In recent years, Roman political thought has attracted increased attention as intellectual historians and political theorists have explored the influence of the Roman republic on major thinkers from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment. Held up as a "third way" between liberalism and communitarianism, neo-Roman republicanism promises useful, persuasive accounts of civic virtue, justice, civility, and the ties that bind citizens. But republican revivalists, embedded in modern liberal, democratic, and constitutional concerns, almost never engage closely with Roman texts. The Life of Roman Republicanism takes up that challenge.
With an original combination of close reading and political theory, Joy Connolly argues that Cicero, Sallust, and Horace inspire fresh thinking about central concerns of contemporary political thought and action. These include the role of conflict in the political community, especially as it emerges from class differences; the necessity of recognition for an equal and just society; the corporeal and passionate aspects of civic experience; citizens' interdependence on one another for senses of selfhood; and the uses and dangers of self-sovereignty and fantasy. Putting classicists and political theorists in dialogue, the book also addresses a range of modern thinkers, including Kant, Hannah Arendt, Stanley Cavell, and Philip Pettit. Together, Connolly's readings construct a new civic ethos of advocacy, self-criticism, embodied awareness, imagination, and irony.