Education and Politics in Plato and Cicero Open Access

Zainaldin, James (2014)

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In this thesis I examine the relationship between education and political service in Plato's Republic and Cicero's De Re Publica, De Legibus, and De Oratore. In the Republic, there are a number of indications that the educated individual (philosophos) and the city (polis) stand in a tense, even antagonistic relationship. The first two chapters of this thesis attempt to understand this tension, first by sketching the basic movement of the Republic's educational program, next by considering Socrates's statements on political service and the philosopher's happiness. In the first chapter, I argue that education in the Republic can be understood most fundamentally as ascent to and orientation towards the Good (to agathon) and, in the second, that it is this attention upon the Good that disinclines the individual to political service. Socrates stipulates the need for a compulsion (ananke) if the philosopher is to overcome this aversion to politics, but I conclude that it is far from likely that such a compulsion is forthcoming. The second half of the thesis picks up on similar themes in Cicero's writings, asking whether the ideal statesman in Cicero--whom we must also believe to be the perfectly educated individual, as the philosopher is in Plato's Republic--is reluctant towards political service. In chapter three, I argue that this individual in Cicero's writings is not only not averse to politics, but also that a strong, natural necessity (necessitas) compels him to it. The compulsion discussed in the Republic is, then, done away with in favor of an internal compulsion that induces the educated individual to participation in the state (res publica). The fourth chapter spends some time considering the ways that Cicero's educational plan pay deference to this high, unambiguous valuation of political life and the need to participate therein.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Introduction . . . 1

Some Methodological Remarks . . . 4

Ch.1. Education in Plato's Republic . . . 10

Ch.2. Politics in Plato's Republic . . . 32

First Interlude . . . 54

Ch.3. Politics in Cicero's De Re Publica and De Legibus . . . 55

Ch.4. Education in Cicero's De Oratore . . . 81

Second Interlude . . . 102

Concluding Remarks . . . 103

Works Cited . . . 106

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