Melissa Lane is the Class of 1943 Professor of Politics at Princeton University, and director of the University Center for Human Values.  She is also an associated faculty member in the Department of Classics and the Department of Philosophy, and serves on the executive committee of the Program in Classical Philosophy, as well as many other university committees.   She is co-convenor of the Climate Futures Initiative, a joint initiative of the University Center for Human Values and the High Meadows Environmental Institute.  She was for five years a trustee of Princeton University Press.  She was awarded a 2012 Fellowship of the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and the 2015 Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Prize at Princeton University, and was the 2018 Lucy Shoe Merritt Scholar in Residence at the American Academy in Rome.

Prior to joining Princeton as a full professor in fall 2009, Professor Lane taught in the Faculty of History at the University of Cambridge, where she had previously received her M.Phil. and PhD degrees in Philosophy, studying as a Marshall Scholar, Truman Scholar, and Mary Isabel Sibley Fellow of Phi Beta Kappa.  Her A.B. was in Social Studies, summa cum laude, at Radcliffe College of Harvard University, following education in the public schools in Los Angeles, California, during which time she served as the student member of the California State Board of Education.

In early summer 2022, she visits the École Normale Supérieure as a professeur invitée, and gives a keynote paper at the Conference for the Study of Political Thought and the UK-IVR association; in fall 2022, she gives a keynote lecture at the North American Association for Philosophy and Education. In early 2023, she will be the Weinstein Fellow at Berkeley, and later that spring give the Isaiah Berlin Lectures at Oxford University, where she also delivered the 2018 Carlyle Lectures.  A monograph based on the latter will appear with Princeton University Press in 2023 as Of Rule and Office: Plato’s Ideas of the Political. 

Other upcoming or recent career highlights include: Dennis A. Georges Lecture in Hellenic Culture, Tulane University; Langford Family Lecture in Classics, Florida State University; keynote lecture for the 2021 Duke Conference in Political Theory; seminars for Stanford, Berkeley, CNRS (Paris), Toronto, and Sun Yat-Sen (Zhuhai), among other universities; and papers for conferences of the British Academy, Society for Classical Studies, and American Political Science Association. 

Professor Lane has advised graduate students in Classics, Comparative Literature, Philosophy, Politics, and Religion, and is especially active in advising students in political theory and in classical philosophy (whether enrolled in Classics, Philosophy, or Politics).  She has also advised undergraduate senior theses in Classics, Philosophy, and Politics, many of them winning disciplinary or interdisciplinary prizes.

Selected Publications


  • Plato's Statesman: A Philosophical Discussion, co-edited with Panos Dimas and Susan Sauvé Meyer, Oxford University Press, 2021.
  • The Birth of Politics: Eight Greek and Roman Political Ideas and Why They Matter, 2015, Princeton University Press
  • This is the United States edition of the text published elsewhere in 2014 as Greek and Roman Political Ideas (see below).
  • Greek and Roman Political Ideas, 2014, Penguin Pelican imprint (UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand).
  • Politeia in Greek and Roman Philosophy, 2013, Cambridge University Press, co-edited by Verity Harte and Melissa Lane, with an Introduction by the co-editors (pp.1-12), and Melissa Lane, ‘Platonizing the Spartan politeia in Plutarch’s Lycurgus’ (pp.57-77).
  • Eco-Republic: published in 2011 by Peter Lang in the UK as Eco-Republic: Ancient Ethics for a Green Age; and in 2012 by Princeton  University Press in the USA as Eco-Republic: What the Ancients Can Teach Us about Ethics, Virtue, and Sustainable Living
  • A Poet’s Reich: Politics and Culture in the George Circle: co-edited with Martin A. Ruehl, and published in 2011 by Camden House.
  • 'Introduction' to Plato, Republic [as Melissa Lane], Penguin Classics, 2007 edition with translation by D. Lee.
  • Plato's Progeny: How Socrates and Plato still captivate the modern mind [as Melissa Lane],Duckworth, 2001.
  • Method and Politics in Plato's Statesman [as M.S. Lane], Cambridge University Press, 1998.
  • Professor Lane is interviewed in a podcast about Plato and sustainability, the theme of the book Eco-Republic, on ‘Philosophy Bites’:
  • A review of Eco-Republic in Science can be found at


  • ‘Ancient Political Philosophy’, in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, published 6 September 2010.


On ancient political thought   

  • ‘Popular Sovereignty as Control of Officeholders: Aristotle on Greek Democracy,’ in Popular Sovereignty in Historical Perspective, eds. R. Bourke and Q. Skinner, Cambridge University Press, 2016, 52-72.
  • ‘Ancient Political Philosophy’, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, updated version published online on 21 November 2014; originally published online 6 September 2010 [approx. 18,000 words]: cite as in Winter 2014 Archived edition: 
  • Lane, Melissa, "Ancient Political Philosophy", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2014 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.)
  • Verity Harte and Melissa Lane, ‘Introduction’, in Politeia in Greek and Roman Philosophy, eds. Verity Harte and Melissa Lane, Cambridge University Press, 2013, 1-12.
  • ‘Platonizing the Spartan Politeia in Plutarch’s Lycurgus’, in Politeia in Greek and Roman Philosophy, eds. Verity Harte and Melissa Lane, Cambridge University Press, 2013, 57-77. 
  • ‘Political Expertise and Political Office in Plato’s Statesman: the statesman’s rule (archein) and the subordinate magistracies (archai),’ in Aleš Havlíček, Jakub Jirsa and Karel Thein (eds) Plato’s Statesman - Proceedings of the eighth Symposium Platonicum Pragense (Prague:  OIKOYMENH), 2013, 49-77.   
  • ‘Claims to rule: the case of the multitude’, in The Cambridge Companion to Aristotle’s Politics, eds. M. Deslauriers and P. Destrée (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), pp. 247-74. 
  • ‘Platon et le Développement Durable’, in Revue Francaise d’Histoire des Idées Politiques 37 (2013) 111-31, an adaptation of Eco-Republic: Ancient Ethics for a Green Age, translated into French by Mattieu Bouchet and Dimitri El Murr.  
  • ‘Founding as legislating: the figure of the lawgiver in Plato’s Republic’, in Dialogues on Plato’s Politeia (Republic):
  • Selected Papers from the Ninth Symposium Platonicum, eds. Noboru Notomi and Luc Brisson (Sankt Augustin: Academia Verlag, 2013), pp.104-14.
  • ‘Lifeless Writings or Living Script?: The Life of Law in Plato, Middle Platonism, and Jewish Platonizers’, Cardozo Law Review 34:3 (2013): 937-64.
  • ‘Politics and (the figure of) the politicus’, in The Continuum Companion to Plato, ed. G. Press, Continuum, 2012 (1000 words).
  • ‘The Origins of the Statesman – Demagogue Distinction in and after Ancient Athens,’ Journal of the History of Ideas 73: 2 (2012), 179-200. 
  • ‘Persuasion et force dans la politique platonicienne’, translated into French by Dimitri El Murr, inAglaïa: autour de Platon. Mélanges offerts à Monique Dixsaut, eds. A. Brancacci, D. El Murr and D. P. Taormina, Vrin, 2011, 133-66.  
  •    Click here for English version ‘Persuasion and Force in Platonic Politics’ (but only to be cited in the published French version)
  • ‘Reconsidering Socratic Irony’, in The Cambridge Companion to Socrates, ed. D. Morrison, Cambridge, 2011, 237-59.
  • ‘Plato’ (5000 words) and ‘Philosopher Kings’ (1000 words) in Encyclopedia of Political Theory, ed. M. Bevir, Sage, 2010.
  • ‘Comparing Greek and Chinese Political Thought: The Case of Plato’s Republic’, Journal of Chinese Philosophy 36:4 (2009)585-601.
  • ‘Virtue and the love of knowledge in Plato’s Symposium  and Republic’, in Maieusis: Essays in Ancient Philosophy in Honour of Myles Burnyeat, ed. D. Scott, Oxford, 2007, 44-67.
  • ‘The evolution of eironeia in classical Greek texts: why Socratic eironeia is not Socratic irony’, Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 31 (2006) 49-83.
  • ‘“Emplois pour philosophes”: l’art politique et l’Etranger dans le Politique à la lumière de Socrate et du philosophe dans le Théétète’, translated into French by Fulcran Teisserenc, Les Études philosophiques, 2005 (no.3: September) 325-45.
  •   Click here for English version ‘“Jobs for Philosophers”:  statecraft and the Stranger in the Statesmanin light of Socrates and the philosopher in the Theaetetus’ (but only to be cited in French)
  • ‘Pyrrhonism and Protagoreanism: Catching Sextus Out?’, co-authored with Verity Harte, Philosophiegeschichte und Logische Analyse/Logical Analysis and the History of Philosophy (1999) 157-72.
  • ‘Argument and Agreement in Plato’s Crito’, History of Political Thought 19:3 (1998) 313-330.
  • ‘Plato’s Political Philosophy’, in The Blackwell Companion to Ancient Philosophy, eds. M.L. Gill and P. Pellegrin, Blackwell, 2006, 170-191.
  • ‘Introduction’ to Plato and Socrates section, The Cambridge History of Greek and Roman Political Thought, eds. M. Schofield and C. Rowe, Cambridge University Press, 2000, 155-63; also Associate Editor of this volume.
  • ‘A New Angle on Utopia: the Political Theory of the Politicus’, in Reading the Statesman: Proceedings of the Third International Symposium Platonicum, ed. C. Rowe, Academia Verlag, 1995, 276-291.

On public policy and ethics, including climate change

  • Michael Lamb and Melissa Lane, ‘Aristotle on the ethics of communicating climate change’, in Clare Heyward and Dominic Roser (eds.) Climate Justice in a Non-Ideal World, Oxford University Press, 2016, 229-254.
  • ‘Political Theory on Climate Change’, Annual Review of Political Science 19 (2016) 107-123.
  • Robert O. Keohane, Melissa Lane, and Michael Oppenheimer, ‘The ethics of scientific communication under uncertainty’, Politics, Philosophy and Economics, published online 27 June 2014. DOI: 10.1177/1470594X14538570
  • ‘When the experts are uncertain: scientific knowledge and the ethics of democratic judgment’, Episteme 11:1 (2014) 97-118.
  • Guest editor of special part-issue on Compensation, Jahrbuch für Recht und Ethik/Annual Review of Law and Ethics 17 (2009), and author of ‘Introduction: The Political and Interpersonal Roles of Compensation: Bringing Ethics into Focus in Public and Private Law’, 227-36, to the following six papers:
  • ‘Accidents at Work, Security and Compensation in Industrialising Europe. The cases of Britain, Germany, and Italy, 1870-1925’, 237-58 (J. Moses, History, Oxford)
  • ‘Climate Change and Corrective Justice’, 259-76 (C. McKinnon, Politics, Reading)
  • ‘Compensation and the Exercise of Rights’, 277-88 (C. Grant, Law, Warwick)
  • ‘Damages and Human Rights: A Changing Relationship Between Citizen and State?’, 289-308 (J. McLean, Law, Dundee - now Auckland)
  • ‘Torts, Markets and Equality’, 309-26 (P. Bou-Habib, Government, Essex)
  • ‘The Consequences of Public Authority Liability’, 327-51 (D. Squires, Matrix Chambers, London)
  • ‘A Philosophical View on States and Immigration’, in Globalizing Migration Regimes: New Challenges to Transnational Cooperation, eds. K. Tamas and J. Palme, Ashgate, 2006, 131-43.
  • ‘The Moral Dimension of Corporate Accountability’, in Global Responsibilities: Enforcing Rights by Defining Obligations, ed. A Kuper, Routledge, 2005, 229-250.
  • ‘Autonomy as a Central Human Right and Its Implications for the Moral Responsibilities of Corporations’, in Human Rights and the Moral Responsibilities of Public and Private Sector Organisations, eds. T. Campbell and S. Miller, Kluwer, 2004, 145-63.

On modern political thought and normative political philosophy

  • Melissa Lane, ‘Roman Censorship, Spartan Parallels and Modern Uses in Rousseau’s Social Contract’, in Geoff Kemp (ed.) Censorship Moments: Reading Texts in the History of Censorship and Freedom of Expression (Bloomsbury Academic 2015), pp.95-102: Chapter DOI 10.5040/
  • ‘The genesis and reception of The Road to Serfdom’ in Hayek: A Collaborative Biography, vol.1, ed. R. Leeson, Palgrave Macmillan, 2013, 43-60.
  • ‘Doing Our Own Thinking for Ourselves: On Quentin Skinner's Genealogical Turn,’ Journal of the History of Ideas 73:1 (2012): 71-82.
  • ‘The Platonic politics of the George-Kreis: a reconsideration’, and (with Martin A. Ruehl), ‘Introduction’, in A Poet’s Reich: Politics and Culture in the George Circle, eds. M. Lane and M. A. Ruehl, Camden House, an imprint of Boydell & Brewer, 2011, 133-163.
  • ‘Constraint, Freedom, and Exemplar: History and Theory without Teleology’, in Political Philosophy versus History?  Contextualism and Real Politics in Contemporary Political Thought, eds. J. Floyd and M. Stears, Cambridge, 2011, 128-150. 
  • ‘Thoreau and Rousseau: Nature as Utopia’, in A Political Companion to Henry David Thoreau, ed. J. Turner, University Press of Kentucky, 2009, 341-71.
  • ‘Honesty as the best policy? Nietzsche on Redlichkeit and the contrast between Stoic and Epicurean strategies of the self’, in Histories of Postmodernism: The Precursors, The Heyday, The Legacy, eds. M. Bevir, J. Hargis, and S. Rushing, Routledge, 2007, 25-51.
  • ‘Why History of Ideas At All?’, History of European Ideas 28:1-2 (2002) 33-41.
  • ‘States of Nature, Epistemic and Political’, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society (1998-1999) 1-24.
  • ‘Gadfly in God’s Own Country: Socrates in Twentieth-Century America’, in Socrates in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, ed. M.B Trapp (Ashgate, 2007), 203-224.
  • ‘Reactions to Positivism’, in The Cambridge History of Twentieth-Century Political Thought, eds. R. Bellamy and T. Ball, Cambridge University Press, 2003, 321-342.

Selected Honors and Awards

  • Old Dominion Professorship in the Humanities Council, Princeton University, 2020-21.  
  • Lucy Shoe Meritt Scholar in Residence, American Academy in Rome (2018).
  • Fellow, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University (2012-13). 
  • Guggenheim Fellowship (2012).