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Philosophical Perspectives on Eunomia

In: Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek and Roman Political Thought
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  • 1 Research Fellow in the History of Philosophy, Dipartimento di Civiltà e Forme del Sapere, University of PisaPisaItaly
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Abstract

This contribution analyses the ancient Greek notion of eunomia in the philosophical prose literature of the fourth century BC. While the term eunomia is often translated as ‘good government’ or ‘good order’, such vague translations fail to capture the specifics of eunomia, and thus part of the philosophical debate about constitutions is lost. Closer inspection reveals that within the fourth-century constitutional debate, eunomia entails two distinct aspects: the excellence of the laws and their durability. These two aspects are predicated of various constitutions: the mixed constitution, of which Sparta and Crete are primary examples in the fourth century; the Athenian democracy as a paradigm of law-abidingness; and philosophical constitutions aiming at virtue. It is a hallmark of the last that such law codes start from marriage and childbirth and follow the course of human life.

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