Democratic Political Leadership and Education in Thucydides and Plato

Doctoral Dissertation


In this dissertation, I consider three interrelated questions. First, what would a good democratic leader be like? Second, what sort of education would such a leader require? Third, is such an education even possible? In an attempt to answer these questions, I turn to the ancient Greek political thinkers Thucydides and Plato. In particular, I consult Thucydides’s account of the war between Sparta and Athens and two of Plato’s dialogues, Laches and Alcibiades I, in order to trace out the competing answers which Thucydides and Plato’s Socrates give to the questions I have raised. I conclude that while Thucydides and Socrates consider many of the same themes in their accounts (such as the common good, political speech, self-knowledge, the virtues of statesmanship, and the distinctiveness of democracy), they often treat these themes in different, sometimes even incompatible, fashions. I conclude that the root of many, if not all, of these differences lies in Thucydides’s willing acceptance and Socrates’s insistent rejection of the common sense of ordinary political life.


Attribute NameValues
Author Jakub Voboril
Contributor Susan Collins, Committee Member
Contributor Catherine Zuckert, Research Director
Contributor Michael Zuckert, Committee Member
Degree Level Doctoral Dissertation
Degree Discipline Political Science
Degree Name PhD
Defense Date
  • 2017-07-06

Submission Date 2017-07-14
  • Thucydides, Plato, Laches, Alcibiades I, political leadership, political education

Record Visibility Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved

Departments and Units


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