Hellenism in the Enlightenment

Paul Cartledge

in The Oxford Handbook of Hellenic Studies

Published in print August 2009 | ISBN: 9780199286140
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Classics and Ancient History

Hellenism in the Enlightenment

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  • Classical Studies
  • Classical Reception
  • Ancient Greek History



This article moves past the Renaissance to the Enlightenment and, in particular, to the French Revolution, which crystallized an important, if not fully understood, moment in the history of Hellenism. It shows how the writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the inspiration for so many of the French revolutionaries, were simultaneously proto-democratic and pro-Spartan. In this respect, Rousseau marks a complex breakthrough in the political traditions of Hellenism, which were, for much of European history until the eighteenth century, anti-democratic and pro-Spartan.

Keywords: Renaissance; Enlightenment; French Revolution; Jean-Jacques Rousseau; European history; pro-Spartan

Article.  3145 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Classical Reception ; Ancient Greek History

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