Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Classical Studies

Reader 1

Christopher Nadon

Reader 2

Benjamin Keim

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In this paper, I hope to do a small part to bridge the gap that has emerged in this scholarly debate between the historicist and Straussian views of Spartan society. To that end, this paper will analyze the Spartan Constitution according to the Straussian method. That is, I will engage in a close reading of the text, only referencing outside, secondary sources directly when necessary and appropriate. In other cases, their views will simply color this analysis and be referenced as supporting evidence in footnotes. Strauss chose to have only a superficial interaction with the existing scholarship at the time of publishing his essay, and I therefore believe it will be more beneficial to see what this approach would look like from the historicist perspective. When the same approach is taken, the heart of both camps’ arguments will be exposed, allowing them to be more easily compared.

The paper will begin with a reading exploring the themes of Xenophon’s work according to a historicist perspective. After a brief aside explaining and motivating the Straussian esoteric argument to a greater extent, the paper will move on to a similar close-reading of the Spartan Constitution, following Strauss’ essay where appropriate and extending his arguments where necessary. Through this process, the paper aims to show that the perceived separation between the historicist and Straussian interpretations appears to be much greater than it, in reality, is.