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Zeno’s Republic, Plato’s Laws, and the Early Development of Stoic Natural Law Theory

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image of Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek Political Thought

Recent scholarship on Stoic political thought has sought to explain the relationship between Zeno’s Republic and the concept of a natural law regulating a cosmic city of gods and human beings that is attributed to later Stoics. This paper provides a reassessment of this relationship by exploring the underappreciated influence of Plato’s Laws on Zeno’s Republic and, through Zeno, on the subsequent Stoic tradition. Zeno’s attempt to remove perceived inconsistencies in Plato’s treatment of ‘law’ and ‘nature’ established a philosophical framework that overturned the republicanism of Plato and Aristotle; this same framework established the preconditions for the cosmic city of gods and human beings regulated by natural law. Thus, the early Stoic tradition on the topic of natural law is characterized by continuity rather than by discontinuity.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Classical Studies, Duke University233 Allen Building, Box 90103, Durham, nc


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