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Classics in the Modern WorldA Democratic Turn?$
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Lorna Hardwick and Stephen Harrison

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199673926

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199673926.001.0001

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The Divided Legacy of Politikon

The Divided Legacy of Politikon

Democracy and Conflict through Roman Translation

(p.33) 3 The Divided Legacy of Politikon
Classics in the Modern World

Alexandra Lianeri

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on the Roman encounter with the Athenian definition of political in terms of conflict among equals in order to explore a semantic shift which was central to the Western history of the notion of democracy: the displacement of conflict from the realm of democratic deliberation and its repositioning within an exclusionist field of the political grounded in a category of truth attainable by the few. Drawing on Heidegger’s theorization of the modern interrelation of truth, power, and politics as a Roman category that displaced the Greek political legacy, the chapter explores the meaning of politikon in Cicero’s philosophical translation of the term dēmokratia in the De Republica. It discusses both the contextual constitution of the Roman concept and its implications for modern conceptions of democracy. However, it suggests that the shift of meaning that Heidegger attributes to Roman political thought goes back to Plato’s critical turn to Athenian democratic politics and his notion of quarrel between philosophy and democracy.

Keywords:   Athenian democracy, Roman political thought, Cicero, Heidegger, Plato

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