Please note: With each weekly assignment, I will provide you with a list of the readings to be covered that week along with some issues to think about. In an ideal world, you would have read -- or at least browsed through -- each week's reading prior to our Tuesday meeting. It is not practicable to attempt a 'daily' reading assignment, but you may assume that we will cover the readings in the order given. Thus, for example, this week we will consider Patterson's Introduction on Tuesday and part of Chapters 1 and 3; and the remainder of Chapters 1 and 3 and the selection from Plato on Thursday.
Patterson: Introduction, The Meaning of Freedom (pp. 1-5)
Patterson, Chapter 1: Primitive Beginnings (pp. 9-19)
Patterson, Chapter 3: The Greek Origins of Freedom (pp. 47-63)
Plato, The Republic, Book 8.
For this assignment, I do not particularly care in which translation you read this. But here are two choices, the first being the easiest and the text I'll refer to in class:
➔A pdf of Allan Bloom's 1968 translation. CLICK HERE.
➔You might want to learn how to consult and use the Loeb Classical Library, which is available online through the UW Libraries. This LINK should get you there. If it doesn't, follow the UW Libraries link to the left, and then select 'Classics' -- you'll be brought to a page where there's a link to the Loeb Classical Library. From there search for Plato Republic. Text will magically appear (but you'll have to navigate to Book 8).
In general, this week I'm interested in our acquiring a context for the issues that will occupy us for the remainder of the quarter by considering a) the foundation of Patterson's thesis about the nature of freedom and b) the Greek experience of freedom. The second is a huge topic, worthy of a class by itself, but for our purposes I simply want us to gain an appreciation for the Greek point of view because, as we shall see, it differs in some dramatic ways from the Roman concept of libertas. So here are some specific things to think about as you read:
- What does Patterson mean when he says that freedom is a 'tripartite value'?
- Patterson makes the point that freedom is not necessarily a 'natural' commodity, i.e., it is not -- and has not been historically -- a commodity that humans naturally and innately value. What, therefore, is his explanation for why 'freedom' has come to be valued at all?
- According to Patterson, a) when did Greeks become 'conscious' of the concept of freedom and b) in general, what would you deduce 'freedom' meant to the Greeks (again, according to Patterson)? Put another way, what 'freedoms' did ancient Greeks (and here we usually mean Athenians) enjoy...and who enjoyed them?
- Plato: Don't feel you need to read every word of Book 8 carefully. I am chiefly interested in giving you some sense of one way Athens' greatest philosopher approached the question of 'freedom' -- in this instance, in the context of a discussion of what constitutes the ideal state or Republic. Pay particular attention to sections 557b-558c, the attack on democracy. And as you read, be on the lookout for specific references to remarks about freedom or lack of it.
- To read (entirely optional):
Patterson, Chapter 2, pp. 20-44 (very interesting, but slightly apposite at the moment)
For those interested in exploring freedom in ancient Greece, I recommend K. Raaflaub, The Discovery of Freedom in Ancient Greece (Chicago and London 2004).