Searching for Statesmanship: a Corpus-Based Analysis of a Translated Political Discourse

Author: Henry Jones

in Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek and Roman Political Thought

Open Access

Volume/Issue: Volume 36: Issue 2


Keywords: translation; statesmanship; democracy; Plato; Aristotle; classical Greece


With its connotations of superior moral integrity, exceptional leadership qualities and expertise in the science of government, the modern ideal of statesmanship is most commonly traced back to the ancient Greek concept of πολιτικός (politikos) and the work of Plato and Aristotle in particular. Through an analysis of a large corpus of modern English translations of political works, built as part of the AHRC Genealogies of Knowledge project (, this case-study aims to explore patterns that are specific to this translated discourse, with a view to understanding the crucial role played by translators in shaping its development and reception in society. It ultimately seeks to argue that the model of statesmanship presented in translations from ancient Greek is just as much a product of the receiving culture (and the social anxieties of Victorian Britain especially) as it is inherited from the classical world.