1st Edition

Adam Smith on the Ancients and the Moderns

By Gloria Vivenza Copyright 2024

    The classics heavily influenced many aspects of European modern culture, yet it is not easy to trace their intellectual power on any author. In this volume, Gloria Vivenza takes on the impressive task of examining how philosophy, history, literature, politics, and ethics all played a part in shaping Adam Smith’s thought as a scholar, philosopher, and economist.

    This book will be of interest to advanced students and researchers in the history of economic thought, the history of philosophy, moral philosophy, political theory, and the Enlightenment.

    Chap. 1: Reading the classics

    1.1 The classics in the Baroque age

    1.2 Classical studies and modern thinking: Adam Smith’s synthesis

    1.3 Aristocratic virtues and commercial ethics

    1.4 The relationship between benevolentia and fides

    1.5 Paganism, religion, and conscience in Adam Smith’s writings


    Chap. 2: Between history and philosophy

    2.1 On ancient demography

    2.2 On historical writing

    2.3 On the interpretation of ancient history

    2.4 "Otherness" and classical citizenship

    2.5 Smith’s history of ancient philosophy


    Chap. 3: Philosophy and politics

    3.1 Cato, the republican ideal, and the difficult relationship of philosophers with politics

    3.2 Ancient Romans through modern eyes

    3.3 Ancient and modern freedom

    3.4 Adam Smith and democracy

    3.5 Labour and political activity: classical and modern themes in Adam Smith


    Chap. 4: Benevolence and other virtues

    4.1 Adam Smith and classical philosophies

    4.2 Virtue and self-control: apathy or medietas?

    4.3 Classical origins of benevolence in economics' language (from classical evergesia to the butcher's and baker's lack of benevolence)

    4.4 Closing remarks







    Gloria Vivenza studied at the Faculty of Letters in the University of Padua, and then she began her academic career as Professor of Economic History at the University of Catania and History of Economic Thought at the University of Verona. She is a life member of the Clare Hall College at the University of Cambridge, UK. She analysed the relevance of the classical training in Adam Smith’s works in her book Adam Smith and the classics and several essays on the same subject.