Thomas More's Utopia has long been regarded as the great Northern European expression of Italian civic humanist ideals. This article argues, in contrast, that More's treatise constitutes an emphatic rejection of those values. In support of this claim, the article chronicles the reception of Utopia in Italy; it demonstrates that More's text was taken up, not by the civic humanists, but by their fiercest critics. These early Italian readers recognized in Utopia a repudiation of active citizenship, an assault on private property, a rejection of the Roman cult of glory, and a polemic against Ciceronian humanism. As a result, the reception of Utopia is shown to have opened up a fissure in the republican tradition which would have profound consequences for the subsequent development of European political discourse.


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pp. 1029-1057
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Archive Status
Archived 2009
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