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The Shock of the AncientLiterature and History in Early Modern France$
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Larry F. Norman

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780226591483

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: February 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226591506.001.0001

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Modernity & Monarchy

Modernity & Monarchy

(p.89) 6 Modernity & Monarchy
The Shock of the Ancient

Larry F. Norman

University of Chicago Press

The rebellious idealization of ancient liberties was perhaps most famously captured by a page in the Confessions in which Rousseau credited his “indomptable” “esprit libre et républicain” to his early and enthusiastic reading of the classics: “ever contemplating Rome and Athens; living, so to speak, with their great men, […] I believed myself Greek or Roman; I believed myself the character whose life I read.” Whether or not the French revolution was indeed inspired, as Chateaubriand claimed (followed by Constant and Marx), by thinkers “living more in Rome and Athens than in their own country, [who] sought to revive in Europe the ways of antiquity,” the power of the ancient countermodel to modern monarchy was certainly a hallmark of the generations that succeeded the quarrel.

Keywords:   monarchy, ancient liberties, Rousseau, modernity, antiquity, quarrel

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