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This chapter examines two key and yet understudied Platonic metaphors about achieving a new civic consciousness, and their reception among Christian authors both in the Orthodox East and the Latin West. In his Middle dialogues Plato argued that philosophical insight, the main quality of the ideal ruler, is akin to drunken revelry (baccheia) that leads to philosophical contemplation (theoria). The civic aspects of these metaphors are revisited in the Laws. Under the influence of Philo, early Christian thinkers transformed baccheia and theoria into markers of spiritual growth and prerequisites for joining the Heavenly City, a tradition dominant in the Eastern Church even after the Fall of the Empire to the Ottomans (1453). In the West, the esoteric reading of these metaphors was replaced by attempts to establish a New Jerusalem in Quattrocento Italy, notably, in Florence.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResearch handbook on the history of political thought
EditorsCary J. Nederman, Guillaume Bogiaris
Place of PublicationCheltenham, UK ; Northampton, USA
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781800373808
ISBN (Print)9781800373792
Publication statusPublished - 2024


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