Plato’s Politeia / Republic can be read as an allegory of the human soul; which represents a tradition in political thought that sees the state like an organism. Livy’s telling of the parable of Menenius Agrippa is an example of the same idea – and a call to unity, and the overcoming of political and social divisions for the sake of a greater whole, appealing to (allegedly) common interests of Patricians and Plebeians at the time. After discussing Livy, we will move on to an introduction of Roman religion and concepts crucial for the Roman Republic.
Guiding Discussion Questions:
What are the consequence of likening the state to an organism?
What does the Melian dialogue tell us about the Athenian concept of empire?
What is the role of liberty in Cicero’s rendition of Roman political thought?
Why was Caesar killed?
How was Octavian / Augustus able to transform the Republic into the Empire?