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Looking at the Black Sea: Genê and Civic Theôria in Plato’s Laws

12.01.2023 04:00 PM

Event Summary

Cinzia Arruzza speaking. Photo by Max Herman.

In Book 12 of Plato's Laws the Athenian argues for the necessity of instituting civic theôria for the sake of studying other peoples’ laws and customs and – if necessary – revising Magnesia’s laws. However, at several points of the dialogue, the Athenian insists on the necessity of preserving ethnic cohesion within the city and proposes severe regulations concerning immigrants and barbarian slaves. Are these severe regulations based on a notion of Greek ethnic or racial superiority?

At this lecture, Cinzia Arruzza argued that regulations for the preservation of ethnic cohesion are not based on mainstream notions of Greek superiority vs. barbarians but motivated by a concern for preserving unity within Magnesia. Yet this does not mean that the Athenian is not pursuing a racializing project, insofar as both blood and socialization under Magnesia’s laws will ultimately shape a superior γένος – the race of the Magnesians.

This lecture was sponsored by the Ancient Greek Philosophy of Race and Ethnicity research project at the Neubauer Collegium.

About the Speaker

Cinzia Arruzza is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the New School for Social Research. She is the author of Plotinus. Ennead II 5. On What is Potentially and What Actually (Parmenides Press, 2015) and A Wolf in the City: Tyranny and the Tyrant in Plato's Republic (Oxford University Press, 2018). She is currently working on a new book manuscript, titled Socrates’ Women: The Soul, Virtue and Sexual Difference in Plato and the Socratic Circle (under contract with OUP).