The Founders and the Classics: Greece, Rome and the American Enlightenment (Hardback)
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Short Description for The Founders and the Classics This text provides a comprehensive study of the influence of Greek and Roman writings on America's forefathers, and discusses how the attitudes of America's founders to the classics helped provide a basis on which much of America's ideals, including the US Constitution, are founded.
- Published: 21 April 1994
- Format: Hardback 308 pages
- ISBN 13: 9780674314252 ISBN 10: 0674314255
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Full description for The Founders and the Classics
This text answers the question as to whether America's Greek and Roman heritage is merely allusive and illusory, or were its founders genuinely part of the stuff of antiquity? So far largely a matter of generalization and speculation, this text provides a comprehensive study of the influence of Greek and Roman authors on America's forefathers. Carl J. Richard begins by examining how 18th-century social institutions in general and the educational system in particular conditioned the founders to venerate the classics. He then explores the founders' various uses of classical symbolism, models, "antimodels", mixed government theory, pastoralism and philosophy, revealing in detail the formative influence exerted by the classics, both directly and through the mediation of Whig and American perspectives. In this analysis, we see how the classics not only supplied the principal basis for the US constitution but also contributed to the founders' conception of human nature, their understanding of virtue, and their sense of identity and purpose within a grand universal scheme. At the same time, we learn how the classics inspired obsessive fear of conspiracies against liberty, which poisoned relations between Federalists and Republicans. The shrewd ancients who moulded Western civilization still have much to teach us, Richard suggests. His account of the critical role they played in shaping our nation and our lives provides a valuable lesson in the transcendent power of the classics.