Location: Bowdoin / Robert B. Sobak / Research and Bibliographic Information


Research and Bibliographic Information

Crafting the Democratic Body: Labor, Education, and Power in Classical Athens.  Forthcoming: The University of Michigan Press.
(~105,000 words, 538 pages, 35 B&W images)

Crafting the Democratic Body offers a new approach to the social history of democratic Athens. It demonstrates that the intellectual capacities of common people in the world’s first democracy were, contrary to the views of our ancient literary sources, assets developed by economic practices and linked through networks of technical and social relations. This densely connected system of human relationships and know-how was crucial to the operation of democratic institutions and the flourishing of the polis. This book deploys a close study of ancient material culture in order to focus on the things, skills, and relationships entailed by the working worlds of common people. It uses the shoemaker and his craft as paradigmatic examples, since shoemakers have a long history in Western thought as especially active challengers of social, political, and epistemological boundaries. Crafting the Democratic Body engages deeply with modern concerns about the nature of work, the proper aims of education, and the challenges of democratic citizenship. It argues vigorously for the importance of social history to political theory, and builds on recent work in political science that shows how much democracy depends on the cognitive diversity of a diverse citizenry.

In focusing on the material lives of common working people, and in particular the cognitive richness that emerges out of the worlds of labor, this book is quite timely. We live in an age marked by anxieties about diversity, employment, education, political engagement, and increasing social and economic inequalities. For these reasons Crafting the Democratic Body has much to say to the same readership which has helped turn recent books about work, democratic theory, and social justice, by authors like Richard Sennett, Jacques Rancière, Barbara Ehrenreich, Matthew Crawford, Mike Rose, and James Surowiecki, into bestsellers. Taking common people seriously as historical and political agents pushes back against what E. P. Thompson once famously called the “condescension of posterity.” It also demonstrates that the ancient world still has much to teach us about how the power of a collectively engaged, diverse citizenry can be harnessed to solve complex problems in both the present and in the future. Crafting the Democratic Body uncovers the intellectual and political potency of common people, and thus shows how labor history is intellectual history, and social history is political history. Democratic Athens is an especially appropriate place with which to present this case, since the city’s success depended on the decisions and actions of thousands of anonymous, non-elite, working individuals working together over generations.

Chapter 1. The House of Simon the Shoemaker

This introductory chapter begins by looking closely at a house that stood right next to the Athenian agora, the lively social and economic hub of the democratic city. Here, excavators discovered materials for the making of shoes: dozens of iron hobnails, a handful of bone eyelets, and a knife. An additional, associated find, the base of a drinking cup incised with the name Simon, has given this house its name, that of Simon the Shoemaker. The archaeological remains suggest that it was used as both living and work space from the sixth to the late fourth centuries B.C., a time during which our ancient sources tell us that an otherwise unknown shoemaker named Simon was a friend to both Socrates and Pericles. Simon’s house and workshop is an ideal place to study the mixing of private and public, the relationship between philosophy and politics, the encounters between elite and non-elite Athenians, and the role of labor and leisure within the classical polis. It is a microcosm of the highly connected world of common people living in Athens under the Democracy. Illuminating the life of Simon, his shoemaking, and his many thick connections to the broader Athenian community entails the conjoining of material and literary records, the assembly of fragmentary evidence, the reconstruction of social and economic networks, and the recovery of interactions among elite and non-elite Athenians.

Chapter 2. Simon’s Cup

The second chapter uses the cup inscribed with Simon’s name to consider the historiographical and methodological issues involved in this study, especially the judicious use of both literary and archaeological evidence in the service of excavating Athenian social history. Had this object not been found, we would not be burdened with the name of an individual apparently known to us from our literary record: Simon, the friend of Socrates and Pericles. The burden is both a blessing and a curse. We must not allow the cup’s text to shift our focus from the world of common people, away from the excavation of relationships, materials, and actions entailed in economic production, and towards the literary worlds of Pericles and Socrates. Emphasizing Simon’s name over the house’s general material context runs the risk of allowing intellectual and political history to overwrite labor and social history. This chapter shows how Simon’s name and supposed connections to Pericles and Socrates can also be a blessing, however, by using Simon’s cup and its text in order to emphasize how the worlds of anonymous, non-elite workers and the great men of recorded history actually intersected and overlapped.  In this way the cup presents itself as an object marked not only by leisure and sociality, but also by the labor and economic transactions necessary to its production and use.

Chapter 3. Simon’s Shoes

Building on the previous chapter’s presentation of one aspect of an object’s biography, chapter three reconstructs various types and styles of ancient Athenian footwear, and then takes them apart. This process of reverse engineering presents shoes as assemblages, and the trace remains of productive networks of individuals and groups, operating not only within the polis but also beyond its boundaries. Because ancient footwear was made from a variety of organic and inorganic elements, it is an ideal exemplar for considering how material objects in general reveal economic and social relationships. For example leather, only one element of footwear, relied on a complex chaîne opératoire involving herdsmen, hide-cutters, butchers, traders, curriers, and tanners before Simon selected it, and applied his tools and skills to it. Athenians wore many different styles of shoes, boots, and sandals, all constructed out of a wide range of materials: leather, sinew, wool, wood, cork, iron, bronze, and bone, to name only a few. The economic and material complexity of footwear, like so many other ancient products, relied on and produced a dense web of human relationships, which are mostly invisible in our literary evidence. These networks of production required communication, judgment, and accountability, they created an environment of constant association between diverse groups and individuals, and as a result they constituted one of the foundations for democratic institutions and practices.

Chapter 4. Simon’s Hands

This chapter puts the objects that were taken apart in chapter three back together again. It examines the tools, abilities, and cognitive challenges entailed by skilled labor in order to reconstruct the mentalité of ancient Athenian dēmiourgoi. Calling upon a rich body of scholarship devoted to the anthropology of work and situated cognition, it shows how our “mind” emerges out of complex aesthetic experiences, and thus depends not merely on our brain, but also on our hands.  Because so much of the ancient visual evidence for craft production depicts the shaping and painting of pottery, this chapter pays special attention to the technical processes of the Athenian potter and pot-painter. Crucially, shoemaking and potting have remained technically consistent up through the early modern period, which allows modern, comparative evidence to shed light on ancient practices. This chapter also explores the cult practices of Athenian craftsmen in order to glean additional evidence for their cognitive interactions with the world. This facet of Athenian labor has been unstudied, and is a crucial feature of ancient labor history, as scholarship devoted to human cognition has shown that mindful processes previously dismissed as irrelevantly superstitious, ritual behaviors are in fact deeply informative of how people measure success and judge risk when they do things. This chapter’s presentation of the cognitive worlds developed and exercised by economic production, and reflected in religious rituals, reinforces the picture drawn in the previous chapters. Ancient Athens was a polis filled with thousands of different people making thousands of different things, dealing with different problems, coming up with different solutions to those problems, and often working collaboratively throughout. All of this activity relied on and produced a cognitively diverse population whose collective know-how was put to work by the city’s democratic regime.

Chapter 5. Simon’s Shop

Chapter five demonstrates how places for making things, selling things, and buying things, ancient ergastēria, emporia, and kapeleia, were robust “Schools of Democracy.” In places like Simon’s shop citizens and metics alike would labor side by side with slaves. Here women and men would mingle, separated not by abstract ideas of gender distinction, but bound together by the various and shared tasks at hand. When the economic survival of one’s household is at stake, collaboration and sweat, even when aided by slave labor, override normative notions of social distinction. In the space of the workshop, and in the lives of most common people, material realities trumped social ideals. Moreover, there is good evidence that such spaces were also where Athenian citizens and non-citizens alike would gather to while away their leisure time, gossip, argue, and generally hang out. And so workshops hosted not only technical and economic transactions, but they were also especially vibrant sites for unplanned, uncoordinated social transactions. Shops were the places where Athenians would debate the upcoming business of the ekklēsia, the results of a recent ostracism, and the challenges of invading far-off cities, like Syracuse. They were places rich in communication between people who were diverse with respect to status and class, occupations and interests, and thus diverse in qualities beneficial to the democratic polis: perspectives, ideas, and ways of thinking. In short, they were “free spaces” where discrete and bounded bits of knowledge were, over time, made common.

Chapter 6. Socrates’ Feet

This chapter presents Socrates, one of those great men of history who visited Simon in his shop, as a model by which to imagine how cognitively diverse networks of individuals and groups were joined together over time and in different places. As everyone knows, Socrates was famous for going around the city of Athens barefoot, a practice that became a hallmark for philosophers attempting to tread in Socrates’ path. This chapter shows how Socrates’ feet were signifiers of both of his mobility and of his humility, in the truest sense of the word. The feet of Socrates grounded him, the son of a stonemason and a midwife, on the material realities of Athenian streets, stalls, markets, and shops – shops like that of Simon the Shoemaker. And yet the famously barefoot philosopher plainly had no interest in shoes. In Plato’s Apology Socrates claims that he walked himself into poverty by taking up the labor of seeking out and testing the epistemic strength of his polis. What do people know, how do they know it, and can they teach it to others? In this same dialogue Socrates asserts that, of all those with whom he talked, it was the craftsmen who really knew things. The friends of Socrates in Plato and Xenophon constantly complain that Socrates was obsessed with shoemakers and carpenters and smiths and donkeys, and yet Plato never directly depicts Socrates in conversation with such characters. This all suggests that our Platonic picture of Socrates is radically incomplete, and that Socrates’ interactions with Simon, whom neither Plato nor Xenophon ever name, represents a network of interaction missing from Plato’s philosophical project. This chapter’s portrait of Socrates among the craftsmen demonstrates how he was a network bridge, a person who tied together different groups of strongly connected individuals, and introduced new perspectives and ideas into different epistemic communities. This highly mobile, firmly grounded, barefoot Socrates nicely illustrates a particularly robust model of democratic epistemology: a system of well-connected, cognitively diverse agents who are in always in motion, sharing ideas, regularly examined, and constantly held to account.

Chapter 7. Pericles’ Head

Just as Socrates was famous for his feet, Pericles was famous for his head. Misshapen, over-sized, and bald, it was lampooned by comic poets, and artfully hidden by sculptors beneath a carefully placed helmet. Thus chapter seven uses the body part of another one of Simon’s elite friends, Pericles, to examine how authors such as Thucydides, Xenophon, and Plato all present visions of political organization constructed in opposition to the actual democratic practices of their day. In doing so they appropriated the language of technē, and crafted a picture of the Athenian dēmos and dēmokratia that is both misshapen and artfully concealing. These authors’ theories of political expertise have been instrumental in producing the insidious cognitive distinctions between head and hand, and labor and management, which are still active in our own culture today. For example, Thucydides presents Pericles as the Athenian Democracy’s first, and last, truly expert politician. He is for Thucydides the only individual properly able to channel and control the democratic city’s dunamis (power) by means of his gnōmē (judgment). This chapter shows that in Thucydides Athenian dunamis is heavily marked by the collective exercise of technē (craft). The world’s first theorist of political power presents to his readers an Athens that is most dangerous, both to itself and to others, when she allows her collective, crafty, and democratic nature to overwhelm individuals who offer rational, expert judgment. Plato presents a similar but even more expansive picture, and it is here where we can see how Plato’s adoption of technē as philosophical analogy holds a particularly strong ideological charge. For Plato offers not merely diagnosis, but cure. Upon a city marked by technē, filled with cheirotechnitai (craftsmen), and guided by an ever-changing, well-connected but uncoordinated, democratic system, Plato would place a strictly ordered, bounded, and rationalized system of individual expertise. Plato’s introduction of the very notion of politikē technē as a terminological premise was itself an ideological move. His insistence on this terminology made it quite difficult for anybody who recognized specialized technai, such as shoemaking and pottery making, to respond effectively to Plato’s claim that a person can perform only one craft well. By adapting the language of skill and knowledge already applied to the various areas of expertise recognized and practiced by common people, Plato effectively undermines these same individuals’ claims to general political competency. After all, if we all agree that one person can be an expert in making shoes why then cannot another person be an expert in making political decisions? Moreover, following Plato’s “unitary aptitude doctrine,” how can somebody who is expert in making shoes also have any expertise in making choices for the polis? This chapter thus reveals just how radically anti-democratic the old saw, “Let the shoemaker stick to his last!” really is.

Chapter 8. The Mind of Dēmokratia

This final chapter presents the case that our own society would be well served by a vigorous challenge to the ideological distinction between head and hand, and that democratic Athens offers a historical justification for such a challenge. Athenians of the fifth and fourth centuries B.C. have handed down to us two competing visions of political organization and collective decision-making. On the one hand we have Athenian democratic culture and practice, which developed out of and relied upon the world of lived experience. This was a world where material production, exchange, and daily engagement created robust networks of diverse individuals and groups. In conjunction with formal democratic institutions, these networks sustained a system of governance that gave common people political agency. The Athenian democratic system succeeded because it put the city’s cognitive diversity to work for the common good. Rather than one, expert head, it relied on many non-experts at different times and for different tasks. It leveraged its many technai in order to produce a practical, emergent politikē technē. Under the Democracy Athens flourished as no other Greek polis ever did. On the other hand, political theory was born largely in response to this radically democratic system. Over the intervening centuries these reactionary, abstract ideas have triumphed over democratic, lived experiences. Within the last few decades, however, democratic theorists have begun to offer a number of rigorous justifications for collective decision making that are grounded in economic theory, machine learning, and the cognitive sciences. Strikingly, ancient Athenian practices are suggestively supportive of these modern theories, which point to a cluster of necessary conditions for successful democratic functioning: large numbers of active, cognitively diverse participants, spaces for both formal and informal information exchange, the ability and willingness of participants to articulate ideas and to act as both leaders and followers in turn, and the time and opportunity for the system to revisit decisions and hold its participants to account. Crafting the Democratic Body has presented each of these parts of such a system as emerging out of the diverse and uncoordinated material realities of everyday life, in direct contrast to abstract, theoretical notions about which individual experts should guide the community. 


Democratic Athens was so diverse and confusing that even donkeys didn’t know their proper place. According to Socrates in Plato’s Republic, common Athenian asses freely wandered the streets, bumped into good upstanding citizens, and refused to get out of the way of their betters. The philosopher’s presentation of uppity, democratic beasts of burden is a jab at common working people, the dēmos whom dēmokratia had unnaturally elevated above their natural station. This smear comes within the context of a more general, negative characterization of the democratic polis as a place “which lacks rulers but not variety, and distributes a sort of equality to equals and unequals alike.” Democracy “embroiders the city with every possible character type” and “presents itself to the unknowing eye like a dappled, multicolored coat.” All of this leads Plato’s Socrates to complain that democratic governance reflects and produces a culture of chaos, social confusion, and failures in political judgment. Democracy is diversity run amok. Diversity is a particularly live issue in our own society as well. Modern communities vigorously debate whether diversity of all kinds is a virtue or a vice, an opportunity or problem, feature or bug.

Crafting the Democratic Body shows how Plato was correct in his descriptions, but not in his diagnoses. Democratic diversity and transgressions do indeed lead to confusion, but the mixing of statuses, classes, occupations, and identities was a source of strength for the ancient Athenians. It crafted a cultural landscape marked by free speech and equality under the law, and rested upon a robust, diverse economy, in which men and women of all statuses and classes participated and mingled. All of this helped fashion the city of Athens into an especially fluid, “free space,” which resulted in a sharing of opinions and knowledge on the streets that was generative of ideas and judgments for the community as a whole. In this system non-expert individuals, tied together through economic and social activities, and working together through democratic institutions, enabled the democratic polis to craft itself into an expert city.

Telling Tales Out of Work: Depictions of Labor in Athenian Visual Culture
(~70,000 words, 310 pages, 20 color/75 b&w images)

Performing History: Networks of Greek Identity in Pindar’s Kyrenean Odes
(~80,000 words, 300 pages, 10 b&w images)

“Sequential Narrative, Cognitive Labor, and the Aesthetic Reproduction of Pottery.” Forthcoming, Hesperia
(33,820 words, 156 pages, 8 color/19 B&W images)

Recent scholarship on Attic figural pottery has argued convincingly that such vases were intended to be manipulated and interpreted systematically, as narrative wholes. Shape, figural scenes, painted and plastic decorations, and use-context all worked together in order to prompt meaningful and cognitively rich experiences for these vessels’ users. Two questions, however, remain under-explored. The first regards sequential narrative, namely whether there is evidence that multiple, discrete figural scenes could be read in a particular order, so as to produce a coherent story. The second is whether vases bearing so-called “genre scenes” can be interpreted using narrative and aesthetic theoretical approaches. I suggest here that both of these questions can be answered affirmatively. Moreover, I argue that both can most usefully be addressed by turning to recent scholarship devoted to comic strips, especially to research that shows how certain features of such artwork produce for its viewer cognitively demanding and aesthetically rewarding experiences. One feature that is of particular cognitive importance is what comics theorists call the gutter. This is the gap between the comic strip’s framed images. In the context of figural pottery this structural device is produced by the time and labor demanded of users as they lift, turn, tilt, and examine the vessel in order to view multiple scenes. Finally, I suggest that vases depicting potters and vase painters at work play on the physical manipulations entailed by their use in order to produce an aesthetic experience for their users that echoes the manual processes entailed in shaping and painting the vessel itself. Such readings, understood in the context of late 6th and early 5th century Athens, complement recent scholarship on both the institution of the symposion, as well as the aesthetic, embodied experiences of non-elites in the construction of democratic ideology.

“Socrates Among the Shoemakers.” Forthcoming, Hesperia
(34,025 words, 142 pages, 3 color images)

The Socratic interest in the technai and their practitioners was a reaction both to the political realities of the Athenian dēmokratia, and to the challenges that a polis run by non-experts faced in recognizing problems, forming solutions, and making decisions. The economic activities of non-elite Athenian citizens and non-citizens alike, however, helped overcome these challenges by creating a robust and epistemically diverse network of political participants. This study of day-to-day economic and social interaction on the streets of classical Athens shows that democratic politikē technē was not a discrete and bounded, individual endeavor, but rather a collective, emergent intelligence refined through usage in and outside of the institutions of the state.

“Dance, Deixis, and the Performance of Kyrenean Identity: A Thematic Commentary on Pindar’s Pythian Five.” Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 107 (2013)
(20,707 words, 95 pages)

In this article I offer a close reading of Pindar’s Fifth Pythian in order to produce a thematic commentary aimed at situating and interpreting this ode as both a historical and performative artifact. I pay special attention to the ways in which the ode’s linguistic, metrical, and choreographic features all work together to fashion a diachronic geography through which singers, dancers and audience imaginatively move. In doing so, I show that Pindar’s Fifth Pythian produced a performance that metaphorically enacted a re-foundation of Kyrene by victor, performers, and audience as an imagined community composed of different ethnicities, and layered through time. This enactment aimed at convincing its audience not only to accept the poet’s praise of the victorious athlete, but also to see themselves as active participants in the work of re-establishing their city during the time and space of the ode’s performance. By juxtaposing the deeds of the victorious king and the heroic oikist, by taking its audience on a grand tour of Kyrene’s colonial history, and by poetically re-enacting the recent Pythian victory itself, the ode works to convince its performers and participants to imagine themselves as journeying from Delphi to Kyrene, and as re-committing themselves to the future success of their re-founded polis. The result is not simply the praise of Arkesilas as Pythian victor, but the construction of a coherent vision of Kyrene’s place, both spatially and temporally, within the wider Greek world.

Labor, Greece and Rome.” in The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Ancient History. Roger Bagnall et al., eds. Oxford: Blackwell, 2012
(1,874 words, 9 pages: subjected to editorial review)

This article is a concise introduction to the main historical and methodological problems associated with human production in the ancient Mediterranean world. I analyze the three main groups who performed labor: slaves, wage laborers, and independent craftsmen, and discuss the ideological ramifications that widespread chattel-slavery had on ancient attitudes towards living a life in which one was dependent upon one’s own productive capacities. The article is divided into three parts: 1) A general introduction to the agricultural economy that dominated both Greek and Roman life, 2) A discussion of labor practices and attitudes in the Greek sources, from Homer to Hellenistic times, and 3) an analysis of Roman literary and material evidence relating to the use of human beings as producers ranging from the foundations of the city to late antiquity.

“Earth, Air, and Water: Ambiguity, Uncertainty, and Transition in the Landscapes of Tacitus’ Agricola.”
(~5,000 words, 26 pages)

Most readers of history would expect, even in the midst of the most profound political and social tumult, that the existence and form of the earth is largely a given. There is an actual there there, regardless of one’s perspective. Put simply, when it comes to traditional views of geography and topography in historical writing, the land is a fixed, solid, and predictable stage upon which men’s actions are performed. It is discoverable, recordable, and mappable, and exists independent of motive or ideology. Painstaking archaeological and cartographical work has largely demonstrated that Tacitus’ description of Britain in the Agricola mostly satisfies these empirical expectations. Tacitus was plainly familiar with the geography of the island, his descriptions of terrain ring true, and his account of Agricola’s movements seems trustworthy. But this information can also be read in a way that shows how Tacitus’ manipulation of the ancient geographic tradition concerning Britain allowed him to explore non-geographical issues. These two approaches are in no way contradictory. The Tacitean geography of Britain is both straightforwardly geographical and at the same time figured. It is one mark of Tacitus’ genius that he is able to perform the latter without destroying the former. By paying attention to the figured aspect of the geographic text, I show how the insular nature of Britain, its location in the ocean and at the edge of the known world, and its striking climatic and topographical features, were all used by Tacitus to emphasize ambiguity, instability, and indeterminacy. Rather than adhering to the classical notion that land and climate determine character and history, in the Agricola Tacitus flips this on its head. The figured geography and climate of Tacitean Britain has been fashioned by the character of the principate, and by the historical moment at which both author and intended reader find themselves; looking both backward and forward, uncertain of both. Tacitus’ Agricola narrates a world marked by uncertainty, in the midst of a shift from one regime and, eventually, dynasty to another and thus echoes a social and political landscape still undefined, inchoate, and untrustworthy.

“Soldiers, Snails, and Situated Expertise: Sallust BJ 92.4-94.6.”
(~4,000 words, 21 pages)

Towards the end of Sallust’s Bellum Jugurthinum, immediately before the introduction of Sulla, the historian devotes some time to fashioning a careful vignette detailing the Roman siege, and eventual capture, of an extremely well-protected fort. Sallust here treats his reader to a Herodotean logos right in the midst of his own rather spare, Thucydidean, work. This is the story of how a certain Ligurian soldier, out collecting snails, had discovered a key weak-point in the enemy's fortified position. The soldier immediately informs his general, Marius, and leads a troop of soldiers to the place he had discovered, allowing Marius to capture a previously impregnable position. Past commentators have dismissed this detailed story as an out-of-place fabrication, or simply as an adaptive echo of a story found in Cato’s Origines. I argue, however, that the story provides an insight into Sallust’s own views on the changing nature of the Roman army, and the growing incorporation of non-Romans into legionary forces. By expanding the diversity of backgrounds and skills within the Roman military, the army itself became, as an organization, more expert in its aggregate. So, for example, the fact that this Ligurian is never named, but constantly referred to as ligus, focuses the reader’s attention upon him as an ethnic exemplum, an ancient proto-type for the British Army’s 19th and 20th century “Gurkha” soldiery. This type-casting plays upon the expectations and prejudices of Sallust's readership, and is aided by the careful topographical markers which Sallust includes in the text. First, Liguria was famed as a place that produced exceptionally rugged fighters because of its steep terrain; the very sort of terrain that Marius and his soldiers needed to overcome in this particular episode. Second, Liguria was also famed in antiquity for its snails. The unnamed Ligurian soldier who leads Marius to victory does so because he can call upon his “situated expertise” in dealing with steep slopes and snails. Through this story Sallust’s reader is meant to think more broadly of how particular types of peoples were expert in particular areas, and how the Roman Army could call upon a wide range of skills in the service of its mission. Moreover, the Roman Army’s access to a more diverse pool of soldiers, and thus abilities, had been expanded thanks in part to the reforms of Marius, the very same general under whom the snail-seeking, cliff-climbing Ligurian had served in Numidia.

“Situating Knowledge: Reading Plato Reading Taylor.”
(~12,000 words, 60 pages)

Plato is careful to begin his theoretical constructions of ideal cities first by outlining the economic organization and activities entailed by such communities. This attention to the basic needs of production, consumption, and the arrangement of labor tasks has earned Plato the reputation of being an early advocate for the division of labor in the service of economic efficiency. While Plato does indeed articulate a systematic and detailed model of labor specification and specialization, in the Republic, in the Laws, and elsewhere, he does not do so because he is interested in the performance of his model poleis in economic terms. His organizational design is undertaken in order to place strict controls on the human activities and interactions that he deems necessary to the functioning of the polis, but problematic in the ways they affect the individuals and groups engaged in them. His ultimate concerns, and thus his motivations for paying such careful attention to economic questions, lie not in increasing the number of goods produced, nor in increasing the quality of goods produced, but rather in increasing the level and nature of control over the actions and interactions of those primarily engaged in economic activity. Plato’s insistence on institutional modeling, a clear hierarchy of power and tasks, and a rigorous separation of ruling and working, all flow directly from his conception of justice as a function of the proper organization of his model city’s constituent elements. While Plato certainly recognizes that there are economic benefits to labor specialization and division, these benefits ought to be seen as incidental, and even potentially damaging, to the chief aims of his systematization of occupations and tasks in his ideal polis. Thus, rather than viewing Plato as an early forerunner of David Ricardo and Adam Smith, as previous scholars have done, I show here how and why it is more appropriate to see in him an anticipation of Frederick Winslow Taylor, Henry Ford, and Peter Drucker.