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Brill's Companion to Leo Strauss’ Writings on Classical Political Thought offers clear, accessible essays to assist a new generation of readers in their introduction to Strauss’ writings on the ancients, and to deepen the understanding of those who have already benefitted from his work.

Strauss rediscovered esoteric writing. His careful explications of works by classical thinkers— of Socratic political philosophy, pre-Socratic philosophers, and of poets tragic and comic—have therefore opened those works up in a way that had been lost for centuries. Yet Strauss’ writings, especially his later works, make considerable demands on any reader. These essays are written by scholars who bring to bear on their reading of Strauss many years of study.

Thomas Hobbes’ dispute with Dionysius of Halicarnassus over the study of Thucydides’ history allows us to understand both the ancient case for an ennobled public rhetoric and Hobbes’ case against it. Dionysius, concerned with cultivating healthy civic oratory, faced a situation in which Roman rhetoricians were emulating shocking attacks on divine justice such as that found in Thucydides’ Melian dialogue; he attempted to steer orators away from such arguments even as he acknowledged their truth. Hobbes, however, recommends the study of Thucydides’ work for a new kind of political education, one that will benefit from Thucydides’ private, even ‘secret’, instruction, which permits the reader to admit to himself what vanity would otherwise hide from him.

In: Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek and Roman Political Thought

Thucydides and Aristophanes, austere historian and ribald comic playwright, lived in an Athens that had, since Themistocles, been moving from a regime of ancestral piety towards a secular empire. Thucydides suggests an agreement between his understanding and that of the pious Nicias — over and against this move. Aristophanes too is a vigorous proponent of peace, and the conclusions of many of his plays appear to suggest or encourage a conservative disposition towards ancestral piety or the rule of ancestral, divine law.While these first impressions are not entirely misleading, a careful examination of the two thinkers’works, with attention to Nicias and the question of the gods, suggests a more complicated and revealing picture. Neither thinker is in agreement with Nicias, who proves to be representative of a fundamental human delusion. Each, however, sees that delusion as inescapable for political life, and so makes his appeal to more serious readers inconspicuously.

In: Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek and Roman Political Thought

Thucydides and Aristophanes, austere historian and ribald comic playwright, lived in an Athens that had, since Themistocles, been moving from a regime of ancestral piety towards a secular empire. Thucydides suggests an agreement between his understanding and that of the pious Nicias — over and against this move. Aristophanes too is a vigorous proponent of peace, and the conclusions of many of his plays appear to suggest or encourage a conservative disposition towards ancestral piety or the rule of ancestral, divine law.While these first impressions are not entirely misleading, a careful examination of the two thinkers’works, with attention to Nicias and the question of the gods, suggests a more complicated and revealing picture. Neither thinker is in agreement with Nicias, who proves to be representative of a fundamental human delusion. Each, however, sees that delusion as inescapable for political life, and so makes his appeal to more serious readers inconspicuously.

In: Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek and Roman Political Thought
In: Brill's Companion to Leo Strauss' Writings on Classical Political Thought
In: Brill's Companion to Leo Strauss' Writings on Classical Political Thought
In: Brill's Companion to Leo Strauss' Writings on Classical Political Thought
In: Brill's Companion to Leo Strauss' Writings on Classical Political Thought
In: Brill's Companion to Leo Strauss' Writings on Classical Political Thought