A number of recent studies have claimed to explain how Kant can or cannot accommodate pure judgements of ugliness in his aesthetic theory. In this paper I critically review the arguments on each side of the debate and then develop a new account of how Kant might explain the pure judgement of the ugly, namely, by appeal to the quickening of the faculties in their harmonious free play. Some implications and applications of such an explanation are then explored, including a (...) rethink of the nature of beauty and ugliness. (shrink)
In the proposed law-code in De legibus there is a law that votes are to be known by the best citizens (the optimates) but free to the common people (the plebs) (3.10). This law, Cicero claims, grants ‘the appearance of liberty’ (libertatis species), preserves the authority (auctoritas) of the optimates, and promotes harmony between the classes (3.39). The law and the precise meaning of libertatis species remain opaque even with the lengthy commentary (3.33–39), and much scholarly debate and discussion has (...) arisen as a result – most of it very critical of Cicero’s proposal and the arguments supporting it. This paper offers a fresh analysis of the voting law that is more charitable to Cicero. It unpacks the full details of the voting system that is developed in De legibus and sheds new light on developments in Cicero’s thinking about the best state. (shrink)
The virtue of μεγαλοψυχία or greatness of soul is prominent in the works of Aristotle as well as in the Peripatetic and Stoic traditions. However, mention of μεγαλοψυχία is extremely rare in our surviving evidence for the Epicurean school. In this paper I reconstruct a viable Epicurean position on μεγαλοψυχία. I argue that the Epicureans have a distinctive account of the virtue that is compatible with their hedonist ethics, and that can also be seen as a reaction to Aristotle. I (...) also demonstrate that the Epicurean account relates closely to their critical engagement with the Cynics and their emphasis on the importance of friendship and generosity in the good life. (shrink)
The manuscripts of De officiis all record something strange at 1.148: Cicero says that the philosophers Socrates and Aristippus had exceptional licence to flout social custom and convention owing to their ‘great and divine good qualities’ (magna et divina bona). There are no worries about Socrates, but the example of Aristippus seems preposterous. This paper makes the following argument: (1) elsewhere Cicero defines divina bona in such a way to exclude hedonists; this should rule out crediting Aristippus with magna et (...) divina bona alongside Socrates; (2) all scholarly efforts to account for the presence of Aristippus at 1.148 fail to convince; (3) the name Aristippus at 1.148 should, therefore, be remedied; (4) there are excellent philosophical reasons to think that Antisthenes, a follower of Socrates who is credited with setting in motion the Cynic philosophical tradition, is the name that Cicero wrote or should have written in the original. (shrink)
In his philosophical works Cicero addresses a number of questions concerning the role of old men in politics, most obviously in his dialogue De senectute of 44 BCE. How best should the old participate in politics and the wider community—what, if anything, do the old have to offer that is special or unique? How should the generations fit together in the body politic, and should age be a factor in the structural organisation of states? Should the old rule? This chapter (...) makes the following argument: (1) in De senectute Cicero develops a coherent line on the special political role of old men within the constitutional framework set out in his earlier De re publica, which can be seen as a call to arms in the contemporary Roman political context; and (2) this line is not just a restatement of traditional republican ideals: in a similar vein to what we see in De re publica, Cicero draws on and adapts some of the most important arguments from Plato’s Republic when addressing these questions regarding the role of old men in politics. (shrink)
Cicero's letters are saturated with learned philosophical allusions and arguments. This innovative study shows just how fundamental these are for understanding Cicero's philosophical activities and for explaining the enduring interest of his ethical and political thought. Dr McConnell draws particular attention to Cicero's treatment of Plato's Seventh Letter and his views on the relationship between philosophy and politics. He also illustrates the various ways in which Cicero finds philosophy an appealing and effective mode of self-presentation and a congenial, pointed medium (...) for talking to his peers about ethical and political concerns. The book offers a range of fresh insights into the impressive scope and sophistication of Cicero's epistolary and philosophical practice and the vibrancy of the philosophical environment of the first century BC. A new picture emerges of Cicero the philosopher and philosophy's place in Roman political culture. (shrink)
In his letters to Lucius Papirius Paetus from 46 BC Cicero provides striking reports on his thoughts and activities as he seeks to accommodate himself to the new political realities following Caesar’s decisive victory over the republican forces in Africa. In these letters Cicero also engages in a kind of performative role-playing: he casts himself variously as a teacher of oratory to two of Caesar’s close associates (Hirtius and Dolabella), as a bon vivant immersed in the Caesarian social scene, and (...) as a man of moral principle who measures himself against the model of the wise man. Philosophical jokes, allusions, and arguments all figure prominently: Cicero is evidently drawing on a rich range of philosophical material to frame his actions and how he should be judged. This paper brings out the full significance of these underlying philosophical frameworks and makes clear the ways in which Cicero exploits the resources of the Greek philosophical tradition in his self-fashioning in the letters to Paetus. (shrink)
The anonymous anti-hedonists at Philebus 44a–53c make three bold claims: (1) there are in fact no such things as pleasures; (2) what the hedonist followers of Philebus call pleasure is really nothing but escape from pain; (3) there is nothing healthy in pleasure (pleasure is never a good). These anti-hedonists are commonly identified with Speusippus, Plato’s nephew and his successor as head of the Academy. In this paper I first argue that this widely favoured view should be rejected. I then (...) make the case that they should instead be identified with the Socratic philosopher Antisthenes. This identification helps us understand better certain aspects of the argument in the Philebus, in particular the character Socrates’ focus on philosophical method when critiquing the anti-hedonist position. (shrink)
This paper outlines the full details of Lucretius’ treatment of parental love. It shows that Lucretius is faithful to Epicurus’ notorious claim that parental love is not natural: in addition to orthodox Epicurean hedonist concerns, Lucretius asserts that children do not “belong to” their parents by nature; as such, even though parental love is now ubiquitous and indeed a cultural norm, there is no basis for the naturalness of parental love. This model of the relationship between parents and children does (...) not, however, apply in the case of certain animals, who do have natural parental love for their offspring. Focusing on two famous scenes, the sacrifice of Iphigenia and the forlorn heifer seeking her sacrificed calf, the paper argues that by highlighting the fragility of human parental love in comparison to that of the animals Lucretius brings to his Roman readers’ attention the relative weakness of the familial ties that bond human beings together, and at the same time he emphasizes the need to maintain them if social and political concord, with all its benefits, is to continue. It transpires that unlocking the details of Lucretius’ treatment of parental love brings a key lesson of the poem into clearer focus. (shrink)
This interdisciplinary volume will be essential reading for students and scholars working on Greco-Roman philosophy, Roman rhetoric, and the history and literary culture of the Roman Republic. It showcases innovative methodological approaches to Cicero the philosopher and defines new directions for the immediate future of the field.
Cicero's general interest in Dicaearchus’ ethical and political thought can be detected in his letters to Atticus and De legibus. One can also infer from De divinatione that Dicaearchus was a source for Cicero’s De republica. At present, however, we do not possess a clear and detailed picture of Dicaearchus’ influence on Cicero’s own ethical and political thought. Scholars have been hindered by a lack of explicit evidence concerning the nature of Dicaearchus’ philosophical arguments as well as Cicero’s failure to (...) mention Dicaearchus by name in the extant parts of De republica. In this paper I argue that, despite these obstacles, we can construct a positive account of the nature and extent of Dicaearchus’ influence that offers new insights into key aspects of Cicero’s philosophical thought and practice. (shrink)
Much has been written on Cicero’s deployment of the Socratic method of in utramque partem argument, his use of Plato’s Socratic dialogues as literary models, and so forth. There has been less attention given to the nature of Cicero’s reception of ‘Socrates the man’. In this chapter I consider Cicero’s reception of ‘Socrates the man’ and argue that essentially he saw Socrates as an important model for ‘philosophy in practical life’.
This paper examines Cicero’s engagement with the golden age tradition of utopian thinking, which is prominent not only in Greek literature but also in Plato and the Peripatetic and Stoic philosophical traditions. It makes the case that in De re publica and later philosophical works such as the Tusculan Disputations Cicero draws on philosophical accounts of the golden age—most significantly that of the Peripatetic Dicaearchus of Messana (c.350–c.285 BC)—in his analysis of the Roman res publica and the nature of Roman (...) political virtue. In particular, Cicero identifies the characteristics of Dicaearchus’ golden race with the native qualities of the Romans themselves. By emphasising the intrinsic virtues of the Roman people, and the need to ensure the conditions that allow them to find proper expression in political life, he offers an achievable means for the Roman res publica to attain its best state, exemplified by its glorious past: rather than advocate an unworkable and problematic top-down imposition of a utopian model of an ideal state, Cicero has faith that the best state will come to be from the bottom-up, if the superior nature of the Roman people is simply allowed its full natural expression. (shrink)
This chapter provides a critical account of Cicero’s discussion of the nature of the soul and the emotions in the Tusculan Disputations. The first two sections trace the key steps of Cicero’s argumentation, as he critically evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of various competing views in the Greek philosophical tradition. Cicero ultimately purports to favor Plato’s position on the immortality of the soul and the Stoics’ cognitivist account of the emotions. The final section draws attention to the ways in which (...) Cicero employs and evaluates these philosophical resources in the realm of therapeutic practice, as he reflects on his own experience of suffering and loss. Cicero showcases the practical utility of a flexible therapeutic model that focuses on the transformation of beliefs: while he clearly favors the Stoic explanation of the emotions, he does not feel compelled to recommend only the therapy in agreement with that explanation. This pragmatic approach can be seen as a distinctive aspect of Cicero’s own philosophical practice. (shrink)
This paper examines two letters between Cicero and Gaius Cassius Longinus in which they critically discuss and denigrate the translation of Epicurus’ term εἴδωλον as spectrum by an Epicurean named Catius. It first offers a new positive account for why Catius made his choice of translation, and it then outlines the full reasons for why Cicero and Cassius found the translation unsatisfying.
I reconstruct the Epicurean philosophical position on civil strife and examine Lucretius’ engagement with the topic against it. I challenge the scholarly consensus and argue that there is in fact no compulsion to explain Lucretius’ concern with civil strife by appeal to a preoccupation with contemporary events.
There has been a large amount of scholarly controversy over the precise nature of the motivations at play in the Epicurean accounts of justice and friendship, and whether any form of altruism or other-concern is compatible with Epicurean hedonist ethics. This paper addresses this tension between self- and other-concern from a novel angle, by examining the motivations behind Epicurean educational practice. What emerges is a rather complex motivational picture that reaffirms the Epicureans' philosophical commitment to egoism, but at the same (...) time shows it to be more nuanced and sensitive than one might expect given their theoretical postulates and the reaction of ancient critics such as Cicero. (shrink)
Antisthenes of Athens was a contemporary follower of Socrates who wrote prolifically on topics ranging from semantics to ethics to Homeric criticism. He was also a fierce rival of Plato and, in our ancient sources, his austere ethical views are sometimes presented as an inspiration for the Cynic and Stoic schools of philosophy. Evidently, Antisthenes was a major figure in antiquity, but we have only second-hand reports of his philosophical life and legacy. The most prominent modern scholarship on Antisthenes is (...) in Italian and German, but there is now a growing interest among Anglophone classicists and philosophers that will only be bolstered by the 2015 publication of the first ever English... (shrink)
Epicurus denies that human beings have natural parental love for their children, and his account of the development of justice and human political community does not involve any natural affinity between human beings in general but rather a form of social contract. The Stoics to the contrary assert that parental love is natural; and, moreover, they maintain that natural parental love is the first principle of social οἰκείωσις, which provides the basis for the naturalness of justice and human political community. (...) The Stoics are, therefore, obliged to refute Epicurus’ denial of the naturalness of parental love in order to support their own theory of social οἰκείωσις; and we have good evidence for the arguments that they employed against the Epicureans on this account. Likewise, the Epicureans are obliged not only to defend their own position but also to undermine the competing Stoic theory of social οἰκείωσις; and the foundational premise of a natural bond between parent and child is an obvious target. However, beyond dogmatically restating Epicurus’ denial of natural parental love, the evidence for the Epicurean line of attack against the Stoics is currently unclear. In this paper I argue that we can go some way towards uncovering it via an analysis of some fragmentary passages from an unidentified work of the Epicurean Demetrius of Laconia that contain a puzzling discussion of Epicurus’ stance on parental love. (shrink)
Diogenes Laertius lists in his catalogue of Epicurus' works (10.28) a treatise On Kingship, which is unfortunately no longer extant. Owing to the Epicureans' antipathy to politics, such a work might be viewed with surprise and presumed to be virulently negative in outlook. Indeed, Plutarch reports that the Epicureans wrote on kingship only to ward people away from living in the company of kings(Adv. Col. 1127a) and that they maintained that to be king oneself was a terrible mistake (Adv. Col. (...) 1125c-d). However, the scattered evidence that remains suggests the Epicurean views on kingship were both nuanced and sophisticated. In this paper I seek to reconstruct a viable account of the Epicurean position on kingship. (shrink)
his paper offers a fresh interpretation of the role played by the Dream of Scipio in Cicero’s De re publica. It explores Cicero’s key distinction between the cosmic and the local levels of statesmanship and the problems he sees with localism, and it details fully for the first time the importance that Cicero attached to the virtue of magnitudo animi (“greatness of soul”). The paper makes the case that in De re publica Cicero promotes his own innovative cosmic model of (...) politics, in which magnitudo animi is developed through an educational process situated in the traditional Roman mos maiorum. (shrink)