Ancient Republics in Seventeenth-Century England and the Origins of the Modern Dichotomy Between Authority and Power

Anna Maria Strumia

Abstract: The seventeenth-century English republican political theorist James Harrington and many of his contemporaries were enamored of the politics of antiquity, to which they appealed in formulating their approaches to contemporary issues. Their perspective on the ancients presupposed a “dichotomy” between power and authority that informed a transformation of political terminology in seventeenth-century England. For Harrington and some of his contemporaries, the politics of the ancient Hebrews – or principles of government set out for the Israelites by the author of nature – served as a fountain from which subsequent political thought, including that of Greece and Rome, emerged. This was the intellectual context in which ancient prudence was appropriated in the seventeenth century.

Biography: Anna M. Strumia was born in Turin, where she lives and works. She has a degree in philosophy and earned her research doctorate with the essay L'immaginazione repubblicana. Sparta e Israele nel dibattito filosofico-politico dell'etagrave; di Cromwell (Florence: Le Lettere, 1991). She edited the minor works of Giuliano Gliozzi, published as Differenze  e uguaglianza nella cultura europea moderna. Scritti1966-1991 (Naples: Vivarium, 1993). With Davide Dalmas she co-edited the volume Una Resistenza spirituale. Conscientia 1922-1927 (Turin: Claudiana, 2000). Her research focuses on English republican thought of the modern age and evangelical intellectuals in Italian twentieth-century culture. She teaches history and philosophy at a “Liceo” specialising in scientific studies.

Volume 2, Number 3 (Summer 2007) pp. 284-300