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"Anyone who either cannot lead the common life or is so self-sufficient as not to need to, and therefore does not partake of society, is either a beast or a god."

The Poetic Musings of a Historian’s Mind:
How Thucydides uses fiction to restore the past to the present

Elisabeth Morell

St. John's College, 2017

How does history differ from fiction? My investigation begins in book seven of Thucydides, at the moment where the Athenian land army observes the defeat of their navy. This particular passage marks an abrupt stylistic change for the historian, as it transitions into a description reminiscent of Homer's epic poetry.
However, it is because Thucydides chooses this particular moment of peril and confusion to artistically depict the state of the Athenians that I am drawn to investigate whether he is also trying to suggest something regarding democracy itself, thus using fiction to perfect his history.

Till Death Do Us Part

Francisco Contreras Moran

St. John's College, 2020

I look at the development and education of human sentiments in Rousseau's Emile in order to posit that a key aim of the book is to reform modern liberal society through a reimagination of the traditional family unit. I aim to show that Rousseau's main aim -- though rhetorically obfuscated and disordered -- is to invite the women of his society to direct, control, and manipulate their men towards their natural good, and in doing so, to improve the whole of human life and society.

Give Me Imagination or Give Me Death!

Peter C. Kaemingk

St. John's College, 2020

On the ideological foundations of democracy in the United States via Tocqueville and Pascal.

Thucydides, Societal Efficacy, and the Nature of Examination in Wartime

Jackson Coerr

St. John's College, 2019

Nations in conflict have gone to war with each other for millennia. When they do, either one nation or a group of nations emerges victorious over another. What is it that separates the victorious from the defeated, and how can we best understand these qualities? This essay looks at Thucydides, the Peloponnesian War, its events and outcomes, and the very nature of examining and understanding societies.

How to Hunt the Crocodile: An Investigation into the Significance of Descriptive Information in Herodotus’ History

Jessie Tagliani

St. John's College, 2019

Freshman Essay Prize

What constitutes history? Is it the recounting of great battles, heroic deeds and exceptional individuals? Or is it the documentation of our everyday lives to be preserved for posterity? In his Histories, Herodotus seems to argue for both. Yet what exactly is the value of documenting the latter type - such as the correct method with which to hunt a crocodile? This essay will investigate the significance of this type of descriptive information, and why it ought to be preserved for all time.

Render unto Caesar: An Inquiry into Pascalian Justice

Peter C. Kaemingk

St. John's College, 2019

In this essay I posit that there is a coherent political philosophy embedded throughout Pascal's Pensées. I depart from the concept of justice and arrive at a coherent system that is compatible with Pascal's theological, psychological, and even ethical thinking.

On Matters Pertaining to the Maintenance and Dissolution of the State

Ivan Romanovich Syritsyn

St. John's College, 2019

Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy provides an overview of the Roman Republic and its strengths and weaknesses. This essay discusses some of Machiavelli’s most prominent critiques and focuses on some of the Roman Republic’s preeminent structures and offices. Finally, it advises those who have a sense of greater duty towards their society to study history, philosophy and the long-term applications of their own fundamental beliefs.

Ethics within Politics: A Reflection on how Cities Shape Us

Matthew Manotti

St. John's College, 2018

With an exploration of the relationship between the polis and its citizens in the Politics, this essay attempts to understand why Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics is concerned about the character, as opposed to the actions, of a person.

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