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A Written Republic: Cicero’s Philosophical Politics

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Princeton University Press

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When Cicero turned to writing his philosophical encyclopedia during his forced retirement under Caesar, he was acutely aware that this was a controversial undertaking for a Roman statesman, given Romans’ frequent hostility to philosophy as foreign and incompatible with one’s duty as a citizen. How are we to understand Cicero’s decision to pursue philosophy in the context of the political, intellectual, and cultural life of the late Roman republic? Yelena Baraz takes up this question and makes the case that philosophy for Cicero was not a retreat from politics but a continuation of politics by other means, an alternative way of living a political life and serving the state under newly restricted conditions.