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.  She is co-convenor of the Climate Futures Initiative, supported by the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, the Princeton Environmental Institute, and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, and is a member of the Climate Change Working Group of the Social Sciences Research Council, as well as a member of the executive committee of Princeton's Program in Classical Philosophy, and a trustee of Princeton University Press, the editorial board of which she is chairing in 2018-19. She was awarded a 2015 Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Prize at Princeton University.

In 2018, Melissa Lane delivered the following named lectures: the Carlyle Lectures (University of Oxford); the Sir Malcolm Knox Memorial Lecture (University of St Andrews, Scotland); the Fifth Annual Joint Lecture of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Royal Institute of Philosophy (Edinburgh, Scotland); the Philip Hallie Lecture, Wesleyan University; the Gerald F. Else Lecture in the Humanities, University of Michigan; and the Charles McCracken Distinguished Guest Lecture, Michigan State University.  She also served as the Lucy Shoe Merritt Scholar in Residence (American Academy in Rome).   Similar honors in the recent past include delivering the keynote lecture for the 2016 London Graduate Conference in the History of Political Thought; the annual public lecture of the Centre for Political Philosophy at the University of Leiden; the 2015 Chapman Lecture at the University of Auckland; and the 2015 Hood Lecture, also at the University of Auckland.  She has received a Fellowship of the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation in the field of classics.  Recent public contributions include a seminar for the Civil Service Leadership Academy in London; a panel discussion at the Getty Villa in Los Angeles co-sponsored by the J. Paul Getty Museum and Zócalo Public Square; and periodic participation in the BBC Radio Four series 'In Our Time' with Melvyn Bragg, most recently discussing Cicero's political philosophy.  

Selected Publications


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

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).