Ancient Political Thought
A Reader
  • Publication Date: December 30, 2013
  • ISBN: 9781551118116 / 1551118114
  • 392 pages; 6" x 9"

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Ancient Political Thought

A Reader

  • Publication Date: December 30, 2013
  • ISBN: 9781551118116 / 1551118114
  • 392 pages; 6" x 9"

This book presents selections from the political and social thought of the ancient West from the early sixth century BCE up to the early years of the Roman Empire and includes not only the classic philosophers, Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero, but a number of dramatists and historians as well. The range of topics these writings treat run from class conflict, through the perils of democracy and the horrors of tyranny, to the place of women in politics, while the styles range from the deeply dramatic of Sophocles’ Antigone and the bawdy satire of Aristophanes’ Assemblywomen to Plato’s Socratic dialogue Republic and Aristotle’s scientific treatise Politics. The translations have been chosen, and sometimes modified, for clarity and readability, and are accompanied by introductions which set forth the historical context and trace the general lines of thought the readings develop. Frequent notes explain references to ancient lore unfamiliar to many readers. Questions for discussion accompany each reading.


“Bosley and Tweedale have assembled an impressive sampling of the great texts from ancient Greece and Rome. Readers will get a clear sense of this brilliant but brief moment in the Western tradition that informs so much of our own political, social, and religious thinking.” — Richard Avramenko, University of Wisconsin-Madison

“This is a splendid collection. The selections are wisely chosen and presented with clear and accessible introductions that guide students directly into the heart of the argument. I strongly recommend this as a textbook for anyone teaching in the area.” — Don Carmichael, University of Alberta

Ancient Political Thought: A Reader is an excellent anthology of sources in English translation from Archaic times to the Hellenistic age. While focusing on Plato and Aristotle, the book offers many readings from other literary genres, being therefore a precious resource for anyone interested in the complexity and variety of evidence pertaining to ancient Greek and Roman political thought.” — Monica Berti, Tufts University & University of Leipzig


A: Presocratics

  1. Solon
  2. Heraclitus
  3. Aeschylus, Eumenides
  4. Herodotus, Histories III

B: Classical Period

  1. Sophocles, Antigone
  2. Thucydides, The History of the Peloponnesian War
  3. Aristophanes
    1. Lysistrata
    2. Assemblywomen
  4. Socrates
    1. Plato, Crito
    2. Plato, Gorgias
  5. Plato
    1. Republic I
    2. Republic II
    3. Republic III-IV
    4. Republic IV
    5. Republic V
    6. Republic VI
    7. Republic VII
    8. Republic VIII
    9. Laws V
  6. Aristotle
    1. Selections from the Nicomachean Ethics
    2. Politics I
    3. Politics III
    4. Politics IV
    5. Politics VII

C: Hellenistic and Roman Period

  1. Epicureans
    1. Epicurus, Key Doctrines
    2. Lucretius, De rerum natura (On the Nature of Things)
  2. Stoicism
    1. Cicero, De finibus bonorum et malorum (On the Ultimates
      in Goods and Evils
    2. Cicero, De re publica (On the Commonwealth) I
    3. Cicero, De Legibus (On the Laws)
    4. Cicero, De re publica (On the Commonwealth) III
    5. Stobaeus on the doctrine of Hierocles
  3. Polybius, Histories VI



Richard N. Bosley and Martin M. Tweedale are Professors Emeriti of Philosophy at the University of Alberta.