Cicero's Social and Political Thought

Cicero's Social and Political Thought

Cicero's Social and Political Thought

Cicero's Social and Political Thought

Synopsis

In this close examination of the social and political thought of Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 B.C.), Neal Wood focuses on Cicero's conceptions of state and government, showing that he is the father of constitutionalism, the archetype of the politically conservative mind, and the first to reflect extensively on politics as an activity.

Excerpt

I have written this study—to my knowledge the first if its kind in English—out of a conviction that Cicero the social and political thinker deserves far more attention than he has received in recent years, when few any longer read him. Long-standing concerns with the history of political theory and classical antiquity and my previous work on John Locke led me quite naturally to Cicero. My interpretation of his ideas rests on a reading of his voluminous writings in their historical setting. Lengthy references to secondary sources and discussion of them have been kept to a minimum. Much remains to be assayed. So, for example, little in the following has been done to relate in detail Cicero’s thought to the contexts of Roman law and rhetoric or to his own legal and rhetorical views; and the intellectual origins of his conceptions have been touched upon only briefly. I shall be content if students, social scientists, and the general public are further encouraged to think about Cicero, a process of enlightenment already begun by the stimulating scholarship of W. K. Lacey, T. N. Mitchell, Elizabeth Rawson, and D. R. Shackleton Bailey.

The research and writing of the book were virtually completed during a sabbatical leave in 1979–1980 and a leave of absence in 1983–1984, for which free periods I am obligated to York University. Various commitments and circumstances, however, delayed immediate preparation for publication. Some of my opinions on Cicero have already circulated. Two papers were read: “Cicero and the Modern Concept of the State,” at the annual meeting, organized by Bernard Crick, of the British Conference for the Study of Political Thought, New College, Oxford, January, 1980 . . .

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