Which book best represents your political philosophy?

Summary of Nomoi

Classical Greece

Classical Greece begins around 500 BC. With the emergence of a genuine historiography, the end of tyranny and the - Pericles attributed to - beginning of democracy in Athens. This epoch is considered to be the climax of the politico-military and cultural domination of Athens in the Mediterranean region. At that time Greece was politically, economically and culturally organized in individual, relatively autonomous city-states (Poleis). These each owned colonies in the Mediterranean area, the population of which was probably as large as that of the mother country. The majority of the population operated private agriculture at subsistence level. Athens was organized as a grassroots democracy at this time, although only free men were involved. During the fourth century BC Chr. Attic democracy got more and more into crisis. The year-long tyranny of the thirty in 404 BC. Applies, along with the murder of Socrates by the Attic People's Court in 399 BC BC, as the starting point of Plato's political philosophy. Classical Greece ended soon after Plato's death with the end of Attic democracy in 322 BC. Chr. and the takeover of Macedonia in Greece in person Phillip II. and his sonAlexander.


The dialogue Nomoi originated in the last phase of Plato's life and is considered the last dialogue before his death. The time of origin can only be determined with relative certainty for the first book: after 352 BC. Chr. Due to the enormous length of the work, however, a longer period of creation is assumed, which was probably spread over several writing phases. According to Aristotle began Plato the Nomoi after completion of The State. Plato may have used material here that was originally used for his dialogues Critias and Hermocrates had been intended. In addition, he incorporated the numerous pieces of advice on concrete legislative proposals that Plato's Academy had repeatedly asked for into the dialogue. These recommendations form the core of the practical part of the Nomoi.

Plato arranged and composed these materials probably only after his third trip to Sicily, from which he wrote in the summer of 360 BC. Chr. returned. There he had tried to sign up for the academician Dion to use that of the Platonic philosophy at the court of the tyrant Dionysius II Wanted to be heard. With this, however, Dion fell out of favor. He was accused of conspiracy, which probably put Plato himself in danger and barely escaped to Athens. Indeed, in 357 B.C.E. BC carried out a successful coup, but was murdered three years later. The personal fate of his friend and the political failure of his political ideals must have hit Plato hard and form the immediate context in which the Nomoi. The work has remained unfinished, although research assumes that Plato hardly expanded the content, but rather tightened and polished the overflowing text.

Impact history

Research has long debated whether the Nomoi were actually written by Plato himself or by students of his academy. Although the dialogue is now considered to be an authentic work of Plato, it remains unclear how strong, for example, its editor - the Plato student Philip of Opus - has interfered with the original text. In ancient times, the Nomoi more popular than in modern times. Philosophers like Xenophon and Isocrates related to her, Syrianos, Damascios and Proclus they commented. In Rome they were from Cicero and received the early Christians benevolently. Even some statesmen like Demetrios of Phaleron demonstrably related their policies to the Nomoi. The dialogue was particularly effective in the Arab region, where - unlike in Europe - together with the Country had survived in full. The books were considered to be the central text of Plato's philosophy and thus of philosophy as a whole. A number of political measures - such as the reform of the caliphate - were implemented with the Nomoi justified.

In modern times the reference was made to the Nomoi not just positive. Philosophers like John Stuart Mill or Karl Popper criticized Plato's political philosophy as totalitarian. From a literary point of view, too, dialogue in the 19th century was predominantly assessed as inadequate. It was not until the 20th century that research turned to the Nomoi as a work of political philosophy and less of law or political science. Today there is broad consensus that the three political writings of Plato -The State, The statesmanand Nomoi express a unified political philosophy, but in three different ways. The Nomoi are no longer regarded as an expression of Plato's resignation in the face of his failure in Greek politics, but rather as the beginning of systematic political philosophy in European cultural history because of their historical and practical relevance.