Philosophy

A Written Republic: Cicero's Philosophical Politics

Hardcover

Price:
$55.00 / £46.00
ISBN:
Published:
04/29/2012
Copyright:
2012
Pages:
272
Size:
6 x 9.25 in.
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In the 40s BCE, during his forced retirement from politics under Caesar’s dictatorship, Cicero turned to philosophy, producing a massive and important body of work. As he was acutely aware, this was an unusual undertaking for a Roman statesman because Romans were often hostile to philosophy, perceiving it as foreign and incompatible with fulfilling one’s duty as a citizen. How, then, are we to understand Cicero’s decision to pursue philosophy in the context of the political, intellectual, and cultural life of the late Roman republic? In A Written Republic, Yelena Baraz takes up this question and makes the case that philosophy for Cicero was not a retreat from politics but a continuation of politics by other means, an alternative way of living a political life and serving the state under newly restricted conditions.


Baraz examines the rhetorical battle that Cicero stages in his philosophical prefaces — a battle between the forces that would oppose or support his project. He presents his philosophy as intimately connected to the new political circumstances and his exclusion from politics. His goal — to benefit the state by providing new moral resources for the Roman elite — was traditional, even if his method of translating Greek philosophical knowledge into Latin and combining Greek sources with Roman heritage was unorthodox.



A Written Republic provides a new perspective on Cicero’s conception of his philosophical project while also adding to the broader picture of late-Roman political, intellectual, and cultural life.