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From the Homeric Epic to Modern Political Theory

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Olympian Gods, Heroes and Human Genesis of Power in Hobbes’s Translations of the Iliad and the Odyssey

image of Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek Political Thought

Starting from the idea that the Hobbesian English version of the Homeric poems was a translation work but especially a tool for spreading political theories and teaching moral virtue in a period when the philosopher was under censorship (Nelson, 2008 and 2012), the article focuses on a remarkable situation where original texts and Hobbesian purposes deeply diverge. In translating the Iliad and the Odyssey, Hobbes had to handle a lexicon imbued with expressions that linked men in power to the Olympian gods. Unfortunately, the existence of these ties was completely at odds with what he had previously explained in his political works; hence he had to work on it extensively. By starting from a lexical analysis and moving to the dimension of History of Political Ideas, the article will show how Hobbes bypasses this problem, in order to reach his political and educational target.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Political Science, University of Genova GenoaItaly


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