Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Divine Purpose and Heroic Response in Homer and Virgil: The Political Plan of Zeus

by John Alvis

Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.

269, August

Paperback, 29.95

ISBN: 0847680150

Taking a critical perspective more political than that usually adopted by classicists, John Alvis demonstrates in this study that the "Iliad, Odyssey" and "Aeneid" each present a distinct political teaching regarding human ends and the form of civil society most conducive to the realization of those ends. Referring to the mysterious "plan of Zeus" announced in the opening lines of the "Iliad" but never explained, Alvis argues that both Homer’s Zeus and Virgil’s Jupiter guide their heroes to embody principles of natural justice that in turn found political constitutions. "The Political Plan of Zeus" represents the first comprehensive theory of the meaning of Zeus’s providence in both Homeric poems, a new interpretation of "the muse" in Homer, and the first attempt to compare the "Aeneid" with Platonic-Aristotelian teaching on the nature of man and the problem of empire. This book will be of interest to upper-level undergraduates and scholars of politics, philosophy, and the classics.


    Part I – The Political Plan of Zeus

  1. The Plan of Zeus and the Reversals of Achilles
  2. Care and Daring in the Odyssey

    Part II – Virgilian Providence: Jupiter’s Blessing and Its Problems

  3. Virgil’s Rome: An Empire by Nature?
  4. The Tripartite Soul in the Aeneid

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