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Ancient Republics 

Dr Phillip Horky (Classics and Ancient History) 

Over the past twenty years, much scholarship has focused on ancient democracy, whereas significantly less has engaged with ancient republics and related constitutional forms in ancient Greece, Rome, and the Near East. This workshop (co-organised with Grant Nelsestuen of the Department of Classics at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and Monte Johnson of the Department of Philosophy at the University of California–San Diego) seeks to develop

  • (a) the broader historical contexts for the ancient republic, including the relationship with other related ancient forms of civic governance and regimes, especially aristocracy, oligarchy, and ‘mixed’ government;
  • (b) the institutional frameworks of ancient republics (imagined and real), including the roles that education, offices and magistracies, assemblies, law, and the courts played in their design and expression; and
  • (c) an account of the significance of ancient republics for contemporary approaches to philosophy, political theory, and civic ethics, especially in so-called ‘Republicanism’ as developed by Quentin Skinner and Philip Pettit and ‘Civic Humanism’ as formulated by Hannah Arendt and Paul Rahe. The first part of the workshop, funded by a Global Engagement Facilitation Grant of £5000 (obtained from the International Office at Durham University), took place in November 2014 and set out to investigate the shift ‘From Politeia to Res Publica’.

The second conference took place in Madison, WI, on 10-11 April 2016 at the University of Wisconsin, and pursued a deeper understanding of the Roman Republic in the historical imagination, with papers on political thinkers ranging from Ovid to Hobbes. This workshop was supported by grants from the Center for the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin - Madison and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. A final workshop is expected to take place in San Diego, CA, at the University of California - San Diego, in 2017.