Political Thought in Hellenistic Times

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I.S.B.N. 90-256-0738-1

PREFACE This book is based primarily on the ancient sources. But it could not have been written without the work done by generations of scholars. In the notes I have, as a rule, mentioned only those books and articles which are in my opinion of particular interest or towards which I feel particularly indebted, even if I do not agree in every respect with their authors. Inevitably this book treats some topics about which I have already written some years ago in my Die Theorie der gemischten Verfassung im Altertum. Where this was the case I have, as a rule, summarized my opinions and referred to my former book for particulars. Books and articles are quoted in the notes the first time by full title; later references are abbreviated. Particulars of abbreviated titles can be easily found in the select bibliography. For convenience’ sake, the pseudo-pythagorean fragments from Stobaeus are also quoted by pages and lines of Thesleffs edition. I have refrained from indicating supplements of no consequence in quoting texts that have been preserved on mutilated papyri. I wish to thank here miss Joy Boelens for the care she has taken of correcting my English. Remaining faults, of course, are mine.


Introduction I HELLENISTIC POLITICAL THOUGHT IN CONFORMITY WITH THE EXISTING POLITICAL AND SOCIAL ORDER A. Traditional Political Philosophy about the Polis 1. The Peripatetic School 2. The Academy B. Hellenistic Ideas about Kingship 1. Explanation and Justification of Absolute Kingship 2. Political Conceptions in HellenisticPseudo-Pythagorean Writings II DISSENT FROM THE EXISTING ORDER 1. The Political Quietism of Epicurus and his School 2. Megarians, Sceptics and Cyrenaics 3. The Cynics 4. The Hellenistic Utopias HI THE OLD STOA IV THE COMPROMISE OF TRADITIONAL GREEK POLITICAL THEORY WITH ROMAN RULE A. Literature about Lawgivers B. The Middle Stoa 1. Panaetius 2. Posidonius C. Polybius Select Bibliography General Index

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INTRODUCTION Greek language and culture and the Greek way of life had spread into the body o f the former Persian empire already during the reign of Alexander the Great, and partly even earlier. In the history of ideas, however, the year of Alexander’s death may be accepted as being approximately the starting-point of Hellenism. This certainly applies to the history o f political thought, on account of the interrelationship between political thought and the new political structures emerging after Alexander’s death. Moreover, the death o f Aristotle, about a year after the death o f his former pupil, is a decisive point in the history of ideas and especially in the history of political theory. Aristotle’s Politics and his Πολιτειαι were concerned nearly exclusively with the structure and the functioning o f the πόλις. But after his death it became more and more clear that the new territorial monarchies were a political reality which not only existed alongside the old πόλεις, but also overshadowed them, although the functioning of the πόλις and its meaning to its citizens was by no means suddenly lost. On the other hand, although it can be maintained that Hellenism did not end in 30 B.C. with the conquest of the last great Hellenistic monarchy by Rome, Greek political theory lost much of its importance after the Roman conquest of the Eastern Mediterranean. Political power shifted to Rome, and political theory - and to a great extent also political thought — was concerned predominantly with Roman issues. The political ideas for instance in the Roman Antiquities of Dionysius of Halicarnassus bear upon Roman circumstances and Roman political issues, although they are to a considerable degree influenced by Greek theory. Consequently, it seems appropriate to conclude this study o f Hellenistic political thought with Posidonius, whom we may consider as the last important represen­ tative o f Greek political theory. Hellenistic political thought is by no means a unity. It consists of a number o f strongly diverging, but also interacting tendencies and currents of thought. Moreover, our sources are very fragmentary and scattered, and some of them are in urgent need of a fresh and thorough examination. However, in this study I do not propose to offer a set of detailedI I

Einzeluntersuchungen, but to give a survey of the whole, not only of Hellenistic political philosophy, but also of Hellenistic political thought in general, in order lo bring into relief the different currents of thought, their mutual influences and interrelationships; and to delineate something like a general trend of development, as far as this is possible in such a variegated and complex whole, accessible only by a rather disparate, fragmentary and often clouded tradition. The development of the Greek polis, the autonomous, self-governing community of citizens, had been possible on account of the relatively great isolation and retirement of the Greek world, in political as well as in cultural respects, from the Dark Ages until the fourth century B.C. But the Macedonian conquest had to a great extent broken up the traditional framework of the world of the poleis. The new world of Hellenistic, i.e. Greek territorial monarchies under absolute rulers was, in essence, incompatible with the old concept of the polis. The Greeks were not everywhere conscious of the crisis of the polis in Hellenistic times with the same acuteness. This crisis would have been far more clear in old Greek cities which heavily felt the hand of the new absolute monarchs, than in new-founded urban settlements which had never known independence and complete autonomy. It seems that in Greek communities which retained their autonomous status and enjoyed a formally complete or almost complete independence even in the Held o f foreign policy, like Sparta, Athens, the Achaean and Aetolian Leagues and Rhodes, the population, and even leading statesmen, hardly realized that the era of the poleis virtually had gone by1. How strong this feeling was, can be seen from the policy of the Achaean League towards Rome2 and even from the resistance of Massalia against Caesar in 49 B.C. But this implies also, that the polis and the political concepts connected with it, though virtually worn out, were still an existing political reality in Hellenistic times, not only in autonomous cities, but also in cities whose autonomy had been restricted or curtailed by a greater political unity. The citizen of a polis in classical Greece was part o f his polis and he was connected with it by strong ties. This connection, which seems already 1. It should be kept in mind that the notion o f Hellenism as a new era in history originated only in the 19th century. 2. Sec J. Deiniuger, Der politische Widerstand gegen R om in Griechenland 217-86 V. Chr., Berlin-New York 1971. 2

to have been loosening during the fourth century B.C., became con­ siderably less strong in Hellenistic times, especially in the new monarchies. But even among Greeks and Hellenized people there, complete indif­ ference to political reality will hardly have occurred. Such an attitude may have occurred among small peasants in remote rural districts in Asia, who were totally dependent upon local authorities and who perhaps hardly knew who was the great king who ultimately ruled the realm they lived in. But even the poor tenant-farmers in Ptolemaic Kgypt were in contact with the highly centralized and comprehensive administration of the kingdom. In Asia, Greeks as a rule lived in cities, and the founding of cities and the growing importance of urban culture must have brought the city-dwellers into growing contact with the issues of central government. This study is, however, not concerned with the impact of Hellenistic governments on the life of their subjects, nor with the reactions of the populace upon the measures taken by those in power, but only with the political conceptions of the Greeks (Hellenized natives included) in Hellenistic times. This implies both traditional political thought and political ideas provoked or influenced by the new political structures and situation. It should be remarked here, that the form of the constitution, which had been discussed fervently in former centuries, was no longer a central issue in Hellenistic times, although it still belonged to the traditional topics of political theory3 and played its role in the slogans of political propaganda. Absolute kingship was accepted as a reality without further ado, and the monarchic form of government even became part of traditional constitutional theories. Democracy, however, became more and more a hazy notion, indicating a rather moderate republican regime, hardly discernible from (moderate) aristocracy or oligarchy4. It is a remarkable fact that no advocacy of radical democracy can be found in our tradition, although radical democratic tendencies were not wholly absent among the populace o f Greek cities. The egalitarian tendencies in Hellenistic political 3. As was also the case in imperial times; cp. e.g. Philostr. VA 5, 32 ff.; Salust., de diis et mundo 11. 4. In imperial times even the Kmperor’s rule was called a perfect democracy; cp. e.g. D.C. 52, 14, 4; Philostr., VA 5, 35. See for further references and literature my Die Theorie der gemischten Verfassung im Altertum , Amsterdam 1968, p. 120 f.; J.A.O. Larsen, Demokratia, CPhil. 68 , 1973, p. 45 f.


thought did not advocate radical democratic government, but resulted in mere protesting or into romanticizing utopianism. A convenient starting-point for the grouping of the different trends of political thought in the Hellenistic era seems to be the attitude to existing political realities. First we will consider political thought that conformed itself to the political establishment: the traditional schools of thought mainly concerned with the political issues of the polis, the Peripatetics and the Academy (the pseudo-Platonic writings included) as well as the acceptation and justification of Hellenistic kingship, with special attention focussed on Hellenistic pseudo-Pythagorean literature. Next we will consider the political theories which sprang from dissent against the existing order. This dissent can lead to political quietism, as in the case of Epicurus and his school, an attitude which de facto results in the acceptation - without any enthusiasm of the existing political and social institutions and of the prevailing moral opinions. But dissent also found expression in the radical individualism of Megarics, Sceptics and Cyrenaics; in an attitude of protesting, as is the case with the Cynics; and finally in the flight into utopianism. Then we will consider the Stoa, the most influential of Hellenistic philosophical schools. The Old Stoa was strongly influenced by Cynicism, but was also inclined from the beginning to cooperation in and acceptance of existing political structures and institutions. In the second century B.C., as Greek political life and Greek political thought gradually came more and more under the aegis of Rome, the traditional republican political philosophy of the polis again came strongly to the foreground with Polybius and the Middle Stoa of Panaetius and Posidonius. In this final part some remarks will also be made about the fragments of the fictitious legislation attributed to Zaleucus and Charondas, although it is not certain that this pseudo-legislative literature belongs to th,e same period.4






The Peripatetic School

Peripatetic philosophers had a lively interest in political theory and were not indisposed to practical political activities if an appeal was made to them. Aristotle’s former pupil Demetrius of Phalerum was governor of Athens under Macedonian supervision for ten years. Afterwards he advised, according to Ael,, VH 3, 17, Ptolemy I Soter in Kgypt, among other things with regard to lawgiving1. In this field his practical experience was very great, whereas Theophastus, who succeeded Aristotle as head of the school, and who had been invited in vain to Fgypt by Soter (Diog. Laert. 5, 37), acquired his vast knowledge of Greek laws only by means of studying political philosophy and the numerous codes of the Greek cities. Theophrastus’ successor, Strato of Lampsacus, was in Alexandria at about the same time as Demetrius of Phalerum as a tutor of the later Ptolemy II Philadelphus (Diog. Laert. 5, 58). Although primarily a physicist, he also wrote books on justice and on kingship (Diog. Laert. 5, 59), and it is far from impossible that Strato also acted as an adviser regarding lawgiving. Anyhow, it seems rather probable “ that the civil code of Alexandria was bestowed by the first Ptolemy in terms which were suggested to him by the Peripatetic philosophers around him’’2. This does not automatically imply that Peripatetic philosophers influenced Ptolemy I regarding the rule of Egypt and o f his other possessions, or regarding his political thought. Indeed, there is no evidence o f influence of Peripatetic thought upon Ptolemy’s conception of kingship3, although Peripatetic books about politics were read and studied 1. See for the following P.M. Fraser, Ptolemaic Alexandria I, Oxford 1972, p. 114. 2. Fraser, toe. fit. 3. Upon the supposed aristotelian influences upon liuhemerus see infra p. 68 f.5


widely in Ptolemaic Egypt: our poor extracts from the Aristotelian Politemi are written by Heraclides Lembus (2nd century B.C.), who became an Alexandrian citizen and public official4. Very little has come down to us of the political philosophy o f the early Peripatetics. The loss of Theophratus’ writings in this field is very regrettable. We may, however, suppose that many o f the older Peripatetics (this does not seem to have been the case with Dicaearchus, however) wrote about political theory in the fashion of the Aritotelian Politics. The treatise de eligendis magistratibus, which has partly been preserved in a Vatican palimpsest5, probably belongs to this kind of writings; according to its editor, W. Aly, the author is probably Theophrastus. However, on the ground o f the extant remains o f the relevant Peripatetic literature it seems an inevitable conclusion that a great part of Peripatetic political philosophy deviated from the ideas of the master. We get the impression that post-aristotelian political theory in the Peripatetic school underwent to a considerable degree the influence o f Plato’s writings6. We read in the post-aristotelian treatise de virtutibus et vitiis 1251 b 30: διό καί δοκεϊ παράδειγμα πολιτείας αγαθής είναι ψυχής σπουδαίας διάθεοις. As Sinclair remarks1, this was very probably influenced by the idea of the analogy between human soul and polis put forth by Plato in his Republic. Though Dicaearchus had the notion of a mixed constitution in common with his master and would have shared Aristotle’s preference for a moderate regime8, the bare outline o f his theory of a mixed constitution which has come down to us9, viz. a separate constitution combined from Aristotle’s three good basic forms of constitution, kingship, aristocracy and democracy, and exemplified in the Lycurgan constitution of Sparta, is wholly divergent from the Politics. It seems to have been inspired and influenced far more by the Platonic Laws. Even Aristoxenus, the great detrectator Platonis, is platonizing in his utterances about the educational function o f the state and in his rejection 4. 5. 1943. 6. 7. 8. 9.


See Fraser, op. cit., p. 514 f. W. Aly, Fragmentum Vaticanum de eligendis magistratibus. C ittà del Vaticano See T.A. Sinclair, Λ History o f Greek Political Thought, London 1952, p. 253. Op. cit., p. 253 f. Compare also the moderate rule o f Demetrius o f Phalerum in Athens. See Aalders, Gem. Verf., p. 72 ff.

of modern trends in music, influence of Plato’s political thought has also been pointed out in Demetrius o f Phalerum and in the Magna Moralia10. In Stobaeus 11, 7, 13 ff. we possess an excerpt of Peripatetic philosophy which stems from an epitome by Arius Didymus11. In this summary, politics are treated (II, 7, 26, p. 148 W.-H.) on the basis of Aristotle’s description of the οίκος as the origin of political life and organisation in Politics 1. Further on (p. 150 W.-H.), one finds the same three good constitutions as mentioned by Aristotle. Clearly the epitome not only abbreviates, but also simplifies. When it says that the οίκος may be called a kingship on account of the relation between parents and children, an aristocracy because this corresponds to the relation between man and wife, and a democracy on account of the relation of tire children among each other, it is clearly transmitting the argument of Aristotle, EN 8, 1160 b 23 ff12. However, the epitome omits the analogies of the depraved constitutions, tyranny, oligarchy and (radical) democracy in the household, while it renders Aristotle’s ημοκρατική with “ democracy” . Regarding the classification of the forms of constitution, the epitome o f Arius Didymus follows Aristotle in distinguishing between kingship, aristocracy and democracy, and their παρεκβάοβις tyranny, oligarchy and ochlocracy, deviating only in terminology: the Aristotelian politela (or timocratic constitution) is called democracy, the Aristotelian democracy is termed, as e.g. in Polybius, ochlocracy. After this classification, the epitomator continues: Γίγνεσθαι δε riva καί μικτήν έκ τΟν ορθών πόΧιταών αρχήν (Stob. II, 7, 26, ρ. 151 W.-H.)13. Thus the Aristotelian idea of the mixed constitution as a mixture of oligarchy with democracy has been replaced by the more schematic tripartite mixture of kingship, aristocracy and democracy, which had its prototype already in the Platonic Laws. On the other hand, Arius’ source is really Aristotelian when 10. See Sinclair, op. cit., p. 253; Aaklers, Gem Verf., p. 76 f. and the literature quoted there. 11. Sec H. Diels, Doxographi Graeci, Berlin 1879, p. 69. 12. Cp. also Pol. 1, 1259 b 1 and 3, 1285 b 32; η οικονομική βασιλεία τκ οικίας έατίν. Α. Dreizehnter, Aristoteles’ Polìtica. München 1970, p. XVIII n. 43 seems to have overlooked the passage in the EN and attributes to Didymus "Eine Verschie­ bung und Systematisierung- - · auch bei den Herrschaftsverhältnissen innerhalb des Hauses” . 13. Sec Aalders, Gern. Verf., p. 70 f. For the retaining of the transmitted text ibid., p. 70 n. 1.


immediately afterwards it speaks of a constitution dominated by virtue as the best form of state14. But this author seems to consider the mixed constitution as a separate form of state beside the six Aristotelian constitutions, as is also done by Dicaerchus, Polybius and Cicero. What is lacking here, as far as we can judge from the abbreviated form of the epitome, is the close contact with real political life and the rich gradations of the Aristotelian Politics. Perhaps we may attribute this schematizing and impoverishment to the decline of the importance of polis-life and to the virtual fade-out of the autarky o f the polis in Hellenistic times. Thus political thinking in the framework of the polis became more schematic and lost to a great extent its ties with political reality. Kingship, a phenomenon of the first order in Hellenistic times, was added to the scheme of the mixed constitution, but it was not the new absolute monarchic rule of Alexander’s successors, but the kingship of classical political theory, more or less in the fashion of Spartan kingship. This form of kingship was at best of some marginal importance in Hellenistic cities. Wc may be sure that the conception o f the mixed constitution adumbrated in the epitome of Arius Didymus and in Dicaearchus Fr. 71 Wehrli therefore was not and could hardly be adapted to the political reality of the Hellenistic monarchies15. According to Sinclair10 a divergent and unconventional conception about the different forms of government may lie behind the beginning of the second book of the pseudo-aristotelian Oeconomica. There the author distinguishes between four kinds of οικονομία, viz. βασιλική, σατραπική, πολιτική and ιδιωτική. It is not impossible that indeed the author took as his starting-point the different ways rule is exercized in a kingdom, in a satrapy and in a polis. However, the treatise seems to be more concerned with the way rule is exercized than with the form of the constitution which lies behind it: in constitutional respect a satrapy is only part of a kingdom, and so is a polis in a Hellenistic monarchy. Nor is there in this treatise a clear-out distinction between polis and territorial monarchy, for the author uses examples taken from the measures of great kings as well as 14. According to Dicaearchus, Polybius and Cicero, the mixed constitution is simply the best form o f constitution. 15. About H. Brauncrt’s idea, that liuhenicrus advocated an adaptation of the aristotelian conception o f the mixed constitution for the Hellenistic monarchy see infra p. 68 f. 16. Op. cit., p. 254.


from the policy of tyrants of small cities. Anyway, we have no further information about the classification of the forms of government from which the author possibly started. He confines himself entirely to the ways and means of financial administration and to the different possibilities of raising money. In this treaties οικονομία does not mean administration in general, but especially financial administration'1. Here some remarks may be added about the Rhetorica ad Alexandrum, a work usually attributed to Anaximenes of Lampsacus18. This work has been transmitted as a work of Aristotle. We can leave the introductory letter out of consideration here, because there seems to be insufficient reason to suppose a connection of this letter with Peripatetic political theory. The treatise itself, however, seems to show some Aristotelian influence; and, moreover, as it is clearly related with the rhetorics, the sophistic thought and the general culture of fourth century Greece, it may be conveniently treated here. In this work the νόμος is defined 1422 a 2*4 (1, 8): νόμος Sé έστω όμολόγημα πόλεως κοινόν διά γραμμάτων ιτροστάττον πώς χρή ιτράττεα» εκαοτα 19. This definition resembles that of the sophist Lycophron, reported by Aristotle, Pol. 3, 2280b 10: καί 6 νόμος συνθήκη καί, καθdirep ίφη Λυκόφρων ο σοφιστής, εγγυητής άλλρλοις τών δικαίων,άλλ' ούχ οιος ποιεϊν αγαθούς καί δικαίους τούς πολίτας. The definition of law as an agreement, which is rejected by Aristotle, stems from .fourth century sophistic thought. It is not Peripatetic, nor Platonic, nor would it have found favour, in Hellenistic times, with thf Stoics, but it would have been approved by the Epicureans. The majority of public functions, especially all functions of minor importance should, according to our author 1424 a 12 ff. (2, 14 ffi), be attributed by lot, in order to prevent οτάσις. But the most important officials should be chosen by the people20. The laws should refrain the masses from plotting against the well-to-do and at the same time encourage the latter to exercise costly public functions. This could be effectuated by 17. See B.A. van Groningen, Anstote. I.e second livre de VEconomlque, Leiden 1933, p. 25. 18. 1 used the text by M. Puhrmann, Anaximenis Ars Rhetorica, Lipsiae 1966. 19. The same definition occurs 1424a 10-12 (2,13). 20. Cp. Arist., Pol. 4, 1298 a 24 ff.; 6, 1317 b 20 f.; 1318 b 21 ff. Sec W.L. Neuman, The Politics o f Aristotle IV, Oxford 1902 (repr. 1950), p. 499 f.


attributing by law honours to people who made private expenses on behalf o f the community and by favouring among the working classes those tilling the soil and the seamen at the cost o f the àyopatoi. Thus the rich would willingly serve the state and the masses would like working and not be inclined to act as sycophants. Striving after redistribution of landed property and even after confiscation of property should be forbidden under severe penalties21. Λ1Ι this was clearly written from the viewpoint of the polis, especially of Athens, o f the fourth century B.C. It resembles in several details the Aristotelian Politics, especially in its preference for a democracy of peasants22, although it should be noted that the favouring of seamen diverges widely from Aristotelian ideas. In oligarchic states, we are told in 1424 a 40 IT. (2, 18 IT.), most of the public functions should be attributed by lot to τοΐς τής πολιτείας μετέχουσι, whereas the most important officials should be appointed by secret vote. Offence against citizens should be punished heavily, since this would be taken more seriously by the people than exclusion form office. Conflicts between citizens should be resolved as soon as possible, and one should not let the mass of the population come from the country to the town, for this leads to the assembling of many people, which may cause the breakdown of oligarchic rule23. Whereas in democracies law should prevent the people from plotting against the rich, in oligarchies it should refrain the ruling class from ΰβρις against the lesser people and from συκοφαντείi> τους πολίτας. Here notions reminiscent o f Aristotle are also not lacking; compare e.g. the recommendation of fair rule o f the common people in an oligarchy, Pot. 5, 1308 a 3 ff. The most striking resemblance, however, of these passages with Aristotle’s political thought is the recommendation o f fair and moderate rule and the indication of ways to prevent σ τ ά σ ις and the overthrow of the existing order, to which Aristotle devoted the whole fifth book o f his

Politics. In conclusion, some words about the final pages of the treatise are in order. Generally 1446 a 36 ff. (38, 12 ff.) are considered spurious because 21. The text is not altogether certain, but anyway this seems to be the meaning required: τελευτών τω ν o f the mss. can by no means be retained in view o f w hat is legible on the Hibeh-papyrus. 22. Cp. Pol. 4 ,1 2 9 2 b 25 ff.; 6 ,1 3 1 8 b 6 ff.; see also Isoc. 7, 24 ff. 23. Cp. Arist.. A th. Pol. 16, 5 (Pisistratus); Hcraclid. Lemb. V 2 {FUG II, 213 = Arist. Fr. 611, 20 Rose) and Nie. Dam. l'r. 58 (Periander).


this passage seems to be a summary of the previous treatise, as is said in margine of some manuscripts. Now we read 1446 b 20 ff. (38, 18) that the best form of democracy is that in which honours are attributed by law to the best citizens and in which the common people are not deprived of participation in voting and in taking the major decisions24. There are two forms of oligarchy, βξ èταφβίας η aitò τιμημάτων. It should be noted that this is not exactly the same as has been said about this subject in the first chapters of our treatise. Especially the remark about the two forms of oligarchy is new; although its origin is not altogether certain, it sounds aristotelian25. Whether this final part of the Rhetorica ad Alexandmm is a later addition or not, it also seems to have been influenced by Aristotle. To sum up, the Rhetorica ad Alexandmm, derived largely from rhetorical tradition and sophistic thought, but to a considerable extent also influenced by the political analyses and opinions of Aristotle, shows how, especially in early Hellenistic times, the traditions of classical Greece and its way of thinking about political issues were retained and followed. The author of the Rhetorica ad Alexandmm is by no means a great or original political thinker, but the political thought contained in this rhetorical treatise is, for us, a far from negligible specimen of Hellenistic political thought keeping to the traditions of classical Greece.


The Academy

It is a well established fact that during Plato’s lifetime the members of the Academy showed a lively interest in practical politics as well as in political philosophy26. Obviously this interest did not vanish suddenly after the death of the master, the more so, because in early Hellenistic times the philosophical schools in Athens were involved in the political disturbances of that period27. Plato’s second successor as head of the Academy, Xenocrates, did not shirk from the heavy duty of acting as an

24. Cp. Arist., Pol. 2,1274 a 15*16; t>, 1318 b 21 ff. 25. Cp. Pol. 5,1305 b 23. See Newman, op. eft. IV, p. 352. 26. See c.g. M. Isnardi Parente, Filosofia a politica nelle Lettere di Platone, Napoli 1970, p. 1 ff. 27. See U. von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, Antigonos von Karystos (Phi)ol. Unters. 4», Berlin 1881 (= 2 1965), p. 178 ff.


Athenian ambassador to Antipater after the lost Lamian war28, and also wrote a Politicus (Diog. Laert. 4, 13), and an introduction to kingship in four books, addressed to Alexander the (heal (Diog. Laert. 4, 14; Flut., adv. Colot. 1126 d). The well-known Phocion, who played a considerable role in Athens as a general and a politician, had been a disciple o f Plato and counted many friends among the members of the Academy29. The same interest in political theory and in practical politics is also evident in the pseudo-platonic Kpistles30 and in a number of pseudoplatonic dialogues. These writings probably stem, at least for the greatest part31, from early Academic circles. On the other hand, there may have been, in the early Academy, also a tendency to abstain from practical politics32. Already in Epinotnis 992 be a fundamental difference in the estimation of public and private life can be observed, and the author of this dialogue - be it Philippus of Opus or Plato himself - seems to show inclination towards the βίος θεωρητικός33. It seems that in the third century B.C. the relations of the Academy with practical politics dwindled, although the tradition of political engagement had not disappeared altogether. The Academics Ecdemus and Ecphantus, who were the teachers of Philopoemen, were supporters o f Aratus and fought against tyrants on the Peloponnesus (Polyb. 10, 22, 2-3; Plut.,Phil. 1. 1-3; Paus. 8, 49, 2); they also responded to a call from the Cyrenaeans to mend their constitution. The inclination to abstain from political life and a certain preference for the βύκ θεωρητικός no doubt existed in the early Academy alongside the desire to be politically active. This inclination towards a contemplative life could - as well as its counterpart - be thought to have its origins in the writings of Plato. Apart from the Epinomis, which was considered

28. Diog. Laert. 4 ,9 ; Pint.. Phoc. 27,1-4; 2 9 ,4 . 29. See Tli. Lcnschau. RE XX (39), 1941, col. 459; cp. for the influence o f the Academy on Phocion J. Bcrnays, Phokion, Berlin 1881, p. 45 ff. 30. I consider Ep. 7 and 8 as very probably genuine; the same may possibly apply to Ep. 11. See my Political Thought and Political Programs in the Platonic Epistles, in: Pseudepigrapha I (Lntrctiens sur I'Antiquitc classiquc XV111), VandoeuvresGcncve 1972. p. 147 ff. 31. Ep. 13 may be an exception. 32. See M. Isnardi, Teoria e Prassi nel pensiero dell'Accademia A ntica, La Parola del Passato 11,1956, p. 433. 33. See Isnardi, ibid., p. 408 ff.

genuine rather early (Diog. Laerl. 3, 62), I will mention here only the famous passage about the absent-mindedness of the philosopher in the Theaetetus (173 c ff.), Resp. 7, 519 b ff., where it is said that iti the ideal state the philosophers will only reluctantly turn from the contemplation of the Ideas to the ruling of the state; and the example set by Plato himself, who refrained from political activity in Athens because he thought this polis incurable (Ep. 7, 325 b ff.; cp. Ep. 5, 322 b). From the spurious Platonic dialogues and epistles we may gather that political theory remained a major concern in the Early Academy. This subject was treated in Platonic fashion, and with a strong bias against tyranny (cp. also the behaviour of Ecdemus and Ecphantus) and against democracy, a bias also shared by a sympathizer on the fringe of the Academy like Phocion. In the Theages (126 a-d) we find repeated the well-known Platonic gibe that political science cannot be taught by political leaders, for ever, statesmen like Themistocles, Cimon and Pericles had not been able to instruct their own sons in politics. Severe criticism against the mie of the incompetent in the democracies is brought forward in the Demodocus (381 c ff.) and the Sisyphus (388 a ff.)34, in a rather general way and referring to the well-known Socratic arguments against democracy. According to Erast. 138 b ff., the wise man rules his household well and, if necessary, also the state; he is the true king. When his state appeals to him, it is considered self-evident that he responds to this call (138 e). One gets the impression that in the Early Academy political philosophy was mainly restricted to the re-thinking and ruminating about the Platonic heritage. If we take, as in my opinion should be done, Ep. 7 and 8 as Platonic, the other, with the exception of possibly Ep. 11, spurious letters offer no important contributions to political philosophy and confine themselves to posing as truly Platonic. Nor does the Great Alcibiades, if this dialogue should be considered spurious, contain important contributions to political thought. There are, however, two spurious dialogues which are of some interest for our subject, viz. the Minos and the Clitophon. The Minos can hardly have been written before the end of the fourth 34. Sec about these dialogues M. Isnardi, Sugli apocrifi Platonici "Demodoco" e “Sisifo", Parola del Pass. 9, 1954, p. 425 ff. 35. Thus lastly C.A. Bos, Interpretatie, vaüerschap en datering van de Alcibiades maior, Culcmborg 1970.


century B.C.36, but must be earlier than the end o f the third century 13.C., because Aristophanes of Byzantium included it in his list of Platonic writings37. The small dialogue tries to supply a definition of νόμοι;. Νόμος according to this dialogue is a δό7μα πόλεως (314 c)38, and because νόμιμος is identical with δίκαιος (314