Political Science | Classical Political Thought
Y381 | 5798 | Craiutu


Fall 2011
OFFICE: 401 Woodburn Hall

DESCRIPTION. The course offers a close examination of some of the most
important works and themes in classical political thought. It includes
representative selections from Thucydides’ History of the Peloponesian
War, Plato’s Republic, Aristotle’s Politics, Cicero’s On Duties,
Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, St. Augustine’s City of God, and St.
Thomas Aquinas’s Summa. The class will end by examining the book that
marked a radical departure from the politics of the ancients:
Machiavelli’s The Prince.

The course will focus on key topics and concepts such as morality,
power, and the justification of war, the role of laws and
constitutions, civic virtue, statesmanship, just war, democracy,
justice, freedom, and the problem of “dirty hands” in politics.
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 discussions. The requirements
include in-class exams (a mid-term and a final), two essay papers, and
class discussions on specific themes announced in the syllabus.


Thucydides, On Power, Justice and Human Nature, Hackett, 1993, ISBN
Plato, The Republic, Cambridge, 2000, ISBN 0-521-48443-X
Aristotle, The Politics, Cambridge, 1996, ISBN 0 521 48400 6.
Cicero, On Duties, Cambridge UP, 1991, ISBN 0-521-34835-8
St. Augustine, Political Writings, Hackett, 1994, ISBN 0-87220-10-0
Machiavelli, The Prince, Cambridge, 1998, ISBN 0-521-34993-1