Review of Christopher Bobonich (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Ancient Ethics [Book Review]

The Classical Review 68 (2):305-308 (2018)
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‘Greek Ethics’, an undergraduate class taught by the British moral philosopher N. J. H. Dent, introduced this reviewer to the ethical philosophy of ancient Greece. The class had a modest purview—a sequence of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle—but it proved no less effective, in retrospect, than more synoptic classes for having taken this apparently limited and (for its students and academic level) appropriate focus. This excellent Companion will now serve any such class extremely well, allowing students a broader exposure than that traditional sequence, without sacrificing the class’s circumscribed focus. The eighteen chapters encompass some of what went before, and surprisingly much of what came after, those three central philosophers—including, for instance, a discussion of Plotinus and his successors, as well as a discussion of Horace. The book will therefore be useful in many different types of class on ethical philosophy in the ancient world. This Companion will be useful not only to students, but also to at least three further groups: specialists in ancient Greek philosophy (since some contributors advance significant new positions, e.g. R. Kamtekar on Plato’s ethical psychology and D. Charles on Aristotle’s ‘ergon argument’ as already implicitly invoking ‘to kalon’); scholars working in academic subjects adjacent to ancient Greek philosophy; and contemporary moral philosophers.

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Noell Birondo
University of Texas at El Paso


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