Classics Plato's Laws
by
Malcolm Schofield
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 September 2016
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389661-0214

Introduction

The Laws was Plato’s last and longest dialogue. It can claim to be the first work of jurisprudence and likewise the first fully developed political theology ever written, offering a comprehensive view of how an entire society might be educated, organized, and governed. It covers a huge range of topics, of interest not just to philosophers and political theorists but also to students of ancient Greek culture and society, not all of which can be represented in this bibliography. There is not much scope for debate about choice of editions and Commentaries. But any selection of books, articles, and edited collections will inevitably be to a greater or lesser degree controversial. This bibliography attempts to be reasonably catholic in its choices. Many of the items listed will indicate further publications that it would be worthwhile to consult.

Editions of the Greek Text

Two editions of the Greek text of the Laws are accepted as standard. One is Burnet 1963, first issued in 1907; the other the Budé edition (Des Places and Diès 1951–1957), which is now the edition that commentators and translators regularly take as their basis. Bury 1926 is a convenient resource widely used, but prints many more conjectural emendations than are adopted in either the Oxford Classical Texts (OCT) or the Budé.

  • Burnet, John, ed. 1963. Platonis opera. Vol. 5. Oxford: Clarendon.

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    A conservative text: the editor’s preface expresses the hope that he has never rashly abandoned the reading transmitted by the most authoritative manuscripts. The Greek of his text is often strained and obscure if seldom unintelligible, something encountered also in Plato’s other later writings.

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    • Bury, R. G., ed. 1926. Plato with an English translation. Vols. 9 and 10, Laws. Loeb Classical Library. London and New York: Harvard Univ. Press.

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      The Greek text presented in this edition adopts many conjectural emendations, often thanks to the influence of E. B. England’s linguistically oriented commentary of 1921. Available also online by subscription.

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      • Des Places, É., ed. and A. Diès, eds. 1951–1957. Platon: Oeuvres complètes. Vols. 11 and 12, Les Lois. Paris: Les Belles Lettres.

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        Offers a text (with French translation) very similar to Burnet’s, particularly in Books 1–6. Its superiority lies principally in its apparatus criticus, which contains fuller information about textual variants in the manuscript tradition and citations of the text in later Greek authors.

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        Commentaries

        Two commentaries stand out: England 1921, focused principally on questions of text and diction, and Schöpsdau 1994–2011, in the Mainz Academy series Platon Werke (including a German translation of the dialogue). Still well worth consulting on textual matters are Post 1939 and Saunders 1972. Commentaries on individual books include Sauvé-Meyer 2015 on Books 1 and 2 and Mayhew 2008 on Book 10. The French translation of the dialogue, Brisson and Pradeau 2006, in two volumes, is generously annotated.

        • Brisson, Luc, and J. -F. Pradeau. 2006. Platon: Les Lois. Paris: GF Flammarion.

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          French translation (following mostly the rendering of the Greek in the Budé edition), with helpful introduction, amply supplied with notes throughout dealing with many matters of detailed interpretation and general structure.

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          • England, E. B. 1921. The Laws of Plato. 2 vols. Manchester, UK: Manchester Univ. Press.

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            Indispensable linguistic treatment of questions of Greek text, diction, and interpretation. Offers little comment on other dimensions of the dialogue.

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            • Mayhew, Robert. 2008. Plato: Laws 10. Oxford: Clarendon.

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              English translation, with a commentary tackling matters mostly of philosophical interpretation, and including a short bibliography.

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              • Post, L. A. 1939. Notes on Plato’s Laws. American Journal of Philology 60.1: 93–105.

                DOI: 10.2307/290885Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                Discussions of textual problems.

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                • Saunders, T. J. 1972. Notes on the Laws of Plato. London: Institute of Classical Studies.

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                  Discussions of problems in the Greek text and of its interpretation.

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                  • Sauvé-Meyer, Susan. 2015. Plato: Laws 1 & 2. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                    English translation, with a commentary tackling issues of linguistic and broader philosophical interpretation, and including an extended bibliography.

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                    • Schöpsdau, Klaus. 1994–2011. Platon Nomoi. Vol. 1–3. Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

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                      Another indispensable resource, dealing with all aspects of the dialogue: textual, linguistic, structural, historical, and philosophical. Includes a general introduction, introductory discussion of each section of text (both accessible to Greekless readers), and extensive bibliographies.

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                      Bibliographies

                      An annual record of publications on Plato is published digitally in L’Année philologique. There is also a general online annual bibliographical record specifically devoted to Plato compiled by Brisson for the International Plato Society, The Society has also published a consolidated online Plato bibliography of items since 1950 entitled Pythia edited by Benoît Castelnérac. A consolidated bibliography on the Laws up to the end of the previous century, Saunders and Brisson 2000, is available in hard copy.

                      English Translations

                      There are only four English translations of the Laws in print. These are Bury 1926, Saunders 1970, Pangle 1988, and Schofield 2016. The latter three all work with the Greek text of the Budé edition, introducing only occasional variations.

                      • Bury, R. G., ed. and trans. 1926. Plato with an English translation. Vols. 10 and 11, Laws. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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                        The Greek text presented in this Loeb edition adopts many conjectural emendations. Its translation is reliable, but the diction is from time to time somewhat archaic, and sentence structure and punctuation are elaborate by contemporary standards. Bury based his Greek text and facing English translation on the editions of J. G. Baiter, J. K. von Orelli, and A. W. Winckelmann, in their complete Platonis Opera (Zurich, Switzerland: Meyer and Zeller, 1839). Available online by subscription.

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                        • Pangle, Thomas, trans. 1988. The Laws of Plato: Translated with notes and an interpretive essay. Chicago: Chicago Univ. Press.

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                          A translation aiming at “the greatest literalness attainable within the confines of sound and comprehensible English.” Mostly reliable, but the general effect is often felt to be wooden. Contains a useful subject index.

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                          • Saunders, T. J., trans. 1970. Plato: The Laws. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin.

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                            A version designed to appeal to a wide readership, divided into main sections with introductory comment by the translator and then into subsections, all given descriptive titles. Its prose style is lucid, fluent, sometimes colloquial, and in places represents something verging on paraphrase. Also available in J. M. Cooper, ed. Plato: Complete works (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1997).

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                            • Schofield, Malcolm, ed. 2016. Plato: Laws. Translated by Tom Griffith. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                              A translation into idiomatic contemporary English designed to attain fluency and accessibility while not sacrificing accuracy. It is prefaced by a substantial introduction and guide to further reading, and supplied with notes aiming to guide the reader through the text as well as giving other explanatory material.

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                              Introductory Guides

                              Four helpful but very different introductory guides in English are Stalley 1983, Laks 2000, Bobonich and Meadows 2013, and the introduction to Schofield 2016. For readers of French there is Brisson and Pradeau 2007; the extended introduction to Des Places and Diés 1951–1957 remains a valuable resource. Readers of German may profitably consult the introduction to Schöpsdau 1994.

                              • Bobonich, Chris, and Katherine Meadows. 2013. Plato on Utopia. In The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy. Edited by Edward N. Zalta. Stanford, CA: Stanford Univ. Press.

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                                Offers summaries of Books 1 to 5, followed by discussions of some main topics explored in the dialogue and of disputes over their interpretation.

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                                • Brisson, Luc, and J. -F. Pradeau. 2007. Les Lois de Platon. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

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                                  Lucid and reliable survey of the dialogue in all its aspects, and assessment of its contribution to political philosophy.

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                                  • Des Places, É., and A. Diès, eds. 1951–1957. Platon: Oeuvres Complètes. Vols. 11 and 12, Les Lois. Paris: Les Belles Lettres.

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                                    The introduction to this edition runs to more than two hundred pages, and as well as a final section (by Des Places) on the text contains an account of the organization and main themes of the dialogue (by Diès) and a treatment of its system of law in relation to Athenian law (by L. Gernet).

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                                    • Laks, André. 2000. The Laws. In The Cambridge History of Greek and Roman Political Thought. Edited by C. J. Rowe and M. Schofield, 258–292. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                                      DOI: 10.1017/CHOL9780521481366.014Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                      Primarily an exploration and assessment of the dialogue’s main theoretical contributions to political philosophy.

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                                      • Schofield, Malcolm, ed. 2016. Plato: Laws. Translated by Tom Griffith. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                        The introduction to this translation offers a succinct account of the dialogue’s structure and main themes, which is supplemented by a synopsis of its contents.

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                                        • Schöpsdau, Klaus. 1994. Platon Nomoi. Vol. 1. Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

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                                          The introduction to this authoritative commentary covers main aspects and questions lucidly and economically, and includes a detailed synopsis of the dialogue.

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                                          • Stalley, R. F. 1983. An Introduction to Plato’s Laws. Oxford: Blackwell.

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                                            Economical book-length sequence of discussions of the treatment by the Laws of the main philosophical topics it discusses.

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                                            The Laws’ Place within Plato’s Philosophy

                                            Plato’s three major works of political philosophy—Republic, Statesman, Laws—are generally agreed to have been composed in that order, with the Laws the last of all his dialogues, probably left by him unfinished: see Kahn 2002. Barker 1918 is a classic study of the subject in English. It propounds the still widely accepted view that in the Laws Plato had changed his mind about what was politically practicable, moving from the idealistic absolutism of the Republic to the rule of law. Klosko 2006 is a more recent study that in these respects may be usefully compared with Barker’s treatment. By contrast Laks 1990 argues that the Laws should be seen as complementary to the Republic. Schofield 1999 endeavors to strike a balance between the two views, while Schofield 2006 explores key themes in Plato’s political thought, including the contribution the Laws makes to his treatment of them.

                                            • Barker, E. A. 1918. Greek political theory: Plato and his predecessors. London: Methuen.

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                                              A study of abiding value devoted mostly to Plato’s own thought. The last five chapters offer an account of the Laws.

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                                              • Kahn, C. H. 2002. On Platonic chronology. In New perspectives on Plato, modern and ancient. Edited by J. Annas and C. J. Rowe, 93–127. Washington, DC: Harvard Univ.

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                                                An economical and judicious assessment of the results of scholarship’s endeavors, over more than a century, to establish through stylistic and stylometric analysis a chronology for the composition of the Platonic dialogues.

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                                                • Klosko, George. 2006. The development of Plato’s political theory. 2d ed. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                  A general account that pays particular attention to the similarities and differences between the Laws and the Republic and Statesman.

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                                                  • Laks, André. 1990. Legislation and demiurgy: On the relationship between Plato’s Republic and Laws. Classical Antiquity 9.2: 209–229.

                                                    DOI: 10.2307/25010929Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                    Argues that the Republic itself recognizes that an approximation to its ideal is, in the nature of things, the best we can in practice expect, while the Laws presents itself as just such an approximation.

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                                                    • Schofield, Malcolm. 1999. The disappearing philosopher-king. In Saving the city: Philosopher-Kings and other classical paradigms. Edited by M. Schofield, 31–50. London: Routledge.

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                                                      Argues that the Statesman attempts a quite different theoretical project from the Republic and the Laws, which it takes to be broadly complementary to the Republic, but to be recanting its proposal that the ideal polity could be secured only by the union of power with philosophy. Originally published in Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy 13 (1997): 213–241.

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                                                      • Schofield, Malcolm. 2006. Plato: Political Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                        Studies Plato’s engagement with some of his major preoccupations in the dialogues devoted to political philosophizing, notably democracy, knowledge, utopia, and ideology.

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                                                        Plato’s Project in the Laws

                                                        A fundamental work on the dialogue is the still indispensable Morrow 1960. Bobonich 2002 is a contemporary study of major importance, interestingly assessed by Kahn 2004. Great scholars from previous eras remain well worth reading on the Laws: see Grote 1865 (in the third of three volumes), Jowett 1975 (in the fifth of five), and Dodds 1951. Note also Strauss 1975, and more recently Zuckert 2009.

                                                        • Bobonich, Chris. 2002. Plato’s Utopia recast. His later ethics and politics. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

                                                          DOI: 10.1093/0199251436.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                          A book written from the standpoint and in the style of analytic philosophy. The work’s moral psychology receives especially close attention.

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                                                          • Dodds, E. R. 1951. The Greeks and the irrational. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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                                                            Chapter 7 of this work. “Plato, the Irrational Soul, and the Inherited Conglomerate,” sees the dialogue as a retreat from reason, in its rehabilitation of the “inherited conglomerate.”

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                                                            • Grote, George. 1865. Plato and the other companions of Sokrates. 3 vols. London: John Murray.

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                                                              The Laws chapter in Volume 3 stresses its abandonment of a philosophical perspective on politics, the persuasive rhetoric to which it resorts, and its embrace of illiberal and intolerant measures to maintain control of the social order.

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                                                              • Jowett, Benjamin. 1975. The Dialogues of Plato: Translated into English with analyses and introductions. 2d ed. Oxford: Clarendon.

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                                                                The treatment of the Laws in the final volume of this work begins by discussing the style of the dialogue at some length, and ends with a judicious treatment of the strengths and weaknesses of the deliberations of a “maturer mind” than the persona evident in earlier dialogues.

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                                                                • Kahn, C. H. 2004. From Republic to Laws: A discussion of Christopher Bobonich’s Plato’s Utopia Recast. Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 26:337–362.

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                                                                  A critical assessment of Bobonich’s views, particularly those concerning the relationship between the Republic and the Laws.

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                                                                  • Morrow, G. R. 1960. Plato’s Cretan city: A historical interpretation of the Laws. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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                                                                    A basic resource for study of the Laws, engaging with most aspects of the work, by no means solely from a historical perspective.

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                                                                    • Strauss, Leo. 1975. The argument and the action of Plato’s Laws. Chicago: Chicago Univ. Press.

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                                                                      A late work by Strauss, probably not readily accessible except to those already thoroughly familiar with the dialogue and the author’s interpretative approach, from the pen of a political philosopher who continues to be influential.

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                                                                      • Zuckert, Catherine. 2009. Plato’s philosophers: The coherence of the dialogues. Chicago: Chicago Univ. Press.

                                                                        DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226993386.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                        The long opening chapter of this work, written from a Straussian perspective, sees the Laws as in effect problematizing the relationship between philosophy and politics.

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                                                                        The Laws and the Laws of Athens

                                                                        Morrow 1960 is the first port of call for detailed study of the legislation of the Laws and its relation to Athenian law, subsequently the subject also of Piérart 1974. Gernet 1951 remains of interest, as do the reflective studies Cohen 1995 and Gagarin 2000. A helpful account of Athenian law itself is MacDowell 1978; a useful brief study is Osborne 1985. On the criminal law of the Laws, as it relates to Athenian law, Saunders 1991 is a major study.

                                                                        • Cohen, David. 1995. Law, violence and community in classical Athens. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                                                                          DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511620300Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                          Discusses the differences between the conception and application of the rule of law in Athens and that envisaged in Plato and Aristotle.

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                                                                          • Gagarin, Michael. 2000. Le code de Platon et la droit grec. In La codification des lois dans l’antiquité. Actes du [16e] colloque de Strasbourg, 27–29 novembre 1997. Edited by Edmond Lévy, 215–227. Paris: De Boccard.

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                                                                            A short comparative study of the legislative system of the Laws and Greek law.

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                                                                            • Gernet, Louis. 1951. Les Lois et le droit positive. In Platon: Oeuvres Complètes. Vol. 11, Les Lois, Livres I et II. Edited by Édouard Des Places, 94–206. Paris: Les Belles Lettres.

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                                                                              A thorough exposition and stimulating assessment of the Laws’ legal system by a major Greek social historian.

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                                                                              • MacDowell, D. M. 1978. The law in classical Athens. London: Thames & Hudson.

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                                                                                An accessible and comprehensive account of middling length.

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                                                                                • Morrow, G. R. 1960. Plato’s Cretan city: A historical interpretation of the Laws. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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                                                                                  Provides a detailed account and assessment of the legal system proposed in the dialogue, in comparison also with the law of Athens.

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                                                                                  • Osborne, R. G. 1985. Law in action in classical Athens. Journal of Hellenic Studies 55:40–58.

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                                                                                    On the “open texture” of Athenian law.

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                                                                                    • Piérart, Marcel. 1974. Platon et la cité grecque: Théorie et réalité dans la constitution des Lois. Brussels: Académie Royale de Belgique.

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                                                                                      A comprehensive and systematically structured account of the Laws’ legal and constitutional proposals, comparing them with those of Athens, and offering analyses and conclusions sometimes differing from Morrow’s.

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                                                                                      • Saunders, T. J. 1991. Plato’s penal code: Tradition, controversy, and reform in Greek penology. Oxford: Clarendon.

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                                                                                        A thorough account of Plato’s theory of crime and punishment and of its implementation in the dialogue’s legislative proposals, in comparison with Athenian law.

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                                                                                        Collections of Papers

                                                                                        In recent years a number of collections of papers on the Laws have been appearing. What follows is a short selection of these, in all of which important contributions to philosophical scholarship are made. Lisi 2001, Scolnicov and Brisson 2003, and Peponi 2013 all represent conference proceedings, with Bobonich 2010 the only specifically commissioned volume of the four.

                                                                                        • Bobonich, Chris, ed. 2010. Plato’s Laws: A critical guide. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                                                                          Papers, all in English, and mostly by scholars of ancient philosophy working in the United States. Ethics and Moral Psychology receive a good deal of the attention, but some other key topics in the dialogue get no coverage.

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                                                                                          • Lisi, F. L., ed. 2001. Plato’s Laws and its historical significance. Papers presented at the First International Congress on Ancient Thought, 1998, Salamanca, Spain. Sankt Augustin, Germany: Academia.

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                                                                                            A multilingual volume, in which a range of topics in the dialogue is explored by leading scholars of the Laws representing several different interpretative traditions. Includes a substantial bibliography.

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                                                                                            • Peponi, A. -E., ed. 2013. Performance and culture in Plato’s Laws. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                                                                              Papers addressing the topic articulated in the volume’s title, all in English, and mostly by scholars of Greek literature and culture working in Britain or the United States.

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                                                                                              • Scolnicov, Samuel, and Luc Brisson, eds. 2003. Plato’s Laws: From theory into practice: Proceedings of the 6th Symposium Platonicum of the International Plato Society, held 5–10 Aug. 2001 in Jerusalem: Selected papers. Sankt Augustin, Germany: Academia.

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                                                                                                Includes a large number of mostly short papers, by scholars writing in several different languages, covering in their entirety a great many topics in the dialogue.

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                                                                                                Monographs and Articles on Individual Topics

                                                                                                This selection of monographs and articles gives some priority to items and topics that have provoked scholarly debate in the late 20th and early 21st century, and to more recent work in general, since valuable earlier contributions will often be discussed or otherwise reflected in later publications on the same topic. Coverage of these as of other important topics may also be found in items listed in the section entitled Plato’s Project in the Laws, and in items listed under Collections of Papers; individual contributions to these collections are seldom included here separately, but are often well worth consulting.

                                                                                                The Laws as Literary Project

                                                                                                Nightingale 1993 and Nightingale 1999 take the Laws not as philosophy, but as presenting law as unchallengeable text. Adoménas 2001 develops this reading further. Bertrand 1999, Schofield 2003, and Jouët-Pastré 2006 offer alternative interpretations.

                                                                                                • Adoménas, Mantas. 2001. Self-reference, textuality, and the status of the political project in Plato’s Laws. Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 21:29–59.

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                                                                                                  Develops Nightingale’s reading of the Laws, arguing that it is designed self-referentially both as the textbook for the education of its imagined community and as an instrument for persuading its readers to accept as an imperative its substantive content: a testament which is meant to execute its own provisions.

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                                                                                                  • Bertrand, J. -M. 1999. De l’écriture à l’oralité: Lectures des “Lois” de Platon. Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne.

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                                                                                                    A learned and digressive exploration by an ancient historian of the relation between the oral and the written in the Laws. Argues that the boundary between the two is permeable, and the written text is presented as the basis for a legal culture in which oral discussion will enable further development of law.

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                                                                                                    • Jouët-Pastré, Emmanuelle. 2006. Le jeu et le serieux dans les Lois de Platon. Sankt Augustin, Germany: Academia.

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                                                                                                      Argues that the dialogue’s exploration of the concept of play explains both the structure of the text and its approach to legislation.

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                                                                                                      • Nightingale, A. W. 1993. Writing/reading a sacred text: A literary interpretation of Plato’s Laws. Classical Philology 88.4: 279–300.

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                                                                                                        Argues that the Laws is in reality a monological text claiming for itself the authoritative status of a sacred writing.

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                                                                                                        • Nightingale, A. W. 1999. Plato’s lawcode in context: Rule by written law in Athens and Magnesia. The Classical Quarterly 49.1: 100–122.

                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1093/cq/49.1.100Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                          Further develops the interpretation proposed in her 1993 article.

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                                                                                                          • Schofield, Malcolm. 2003. Religion and philosophy in the Laws. Paper presented at the 6th Symposium Platonicum of the International Plato Society, held 5–10 Aug. 2001 in Jerusalem. In Plato’s Laws: From theory into practice. Edited by Samuel Scolnicov and Luc Brisson, 1–13. Sankt Augustin, Germany: Academia.

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                                                                                                            Argues against Nightingale that the Laws is truly philosophical and truly dialogical, but conducted within the limited horizons of an essentially religious project.

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                                                                                                            Religion and Theology

                                                                                                            For a full exploration of the place of religion in the city imagined in the Laws, see Reverdin 1945. Solmsen 1942, Hackforth 1936, and Menn 1995 discuss the dialogue’s concept of God. Mason 1998 offers an account of the central argument of the theology of Book 10. Carone 1994 and Stalley 2009 treat other aspects of that theology. Sedley 2013 explores the alternative atheistic philosophy of nature that Plato rejects.

                                                                                                            • Carone, G. R. 1994. Teleology and evil in Laws 10. Review of Metaphysics 48.2: 275–298.

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                                                                                                              A thorough and balanced treatment of the nature and source of evil within the optimistic cosmic teleology of the Laws.

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                                                                                                              • Hackforth, Reginald. 1936. Plato’s theism. Classical Quarterly 30:4–9.

                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1017/S0009838800013008Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                A classic study, arguing that nous as reason is Plato’s god. Reprinted in Studies in Plato’s metaphysics. Edited by R. E. Allen, 439–447 (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1965).

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                                                                                                                • Mason, Andrew. 1998. Plato on the self-moving soul. Philosophical Inquiry 20.1: 18–28.

                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.5840/philinquiry1998201/22Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                  Lucid and economical critical exposition of the key argument developed in Book 10 of the dialogue.

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                                                                                                                  • Menn, Stephen. 1995. Plato on God as Nous. Carbondale: Southern Illinois Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                    Argues more fully the thesis Hackforth had earlier proposed.

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                                                                                                                    • Reverdin, Olivier. 1945. La Religion de la cité platonicienne. Paris: De Bocard.

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                                                                                                                      The classic study of the role of religion within the Laws.

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                                                                                                                      • Sedley, D. N. 2013. The atheist underground. In Politeia in Greek and Roman philosophy. Edited by Verity Harte and M. S. Lane, 329–348. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1017/CBO9781139096843.022Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                        Argues that the natural philosophy attributed to atheists in Book 10 of the dialogue is no mere construct of Plato’s own, nor identical with any presocratic system we can otherwise identify, but instead represents the content of a text circulated anonymously in late 5th-century Athens.

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                                                                                                                        • Solmsen, Friedrich. 1942. Plato’s theology. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                          Remains the only monograph devoted to Plato’s theology.

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                                                                                                                          • Stalley, R. F. 2009. Myth and eschatology in the Laws. In Plato’s myths. Edited by Catalin Partenie, 187–205. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                            Explains the difference in character of the eschatological myth in the Laws from those of earlier dialogues as due to its lack of any intention of persuading the reader to turn to philosophy.

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                                                                                                                            Law, Prelude, and Persuasion

                                                                                                                            Mayhew 2011 tackles Plato’s answer to the first question about law raised in the dialogue. Plato’s innovative theory of the “doubleness” of law as prescription coupled with persuasive prelude or preamble has been the subject of recent vigorous debate. Laks 1991 and Bobonich 1991 interpret preludes as ideally presenting appeals to reason. Stalley 1994 offers a strongly dissenting view. Laks 2005 develops his interpretation at length, while Annas 2010 mediates between the different options.

                                                                                                                            • Annas, Julia. 2010. Virtue and law in Plato. In Plato’s Laws: A Critical Guide. Edited by Chris Bobonich, 71–91. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511781483.005Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                              A balanced assessment of the debate about law and preludes.

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                                                                                                                              • Bobonich, Chris. 1991. Persuasion, compulsion and freedom in Plato’s Laws. Classical Quarterly 41.2: 365–387.

                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1017/S0009838800004547Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                Argues that the Laws’ innovative introduction of preludes recognizes that citizens are entitled as free agents to rational argument for what law prescribes.

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                                                                                                                                • Laks, André. 1991. L’utopie legislative de Platon. Revue Philosophique de la France and de l’Étranger 181.4: 417–428.

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                                                                                                                                  Proposes that the Laws treats the persuasion effected by preludes as akin to rational philosophical dialogue that would ideally render the coercive imperatives of law otiose.

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                                                                                                                                  • Laks, André. 2005. Tyrannie, lois, et préambules. In Médiation et coercition, pour une lecture des “Lois” de Platon. Edited by André Laks, 93–161. Villeneuve d’Ascq, France: Presses Universitaires du Septentrion.

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                                                                                                                                    The most fully elaborated statement of the author’s views on law and preludes.

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                                                                                                                                    • Mayhew, Robert. 2011. “God or some human”: On the source of law in Plato’s Laws. Ancient Philosophy 31:311–325.

                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.5840/ancientphil201131222Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                      Argues that nous or reason, understood as something divine that humans can access, is the source of law.

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                                                                                                                                      • Stalley, R. F. 1994. Persuasion in Plato’s Laws. History of Political Thought 15.2: 157–177.

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                                                                                                                                        Argues that Bobonich’s interpretation of the function of preludes fails to match the character of the great majority of the preludes actually figuring in the text of the dialogue, and fails likewise to register that they are addressed not to reason but to emotion.

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                                                                                                                                        Ethics and Moral Psychology

                                                                                                                                        Bobonich 2002 sparked fresh interest in the moral psychology and the theory of virtue and happiness of the Laws, which he sees as radical revisions of the positions taken in the Republic. Kahn 2004 is a dissenting review of the book. Sassi 2008 and Sauvé-Meyer 2012 develop accounts that are alternatives to Bobonich of different aspects of the moral psychology. Wilburn 2012 and Wilburn 2013 respond to much of the recent literature on the topic in developing robustly argued rebuttals of key elements in Bobonich’s interpretation. Roberts 1987 tackles the difficult section of Book 9 dealing with responsibility for wrongdoing. Warren 2013 considers whether, and if so in what sense, Plato’s theory of happiness in the Laws is hedonistic.

                                                                                                                                        • Bobonich, Chris. 2002. Plato’s Utopia recast: His later ethics and politics. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1093/0199251436.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                          Presents extended discussions of the theories of virtue, goods, and happiness in the Laws, and of its moral psychology. The author argues that the dialogue has abandoned the tripartite conception of the soul proposed in the Republic, and works with a much more unified psychology.

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                                                                                                                                          • Kahn, C. H. 2004. From Republic to Laws: A discussion of Christopher Bobonich, Plato’s Utopia recast. Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 26:337–362.

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                                                                                                                                            A searching examination, particularly of Bobonich’s treatment of virtue and happiness and of human psychology in the dialogue.

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                                                                                                                                            • Roberts, Jean. 1987. Plato on the causes of wrongdoing in the Laws. Ancient Philosophy 7:23–37.

                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.5840/ancientphil198773Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                              A subtle examination of Plato’s complex discussion of the voluntary and the involuntary in the causal explanation of wrongdoing worked out in Book 9 of the dialogue.

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                                                                                                                                              • Sassi, Maria. 2008. The self, the soul, and the individual in the city of the Laws. Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 35:125–148.

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                                                                                                                                                A wide-ranging study exploring Plato’s treatment of psychological conflict in the Laws, which sees law as the remedy for the individual’s destabilization by sensations and emotions.

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                                                                                                                                                • Sauvé-Meyer, Susan. 2012. Pleasure, pain, and “anticipation” in Plato’s Laws. Paper presented at the Festschrift Symposium in honor of Charles Kahn organized by the Hyele Institute for Comparative Studies European Cultural Center of Delphi, 3–7 June, 2009, Delphi, Greece. In Presocratics and Plato: Festschrift at Delphi in Honor of Charles Kahn. Edited by Richard Patterson, Vassilis Karismanis, and Arnold Hermann, 311–328. Las Vegas, NV: Parmenides.

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                                                                                                                                                  Argues that in Book 1 of the dialogue Plato develops a subtle and complex understanding of pleasure and pain that effectively accounts for the motivations Plato had associated with the thumoeides, or spirited part of the soul, in the Republic.

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                                                                                                                                                  • Warren, James. 2013. Comparing lives in Plato, Laws 5. Phronesis 58.4: 319–346.

                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1163/15685284-12341255Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                    Considers whether Plato commits himself to some form of hedonism in the Laws.

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                                                                                                                                                    • Wilburn, Josh. 2012. Akrasia and self-rule in Plato’s Laws. Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 43:25–53.

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                                                                                                                                                      Argues against Bobonich and others that Plato has no concern with akrasia in the Laws, and that passages often taken as indicating that he did should be given an alternative interpretation.

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                                                                                                                                                      • Wilburn, Josh. 2013. Moral education and the spirited part of the soul in Plato’s Laws. Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 45:63–102.

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                                                                                                                                                        Argues for Plato’s retention of the tripartite conception of soul in the Laws, and comments on many previous contributions to debate about Bobonich’s views on the topic.

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                                                                                                                                                        Society and Polity

                                                                                                                                                        Samaras 2002 addresses central features of the social and political systems of the Laws. Brunt 1993 and Brisson 2005 review the systems and argue that they are only a little less utopian than those proposed in the Republic. Stalley 1995 considers the conception of punishment that Plato works with in the dialogue. Laks 2007 and Samaras 2012 offer interpretations of two key dimensions of the Laws’ treatment of citizenship. The role within the system of its Nocturnal Council has been much discussed, the accounts offered in the books by Morrow, Bobonich, and Samaras representing the prevailing style of interpretation. A minority view is argued in Klosko 1988, which sees the Council as an institutionalization of a role for philosophy in government. Its powers relative to those of the “guardians of the laws” are further discussed in Klosko 2008.

                                                                                                                                                        • Brisson, Luc. 2005. Ethics and politics in Plato’s Laws. Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 28:93–121.

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                                                                                                                                                          A critical response to Bobonich’s treatment of the social and governmental structures proposed in the dialogue, arguing that their basic principles—subordination of all social arrangements to the community, and the requirement that it be ruled by knowledge—are no different from those of the Republic, although differently implemented.

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                                                                                                                                                          • Brunt, P. A. 1993. The model city of Plato’s Laws. In Studies in Greek history and thought. Edited by P. A. Brunt, 245–281. Oxford: Clarendon.

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                                                                                                                                                            Reviews a great range of the social and political arrangements proposed in the Laws, and concludes that they are so impractical and sometimes incompletely developed that Plato could not have expected them actually to be adopted by any Greek city. He must rather have hoped that the moral principles the dialogue articulates would be accepted as authoritative,

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                                                                                                                                                            • Klosko, George. 1988. The Nocturnal Council in Plato’s Laws. Political Studies 36.1: 74–88.

                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9248.1988.tb00217.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                              Argues against Morrow that the Nocturnal Council is given an institutional role inconsistent with the constitutional provisions proposed in the main body of the dialogue.

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                                                                                                                                                              • Klosko, George. 2008. Knowledge and law in Plato’s Laws. Political Studies 56.2: 456–474.

                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9248.2007.00678.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                Develops further the position argued in his 1988 article, with particular attention to the question of whether laws are envisaged as subject to change, which is answered negatively, contrary to the prevailing view.

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                                                                                                                                                                • Laks, André. 2007. Freedom, liberality, and liberty in Plato’s Laws. Social Philosophy and Policy 24.2: 130–152.

                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1017/S0265052507070197Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                  Argues that the unslavish lifestyle of free citizens is the main positive focus of the Laws’ concern with these topics.

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                                                                                                                                                                  • Samaras, Thanassis. 2002. Plato on democracy. New York: Peter Lang.

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                                                                                                                                                                    Part 3 of this book covers a range of topics in the social and political theories of the Laws.

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                                                                                                                                                                    • Samaras, Thanassis. 2012. Leisured aristocrats or warrior-farmers? Leisure in Plato’s Laws. Classical Philology 107.1: 1–20.

                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1086/663214Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                      Argues that not all of the Laws’ citizens lead an entirely leisured lifestyle, but that most will be actively occupied for some of their time in working the land as farmers.

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                                                                                                                                                                      • Stalley, R. F. 1995. Punishment in Plato’s Laws. History of Political Thought 16:469–487.

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                                                                                                                                                                        Argues against Saunders that punishment is viewed in the Laws not as curative, but as communicative, designed to deter and to inculcate appropriate values.

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                                                                                                                                                                        The Role of Women

                                                                                                                                                                        Levin 2000, Samaras 2010, and Schöpsdau 2003 consider from different perspectives the place of women in the Laws’ scheme of things.

                                                                                                                                                                        • Levin, S. B. 2000. Plato on women’s nature: Reflections on the Laws. Ancient Philosophy 20.1: 81–97.

                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.5840/ancientphil20002019Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                          Argues that the Laws, unlike the Republic, accords a comprehensively subordinate role in society to women, thanks to increased pessimism about what Plato sees as the weaknesses of their human nature.

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                                                                                                                                                                          • Samaras, Thanassis. 2010. Family and the question of women in the Laws. In Plato’s Laws: A critical guide. Edited by Chris Bobonich, 172–196. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511781483.010Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                            The author sees Plato’s treatment of the family as the product of a conservative agrarianism, in which a balance is struck between Spartan collectivism and the Athenian household. Only in one area is there radical innovation: in the active role accorded to women in the political—but only the political—sphere.

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                                                                                                                                                                            • Schöpsdau, Klaus. 2003. Syssitien für Frauen: Eine Platonische Utopie. Paper presented at the 6th Symposium Platonicum of the International Plato Society, held 5–10 Aug. 2001 in Jerusalem. In Plato’s Laws: From theory into practice. Edited by Samuel Scolnicov and Luc Brisson, 243–256. Sankt Augustin, Germany: Academia.

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                                                                                                                                                                              Explores the Laws’ flirtation with the idea of common meals for women and its eventual abandonment of that idea on account of fears of the potency of female sexuality and of consequent promiscuity.

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                                                                                                                                                                              Moral Dangers

                                                                                                                                                                              Besides criminal activity, other moral threats to the integrity of civic life are identified in the dialogue. Three in particular deserve attention. Schöpsdau 2001 and Gonzales 2013 examine the treatment of the regulation of sexual behavior in Book 8. Sauvé-Meyer 2003 and Skutelty 2006 explore the rationale for Plato’s prohibition of citizen involvement in trade and commerce. Saunders 1996 considers the dangers that, according to Plato, atheism, heresy, and deviant religious practice pose for the community.

                                                                                                                                                                              • Gonzales, F. J. 2013. No country for young men: Eros as outlaw in Plato’s Laws. In Plato’s Laws: Force and truth in politics. Edited by Gregory Recco and Eric Sanday, 154–168. Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                Argues without reference to Schöpsdau’s article or commentary (apparently unknown to the author) that the legislative project of the Laws is undermined by the compromises proposed in its treatment of the regulation of sexual behavior.

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                                                                                                                                                                                • Saunders, T. J. 1996. Plato on the treatment of heretics. In Greek law in its political setting: Justifications not justice. Edited by Lin Foxhall and A. D. E. Lewis, 91–100. Oxford: Clarendon.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  A brisk survey of the wide variety of offences with associated penalties that Plato identifies and legislates for in his laws on impiety.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  • Sauvé-Meyer, Susan. 2003. The moral dangers of labour and commerce in Plato’s Laws. Paper presented at the 6th Symposium Platonicum of the International Plato Society, held 5–10 Aug. 2001 in Jerusalem. In Plato’s Laws: From theory into practice. Edited by Samuel Scolnicov and Luc Brisson, 207–214. Sankt Augustin, Germany: Academia.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    Argues that it is Plato’s pessimistic assessment of the resilience of virtue in the circumstances of everyday life that leads him to proscribe the participation of citizens in commerce and the crafts.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    • Schöpsdau, Klaus. 2001. Die Regelung des Sexual Verhaltens (VIII, 835c1–842a10) als ein Exempel platonischer Nomothetik. Paper presented at the First International Congress on Ancient Thought, 1998, Salamanca, Spain. In Plato’s Laws and its historical significance. Edited by Francisco Lisi, 179–192. Sankt Augustin, Germany: Academia.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      Identifies and discusses the different levels of legislative treatment developed in Plato’s discussion of the regulation of sexual behavior.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      • Skutelty, Steven. 2006. Currency, trade and commerce in Plato’s Laws. History of Political Thought 27.2: 189–205.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        Argues against Sauvé-Meyer that Plato’s aversion to trade is explained by his conviction that it prioritizes the private over the communal sphere, and that he rejects the use of gold and silver because they promote cosmopolitanism rather than civic values.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        Civic Culture and Education

                                                                                                                                                                                        The Laws is above all a discussion of the development of civic culture through education into communal social practices; Bury 1937 offers a general study of its treatment of education. Central to Plato’s vision is the performance of choral song and dance. Peponi 2013 presents a variety of perspectives on that entire topic. Mouze 2005 focuses on the poet, Hatzistavrou 2011 on the theory of what makes good art good, and Prauscello 2014 considers how the Laws’ conception of citizenship itself is implicated in choral performance.

                                                                                                                                                                                        • Bury, R. G. 1937. The theory of education in Plato’s Laws. Revue des Études Grecques 50.236: 304–320.

                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.3406/reg.1937.2825Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                          A succinct review of the whole subject.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          • Hatzistavrou, Antony. 2011. “Correctness” and poetic knowledge: Choric poetry in the Laws. In Plato and the Poets. Edited by Pierre Destrée and F. -G. Hermann, 361–386. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill.

                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1163/ej.9789004201293.i-434.86Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                            A study of the theory of art developed in Book 2 of the Laws.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            • Mouze, Létitia. 2005. Le législateur et le poète: Une interprétation des Lois de Platon. Villeneuve d’Ascq, France: Presses Universitaires du Septentrion.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              Argues that in the Laws poets and poetry assume a key political role in being called upon to help shape the education and citizen culture of the community in ways refused to them in the Republic. On account of the importance of their role Plato now works out a positive aesthetics.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              • Peponi, A. -E., ed. 2013. Performance and Culture in Plato’s Laws. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                Articles exploring many different aspects of the art forms discussed in the dialogue.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                • Prauscello, Lucia. 2014. Performing Citizenship in Plato’s Laws. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1017/CBO9781139680882Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Explores the distinctive way in which the Laws tropes citizenship as performance, above all in choral song and dance designed to shape and communicate a sense of civic identity and unity.

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