In his Essais, Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (1533-1592), father of modern scepticism and an enthusiast of the ‘philosophy of praxis’, seems to be the first modern thinker to recognize the existence of Spartan philosopher-kings and philosopher-statesmen. Montaigne understands Sparta as a city-state of philosopher-citizens that practiced philosophy through their experiences in everyday religious, moral, social, and civic life.
The Spartan Kings and Statesmen in Montaigne’s Essais: Sparta, a city-state of philosophers, offers 7 chapters, which provide an innovative and insightful analysis of Montaigne’s observations to ancient Sparta’s philosophical virtues through the lives of its kings and statesmen. Chapter 1 undertakes an analysis of Lycurgus’ contribution to the “philosophy of praxis” which is deeply infused in the Spartan life. Chapter 2 presents Montaigne’s acknowledgement of Agesilaus’ excellence, which constituted the ethos of the Essais and Chapter 3 offers an analysis of Agesilaus’ life from Corneille’s point of view. Chapter 4 focuses on the analysis of Montaigne’s dialectical approach to the question of suicide, and Chapter 5 discusses the notion of ‘virtue’ and its purpose within Montaigne’s concept of ‘valiant philosophy’. Pichat’s Leonidas and the Romantic Era of revolutionary fervour derived from the Greek uprising is the subject for Chapter 6. Chapter 7 offers an examination of two aphorisms by Chilon “know thyself” and “nothing in excess” which had a great impact in Montaigne’s thought. Finally the Appendix offers an appraisal of Bernard Le Bovier de Fontenelle’s sympathy towards the elders in the ancient Sparta.
Each chapter constitutes years of research published as peer-reviewed articles that were first appeared at Σparta: Journal of Ancient Spartan and Greek History these articles have been considerably revised by the author to be presented in this publication with important and insightful additions. In addition to the reader’s interest on Montaigne’s Essais, Pichat’s play Leonidas, and Bernard Le Bovier de Fontenelle’s poetic compassion towards the Spartan elderly, this book offers an innovative analytical approach and an important subject of analysis that could be of interest to students and researchers, as well as to any reader fascinated by ancient Sparta.
Few words about the author:
Maria PAPADOPOULOS is a Professor Emeritus, living and working in the France. She taught French at the University of Athens and Franco-Hellenic schools established in Greece, and she spent twenty years as an official translator at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Hellenic Republic. She holds degrees in Greek and French Philology and Philosophy.
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