The Greek Tradition in Republican Thought (Ideas in Context) by Eric Nelson

By Eric Nelson

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Tracing the effect of historic Greek assets at the improvement of republican thought in Europe and the US, this publication argues that a major culture of republican idea, derived from the crucial texts of Greek ethical and political philosophy, emerged in 16th century England. It contributed considerably to the ideological framework of the English Civil Wars and the yankee Revolution. Eric Nelson deals major reinterpretations of a number of principal texts of eu political thought, in addition to a thorough reappraisal of historical Roman historiography.

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In his introduction, Edwards argues that More “softened” Pico’s letter by adding the thought that one could lead both an active and a contemplative life. However, this thought is present in the Latin, and More’s brief addition appears to be a mere explanatory gloss. The text reads: “Sed inquies, ita volo Martham amplectaris ut Mariam interim non deseras! 37 Indeed, although More was accomplished in Greek, it is probable that he too consulted Ficino’s translations. To take only one example, Ficino’s argumentum for the Republic summarizes Plato’s theory that cities made up of rich and poor are not one city, but two, and describes the philosopher’s novel approach to this problem: Whence he arrived step by step at his mystery, namely that everything should be held in common.

55 In this sense, he writes, justice includes all of virtue when oriented toward other human beings. 3). 7). ” See Peltonen, Classical Humanism, p. 141. In Republic i, Plato begins from Simonides’ view that “it is just to give each person those things which are owed to him” (t¼ t‡ ½feil»mena —k†stw€ ˆpodid»nai d©kai»n –sti) (331e) (the translation is my own), but he interprets this imperative in a revolutionary, holistic sense. For Plato, a person’s “due” is his natural place within a rationally balanced, organic whole.

Greek nonsense in More’s Utopia 29 and health of the society” (civitatis ordo atque salus) is very much the view of justice we encounter in Utopia. But the text which most nearly anticipates More’s Platonic reassessment of Romanitas is certainly Erasmus’ The Praise of Folly. In Logan’s phrase, Erasmus’ encomium represents a sort of hall of mirrors in which the personification of Folly hails herself as the determining force in human affairs, and as the source of all blessings – leaving it to the reader to recall that some of what Folly praises is folly to praise.

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