Horst Steinke, Vico’s Ring. Notes on the“Scienza nuova”, its Structure, and the Hermeneutics of Homer’s Works
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Vico’s Ring


human nature

, is one of the [points] discussed most extensively, un-

doubtedly due to the breadth and depth of knowledge that the Italian

had of law writ large)



No discussion of Vico’s philosophy of law in

Scienza nuova


do without placing it within the arc of Vico’s entire life’s work



In this connection, his

Diritto universale

presents a milestone



While juridical themes were part of several of his earlier inaugu-

ral addresses to faculty and students at the beginning of the aca-

demic year at his university, and in particular of his 1708 oration,

published as

De nostri temporis studiorum ratione



Diritto universale

written in its major parts from 1720 to 1722 represented a new

level of Vichian reflection, and contains the expression “Nova

scientia tentatur” (New science is assayed [attempted]) as a chap-

ter heading


. For our purposes of pinpointing the literary struc-

ture of

Scienza nuova


Diritto universale

also provides another build-

ing block that is directly relevant to the beginning of



. This particular chapter contains a “chronological table”

and accompanying notes, material that is missing in the


nuova 1725



In terms of format, it is a straightforward consecu-

tive chronological listing of events after “the Flood,” with re-

spect to the Hebrews, Chaldeans, Egyptians, Phoenicians,

Greeks, and Romans, unlike the 1730/1744

Scienza nuova


ological Table that has designated side-by-side columns for these



. But it is not merely the format in

Scienza nuova

that is

somewhat different, the real difference lies in the material about

the legal history of Rome. Examining the new chronology and

notes through the lens of Book V


, namely its focus on the his-

tory and development of legal structures, both in form and con-

tent, it becomes quickly apparent that the new chronology is put

in service of Vico’s philosopy of universally valid law, the princi-

ples of which can be glimpsed in Roman law. In the chronology


Diritto universale

, the only direct reference to Roman law is the

matter-of-fact statement under the date of 303 A.U.C. [451 B.C.]:

the Law of the XII Tables is enacted in Rome»


. The note in