University of Pittsburgh

News & Events

CPAS Colloquia

Thursday, April 27, 2017 4:00 P.M.

Prof. Sean McConnell, University of Otago, New Zealand
Room: 216 Cathedral of Learning

Title: Cicero and Utopia: The Ideal State and the Golden Age Tradition

Abstract: In De re publica and De legibus Cicero highlights the very real practical limits when it comes to implementing utopian models of the ideal state. In this paper I draw attention to Cicero’s engagement with another utopian tradition that has a rather different relationship to what is practicable given worldly limitations—the tradition of the golden age, which is prominent not only in Greek myth and literature but also in Plato and the Peripatetic and Stoic philosophical traditions. I make the case that Cicero draws on philosophical accounts of the golden age—most significantly that of the Peripatetic Dicaearchus of Messana (c.350–c.285 bc)—in his analysis of the Roman res publica and the nature of Roman political virtue. In particular, I argue that his portrayal of the defining characteristics of the Roman people recalls closely the attributes of Dicaearchus’ “golden race”. This allows Cicero to appear more optimistic about the achievability of utopian ideals than he does when engaging with the ideal state tradition of utopian thought, for an identification of the Roman people with the golden race implies that the Romans collectively have the capacity to realise a golden age in the present, just as they did in the past.

Upcoming Conferences

May 22–24, 2018

"Aristotle Resurgent: Exploring Neo-Aristotelian Approaches to Ethics, Metaphysics, and Philosophy of Science". 

Further details to be announced.

Reading Groups


Aristotle's Bust


Every other Wednesday 4:30–6:30PM
For more information Contact Kelson Law


Detail of the School of Athens by Michaelangelo

Classics, Philosophy and Ancient Science Greek and Latin Reading Group

Every Wednesday from 2-3:30PM in the Classics Department on the 15th Floor of the Cathedral. Please contact Dr. Christina Hoenig for more information.

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Selected Publications

cover of Being Nature, and Life In Aristotle by James Lennox

Being, Nature, and Life In Aristotle

by James G. Lennox (Editor), Robert Bolton (Editor)

This volume of essays explores major connected themes in Aristotle's metaphysics, philosophy of nature, and ethics, especially themes related to essence, definition, teleology, activity, potentiality, and the highest good. The volume is united by the belief that all aspects of Aristotle's work need to be studied together if any one of the areas of thought is to be fully understood. Many of the papers were contributions to a conference at the University of Pittsburgh entitled 'Being, Nature, and Life in Aristotle', to honor Professor Allan Gotthelf's many contributions to the field of ancient philosophy; a few are contributions from those who were invited but could not attend. The contributors, all longstanding friends of Professor Gotthelf, are among the most accomplished scholars in the field of ancient philosophy today.

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Program Application

  • Students do not apply directly to the CPAS Program
  • Instead, students should apply to one of the cooperating departments (Classics, HPS, or Philosophy) and indicate their interest in the program on their application