Virtue and the City

By |2019-02-18T02:41:53-05:00November 18th, 2018|

Virtue is what the good city aims to achieve as part of the common good. Since humans are social animals and creatures of actions, the call to cultivate virtue within civil society is a fundamental aspect of the good society and the good regime... Today’s offering in our Timeless Essay series affords our readers the [...]

Can the Liberal Arts Save Our Souls?

By |2018-07-13T21:57:03-05:00July 13th, 2018|

If one cannot hope for an informed citizenry—and the evidence is overwhelming that such a hope is futile—one must hope for something else: a formed citizenry. For the remedy for thoughtlessness is not information; it is thought, thought about what man is, what the good man is, what the good society is, what virtues [...]

The Ciceronian Republic

By |2018-12-26T14:48:23-05:00November 9th, 2017|

Habits, mores, manners, and customs should prove more important in a republic than the law… “With Cicero fell the republic.”—Russell Kirk As one of my grand Hillsdale colleagues, Dr. Stephen Smith, once said to me, there has never been a serious reform or renaissance in Western Civilization since the fall of the Roman Republic [...]

Virtue and the City

By |2018-06-08T11:29:31-05:00October 26th, 2017|

To attain virtue in solitude defeats the communitarian instincts of human nature. The avenue of politics is one of the mediums by which moral excellence can, and should, be practiced—for there are tremendous benefits wrought to the rest of society as a result… “We see that every city is some sort of community, and [...]

“The Author’s Outcry”

By |2017-08-27T11:36:24-05:00August 27th, 2017|

The Author’s outcry against Octavianus Caesar Augustus as he contemplated Schleissen’s marble effigy of Marcus Tullius Cicero. Extemporaneous poem. He was an ingrate, more a barbarian, Marcus, then even the lictor, when he left you beneath some lictor’s ignominious blow. Octavianus was almost more deadly […]

Rhetoric & the Art of Persuasion: Lessons from the Masters

By |2017-08-04T14:46:35-05:00May 5th, 2017|

The Roman teachers were acutely aware of the role of audience. In its classical sense, rhetoric means the use of language, whether in speech or tex, to persuade an audience… The word rhetoric is thrown about in mostly negative ways—accuse someone of employing rhetoric and you have implied a lack of sincerity or content [...]

The Utopia of Thomas More: A Contemporary Battleground

By |2017-06-22T08:37:43-05:00March 9th, 2017|

By thinking through the limits and possibilities of political life, as presented in Utopia, the careful reader imitates Cicero and Thomas More by preparing for politics through the careful study of great literature… “The struggle is not merely over an iso­lated work of genius but over a whole culture”—so says Stephen Greenblatt about Thomas [...]

An American Augustan Age of Literature

By |2016-12-08T10:56:00-05:00October 19th, 2016|

The Augustan Age refers to a time period broadly revolving around the restoration of order (if not necessarily liberty) at the end of the Roman republic and the beginning of the empire—roughly 50BC to 120AD. Many scholars label it the “Silver Age of Roman Literature.” Every one of the authors listed below held numerous [...]

The Protestant Heritage of Classical Humanism: Melanchthon & Cicero

By |2016-08-17T16:14:05-05:00August 17th, 2016|

Here is the grand fact that Protestant theologians always overlook. They, in reality, always present nature and grace as two antagonistic powers, and suppose the presence of the one must be the physical destruction of the other. Luther and Calvin, weary of the good works, and shrinking from the efforts to acquire the personal [...]

The Sword of Damocles: No Friends for the Tyrant

By |2016-04-24T11:38:31-05:00March 17th, 2016|

Plato tried to act as a political advisor to the tyrant Dionysius II of Syracuse. Famously, it was a fiasco. What are the sources of this failure? Cicero, in his Tusculan Disputations, has an interesting section on Dionysius. He tells us how Dionysius ruled over the Syracusans for thirty-eight years, beginning his rule when [...]

Socrates on Statesmanship: The Actual Intention

By |2018-11-21T08:39:06-05:00September 22nd, 2015|

Cicero famously said of Socrates that he was the one who brought philosophy down from heaven to earth. This must be some other Socrates than the one of the Platonic dialogues, perhaps Xenophon’s of the Memorabilia. After all, even the comic Socrates of Aristophanes’s Clouds is a meteorologist, a watcher of the heavens, though [...]

The Dispassionate Study of the Passions

By |2018-11-21T08:39:08-05:00August 4th, 2015|

Plato’s dialogue Gorgias ends with a long speech culminating in a rousing cry by an aroused Socrates. He is speaking to Gorgias’s student Callicles about his swaggering opinionatedness and their common uneducatedness. The words he uses are neanieusthai, ‟to act like a youth,” to behave like a kid, and apaideusia, ‟lack of teaching,” ignorance. [...]

Treason from Within

By |2016-11-26T09:52:04-05:00July 29th, 2015|

Cicero A nation can survive its fools and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and he carries his banners openly against the city. But the traitor moves among those within the gates freely, his sly whispers [...]

On the Depths of Villainy

By |2017-07-31T23:48:17-05:00May 10th, 2015|Tags: |

Rev. James Schall Probably the most famous letter writer of the ancient world was Cicero. In 59 B.C., Cicero wrote to Gaius Scribonius: “There are many sorts of letters. But there is one unmistakable sort, which actually caused letter-writing to be invented in the first place, namely the sort intended to give [...]