Roman political thought


Roman political thought

Jed W. Atkins

(Key themes in ancient history)

Cambridge University Press, 2018

  • : pbk
  • : hardback

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Includes bibliographical references (p. 205-225) and index



What can the Romans teach us about politics? This thematic introduction to Roman political thought shows how the Roman world developed political ideas of lasting significance, from the consequential constitutional notions of the separation of powers, political legitimacy, and individual rights to key concepts in international relations, such as imperialism, just war theory, and cosmopolitanism. Jed W. Atkins relates these and many other important ideas to Roman republicanism, traces their evolution across all major periods of Roman history, and describes Christianity's important contributions to their development. Using the politics and political thought of the United States as a case study, he argues that the relevance of Roman political thought for modern liberal democracies lies in the profound mixture of ideas both familiar and foreign to us that shape and enliven Roman republicanism. Accessible to students and non-specialists, this book provides an invaluable guide to Roman political thought and its enduring legacies.


  • Introduction
  • 1. The Roman Constitution in theory and practice
  • 2. Liberty and related concepts
  • 3. Citizenship and civic virtue
  • 4. Political passions and civic corruption
  • 5. Rhetoric, deliberation, and judgment
  • 6. Civil religion
  • 7. Imperialism, just war theory, and cosmopolitanism
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliographical essay.

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