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Roman Political Thought

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What can the Romans teach us about politics? This thematic introduction to Roman political thought shows how the Roman world developed political ideas of lasting significance, from the consequential constitutional notions of the separation of powers, political legitimacy, and individual rights to key concepts in international relations, such as imperialism, just war theory, and cosmopolitanism. Jed W. Atkins relates these and many other important ideas to Roman republicanism, traces their evolution across all major periods of Roman history, and describes Christianity's important contributions to their development. Using the politics and political thought of the United States as a case study, he argues that the relevance of Roman political thought for modern liberal democracies lies in the profound mixture of ideas both familiar and foreign to us that shape and enliven Roman republicanism. Accessible to students and non-specialists, this book provides an invaluable guide to Roman political thought and its enduring legacies.

Shows how the Romans contributed to key political ideas of lasting importance and provides a comprehensive account of Roman 'republicanism'

Includes introductions to all periods of Roman history, key Roman authors, and relevant scholarship in the fields of political theory, Roman history, ancient philosophy, Latin literature, and early Christian studies

Suggests how Roman political thought is applicable to modern liberal democracies, focusing on the United States as a case-study

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Atkins Jed
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Jed W. Atkins is an Assistant Professor of Classical Studies at Duke University. His research focuses on Greek, Roman, and early Christian moral and political thought. In addition, he works on the modern reception of ancient political thought. He is the author of Cicero on Politics and the Limits of Reason: The Republic and Laws (Cambridge, 2013) and is co-editing (with Thomas Bénatouïl) the forthcoming Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy.


1. The Roman Constitution in theory and practice

2. Liberty and related concepts

3. Citizenship and civic virtue

4. Political passions and civic corruption

5. Rhetoric, deliberation, and judgment

6. Civil religion

7. Imperialism, just war theory, and cosmopolitanism


Bibliographical essay.

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