Here’s my initial proposal for the independent study:


The foundations of modern political philosophy lie in Classical literature. In this course, I will closely examine two of the most important works in the field, Plato’s Πολιτεία, or Republic, and Cicero’s De Re Publica, or On the Republic. First, I will study Ancient Greek over the summer. Then, in the fall, I will translate chapters from these texts, while reading other primary and secondary sources on Classical political philosophy, such as the works of Aristotle and Polybius and the research of modern scholars. I will especially focus on theories about forms of government, constitutional stability, and transitions between power structures. My process and conclusions will be presented on my blog as well as in a final paper.

Driving Questions:

  • Broadest questions — How do Plato’s Republic and Cicero’s De Re Publica compliment each other’s theories of governance, how do they contradict each other, and what causes these differences and similarities? 
  • How does each text conceptualize the various possible forms of government?
  • How does each theorize the progression of a state through constitutional structures?
  • How do Plato and Cicero each balance historical evidence with pure philosophical theory, and how does this affect their conclusions?
  • How do the historical and political contexts of each text, which were written more than 300 years apart, influence their respective theories?
  • How did Classical political theory develop over time? From Plato’s life to Cicero’s, how did the approach to political philosophy and common constitutional theories change?


  • Greek textbook Athenaze Books I and II
  • Plato’s Republic Book I in Greek from Bryn Mawr Commentaries
  • Plato’s Republic in English from Hackett Classics
  • Cicero’s De Re Publica in Latin from Cambridge Greek and Latin Classics
  • Cicero’s De Re Publica in English, translated by G.W. Featherstonhaugh