Political Science | History of Political Theory I
Y381 | 3948 | Craiutu

The course offers a close examination of the most important works and
themes in classical political thought. We shall read a combination of
literary, historical, and philosophical works including selections
from Thucydides’ History of the Peloponesian War, Sophocles’
Antigone, Xenophon’s Hiero, Plato’s Apology & Republic, Aristotle’s
Politics and Nicomachean Ethics, Cicero’s On Duties, St. Augustine’s
City of God, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Bruni. We shall end with the
book that marked a radical departure from the politics of the
ancients: Machiavelli’s The Prince. At the same time, in order to
highlight better the relevance of these classical works to our
contemporary debates, we shall read short passages from the works of
modern authors (Rousseau, The Federalist, Constant, Schumpeter) whose
writing addressed or reformulated the topics first raised by ancient
authors. The course will examine the political thought of the
ancients by focusing on key topics such as morality and political
power, the role of laws and constitutions, civic virtue, democracy,
justice, freedom, and equality. Special attention will be paid to
examining the context in which these authors wrote their works, the
main concepts they used, and the implications of their ideas for our
contemporary debates.

The class will use a combination of lecture and discussion; hence,
class participation and regular attendance will be very important.
There will be two exams (a mid-term and a final) which will contain a
number of short questions that will draw on the assigned readings and
ideas raised in class. There will be also three quiz questions that
will be part of your grade for class participation. Students are
strongly encouraged to bring additional materials to class (such as
relevant newspaper or magazine articles, websites, additional
bibliography) and thus make the course relevant to their concerns.
Those who will do that will earn extra credit. Each student will be
required to keep a reading log (journal) containing entries for each
assigned reading (definition of key concepts, summary of the
readings, a selection of important phrases, and the like).