Greek Political Theory

Christopher Rowe

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

Greek Political Theory

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This article considers the theoretical perspective on the polis as the immediate context for an individual's flourishing. That ancient political philosophy has such strong roots in the Athens of Plato and Aristotle is no doubt part of the reason for the perpetuation of the polis as idea. The Cynics, and later, the Stoics, chafed against the artificial boundaries of the conventional polis; the Stoics in fact lived at a time when its political centrality was over. In championing the life of the ‘cosmic community’, what they call the ‘cosmopolis’, they from one perspective invite people to bring the ideals of the polis to bear on the universe as a whole. The number of Greeks for whom the polis was a lived reality was relatively small, then; but seen from this point of view, every Greek utopia was in the end a polis.

Keywords: polis; political philosophy; Athens; Plato; Aristotle; Stoics; cosmopolis

Article.  4148 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Ancient Greek History ; Classical Philosophy

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