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 at Princeton. As of August 1, 2023, for a term of three academic years, she is also the 50th Professor of Rhetoric at Gresham College, a non-degree-granting institution founded in London in 1597.  In this role, she delivers an extended series of public lectures, which are also livestreamed and available online on YouTube: 


Melissa Lane

Class of 1943 Professor of Politics
Director of University Center for Human Values
Princeton University

Melissa Lane’s newest book, Of Rule and Office: Plato’s Ideas of the Political (PUP, 2023) is capturing attention. Praise includes: 

“[A] meticulous new analysis of Plato’s constitutionalism. . .  With the appearance of Melissa Lane’s authoritative Of Rule and Office, debate over the evolution of Plato’s discussion of the vulnerabilities of political office and the various ways in which rule and office might be understood must be nearly at an end.”    (Andrew David Irvine, Times Literary Supplement)

“[A] major contribution to our faltering efforts to understand the challenges of politics across the world” (John Dunn, History of European Ideas)

A “great achievement” written with “extraordinary scrupulousness”: “What Melissa Lane’s book does is to drill down through all the layers, as others have not done, to the political bedrock below” (Christopher Rowe, Mind)

Attention to the political significance of the book includes:

Episode 75 of “Timeless Leadership” podcast with Scott Monty

Op ed in the LA Times online-first on 3/23/2024, by Melissa Lane and Jane Manners

 “Keeping Democracy Alive” with Burt Cohen on Plato: The Benefits of Acting Justly

“The Political Mike” with Michael Taylor (Episode 122)

“Facepalm America” with Beowulf Rochlen (April 3) 

An article about Lane’s new book in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette here – subscription required

Podcasts and reviews giving an overview of the book’s arguments:

Political Theory Review podcast, interviewed by Jeffrey Church, here

Classical Wisdom podcast, interviewed by Anya Leonard, here

Book symposium in History of European Ideas: Introduction by John Dunn; Review articles by Matthew Landauer, Matthew Simonton, Mark Philp, Veronica Rodriguez-Blanco; Response by Melissa Lane.

Book review by Christopher Rowe in Mind

Solon, lawmaker of Athens (640-558 BCE)
Art Resource Lycurgus QM Rubinstein

Research Interests

Melissa Lane is a political theorist whose work focuses primarily on ancient Greek philosophy, especially the writings of Plato. She also works on the reception and uses of Plato, informing work which she also does in contemporary political theory, including especially on issues in regard to scientific knowledge, communication, and climate change.

New Publication

Melissa Lane’s major new monograph is Of Rule and Office: Plato’s Ideas of the Political, published by Princeton University Press on 20 June 2023.

In fall and winter 2023, the book was the topic of panel sessions of the American Political Science Association and UK-IVR Association for law and philosophy, and of book launches at Oxford, Princeton, and Labyrinth Books.   Book symposia have been published or are forthcoming in History of European Ideas, Polis, and The Review of Politics.

Lane_of-rule-and-office_mockup (1)

Recent & Upcoming Events

12 March 2024

'Who Will Guard the Guardians? Thinking Through Democratic Vulnerabilities with Plato

The Mary Wollstonecraft Annual Lecture

University of Hull 

24 April 2024 / 31 May 2024

'To know is to act; to act is to know': rethinking rule with Plato

Philosophy Seminar, University of Colorado (Boulder), 24 April 2024


In conference on 

Virtue, Conversation, Knowledge: Plato and Beyond

London, 30-31 May 2024: in honour of M.M. McCabe

30 May 2024

'Experts in Politics: Lessons from Socrates and Aristotle'

Gresham College Lecture

Barnard’s Inn Hall, London

18:00 (BST)

 register here either for in-person or to livestream

Subsequently on the Gresham YouTube Channel

13 June 2024

'Plato's Cave: Thinking about Climate Change'

Gresham College Lecture

Barnard’s Inn Hall, London

18:00 (BST)

register here either for in-person or to livestream

Subsequently on the    Gresham YouTube Channel