Reassessing Rousseau’s Political Antiquity

Event Description
Mucius Scaevola devant Porsenna by Charles Le Brun

This interdisciplinary panel will discuss Flora Champy’s recent book, L’Antiquité politique de Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2022). Studying Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s use of ancient material helps us explore several questions: how significant are examples in political writing? How important is the Early Modern regime of symbolism to foundational works of political theory? Rousseau deliberately turned traditionally educational and cultural material into tools of critical inquiry. Early on, his interest moved away from illustrious figures to focus on the city-state as a political community. Putting forward the Roman Republic as his main political model, Rousseau emphasized the connection between anthropology and politics, moral education and civic activity. He also addressed a pressing issue: how can political authority retain legitimacy through the eventfulness of history?

The panel will be followed by a light reception.

COVID-19 Guidance

Per the Princeton University policy, all guests must either be fully vaccinated or have recently tested negative (via PCR within 72 hours or via rapid antigen test within 8 hours of the scheduled visit) and be prepared to show proof if asked or wear a face covering when indoors and around others.