Primitivism and Related Ideas in Antiquity was intended to be the first volume of a four-part series of books covering the history of primitivism and related ideas, but the outbreak of World War II, and, later, Lovejoy's death, prevented the other books from being published as originally conceived by the two authors. A documentary and analytical record, the book presents the classical background of primitivism and anti-primitivism in modern literature, historiography, and social and moral philosophy, and comprises chapters that center around particular ancient concepts and authors, including cynicism, stoicism, epicureanism, Plato, Aristotle, Lucretius, and Cicero. According to the authors in their preface, "there is some reason to think that this background is not universally familiar to those whose special field of study lie within the period of the Renaissance to our own time"; this book, in which the original Greek and Latin sources stand side by side with their English translations, will prove useful to scholars from a variety of disciplines who study this period.
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