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Ideal Commonwealths
     

Ideal Commonwealths

by Various
 

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Contents:
PLUTARCH'S LYCURGUS

MORE'S UTOPIA

BACON'S NEW ATLANTIS

CAMPANELLA'S CITY OF THE SUN

AND A FRAGMENT OF

HALL'S MUNDUS ALTER ET IDEM

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY HENRY MORLEY
Plato in his "Republic" argues that it is the aim of Individual Man as of the State to be wise, brave and temperate. In a

Overview

Contents:
PLUTARCH'S LYCURGUS

MORE'S UTOPIA

BACON'S NEW ATLANTIS

CAMPANELLA'S CITY OF THE SUN

AND A FRAGMENT OF

HALL'S MUNDUS ALTER ET IDEM

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY HENRY MORLEY
Plato in his "Republic" argues that it is the aim of Individual Man as of the State to be wise, brave and temperate. In a State, he says, there are three orders, the Guardians, the Auxiliaries, the Producers. Wisdom should be the special virtue of the Guardians; Courage of the Auxiliaries; and Temperance of all. These three virtues belong respectively to the Individual Man, Wisdom to his Rational part; Courage to his Spirited; and Temperance to his Appetitive: while in the State as in the Man it is Injustice that disturbs their harmony.

Because the character of Man appears in the State unchanged, but in a larger form, Plato represented Socrates as studying the ideal man himself through an Ideal Commonwealth.

In another of his dialogues, "Critias," of which we have only the beginning, Socrates wishes that he could see how such a commonwealth would work, if it were set moving. Critias undertakes to tell him. For he has received tradition of events that happened more than nine thousand years ago, when the Athenians themselves were such ideal citizens. Critias has received this tradition, he says, from a ninety-year-old grandfather, whose father, Dropides, was the friend of Solon. Solon, lawgiver and poet, had heard it from the priests of the goddess Neïth or Athene at Sais, and had begun to shape it into a heroic poem.

This was the tradition:--Nine thousand years before the time of Solon, the goddess Athene, who was worshipped also in Sais, had given to her Athenians a healthy climate, a fertile soil, and temperate people strong in wisdom and courage. Their Republic was like that which Socrates imagined, and it had to bear the shock of a great invasion by the people of the vast island Atlantis. This island, larger than all Libya and Asia put together, was once in the sea westward beyond the Atlantic waves,--thus America was dreamed of long before it was discovered. Atlantis had ten kings, descended from ten sons of Poseidon (Neptune), who was the god magnificently worshipped by its people. Vast power and dominion, that extended through all Libya as far as Egypt, and over a part of Europe, caused the Atlantid kings to grow ambitious and unjust. Then they entered the Mediterranean and fell upon Athens with enormous force. But in the little band of citizens, temperate, brave, and wise, there were forces of Reason able to resist and overcome brute strength. Now, however, gone are the Atlantids, gone are the old virtues of Athens. Earthquakes and deluges laid waste the world. The whole great island of Atlantis, with its people and its wealth, sank to the bottom of the ocean. The ideal warriors of Athens, in one day and night, were swallowed by an earthquake, and were to be seen no more.

Plato, a philosopher with the soul of a poet, died in the year 347 before Christ. Plutarch was writing at the close of the first century after Christ, and in his parallel Lives of Greeks and Romans, the most famous of his many writings, he took occasion to paint an Ideal Commonwealth as the conception of Lycurgus, the half mythical or all mythical Solon of Sparta. To Plutarch's Life of Lycurgus, as well as to Plato, Thomas More and others have been indebted for some part of the shaping of their philosophic dreams.

The discovery of the New World at the end of the fifteenth century followed hard upon the diffusion of the new invention of printing, and came at a time when the fall of Constantinople by scattering Greek scholars, who became teachers in Italy, France and elsewhere, spread the study of Greek, and caused Plato to live again. Little had been heard of him through the Arabs, who cared little for his poetic method. But with the revival of learning he had become a force in Europe, a strong aid to the Reformers. Sir Thomas More's Utopia was written in the years 1515-16, when its author's age was about thirty-seven. He was a young man of twenty when Columbus first touched the continent named after the Florentine Amerigo Vespucci, who made his voyages to it in the years 1499-1503. More wrote his Utopia when imaginations of men were stirred by the sudden enlargement of their conceptions of the world, and Amerigo Vespucci's account of his voyages, first printed in 1507, was fresh in every scholar's mind. He imagined a traveller, Raphael Hythloday--whose name is from Greek words that mean "Knowing in Trifles"--who had sailed with Vespucci on his three last voyages, but had not returned from the last voyage until, after separation from his comrades, he had wandered into some farther discovery of his own. Thus he had found, somewhere in those parts, the island of Utopia. Its name is from Greek words meaning Nowhere.

Product Details

BN ID:
2940014278799
Publisher:
Library of Alexandria
Publication date:
03/25/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
390 KB

Meet the Author

Dennis O'Neil is the influential writer of comics including BATMAN, GREEN LANTERN/GREEN ARROW, THE JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA and countless other titles. He is also the author of The DC Comics Guide to Writing for Comics (Watson Guptill).

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