We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more

E-book purchase
Choose a subscription

Downloaded copy on your device does not expire. Includes 4 years of Bookshelf Online.


Where applicable, tax will be added to the above price prior to payment.

E-book purchasing help



Political Philosophy

Malcolm Schofield

Publication Date - March 2021

ISBN: 9780199684922

304 pages
9.2 x 6.0 inches

In Stock


This book offers an innovative analytic account of Cicero's treatment of key political ideas: liberty and equality, government, law, cosmopolitanism and imperialism, republican virtues, and ethical decision-making in politics. Cicero (106-43 BC) is well known as a major player in the turbulent politics of the last three decades of the Roman Republic. But he was a political thinker, too, influential for many centuries in the Western intellectual and cultural tradition. His theoretical writings stand as the first surviving attempt to articulate a philosophical rationale for republicanism. They were not written in isolation either from the stances he took in his political actions and political oratory of the period, or from his discussions of immediate political issues or questions of character or behaviour in his voluminous correspondence with friends and acquaintances. In this book, Malcolm Schofield situates the intimate interrelationships between Cicero's writings in all these modes within the historical context of a fracturing Roman political order. It exhibits the continuing attractions of Cicero's scheme of republican values, as well as some of its limitations as a response to the crisis that was engulfing Rome.


  • Situates Cicero's writings within historical context
  • Focuses on key political ideas that are still highly topical
  • Written in an accessible and engaging style for a student readership
  • Written by a leading expert in the field

About the Author(s)

Malcolm Schofield, Emeritus Professor of Ancient Philosophy, University of Cambridge, and Fellow of St John's College

Malcolm Schofield has taught ancient philosophy in Cambridge for close on 50 years, and is a wide-ranging and highly productive scholar, of major international standing. He joined G.S. Kirk and J.E. Raven as co-author of The Presocratic Philosophers (Cambridge 1983 [second edition]). With Jonathan Barnes and M.F. Burnyeat he co-founded in 1978 a long-running series of Symposia Hellenistica, which have done much to foster work of high quality on a previously understudied area of Greek and Roman philosophy. He has also been active more broadly in UK Classics, most recently as Chair of the British School at Athens (2010-16).


"Cicero: Political Philosophy, with its densely yet subtly inter-connected chapters, excellent bibliography, and phenomenal choice of quotations from the largest body of work of a single author to come down to us from Graeco-Roman antiquity, is no exception in this and exceptional in its field." -- Gavin M. Stewart, Ethical Theory and Moral Practice

"Malcolm Schofield has now given us the ideal introduction to Cicero's political thought ... The book throughout is marked by very thoughtful attention to the needs of the non-specialist reader.... Schofield has managed to produce a concise and judicious guide to all the main issues and debates. It is far more than just a clear summary, though. It is, in the best sense, a critical introduction, one that engages as well as informs the reader, and it now takes its place as the best modern account of its kind." -- Jeremy Mynott, Classics for All

"To conclude, I would like to stress the importance of his method. S. uses historical context not only to elucidate Cicero's political philosophy, but also to explain its limits. S. pushes the quest for arguments as far as possible; but he confesses sometimes running into walls." -- RENÉ DE NICOLAY, Princeton University, THE CLASSICAL REVIEW

"Cicero is detailed, challenging, and fascinating, offering a thorough account of Cicero's political thought that is both situated within his particular and disruptive historical context and in constant dialogue with modern political theory ... This is a masterful and lively study, which will be of value to all those with an interest in ancient political philosophy, and, indeed, Republican politics and history." -- Jenny Bryan, Greece & Rome

"I would recommend this book immediately as the first stop for anyone looking for a clear and accessible account of Cicero's political philosophy." -- Sean McConnell, University of Otago, Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Table of Contents

    1. Introduction: contexts
    2. Liberty, equality, and popular sovereignty
    3. Government
    4. Cosmopolitanism, imperialism, and the idea of law
    5. Republican virtues
    6. Republican decision-making
    7. Epilogue: philosophical debate and normative theory
    Index of passages
    General index

Related Titles