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Scholarly debate on the relationship between Cicero’s De republica (On the Republic) and De Legibus (On the Laws) and the thought of Plato tends to focus on the supposed congruities or incongruities of the De republica and De legibus with Plato’s own Republic and Laws. Still, Plato’s discussion of ideal constitutions is not constrained to the Republic and Laws. In this essay I propose that we look to another of Plato’s dialogues for fruitful comparison: the Timaeus-Critias duology. In this essay I bring these two texts into substantive dialogue to illuminate mysterious features of both. Sketched in these complementary passages, I think, is an outline for a particular kind of approach to political theory, one proposed as novel by Cicero’s Laelius, but, as this essay hopes to show, with an interesting forerunner in Plato. I’ve called this approach ‘retrospective ideal political philosophy’ (RIPP). I end my essay with a few prospective theoretical notes on how this approach binds these two texts together.

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Cicero, Plato, Republic, Timaeus, Utopia, Ideal, Political Philosophy

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