Jim talks with Jack Visnjic, aka Lantern Jack, about Polybius’s theory of anacyclosis and cyclical history. They discuss the origins of the name Lantern Jack, cyclical patterns in history, a one-minute history of the first millennium B.C., public gain vs private gain, Polybius’s concept of anacyclosis, great man theory vs processes & institutions, examples of anacyclosis, whether Rome was ever a democracy, critiques of anacyclosis, corruption & collective reaction, imperialistic growth, the Glorious Revolution in 1688, why Spain & France didn’t transition to aristocracy, anacyclosis in the modern world, Polybius’s influence on the Founding Fathers of the U.S., the impressiveness of the Founding Fathers, mobocracy, fighting to the death over second- and third-order issues, the crisis epoch, factional division as a feature not a bug, and much more.
Jack Visnjic is a classicist and historian of philosophy interested in uncovering long-term patterns in history. He earned his PhD from Princeton University with a dissertation on the origins of the notion of moral duty. He later expanded that project into a book titled The Invention of Duty: Stoicism as Deontology. For several years he was director of research at the Anacyclosis Institute, a think tank which seeks to understand the trajectory of modern democracy by studying the long history of democracies. And his biggest passion is his podcast Ancient Greece Declassified, through which he strives to make the Classics accessible and relevant to a broad audience.