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CLASSICAL INFLUENCES ON THE U.S. CONSTITUTION

READING LIST:

 

 

NOTE ON ILLUSTRATIONS.  Picture of Parthenon in Athens as it is believed to have looked in ancient times and it looks today.

 

McDonald, Forrest. Novus Ordo Seclorum: The Intellectual Origins of the Constitution. This book is considered by many experts to be one of the best books on the creation of the constitution.  Note that McDonald uses a Latin phrase used by America's founding fathers to define their work.

"Some Americans took their Republicanism neat, directly from the ancient sources. Among the more widely read  Romans were Cicero, Livy and Tacitus; among the Greeks, Demosthenes, Aristotle, and Polybius. Doubtless the most widely read ancient work, however, was Plutarch's Lives".  (P.67)       " The more important second-hand sources of republicanism thought imbibed by Americans were the works of sixteenth century Italians, most notably Machiavelli, and an assortment of eighteenth century thinkers- Trenchard and Gordon, Bolingbroke, Montesquieu, and Hume". (P.70)


Rahe, Paul A. Republics Ancient and Modern: Classical Republicanism and the American Revolution. A very interesting book, over 1000 pages, contains unique insights into the connection between the ancient past and the modern present.


Bondanella, Peter. The Eternal City: Roman Images in the Modern World. Bondanella deals with the influence of ancient Roman civilization on all things in the modern world including music, cinema, opera and movies.

 "An examination of the debates which took place during the American Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia between 25 May and 17 September 1787, a meeting resulting in the document eventually ratified by all thirteen states in 1790, reveals the degree to which the delegates fell under the spell of the republican image of ancient Rome. They invoked Roman heroes, cited Roman history and institutions, and discussed Rome's eventual transformation from a republic into an empire governed by a single ruler. Once again, as had been fashionable in sixteenth century Europe, Rome was recalled in theoretical discussions about alternative forms of government: a republic was always preferred over a monarchy, and Rome's republic was clearly an authoritative model". (P.127)


Conley, Phil, America's Debt to Greece. The book covers origins of law and democratic rule from ancient Greece. The book then turns its interests to the founding of America and the framers of the Constitutions influence from ancient texts.

 "The men who framed (the) Constitution were students of political science as advocated by Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. And in their deliberations the Americans used numerous illustrations of confederacies, leagues, and co-operative defense organizations employed by Greek city-states". (P. 47)


de Burgh, W. G. The Legacy of the Ancient World   Traces the contributions made by Greece and Rome to the founding of today's western world.