought in the Roman Empire

Romans on Monarchy: From Theory to Reality

The Kaleidoscope of Royal Virtues and Vices

Anxieties and Strategies


PART IV The Passions of Ancient Politics

CHAPTER 18 Political Animals: Pathetic Animals

Passion and Power

The Pathetic Apparatus of Monarchy

The Pathetic Apparatus of Democracy

Political Animals, Moral Animals, Pathetic Animals

CHAPTER 19 Anger, Eros, and Other Political Passions in Ancient Greek Thought

Honor, Shame, and Awe


Anger and the Idea of Spiritedness

Affection and Civic Friendship

Civic Friendship and Modern Liberalism

CHAPTER 20 Some Passionate Performances in Late Republican Rome

PART V The Athens of Socrates , Plato , and Aristotle

CHAPTER 21 The Trial and Death of Socrates

Meletus’ Summons and the Political Background

The Theaetetus: Trial and Death in Prospect

The Euthyphro and Piety

The Preliminary Hearing

The Pretrial Examination

The Trial and Socrates’ Defense: The Apology

The Crito and Socrates’ Refusal to Escape

The Execution of Socrates in the Phaedo

CHAPTER 22 The Politics of Plato’s Socrates

The Constitutional Debate

Professionalizing Political Rule

Consequences for Political Thought

CHAPTER 23 Freedom, Tyranny, and the Political Man: Plato’s Republic and Gorgias, a Study in Contrasts

Callipolis: The Anti-Athens

Freedom and Power in the Gorgias

Disarming the Tyrant


CHAPTER 24 Plato on the Sovereignty of Law

The Rule of Law and Platonic Ideals

Liberalism, Perfectionism, and the Rule of Law

The Rule of Law and the Rule of Reason

The Preludes

Law and Order

CHAPTER 25 “Naturalism” in Aristotle’s Political Philosophy

Five Senses in Which We Should Not Call Aristotle a Naturalist

Three Senses in Which We Should Call Aristotle a Naturalist

Aristotle’s Doctrine That the Polis Is Natural

Need and Self-Sufficiency

The Capability Approach

CHAPTER 26 The Ethics of Aristotle’s Politics

Politics and Ethics

The Ethical Implications of Aristotle’s Anthropology

The Politics of Aristotle’s Ethics

Ethical Sticking Points in Aristotle’s Political Theory

PART VI Constructing Political Narrative

CHAPTER 27 Imitating Virtue and Avoiding Vice: Ethical Functions of Biography, History, and Philosophy

Greek Virtue

Virtue and Exemplary Narrative

Instruction in Virtue


CHAPTER 28 Greek Drama and Political Thought

Citizens and Others, Institutional Setting

Drama and Ideology


CHAPTER 29 Character in Politics

Fourth Century: Theory and Practice

Historians of the Roman Republic

Historians of the Roman Empire

PART VII Antipolitics

CHAPTER 30 Cosmopolitan Traditions

CHAPTER 31 False Idles: The Politics of the “Quiet Life”

The Ideology Opposed to Withdrawal

Three Defenses of Withdrawal

Withdrawal to Transcend Politics

Withdrawal to Reject Politics

Withdrawal to Transform Politics

Contesting the Political

CHAPTER 32 Citizenship and Signs: Rethinking Augustine on the Two Cities

PART VIII Receptions

CHAPTER 33 Republicanism: Ancient, Medieval, and Beyond

CHAPTER 34 Twentieth Century Revivals of Ancient Political Thought: Hannah Arendt and Leo Strauss

Arendt’s Advocacy of Political “Action”

Leo Strauss’s Revival of Platonic Political Philosophy


Index of Subjects

Index Locorum

Notes on Contributors

Ryan K. Balot is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto. The author of Greed and Injustice in Classical Athens (2001) and Greek Political Thought (2006), he specializes in the history of political thought. He received his doctorate in Classics at Princeton and his BA degrees in Classics from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and Corpus Christi College, Oxford, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar. Balot is currently at work on Courage and Its Critics in Democratic Athens, from which he has published articles in the American Journal of Philology, Classical Quarterly, Ancient Philosophy, and Social Research.

Todd Breyfogle is Director of Seminars for the Aspen Institute. He studied at Colorado College and Corpus Christi College, Oxford (as a Rhodes Scholar) before earning his PhD from the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. He is coeditor of a five-volume commentary on Augustine’s City of God (forthcoming from Oxford University Press) and edited Literary Imagination, Ancient and Modern: Essays in Honor of David Grene (1999). He has authored numerous articles on subjects ranging from Augustine, to J. S. Bach, to contemporary political theory.

Eric Brown is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Washington University in St Louis, and the author of several articles on Greek and Roman philosophy, and of Stoic Cosmopolitanism (forthcoming). Before moving to St Louis, he studied Classics and Philosophy at the universities of Cambridge, Pittsburgh, and Chicago.

Paul Cartledge is A. G. Leventis Professor of Greek Culture within the Faculty of Classics at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Clare College; he also holds the visiting position of Hellenic Parliament Global Distinguished Professor in the Theory and History of Democracy at New York University. His latest book is Ancient Greek Political Thought in Practice (2009).

Craige B. Champion is Associate Professor of Ancient History and Classics and Chair of the History Department in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. In 2004, he won the Daniel Patrick Moyni-han Award in recognition of scholarly productivity, teaching excellence, and community service. His scholarly interests lie in the history of the hellenistic world and the Middle Roman Republic, and Greek and Roman historiography. He has had an enduring interest in the ancient Greek historian Polybius. He is the author of Cultural Politics in Polybius’s Histories (2004), editor of Roman Imperialism: Readings and Sources (2004), and coeditor, with Arthur M. Eckstein, of a new, annotated, two-volume English-language edition of Polybius, The Landmark Edition of Polybius’ Histories (forthcoming). He has published numerous articles and review essays on ancient Greek and Roman history and historiography.

Timothy Chappell is Professor of Philosophy at The Open University, Milton Keynes, England, and Director of the Open University Ethics Centre. His books are Values and Virtues: Aristote-lianism in Contemporary Ethics (2007); The Inescapable Self (2005); Reading Plato’s Theaetetus (2004); Human Values: New Essays in Ethics and Natural Law (edited with David Oderberg, 2004); Understanding Human Goods (1998); Philosophy of the Environment (1997); The Plato Reader (1996); and Aristotle and Augustine on Freedom (1995).

David J. Depew is Professor in the Department of Communication Studies and the interdisciplinary Project on the Rhetoric of Inquiry (POROI) at the University of Iowa. He writes on the philosophy, history, and rhetoric of biology and its relation to culture in ancient and modern times, with special attention to Aristotle and Darwinism. He is coauthor with Marjorie Grene of Philosophy of Biology: An Episodic History (2004). Recent publications include “Consequence Etiology and Biological Teleology in Aristotle and Darwin,” (2008).

Arthur M. Eckstein is Professor of History at the University of Maryland, and a specialist in the history of the hellenistic world and Roman imperialism under the Republic. He has published four books, a coedited book, and 50 major scholarly articles. His two most recent books, Mediterranean Anarchy, Interstate War, and the Rise of Rome (2006) and Rome Enters the Greek East: From Anarchy to Hierarchy in the Hellenistic Mediterranean, 230–170 BC (2008), are pioneering efforts at combining modern international-systems theory with ancient history.

Matt Edge has recently completed his PhD at the University of Cambridge, on the notion of individual freedom in classical Athens and its modern equivalent, and is in the process of submitting this for publication as a number of articles. His main interests are in political and moral philosophy, particularly the concepts of liberty, cosmopolitanism, and socialism.

Sara Forsdyke is Associate Professor in the Department of Classical Studies at the University of Michigan. She is the author of Exile, Ostracism, and Democracy: The Politics of Expulsion in Ancient Greece (2005) and numerous articles on Greek history, Herodotus, and Greek political thought.

John Gibert is Associate Professor of Classics at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He is the author of Change of Mind in Greek Tragedy (1995), coauthor (with C. Collard and M. J. Cropp) of Euripides: Selected Fragmentary Plays II (2004), and has written articles, chapters, and reviews on Greek drama, religion, and philosophy (including “The Sophists,” in the Blackwell Guide to Ancient Philosophy). His current project is an edition with commentary of Euripides’ Ion.

David E. Hahm is Professor of Greek and Latin at the Ohio State University, Columbus. He is the author of The Origins of Stoic Cosmology, as well as articles on Plato, Aristotle, hellenistic philosophy and science, and the historiography of philosophy in antiquity. His current projects include Polybius’ political theory and Greek physical philosophy.

Dean Hammer is the John W. Wetzel Professor of Classics and Professor of Government at Franklin and Marshall College. He is the author of The Iliad as Politics: The Performance of Political Thought (2002), as well as articles on ancient and modern political thought in the American Journal of Philology, Historia, Political Theory, Classical Journal, Arethusa, and Phoenix. His book Roman Political Thought and the Return to the World (2008) explores the relationship between Roman and modern political thought.

Charles W. Hedrick, Jr has taught at the University of California at Santa Cruz since 1990, and he is currently Professor in the History Department there. He is the author of articles, chapters, and books. His principal publications include The Decrees of the Demotionidai (1990); History and Silence: Purge and Rehabilitation of Memory in Late Antiquity (2000); and Ancient History: Monuments and Documents (2006). He is also joint editor of Demokratia: A Conversation on Democracies, Ancient and Modern (1996) and of the exhibition catalog The Birth of Democracy: An Exhibition (1993).

Zena Hitz is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She received her degree in 2005 from Princeton University’s classical philosophy program and specializes in ancient political philosophy. She has written essays on Plato’s critique of democracy and on Aristotle on friendship, and is currently working on the philosophical origins of the ideal of the rule of law.

Rachana Kamtekar is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Arizona. She is a co-editor (with Sara Ahbel-Rappe) of A Companion to Socrates (2006) and the author of several articles on Plato, Stoicism, and moral psychology. She is currently writing a book on Plato’s psychology entitled The Powers of Plato’s Psychology.

Robert A. Kaster is Professor of Classics and Kennedy Foundation Professor of Latin Language and Literature at Princeton University. He is the author of Guardians of Language: The Grammarian and Society in Late Antiquity (1988); Emotion, Restraint, and Community in Ancient Rome (2005); commentaries on Suetonius’ De Grammaticis et Rhetoribus (1995) and Cicero’s Pro Sestio (2006); and articles on Roman literature and culture.

David Konstan is the John Rowe Workman Professor of Classics and the Humanistic Tradition, and Professor of Comparative Literature, at Brown University. His most recent books are The Emotions of the Ancient Greeks (2006); a translation of Aspasius’ commentary on Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics (2006); Terms for Eternity (with Ilaria Ramelli, 2007); and Lucrezio e la psicologia epicurea (trans. Ilaria Ramelli, 2007; in English as A Life Worthy of the Gods: The Materialist Psychology of Epicurus, 2008). He was president of the American Philological Association in 1999.

Peter Liddel is Lecturer in Ancient History at the University of Manchester. His research is related to Greek political history, ancient Greek historiography, Greek epigraphy, and modern historiography (particularly histories of Greece). He is the author of Civic Obligation and Individual Liberty in Ancient Athens (2007), and has edited a republication of Connop Thirlwall’s history of Greece: Bishop Thirlwall’s History of Greece (2007). Currently he is working on articles related to the appearance of inscriptions and other documents in Greek literary texts, and studies of non-Athenian epi-graphical habits.

Paul W. Ludwig is a Tutor at St John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland. He is the author of Eros and Polis: Desire and Community in Greek Political Theory (2002). His articles have appeared in the American Journal of Philology and in the American Political Science Review. He is currently working on a book on civic friendship, as well as a volume for the Cambridge series Key Themes in Ancient Philosophy on love, friendship, and the family.

Christopher Nadon teaches courses in political philosophy for the Government Department at Claremont McKenna College and is currently at work on a study of the separation of church and state. He is the author of Xenophon’s Prince: Republic and Empire in the Cyropaedia (2001).

Debra Nails is Professor of Philosophy at Michigan State University, and is the author of The People of Plato: A Prosopography of Plato and Other Socratics (2002); Agora, Academy, and the Conduct of Philosophy (1995); and articles in ancient and modern philosophy. With J. H. Lesher and Frisbee Sheffield, she edited Plato’s Symposium: Issues in Interpretation and Reception (2006).

Carlos F. Noreña is Assistant Professor of History at the University of California at Berkeley. He works primarily on the history of the Roman Empire, especially the political and cultural history of the first two centuries AD. He is currently completing a book, The Circulation of Imperial Ideals in the Roman West, that examines the figure of the Roman emperor as a unifying symbol for the western empire.

Josiah Ober is the Constantine Mitsota-kis Professor of Political Science and Classics at Stanford University. His books include Mass and Elite in Democratic Athens (1989), Political Dissent in Democratic Athens (1998), and Democracy and Knowledge (2008). His current research projects concern public action and the organization of information in democracies, and the emergence of dispersed authority in extensive ecologies of states. Before coming to Stanford in 2006, he taught at Princeton and Montana State universities.

Robin Osborne is Professor of Ancient History at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of King’s College. He has published widely in Greek history and archaeology, including Greece in the Making 1200479 BC (1996), Archaic and Classical Greek Art (1998), and Greek History (2004). With P. J. Rhodes he edited Greek Historical Inscriptions 404323 BC (2003). He is a Fellow of the British Academy.

Kurt A. Raaflaub is David Herlihy University Professor in Classics and History and Director of the Program in Ancient Studies at Brown University. His research interests have focused on the social, political, military, and intellectual history of archaic and classical Greece and republican Rome, and on the comparative history of the ancient world. Recent books include The Discovery of Freedom in Ancient Greece (2004), winner of the James Henry Breasted Prize of the American Historical Association, Origins of Democracy in Ancient Greece (co-authored, 2007), and War and Peace in the Ancient World (edited, 2007).

P. J. Rhodes studied at Oxford, and has been working at the University of Durham since 1965: he became Professor of Ancient History in 1983, and since his retirement in 2005 has been Honorary Professor and Emeritus Professor. He is a specialist in Greek history, and particularly in politics and political institutions: his History of the Classical Greek World was published in 2005, and most recently he has written the Introduction and Notes to Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War, trans. Martin Hammond (2009).

Arlene W. Saxonhouse is the Caroline Robbins Collegiate Professor of Political Science and Women’s Studies and Adjunct Professor of Classics at the University of Michigan. She is the author of Women in the History of Political Thought: Ancient Greece to Machiavelli (1985); Fear of Diversity: The Birth of Political Science in Ancient Greek Thought (1992); coeditor of Hobbes’s Three Discourses: A Modern, Critical Edition of Newly Identified Works by the Young Thomas Hobbes (1995); Athenian Democracy: Modern Mythmakers and Ancient Theorists (1996); and Free Speech and Democracy in Ancient Athens (2006).

Malcolm Schofield is Professor of Ancient Philosophy, University of Cambridge, where he has taught in the Faculty of Classics since 1972. He was editor of Phronesis from 1987 to 1992. He is coauthor (with G. S. Kirk and J. E. Raven) of The Presocratic Philosophers (2nd edn 1983). Of the many collected volumes he has helped to edit the most recent to appear is The Cambridge History of Greek and Roman Political Thought (2000), which he coedited with Christopher Rowe. His other writings on ancient political philosophy include The Stoic Idea of the City (1991), Saving the City (1999), and Plato: Political Philosophy (2006).

Giulia Sissa is a Professor of Classics and Political Science at the University of California at Los Angeles. She has been a researcher at the CNRS in Paris, and Professor of Classics and head of department at the Johns Hopkins University. She is the author of numerous books and articles, including, Greek Virginity (1997), The Daily Life of the Greek Gods (with Marcel Detienne, 2000), Le Plaisir et le mal. Philosophie de la drogue (1997), L’âme est un corps de femme (2000), and Sex and Sensuality in the Ancient World (2008). She is currently working on politics and the passions and on the pursuit of pleasure from Athens to Utopia.

Philip A. Stadter is Falk Professor in the Humanities Emeritus in the Classics Department of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His books include Arrian of Nicomedia (1980), A Commentary on Plutarch’s Pericles (1989), and introductions and notes to Plutarch, Nine Greek Lives (1998) and Plutarch, Eight Roman Lives (1999). He has also edited Plutarch and the Historical Tradition (1992) and, with L. Van der Stockt, Sage and Emperor (2002).

W. Jeffrey Tatum is Associate Professor of Ancient History at the University of Sydney. He is the author of The Patrician Tribune: Publius Clodius Pulcher (1999) and Always I am Caesar (2008), as well as numerous papers on Roman history and Latin literature. He is currently writing a commentary on the Commentariolum Petitionis attributed to Quintus Cicero.

Robert W. Wallace is Professor of Classics at Northwestern University. He is the author of The Areopagos Council, to 307 BC (1989) and Reconstructing Damon: Music, Wisdom Teaching, and Politics in Democratic Athens (forthcoming). He coauthored The Origins of Greek Democracy (2007) and has coedited four volumes on Greek law, Greek music and performance, and hellenistic political history. He has published widely in the fields of Greek history, law, music theory, numismatics, and literature.

Catherine H. Zuckert is a Nancy Reeves Dreux Professor of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame and editor of The Review of Politics. Her books include Natural Right and the American Imagination: Political Philosophy in Novel Form (1990); Postmodern Platos: Nietzsche, Heidegger, Gadamer, Strauss, Derrida (1996); and Plato’s Philosophers (2009). She coauthored The Truth about Leo Strauss (2006) with her husband Michael, and edited Understanding the Political Spirit: From Socrates to Nietzsche (1988).


This Companion brings together classicists, ancient historians, political scientists, and philosophers in an attempt to offer fresh perspectives on classical political thought. The primary aim of the volume is to reconsider our relationship to the ancient Greeks and Romans, with a view to deepening our understanding of political life as such. The editor and contributors are deeply grateful to Al Bertrand for help, encouragement, and advice throughout the process, and to the production staff at Blackwell/Wiley, including Barbara Duke and Ben Thatcher. Ann Bone has been an outstanding copy-editor. The editor also gratefully acknowledges permission to reprint chapters 21 and 22 from A Companion to Socrates, edited by Sara Ahbel-Rappe and Rachana Kamtekar (Blackwell, 2006).

At the beginning of the project, my colleagues George Pepe, Andrew Rehfeld, and Eric Brown of Washington University in St Louis were invariably stimulating interlocutors. In the midst of working on this volume, I joined the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto. For their support as I migrated from Classics to Political Science, and from the United States to Canada, I would like to thank George Pepe, Brad Inwood, Kurt Raaflaub, Arlene Saxonhouse, Jill Frank, Steve Salkever, Sara Forsdyke, and Josh Ober. In Toronto, I have been immensely grateful for the companionship and encouragement of my new colleagues, especially Clifford Orwin, Brad Inwood, Edward Andrew, Ronald Beiner, Simone Chambers, Victoria Wohl, and Neil Nevitte. The volume has also benefited from the hard work of my research assistant, Larissa Atkison.

My wife, Carroll, provided invaluable support throughout my work on this project. I would not have been able to finish the collection without her friendship and encouragement. Our daughters, Julia and Corinne, have, as always, given me great joy from start to finish.

I dedicate this volume to four teachers who first taught me Latin and Greek and first introduced me to the Homeric epics, Plato’s Republic, and Ciceronian oratory: Rev. Claude P. Boudreaux, S.J.; Dr Stephen Pearce; Mr Grégoire C. Richard; and Rev. Wayne Roca, S.J.

Note on Translations

All translations in this volume were done by the authors themselves, unless otherwise indicated. Bibliographic information on the translations used can be found in the List of References and occasionally in the List of Abbreviations.


This is a list of abbreviations of ancient authors, texts, and editions of fragmentary source material occurring in the chapters. With several exceptions, this list follows that of the Oxford Classical Dictionary, 3rd edition, edited by Simon Hornblower and Antony Spawforth (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996). In the case of familiar titles, I have tended, by contrast with Hornblower and Spawforth, to use the standard English equivalents rather than the Latin translations (e.g. Pl. Resp. = Plato, Republic, rather than Plato, Respublica).



The Anchor Bible Dictionary




Varia Historia








Seven against Thebes



Amm. Marc.

Ammianus Marcellinus





    B Civ.

Bella civilia





















    de An.

De anima

    Ath. Pol.

Athēnaiōn Politela


De caelo

    Eth. Eud.

Eudemian Ethics

    Eth. Nic.

Nicomachean Ethics

    Gen. an.

De generatione animalium

    Hist. an.

Historia animalium

    Part. an.

De partibus animalium





Aristid. Or.

Aristides, Orationes





Asc. … Cl.

Asconius, ed. A. C. Clark (Oxford Classical Text, 1907)





    b. conjug.

De bono coniugali

    c. Faustum

Contra Faustum Manicheum



    De civ. D.

De civitate Dei (City of God)

    En. Ps.

Enarrationes in Psalmos



    Gn. litt.

De Genesi ad litteram

    lib. arb.

De libero arbitrio

    nat. et gr.

De natura et gratia




De trinitate

[Aur. Vict.] De vir. ill.

[Aurelius Victor], De viris illustribus



    B Afr.

Bettum Africum

    B Civ.

Bellum Civile

Cass. Dio

Cassius Dio


Codex Hammurabi



    Acad. post.

Academica posteriora


De amicitia


Epistulae ad Atticum


Pro Balbo


Pro Caelio


In Catilinam


Pro Cluentio

    De or.

De oratore


Pro rege Deiotaro


De divinatione


De domo sua


Epistulae ad familiares


De finibus

    Har. resp.

De haruspicum responso


De legibus

    Leg. agr.

De lege agraria


Pro Ligario


Pro Marcello


Pro Milone


Pro Murena

    Nat. D.

De natura Deorum


De officiis

    Part. or.

Partitiones oratoriae




In Pisonem


Pro Plancio

    Prov. cons.

De provinciis consularibus


Epistulae ad Quintum fratrem


Pro Roscio comoedo


Pro Quinctio

    Red. pop.

Post reditum ad populum

    Red. sen.

Post reditum in senatu


De republica (Republic)


Pro Scauro


Pro Sestio


Pro Sulla


Tuseulanae disputationes


In Verrem


Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum

Clem. Al.

Clemens Alexandrinus






Against Meidias



Dio Or.

Dio of Prusa (Dio Chrysostomus), Orationes

Diod. Sic.

Diodorus Siculus

Diog. Laert.

Diogenes Laertius

Dion. Hal.

Dionysius Halicarnassensis

    Ant. Rom.

Antiquitates Romanae




H. Diels and W. Kranz (eds), Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, 2 vols, 6th edn (Berlin: Weidmann, 1951–2)


Der neue Pauly, 18 vols (Stuttgart: J. B. Metzler, 1996-2003)



Enn. Ann.

Ennius, Annales









Ratae sententiae

    Sent. Vat.

Vatican Sayings = Gnomologium Vaticanum










Iphigenia Aulidensis


Supplices (Suppliants or Suppliant Women)


F. Jacoby (ed.), Die Fragmente der griechischen Historiker (Berlin: Weidmann; Leiden: Brill, 1923–64)


L. Annaeus Florus





Gai. Inst

Gaius, Institutiones






Opera et dies (Works and Days)






De aera, aquis, locis (On Airs, Waters, Places)










Inscriptiones Graecae (1873-)


H. Dessau, Inscriptiones Latinae Selectae (1892–1916)







    C. soph.

Contra sophistas




W. Helck, E. Otto, and W. Westendorf (eds), Lexicon der Agyptologie (1975-86)


Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae (1981– )



Livy, Epit.

Livy, Epitomae


E. Lobel and D. Page, Poetarum Lesbiorum Fragmenta (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1955)

Lucian, Alex.

Lucian, Alexander





M. Aur. Med.

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Men. Dys

Menander, Dyskolos

Men. Rhet.

Menander Rhetor


R. Meiggs and D. Lewis (eds), A Selection of Greek Historical Inscriptions to the End of the Fifth Century BC, rev. edn (1988)


R. Merkelbach and M. L. West (eds), Fragmenta Hesiodea (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1967)




Orientis Graeci Inscriptiones Selectae


H. Malcovati (ed.), Oratorum Romanorum Fragmenta (2nd edn 1955; 4th edn 1967)

Ov. Fast.

Ovid, Fasti


D. L. Page (ed.), Poetae Melici Graeci (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1962)

Pan. Lat.

XII Panegyrici Latini



St Paul, Epistle to the Colossians


St Paul, Epistle to the Galatians

Philo, Mos.

Philo, De vita Mosis (Life of Moses)





Pindar, Pyth.

Pindar, Pythian









    Eu. or Euthphr.









Leges (Laws)










Politicus (Statesman)













Plin. NH

Pliny (the Elder), Naturalis historia

Plin. Pan.

Pliny (the Younger), Panegyricus

Pliny, Ep.

Pliny (the Younger), Epistulae





        Adv. Col

Adversus Coloten (Against Colotes)

        an virt. doc. possit

An virtus doceri possit (Whether virtue can be taught)

        comp. Dem. et Cic.

Comparatio Demosthenis et Ciceronis

        De Alex. fort.

De fortuna Alexandri

        De Stoic. rep.

De Stoicorum repugnantiis (On the contradictions of the Stoics)

        De tranq. anim.

De tranquillitate animi (On the tranquility of the mind)

        De Virt. mor.

De virtute morali (On Moral Virtue)


Vitae parallelae (Parallel Lives)































        Ti. Gracch.

Tiberius Gracchus





Porphyry Abst.

Porphyry, De abstinentia


J. G. F. Powell (ed.), M. Tulli Ciceronis De re publica, De legibus, Cato Maior De senectute, Laelius De amicitia (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006)

P Oxy

Oxyrhynchus Papyri (1898–)

Ps-Xen. Ath. pol.

Pseudo-Xenophon, Respubliea Atheniensium (Constitution of the Athenians)

Q. Cic. Comm. Pet.

Quintus Cicero, Commentariolum petitionis




Reallexikon fur Antike und Christentum (Stuttgart, 1941–)


Reallexikon der Assyriologie




Bellum Catilinae or De Catilinae coniuratione




Bellum Iugurthinum


scholiast or scholia


Supplementum epigraphieum Graeeum (1923-)


Seneca (the Younger)




De beneficiis


De clementia





Sen. Suas.

Seneca (the Elder), Suasoriae

Sext. Emp. Math.

Sextus Empiricus, Adversus mathematieos



Stob. Ecl.

Stobeus, Eclogae


Greek Lexicon formerly known as Suidas




Divus Augustus






Divus Vespasianus




H. von Arnim, Stoicorum Veterum Fragmenta (1903–)


W. Dittenberger et al. (eds), Sylloge Inscriptionum Graecarum, 3rd edn (Leipzig: Hirzel, 1915–24)












A. Nauck (ed.), Tragicorum Graecorum Fragmenta, 2nd edn (1889); suppl. B. Snell (1964)


B. Snell, R. Kannicht, and S. Radt (eds), Tragicorum Graecorum Fragmenta, 4 vols (1971–85); vol. 1, 2nd edn (1986).



Ulpian, Dig.

Ulpian, Digest


H. Usener, Epicurea (Leipzig: Teubner, 1887; repr. Stuttgart: Teubner, 1966)

Val. Max.

Valerius Maximus


W. Weissenborn (ed.), Titi Livi Ab urbe condita libri, vol. 5, 2nd edn (Leipzig, 1894)


M. L. West (ed.), Iambi et elegi Graeci ante Alexandrum cantati, 2 vols, 2nd edn (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989–92)












Respublica Lacedaemoniorum (Spartan Constitution)








The Broad View


Introduction: Rethinking the History of Greek and Roman Political Thought

Ryan K. Balot

The present Companion is designed to introduce the central concepts of Greek and Roman political thought to students and teachers of political science, classics, philosophy, and history. Over the past 20 years, scholars in these distinct fields have begun to communicate with one another intensively across traditional disciplinary lines. This cross-fertilization has led to a significantly deeper understanding of ancient political thought as a product of, and response to, the political world of classical antiquity. More important, perhaps, scholars have also come to recognize that classical political thought provides unique resources for helping us grapple anew with the permanent questions of political life. The time is right, therefore, to integrate these scholarly developments into a comprehensive vision of classical political thought and to ask where we should go from here.

The present volume aims to provide such a vision by incorporating the best recent work on Greek and Roman political thought from a wide variety of disciplinary and methodological perspectives. Yet contributors to this volume have ambitions that go well beyond the work of consolidation and survey. While providing helpful introductions for the uninitiated, they also ask fresh questions. Their essays illustrate the ways in which ancient political thought can inspire us to challenge the conventional political wisdom of late modernity. Contributors to the present volume share the belief that classical political thought constitutes a powerful, if internally diverse, tradition that is capable, even now, of opening us to novel political possibilities. In order to deepen our political understanding, and to expand our political imagination, the authors of the following essays have creatively transgressed their traditional disciplinary boundaries. In doing so, they have begun to delineate the contours of ancient Greek and Roman political thought as a new and distinct subfield – one that draws on traditional frames of reference in classics, history, and ancient philosophy, but also brings ancient political texts into contact with broader currents of political theory and an enlarged understanding of political life.

Ancient Greek and Roman Distinctiveness

If the following essays do indeed point toward a new subfield, then they begin to accomplish this goal by uncovering the distinctiveness of ancient Greek and Roman political thought. The Greeks and Romans already stood out within the ancient Mediterranean world, because, unlike their Mediterranean neighbors, they gave a specifically political interpretation to ideals such as freedom and “law and order” (Raaflaub, chapter 3). What is important, however, is not any triumphal claim that the Greeks originated the political, but rather the exploration of why communal political activity became special or even primary for Greeks and Romans. By contrast with other ancient Mediterranean peoples, as Raaflaub shows, the Greeks and Romans erected their conception of the political on the basis of egalitarian practices of political power (to be sure: among the citizenry, not universally) and a concern with collective aims such as justice, well-being, law and order, freedom, and equality. Their political practices came to light as the most useful responses to the Greek experience of life in small-scale, independent, nonhierarchical, and materially and militarily struggling Mediterranean communities.

Even if the Greeks and Romans created newly political ideals, they never settled on immutable and determinate understandings of what politics was for, or what constituted its central activities. Dean Hammer’s essay (chapter 2) is an exemplary exploration of these points. Through examining the most important modern treatments of ancient politics, Hammer illustrates that ancient Greco-Roman politics should not be reduced to institutional functioning or any Weberian “monopoly of legitimate force” (cf. Herman 2006). (This is one area where the anachronistic importation of modern terminology or concepts can be particularly misleading.) Instead, as Hammer shows, the Greeks and Romans recognized coercive state authority while also understanding individual citizens, including their bodies, as penetrated by the multifarious workings of power. Hammer’s clear-minded interpretation of the ancient political experience through the lens of postmodern social theory pays particular dividends for students of politics as they struggle with the inevitably fuzzy dimensions and chaotic landscapes of political life. At all events, Hammer demonstrates more clearly than ever before that the political must be understood contextually, as a feature of the particular times and places in which politics was recognized and practiced. Yet in doing so Hammer also shows that his emphasis on historical particularity can make certain unfamiliar, and perhaps disquieting, political ideas available for our consideration and use.

Ancient and Modern

Initially, at least, those who boldly assert the importance of classical political thought might be greeted with either skepticism or revulsion or both. Skepticism, because our contemporaries will naturally wonder whether the highly particular, remote, and often alien Greco-Roman political experience can shed light on modern political life and thought. How should scholars and citizens “locate” classical political thought within the contemporary world of technological progress, religious pluralism, universal human rights, and multiculturalism? Revulsion, because virtually all ancient Greek and Roman writers were politically intolerant, illiberal slave-owners who would have scoffed at the idea of universal human rights. They would have failed to understand why they should tolerate, much less respect, the diverse standards of different cultural traditions. What relationship do we now bear, or want to bear, to the highly particular ancient Mediterranean political world?1

Modern political thought can neither ignore nor simply embrace Greek and Roman political analysis. On the one hand, we study classical political thought in the shadow of early modern efforts to reject the claims of antiquity. The seventeenth century founders of modern liberalism, such as Bacon, Descartes, Hobbes, Spinoza, and Locke, aspired to create an utterly new, even Utopian, vision of political order and human freedom. Their sanguine attitudes toward modern progress were based as much on faith in scientific and technological advancement as on the creation of new and supposedly more realistic political ideals. As noble as their ambitions may have been, however, the goal of “routing the ancients,” of eliminating classical political thought from the theoretical road map of modernity, is not a wise option. Whatever their shortcomings or mistakes, the ancient thinkers captured central truths about political psychology and about the social character of human beings. Even now, the ancient thinkers offer us theoretical and imaginative opportunities to improve our political understanding. We can take advantage of these opportunities without endorsing every feature of the classical thinkers’ outlook.

On the other hand, the act of recovering ancient voices or ideas should not be enlisted in the conservative project of establishing orthodoxies that have no real place in the modern world. Political hierarchy, gender inequality, unreflective respect for certain traditions combined with neglect or contempt of others, and the anti-individualistic emphasis on “community” – these are not attractive possibilities for our time. At all events, such projects, if based on claims to the cultural authority of classical antiquity, represent only partial and incomplete recoveries of classical political thought. They do not do justice to the traditions of merciless self-criticism practiced by many of the authors of ancient Greek and Roman political texts (see below, “The Provocation to Self-Criticism”).