Among the ancient philosophers who were interested in the question of the best political community, Plato and Aristotle constitute the essential sources of Utopiade More, published in 1516. The form of the philosophical dialogue in Book I or the treatise on political philosophy in Book II can be read between the lines of a deeply original text, the first representative of a new literary genre. But if the ancient authors examine abstractly the principles of organization and functioning of the ideal city, More chooses the descriptive mode of a fictitious discourse representing the island of Utopia as really existing, in an elsewhere defined as "nothing". -venue ". Between seriousness and irony, it is the voice of Lucien that the text makes heard, Lucien who is also at the heart of the intertextuality which unites Utopia to the work of Rabelais and is declined in the mode of a facetious humanism .

Thomas More's Utopia was published in 1516 after a gestation period of six or seven years – as shown by A. Prévost – during which the author accumulated reading notes on all sorts of texts dealing with the different forms of government, and during which his regular exchanges with Erasmus gradually brought the work into its final form. The friendship of the two men, born of their meeting in London in 1499 (More was then 21 years old, Erasmus twelve years older), is based in particular on the common interest of the two great humanists for an intellectual education considered as an instrument reform and moral progress for the individual first, and consequently for human societies and their institutions. In 1511 Erasmus publishes the Praise of Madness, a satirical speech reflecting the anger and disappointment he felt, at the end of a stay in Italian universities where he realized the resistance encountered by his project of educational reform and his defense of the necessary return to the original texts as a fundamental condition for in-depth reflection on the texts of the Ancients as well as on those of Scripture. This Encomium Moriae is humorously dedicated to his friend: if the name of Morus, says Erasmus, recalls the sounds of Moria, there could not be a greater distance between this madness and the immense wisdom of More, perceived very early by Erasmus; moreover, the two men agree on the need to write, in parallel with thisÉloge de la Folie, a eulogy to Wisdom whose responsibility would fall to More. Utopia will be this praise of Wisdom, or at least the product of this project developed as a pendant to the Praise of Madness.

  • Ibid. , 66.
  • 3 It also recalls the Moria of the Encomium more, Latinized Greek – pun (...)
  • 4 Even before introducing him as Amerigo Vespucci's companion, Pierre Gilles hastens (...)

2The name of Utopia was only found by More at the very last moment, shortly before publication: Utopia was long called Nusquama, in the exchanges between Erasmus and More who, on the question: where to find the Wisdom?, had replied Nusquam, nowhere, subsequently designating their common project under the name of Nusquama nostra, our nowhere. The passage from Nusquama to Utopia is also characteristic of the Hellenism of Utopia, from the playful onomastics of names formed almost exclusively on Greek etymological roots to the repeated expression of the superiority of the Greek philosophical heritage over that of the Latins.

  • 5 Prevost 1978, 27.

3The history of the work's composition also sheds light on its structure. Utopia _is composed of two books: the actual description of the island, its inhabitants, and its institutions does not begin until the beginning of the second part, a first-person narration which is presented as the speech of a navigator, Raphaël Hythlodée, a perfectly fictitious character but presented in Book I as the traveling companion of the great Florentine navigator, Amerigo Vespucci. We know, thanks to very clear allusions to the gestation of the work in the correspondence of Erasmus, that the second book was composed of the first, at the end of a long preparatory work including readings, note-taking, interviews with other humanists, and in particular Erasmus, while what now appears as Book I of Utopia was actually written in 1516, the same year the book was published (which will appear in December of that year). In this first book, More had however already composed the short Prologue which introduces the character-narrator of the second part, the sailor Raphaël Hythlodée, in circumstances that combine fiction with history: the narrator of the first part is not other than Thomas More's character who is in Flanders in the spring and summer of the year 1515, sent by the King of England on a mission of political and commercial negotiation (which is completely in conformity with the historical fact). This Thomas More character travels from Bruges to Antwerp, where his friend Pierre Gilles resides (in reality a very close friend of Thomas More, Utopia ). It was Pierre Gilles who introduced Raphaël Hythlodée, one Sunday after mass, to a Thomas More, intrigued by the appearance of this "foreigner of a certain age, with a tanned face, long beard, cloak carelessly slung over his shoulder”, whose face and clothing make one think “of a ship's captain”The conversation that the three men immediately begin convinces More to invite them to come and continue it at his place, on a “grass bench” in the garden of the house where he lives.

  • 6 Although Raphaël Hythlodée takes the prudent care of tracing back to twelve years of the stay (...)

4What More composed in 1516 corresponds to the bulk of Book I, that is to say, the dialogue which then opens between the three men and mainly between More-character and Raphaël Hythlodée, in which the latter proves to be a man of great wisdom, who violently castigates the iniquity that reigns in contemporary Europe and in particular in the kingdom of England where he lived twelve years ago 6There he witnessed the ravages of mercantilism and the negligence of kings who prefer to continue to reign over a people of beggars rather than questioning the way their kingdom is governed, and who have in mind only conquests and expansion wars when their own realm is itself so mismanaged and would claim their full attention. The late insertion of this dialogue between the Prologue and Book II has left visible traces, the delay in the description of the island of Utopia being mentioned heavily and three times by Hythlodeus. But despite this not very discreet join, the dialogue that constitutes the first book represents a brilliant text in which a radical political and social critique of England at the dawn of the sixteenth century is elaborated. century, of its commercialism and the corruption of its government, criticism which prepares and finally introduces the eulogy of Utopia to Book II.

Book I and the form of philosophical dialogue

  • 7 Prévost 1978, 37, recalls that Thomas More's education at St. Anthony's College in London (...)
  • 8 Quintilian III.7.26-7.
  • 9 Logan et al . 1995, xxvi sq.
  • 10 In 1517. See MacNalty 1977, on More's political and social activities.

5Utopiato use the words of A. Prévost, “is an extraordinary exercise in rhetoric”If the second book represents a perfect example of the epideictic genre of paradoxical praise – the praise of a city being recognized in classical rhetoric as a subgenre of demonstrative rhetoric, according to the analysis of Quintilian   – the first book has very clear affinities with the art of deliberative rhetoric, within which the topoi, which rhetorical textbooks list, provide invention with material for creating and developing convincing argumentsTopoi _considered here – the injustice of an oligarchic society, the responsibility of idle elites in the development of poverty and theft, the negligence of kings and the iniquity of the judicial system, and the problem of the council of kings – are themes whom Thomas More knows well: as under-sheriff of London, he has been in charge of judging the current affairs of the city since 1510; responsible for the improvement of the city's sewers and pipes, he knows the insalubrity of certain districts of London, a dirty and smoky city where the poverty engendered by an unjust regime is concentrated. Man of the field, already very actively involved in the political life of his country, and about to enter the council of King Henry VIII, Thomas More has nevertheless chosen in Utopia to approach as a humanist, reader of the Ancients, and experienced in the methods of classical rhetoric, these subjects of which he has an empirical knowledge. His readings of Plato first, but also of Aristotle and Lucian, four of whose dialogues he translated – and of many other authors, whose traces in the text are more elusive – contributed to giving shape to the Utopia, More's reflection developing within a continuous dialogue with the texts of the Ancients.

  • 11 Prévost 1978, 65: “In truth, this very great sage had foreseen that there was no (...)
  • 12 Trans. : Prévost 1978. The full title of the 1518 edition, in Basel, is as follows: De (...)
  • 13 See below.

6Whether it is the form chosen, that of political and philosophical dialogue, or the analysis in itself of the political and social evils engendered by a bad form of government, the reference to Plato is essential. from the first pages of Book I, and Plato himself is quoted in this first book, through a vibrant homage by HythlodéeBut it is also to Aristotle, and more particularly to Book II of Politics, that the full title of Utopia refers: “The best form of political community and the new island of Utopia”The reference to Aristotle is however more decisive for book II of the utopia where the exhibition of the different components of the utopian society recalls the plan of Politics.

  • 14 Starnes 1990.

7Fr. Surtz, an American Jesuit author of one of the most important commented editions of Utopia, was one of the first commentators of More to take a close interest in the intertextuality that unites Book I of Utopia to Plato's Republic, intertextuality that More emphasizes from the narrative opening of the Prologue, choosing to begin his story with a conversation in a port city between philosophers and friends, at the end of a religious ceremony: at the beginning of the republic, a feast of Artemis in Piraeus is the occasion of the visit of Socrates in the house of Cephalus, while the humanists of Antwerp meet at the end of the mass. In a more recent study, C. Starnes has studied how More, at the beginning of the book I, follows in every respect the method of exposition which is that of Plato at the beginning of the Republic: More, like Plato, describes the roots of the political problem and defends the thesis of the inadequacy of all existing solutions. It is thus a matter of preparing the ground for the presentation of the need for radically new structures: in the Republic, it is a question of examining the origin of a State to discover what justice is; in More's work, it is the description of Utopia that should make it possible to discover what could be the best possible form of community.

  • 15 Prevost 1978, 37.

8Raphaël Hythlodée's virulent denunciation of the social injustice that reigns in Europe in general, and in England in particular, is centered on a critical analysis of oligarchic society and of those nobles who "are not content to live in idleness, like hornets fed on the labor of others", but lead to their destruction, by their deplorable example, hordes of idle courtiers who, after their death, incapable of fulfilling the slightest useful function in society, will swell the ranks of the hordes of thievesThe hornets metaphor is taken directly from Book VIII of the Republic where Socrates analyzes the perversity of the system of recruitment of the oligarchs according not to their particular aptitude to direct the State and to be useful to it, but according to their fortune, and thus challenges his interlocutor:

  • 16 République , VIII, 552 b (trans. Baccou 1966 which will be used for all the other (...)

Do you want us to say of such a man that, as the hornet is born in a cell to be the scourge of the hive, he is born, a hornet too, into a family to be the scourge of the  city 

Generally speaking, the Platonic analysis of the oligarchy seems to have provided More with a very precise framework for his own reflection on the evils of a political organization that puts wealth before merit, and on the close relationship which links in these societies the extreme wealth of some to the extreme poverty of others.

  • 17 For an in-depth analysis of the parallel between Socrates and Hythlodeus, see Star (...)
  • 18 Quattrocki 1971, 27, underlines the parallel between the sense of duty shown by the v (...)

9The character of Raphaël Hythlodée, responsible for most of this virulent criticism in Book I, himself owes a lot to the character of SocratesHythlodée has attributed the characteristics of the philosopher: he is entirely devoted to philosophy, is neither greedy for power nor greedy for wealth, and has given himself the goal of spreading the truth: his personal preference would have been to continue to live in Utopia – where he remained for five years – but the feeling of duty to tell the world about it made him brave the dangers of returning to EuropeHe is also not distinguished by a brilliant style, but by the truth and simplicity of his speech.

10However, if the wisdom of Socrates is entirely interior, the philosopher having moved away only from appearances to be able to contemplate the intelligible truth, the wisdom of Raphaël Hythlodée comes largely from his travels and the human experiences to which they have led. For More and the Christian humanists, the problem is posed anyway in very different terms, since Christ, since his advent, represents the most perfect of philosophers and the holder of intelligible truth – the problem for More is more that of the concrete application of this truth in all the material aspects of earthly life. But here again, More explicitly joins the text of the Republic, through an interrogation on the place of the sage in the city and on the role that the one who knows can play with those who reign.

11It is indeed this wisdom born of experience, at the same time as Hythlodée's ability to entertain with the picturesque account of his travels, which leads his listeners to be surprised that he has never yet placed in the service of a king, which they exhort him to do, but which Hythlodée categorically refuses. By addressing Hythlodée on the subject of his political non-engagement, More-character explicitly brings out the reference to the text of the Republic  :

  • 19 Prévost 1978, 53: More cites Plato, République , V, 473 a-474 a.

Your dear Plato thinks that states only have a chance of being happy if philosophers are kings or if kings begin to philosophize. How far away is this happiness if philosophers do not even deign to give kings their opinion  ?

More character refers here to Book V of the Republic but seems deliberate to omit the passage from book VI where Socrates returns to the place that can be given to a philosopher in an iniquitous government, and the uselessness for him to participate in a regime corrupted:

  • 20 Republic , VI, 496 cd.

like a man fallen in the midst of ferocious beasts, refusing to participate in their crimes and otherwise unable to resist these savage beings alone, he would perish before he had served his friends and his country, useless to himself and to others .

But this development of the Platonic dialogue is nevertheless found indirectly in More's text, no longer this time in the mouth of More-character, but in that of Hythlodée when he justifies his refusal to enter the service of a king: he then refers both to the Republic and to Plato's unfortunate experience with Dionysius the Tyrant, to conclude that Plato

  • 21 Prevost 1978, 54.

was certainly not mistaken when he foresaw that if kings did not indulge themselves in philosophy, being imbued from infancy with perverse principles and infected by them, they would never fully approve of the advice from those who devote themselves to philosophy .

In support of this conviction, Hythlodée asks his interlocutors to imagine what would be the reaction of a king to whom he would expose, in reaction to his unjust actions, the example of very wise peoples having chosen other ways of government. : in this preteritive mode, two utopian micro-narratives unfold that transcend the clearly identifiable references to political and social news in Hythlodée's discourse, and announce the expansion of utopian writing in the second part.

  • 22 Prévost 1978, 46: After a passionate diatribe against the death penalty applied to (...)
  • 23 The narrator specifies that the island of the Achorians is “to the south-east of the island of the Utopians (...)
  • 24 Prevost 1978, 59-60.

12The debate on the council of kings had already been preceded by a first utopian micronarrative introducing the people of the “Polylerites”By attacking a few pages later on the will to power of the kings and their wars of conquest, which prevent them from taking care of their kingdom, Hythlodée opposes the condemnable example of the king of France that of the "Achorians": the second prefiguration of Utopia, this people "without territory", according to the etymology of its name, paradoxically found itself at the head of two territories at one point in its history, and the administration of the second, recently conquered, created so much difficulty that the people ended up asking the king to choose between the two territories and to keep only one, which he could administer properly. To the monetary manipulations of the kings and their thirst for wealth, he then opposes the example of the Macarians, those blessed people who constitute a third prefiguration of the island of Utopia; their king undertakes not to amass in his coffers more than a thousand pounds: in this, he is the very personification of wisdom,.

13The mode of the emergence of these micro-narratives in the dialogue sheds light on the relationship between utopia and dystopia, the utopian narrative occurring in reaction to a situation of dysfunction whose presentation leads to an aporia of discourse: at the very moment when Hythlodée is strangled by fury in its denunciation of the tragic dysfunctions of society and the unconsciousness of kings, appears the description of peoples whose very functioning provides a solution to the aporia of dystopian discourse. Placed at the end of a text that More wrote shortly before the publication of the work, after having entirely completed the writing of Book II, these micro-narratives also shed light on Thomas More's approach in this a posteriori addition. which underlines the close link in the text between the denunciation of the dysfunctions of society and the emergence of utopian writing.

Book II of Utopia: from Plato and Aristotle to Lucian

  • 25 The notion of realism may seem paradoxical to say the least, applied to this fiction (...)

14Presented as the discourse of Raphaël Hythlodée, the text of the second part of Utopia is built around a fundamental tension between prescriptive discourse and "realistic" description, between a discourse on the ideal character of political and social organization in Utopia, and an extremely precise, detailed, concrete description of the material organization and functioning of this republic.

  • 26 This same shift from the abstract to the concrete, if it only exists as a watermark of the (...)

15The Republic of Utopia is not frozen in an eternal present: it has a long history of 1760 years, and it could benefit from the progress brought by the inventions of the Romans when, 1200 years before the stay of Hythlodée, a handful of lost Roman travelers has landed on its shores, and it generally presents itself as an eminently perfectible society, extraordinarily open and eager to receive new teachings. However, the geographical isolation of the island and what appears to be the immutable repetition of the gestures of the well-regulated life of the Utopians in the description of Hytlodée seem to contradict this insertion of Utopia in time. Even more, there is a constant tension, in the text of the second book,.

  • 27 Dubois 1968, 12, sees in these inhospitable coasts “the significance of a prohibition, this (...)
  • 28 Prevost 1978, 457.

16This ambivalence of the text in Book II is found in the ambivalence of the island's shape as it first appears to the traveler, through its port of access. In this, the beginning of book II also recalls the Lucien of the True Stories of the genre of fabulous narratives to which it is attached, in particular in this initial description of the island seen by the traveler who is about to disembark there. The island has the shape of a crescent moon whose ends come together and form for the traveler coming from the high seas first a narrow "neck", dangerous to access because it is dotted with many hidden reefs, but which once crossed gives access to a port so perfectly well protected from the currents that it is compared to "a large lake". Access to the island is essentially defined as difficult; Utopia is a fortified island, an island on the defensive, due to its natural shape, but also due to the constructions that protect it. This striking motif of the displacement of signals to deceive the enemy also appears as a thinly veiled metaphor of the author's game vis-à-vis his reader whom he likes to surprise and perplex, in him giving in particular interpretative anxieties in the face of an onomastics whose references slip away and become blurred as they are observed more closely, in the manner of the utopian capital, Amaurote, a city which is becoming darker, a city which is estompe, mirage city, and the Anhydrous river which crosses it.

  • 29 Prévost 1978, 450, n. 2, emphasizes that with the name of the founder of Utopia, More "takes up a (...)

17The dominant impression that emerges from the geographical presentation of the island is that of a fortress, of sought-after isolation and retrenchment. It is also very significant that a herculean work, shared by all, is at the beginning of the story of Utopia: the narrator reports that "once" the island was not one, and that it is Utopus who, immediately after his victory over the coarse horde which hitherto inhabited these lands, began by causing the natives as well as his own soldiers to dig a ditch fifteen miles wide intended to separate the island from the continent to which the territory had hitherto belonged. there attached. The natural conditions of the island of Utopia are nothing out of the ordinary, and the work equally shared by all is the foundation for the smooth running of Utopia.

  • 30 This detail recalls Plato, Republic, 421 d-422 c: if poverty prevents the potter (...)

18Utopia is not Arcadia, first because it is made up above all of a group of cities, fifty-four cities (as many as counties in contemporary England) built on the same plan, distant enough from each other without the distance that separates them exceeding a day's walk, admittedly surrounded by countryside, but without there being any separation between peoples of the cities and peoples of the countryside: it is the peoples of the cities who will live for two years in the countryside, on farms equipped with all the necessary agricultural tools that await them, and thus work for two years in succession, while the population of the countryside is renewed year after year. The purpose of this rotation is clear: "that no one has to endure too long and despite himself a kind of rather painful life", even if the citizens who would find on the contrary a particular charm in agricultural life have the possibility of remaining in the campaign for several years in a row. The utopian countryside is therefore in no way idealized, it is represented above all as the place of essential but "rather painful" agricultural work, and whose degree of arduousness, understood as superior to that of craftsmanship, requires the establishment of a rotation so that justice and fairness in the distribution of work between citizens are respected. In the words of C.-G. Dubois, Utopia is

  • 31 Dubois 1968, 18.

the dream of a city dweller dissatisfied with his city, but who does not choose for the paradise of his dreams what is opposed to the city – artificial paradises or Arcadian countryside – but another city organized differently .

  • 32 Lacroix 2007, 262: “The perfection of the essence of Utopia is not not to include (...)

The Utopians are in no way men of the golden age, they are men like the others who knew how to organize themselves differently, men susceptible to sin like all men after the fall – in this Christianity de More asserts itself more than the Platonic tradition.

  • 33 On this subject, see R. Klein, “L’urbanisme politique de Filarete à Valentin Andreae”, in (...)

19The plan of the utopian towns is largely based on the concrete experience of Thomas More, as responsible for the sewers and drains of the city of London. If the campaigns of Utopia have nothing of the locus amœnusArcadian, it is inside the cities that the latter is found, in the closed gardens of these cities made of houses with facades on the street and equipped with a closed garden at the back, directly inspired by what Thomas More had been able to admire in the towns of Flanders. Superlatives and moderators of intensity suddenly multiply in the description of the gardening talents of these Utopians: "these gardens are of such beauty and are the object of such attentive care that I have never seen anything more luxuriant nor in better taste”. These gardens are moreover the only place where individual creativity is expressed, each being free to apply the know-how learned in agricultural work to the purely recreational field of gardening. A fantasy, an abundance of colors and shapes, an almost luxury, which alone tempers what can be distressing about the perfect similarity of the plan of the fifty-four utopian cities, which are so similar that having visited one is equivalent to knowing any of his fifty-three fellows. Equity is at this price: nothing should distinguish one Utopian from another, all being destined to receive the same share; but the unreal perfection of identical reproduction is coupled with a strange feeling of dehumanization which recalls the nightmarish character of the dystopian societies imagined, four centuries after More, by Wells or by Orwell. which alone tempers what can be distressing from the perfect similarity of the plan of the fifty-four utopian cities, which resemble each other so much that having visited one is equivalent to knowing any of its fifty-three similar ones. Equity is at this price: nothing should distinguish one Utopian from another, all being destined to receive the same share; but the unreal perfection of identical reproduction is coupled with a strange feeling of dehumanization which recalls the nightmarish character of the dystopian societies imagined, four centuries after More, by Wells or by Orwell. which alone tempers what can be distressing from the perfect similarity of the plan of the fifty-four utopian cities, which resemble each other so much that having visited one is equivalent to knowing any of its fifty-three similar ones. Equity is at this price: nothing should distinguish one Utopian from another, all being destined to receive the same share; but the unreal perfection of identical reproduction is coupled with a strange feeling of dehumanization which recalls the nightmarish character of the dystopian societies imagined, four centuries after More, by Wells or by Orwell. who are so similar that having visited one is equivalent to knowing any of its fifty-three fellows. Equity is at this price: nothing should distinguish one Utopian from another, all being destined to receive the same share; but the unreal perfection of identical reproduction is coupled with a strange feeling of dehumanization which recalls the nightmarish character of the dystopian societies imagined, four centuries after More, by Wells or by Orwell. who are so similar that having visited one is equivalent to knowing any of its fifty-three fellows. Equity is at this price: nothing should distinguish one Utopian from another, all being destined to receive the same share; but the unreal perfection of identical reproduction is coupled with a strange feeling of dehumanization which recalls the nightmarish character of the dystopian societies imagined, four centuries after More, by Wells or by Orwell.

  • 34 Logan et al. 1995, xix.
  • 35 Commentators agree that he could not have had direct access to (...)
  • 36 See Duhamel 1977, 239-243.

20The detailed commentary on the geographical location of the island and the plan of its towns opens the way to the description of the political and social organization of Utopia. As G. M. Logan points out, if the order chosen for the presentation of the different aspects of this organization owes a great deal to rhetoric, the very structure of the community described by Hythlodée comes from political theoryAristotle's Politics seems to have been present in the memory of More when writing the description of Utopia, the order of the various aspects considered as a whole recalling indeed precisely that which Aristotle follows in Book VII when he reviews the various points which must be considered in the description of the best possible political community: first the questions relating to the territory, to the location of the city, and to the communication with the sea, then the question of the participation of certain individuals in the life of the city, and of their different functions, which leads to the consideration of social life and in particular meals taken together; finally, the constitution itself, the laws, as well as the war and the modalities of military training.

  • 37 Politics, VII, 1-3.
  • 38 Prevost 1978, 102-115.
  • 39 Prévost 1978, 112. The passage recalls Aristotle, Politique, VII, 1, 7, a proposed (...)

21But it is also the beginning of this book VII which sheds light on an essential aspect of the structure of book II of Utopia: Aristotle recommends therein to begin, before considering the best possible constitution, by first defining what constitutes the most desirable kind of lifeUtopia _is not a political treatise, but fiction in the form of discourse, and if More indeed subordinates, according to Aristotle's advice, any description of the institutions and activities of the Utopians to the moral philosophy and conception of happiness of these last, it is not at the edge of the text, but in its center, that he chose to place the detailed presentation of the moral principles and the conditions of utopian happinessAt the foundation of the moral doctrine of the Utopians is the belief, found in both Plato and Aristotle, that the accumulation of wealth is not what makes a state great or a nation happy. an individual, the end of a political community is to ensure the happiness of its members through the exercise of virtue. The Utopians are therefore attached "above all to the pleasures of the mind, which they put in the first place and regard as essential".

  • 40 Prevost 1978, 83-84.

22The economy of the Utopians is entirely organized according to this principle of "nothing too much", and of the superiority of the pleasure taken in the occupations of the mind: everyone is asked to participate in agricultural work so that everyone's working time is reduced to what is strictly necessary. At the heart of the economic functioning of Utopia, shared work is indeed not considered an end in itself: it is a question of ensuring that working hours are not unnecessarily increased by the production of superfluous objects. (luxury has no right of citizenship in Utopia), to free up hours for everyone that they can devote to freedom and to the cultivation of the mind, the ultimate guarantor of the happiness of Utopians (even if the work remains the sine qua non ): thus, the institutions of this Republic

  • 41 Ibid. , 86.

have essentially only one goal: […] to gain as many hours as possible from the time absorbed by the servitudes of the body in order to allow all citizens to devote them to the freedom of the soul and to the cultivation of the mind. It is in this, in fact, that according to them lies the happiness of existence  .

  • 42 Politics , VIII, 3, 3 (trans. Aubonnet 1989).

There is here a striking reminder of Aristotle who underlines in book VIII of the Politics that "our nature itself...seeks not only to carry out its activities correctly but also to be able to enjoy leisure nobly: this is the principle of all ". Work and leisure “both are necessary”, but leisure is preferable to work, “because it is its goal”Only an elite of fewer than five hundred people, mostly high-flying intellectuals, are exempted from manual labor but, the narrator points out, the principle of common labor is so deeply rooted among the Utopians that most of the exempted ask themselves to participate in the work.

  • 43 Prevost 1978, 96 sq.
  • 44 The episode of the Anemolian ambassadors (Prévost 1978, 98-99) allows More to ex (...)

23The products of this common labor are freely distributed to the Utopians, and gold is despised as a symbol of the absurdity of its accumulation among peoples who consider it highly desirableGold, the source of all vices and all crimes, is also a source of inspiration for the comic verve of More: it is used in Utopia to cast humble and everyday objects like chamber pots, and it is even associated with the mark of infamy since it serves in particular to melt the chains of those who have been condemned by the utopian magistratesHythlodée deplores that gold "by nature so useless, has acquired today, in all the nations of the world, such a rating that man himself, by whom and for whom this value was created, has much less more valuable than he", and congratulates himself, in the final diatribe which concludes Book II, on the fact that a veritable "harvest of crimes" has been "destroyed" in Utopia by the suppression of the value accorded to gold.

24The words of Hythlodée here recall those of Socrates in the Republic  :

  • 45 Republic , III, 416 a-417 b.

As for gold and silver, they will be told that they always have in their soul the metals which they have received from the gods, that they do not need those of men, and that it is impious to defile the possession of divine gold by joining it to that of mortal gold, because many crimes have been committed for the coined metal of the vulgar, while theirs is pure  .

For More as for Plato, gold leads to crime, and its valuation in itself is a crime against the incomparable value of the human soul.

  • 46 Republic, III, 416 a-417 b.

25Utopia also very clearly reflects Platonic communism as it is exposed in book III of the Republic 46 about the guardians of the Platonic city; the description of the utopian houses illustrates what Socrates recommends for the housing of the guards, by adding to it the idea of ​​rotation by lot:

  • 47 Prevost 1978, 76.

all doors, which are double-leaf, yield to a slight push of the hand and close automatically. Come in who wants. Thus, nowhere is there the slightest trace of private property. As for the houses themselves, they are changed every ten years after drawing lots  .

But More goes further than Plato in his description of Utopia, since the community of goods there is not reserved for an elite, but applies to society as a whole.

  • 48 Prevost 1978, 65-67.

26However, one cannot define with certainty the prescriptive value in More's eyes of this generalization of communism to society as a whole: if Hythlodée, at the end of the book I, had expressed himself passionately in favor of the abolition of property and private life and money, the character Thomas More had, on the contrary, risen up against such communism, according to him a source of scarcity and a ferment of sedition.

  • 49 Prevost 1978, 91-92.
  • 50 Republic , V, 458-459.
  • 51 Republic , V, 461 a.

27The organization of social life in Utopia seems to respond exactly to Plato's injunction in the same book III: "They will take their meals together and live together", meals together being also for Thomas More the occasion of a visible pleasure taken in the picturesque description of the practical organization of these immense tables mixing all the generationsIn contrast, the community of women and children as depicted in Republic is not found in Utopia: the Utopians are monogamous, and the Utopian cities are subdivided into families generally formed of those who are united by natural kinship, each family numbering between ten and sixteen adults, and each city six thousand families. Similarly, about breastfeeding and the care to be given to children, Utopia differs notably from the Platonic city: it is in fact said in the Republic that the children will be breast-fed by the mothers without distinction (one will implement "all the possible means so that none of them recognize their offspring”, while among the Utopians, “every mother suckles her child” unless death or disease prevents her from doing so – other nurses will be found in this case.

  • 52 In Utopia, each group of thirty families elects a magistrate every year, and the magi (...)

28The essential divergence between More and Plato is due to the different models of political organization that they respectively adopted for their ideal city: the Platonic Republic is based on an aristocracy, while the political ideal at the heart of Utopia is that of representative democracyThe community of women and children in the Republic moreover appears directly linked to the elitism of the Platonic ideal city and to the eugenics that prevails in the search for an ever better race, which only the incitement to frequent unions within the elite can guarantee. The two texts, however, converge on the subject of population regulation. The population of utopian cities is regulated according to a principle reminiscent of that of communicating vessels: a figure, provided for by law, we are told, but not communicated by the text, sets the upper and lower limits of the number of inhabitants per city. : any surplus is paid immediately to the cities which are not yet supernumerary or are already threatened with depopulation. Republic where Socrates reminds us that the size of the city should in no way compromise its unity:

  • 53 Republic , V, 422 c-423 c.

Up to the point where, enlarged, it retains its unity, the city can expand, but not beyond. - Very good. – So we will also prescribe to the guardians to ensure with the greatest care that the city is neither small nor large in appearance, but that it is of sufficient proportions, while keeping its unity .

  • 54 Prevost 1978, 87.

But where Plato only states a principle for his ideal city, More, in the description of his city of flesh, confronts the principle of this system of regulation with the reality of life: recognizing that the number of births per family is something that cannot be determined in advance and that the balancing system must also take into consideration the possibility of an overall increase in the population of the island, the utopian legislators have provided in this case for the establishment of utopian coloniesHere we find one of the most striking examples of this process specific to the text of Book II as a whole, that of a seamless shift from the hypothesis envisaged in an abstract and prescriptive way, to the usual present-tense narration of this what happens once the hypothesis has become reality: unlike Plato, who prescribes ensuring the preservation of the unity of the city but does not envisage the actions to be taken if this unity breaks down, the text by Thomas More unrolls all the possible hypotheses to the end and does not content itself with describing their possible consequences, but narrates them as having already actually occurred.

  • 55 Prevost 1978, 131.
  • 56 Republic , V, 469 b-470 b.
  • 57 Lacroix 2007, 253.
  • 58 Hexter & Surtz 1964, p. cixii, takes stock of the similarities that exist between ma (...)

29The motif of colonies also leads to a paradoxical development on the theme of war in UtopiaUtopia as a place of justice and equity condemns war, and Utopians do everything in their power to avoid war. If they are forced to do so, in case of aggression or to come to the aid of a friendly people, they wage war with humanity: victorious, they never engage in the massacre and refuse to pillage or destroy crops . . More's text here joins the Republic on the conduct that the victors must adaptBut the need to regulate the size of the fifty-four cities by establishing colonies leads to more unexpected developments: the Utopians first propose that the natives live in harmony with them according to the Utopian laws that they naturally carry with them. on the continent, but if the natives refuse to adopt the Utopian law, a war against these recalcitrants will be waged, the Utopian regime not being able to accept the slightest compromise which would inevitably lead to the corruption of its laws. Does this colonization by force contradict the humanist ideal also displayed by the Utopians, that of the refusal of wars of conquest? Or should we rather see here the illustration of the fact that,What would justify the war in the scenario mentioned, is that it would be impossible to let the natives neglect the land that they intend to keep for themselves: wanting to keep for themselves, without cultivating it, a land which one does not There is no need is a flagrant injustice that justifies unleashing a war aimed at restoring justice and equity.

  • 59 Lacroix 2007, 158.
  • 60 Republic, VIII, 546 a: “Everything that is born is subject to corruption”.

30The description of Utopia in Book II is developed through a continuous movement back and forth between the text of the Republic and the personal reflection of More, nourished by the readings of the Ancients and his contemporaries. But if it is true that it cannot be read outside of this fundamental parallel with Plato's text, the description of Utopia is nevertheless distinguished from the Platonic ideal city by its very essence, in that it takes the form through a description that presupposes its existence and shows it in the mode of mimesis; to use the words of J.-Y. Lacroix, it thus appears as “the sensible existence of the essence of the perfect city” as Plato envisages it, the sensible description of Utopia by Raphael is what makes it known. If the city of Plato were to exist, it would end up being corrupted, but

  • 61 Lacroix 2007, 162.

such cannot be the case for Utopia, thought to essentially last, since once again its essence cannot be altered by an existence that it already is by itself  .

  • 62 Poem present in the first four editions: HEXASTICHON ANEMOLII POETAE (...)
  • 63 Prevost 1978, 350.
  • 64 See Saïd 1994, 150: “Lucien inverts the relationship between reality and literature: if ethic (...)
  • 65 True Stories, I, 4 (trans. Bompaire 1998).
  • 66 Cf. “Luciani compluria opuscula ab Erasmo and Thoma Moro interpretibus optimis in Latin (...)

The "existence" of the island, paradoxically affirmed in the fiction, is also staged in the many paratexts of the work, from the map of the island placed at the beginning of the work and accompanied by a document presenting the “alphabet of the Utopians”, in the size of the utopian poet laureate Anemolius: the latter underlines the superiority of Utopia over the Republic which only “draws in letters” what Utopia “shows” truly 62Thomas More himself, in the letter to Pierre Gilles, placed at the beginning of Utopia, endeavors to prolong the game on the “truth” of the fiction, evoking the staging of the Prologue as a natural common memory, and referring to Hythlodée as a completely authentic character. The play on "true" fiction reaches a particular degree of complexity in this letter where More, on the pretext that a theologian wishing to go to Utopia had contacted him to obtain further geographical information, confesses his "embarrassment" at having to admit that he does not know where Utopia is... "It did not occur to us to ask, and Raphaël did not think to tell us, in which part of this new world is situated Utopia", he writes,In this game on the truth of fiction, it is the Lucien of the True Stories who is inscribed implicitly in More's text, in a game of mise en abyme of the prologue of the Stories where Lucien announces that the adventures which will follow are a fabric of lies and that he will only tell the truth on one point: by saying that he is lying. More here seems to be playing at taking the opposite view from the words of Lucien, who evokes these authors accustomed to lying by their profession of philosophers, but who surprise him "on one point: it is that they had believed they could write this which is not true without our realizing it”The voluntarily and comically exaggerated staging of the "true" story in the paratexts of Utopia thus seems impossible to read outside of a dialogue between Thomas More and Lucien and a work that had been familiar to him since he was had, with Erasmus, set about translating the Epigrams and the Dialogues from Greek .

  • 67 See Bompaire 1958, 699  sq ., for an exhaustive analysis of the invention of names (...)

31From a stylistic point of view, the influence of Lucien is palpable in all the passages where the irony or the burlesque point under the apparent seriousness of the description, and in particular in the play on the creations of names of peoples and of places that dot Utopia and recall the onomastic creations of LucienSince the publication of Utopia, the readers and exegetes of the work have striven to translate and interpret these composite names, formed for the majority of them on Greek roots. Still, roots are sometimes truncated or associated with other more obscure ones, to the point that very often the interpretation ends up colliding with an insurmountable aporia.

  • 68 Dubois 1968, 15, offers an interesting explanation of the privative “a”s in Utopia, m (...)
  • 69 This term recalls the mixture of demes and tribes in Lucien que Bompaire 1958, 157, (...)

32Thomas More's onomastic creations can be divided into two groups: nouns that function in the mode of paradox and absurd impossibility, especially those that begin with an a-privative, and those who on the contrary seem to want to capture a moral quality. As for the first group, already in the first book, the Polylerites, given as an example as a very wise people, evoked by their name a lot of chatter, as well as the wise theoretician Hythlodeus, whom his name designates as a vain talker; the Achorians for their part announces the Utopians by their geographical anchorage in the nowhere. At the beginning of Book II, the Anhydrous River may have its source upstream from Amaurote to diversify into currents that meet near the sea in a wide river, but the river remains without water, emptied of its very substance by its name; the governors of Utopia are called "Adèmes", the "without people".

  • 70 Prévost thus comments on the etymology of “Buthresques”: “From the Greek Bou-, enormous, having (...)

33In the second group, we find the Macarians, those blessed people whose king undertakes never to amass more than a thousand pounds in gold, but also the names attributed to the different functions in the hierarchy of the city or to the religious castes, sometimes complicated of Latinized variants or supposed to belong to a more recent state of the utopian language: thus the “Phylarchs” elected by the family groups were formerly called “Syphograntes”, the “Buthresques”, these monks par excellence, is also called religiosiBut this separation, which does not account for all of More's onomastic creations, also fails to shed light on an overall logic or a unifying principle behind these verbal creations.

  • 71 Rom 1991.

34J. Romm raised the question of More's onomastic strategy in Utopia, through the study of what it owes in particular to Lucien. In search of a coherent system of production of these proper names, he admits his perplexity in the face of the absence of etymological distinction between Utopians and non-Utopians, the utopian poet Anemolius,, sharing his name with the non-utopian people of “Anemolians”. The "Nephelogeti", in favor of whom the Utopians once waged war, constitute for J. Romm another type of interpretative difficulty: he recalls that the linguist Vossius in the 17th century had already noted the difficulty presented by the suffix "gates" which does not correspond to any Greek root, and if he is capable of bringing this name closer to Lucian's Nephelokentauroi, or indeed to Nephelokokkygia in Aristophanes, or even to the Homeric epithet applied to Zeus, nephelegereta, always comes up against an irreducible difficulty of interpretation.

  • 72 Prévost 1978, 353: “The half-scholars disdain as vulgar anything that is not teeming (...)

35Should we persist in trying to translate the names of UtopiaOr should we, as J. Romm thinks, accept as structural and essential the ambiguity of utopian onomastics, like a text that sometimes disconcerts the reader and leads him to ask himself the question of the seriousness or of the irony of the speech, in a very Lucian style? And laugh with More at the trap that he admits half-wordly, in his letter to Pierre Gilles, having deliberately set for his learned readers, lovers of philology, and perhaps also too easily impressed by what bears the stamp of the old.

Lucien, More and Rabelais

36It is also Lucien who provides an essential key to the reading of Utopia by Rabelais and the forms taken by this particular intertextuality in the Rabelaisian narrative work. Beyond the explicit, thematic, or narrative meeting points that we are going to mention, beyond the humanist kinship that links two authors, both admirers of Erasmus, the text of Thomas More and the Rabelaisian text seem linked, more deeply still, by the debt that they both owe to Lucian of Samosata, and which manifests itself in particular, in their respective works, by the place left to irony and satire, to non- buffoon sense itself, but also to a reflection on the production of meaning by the text,

37Chapter II of the Pantagruel, published in 1532, has the first attestation of the word utopia in French: the city of Amaurote gives its name to a people in Utopia in the account of the origin of the eponymous giant:

  • 73 Rabelais (Huchon 1994), 222.

Gargantua at his age of four hundred and eighty-four years fathered his son Pantagruel from his wife named Badebec, daughter of the King of the Amaurotes in Utopia .

In chapter VIII, Gargantua signs his famous letter to his son Pantagruel, in which he lays down the principles of the enlightened and modern education he desires for him, from the city of Utopia – a textual nod that led the commentators to wonder to what extent the “utopian” place of the signature of the letter should lead the reader to doubt the seriousness of its content.

  • 74 Rabelais (Huchon 1994), 298.

38In any case, it is always in a playful way that Utopia is integrated into the narrative course of Rabelais' work. After the mention of Utopia in the signature of Gargantua's letter, we find it quoted in the last third of the Pantagruel in chapter XXIII: we learn that taking advantage of the absence of King Gargantua, the Dipsodes, a people of the thirsty, have invaded a large part of Utopia and are besieging the "land of the Amaurotic", with the same shift that we find here from the name of the city at More to a name of the people. Pantagruel and his companions triumph over the Dipsodes at the end of this first Rabelaisian volume, an episode that closes the book. We know that the volume published next is the Gargantua, Rabelais going back in narrative time to precede the gesture of the son by that of the father. It was not until eleven years after the publication of the Pantagruel, in 1546, that the Third Book appeared, given by Rabelais as a "continuation" of the Pantagruel: the Third Book indeed opens on the period immediately following Pantagruel's victory over the Dipsodes, and on his decision to transport a colony of Utopians to Dipsode, to ensure the docility and goodwill of the newly conquered people. This is the last time that Utopia is mentioned explicitly in the Rabelaisian text: the navigation from island to island of Pantagruel and his companions in the Fourth Book, on the model of the fabulous narrations of Lucien, in fact still presents important possible cross-checks with the text of Utopia.

  • 75 Leslie 1998, 3.

39M. Leslie, in a study on the relationship between utopian writing in the Renaissance and the problem of history, has brought to light the fact that the reference to Utopia in Rabelaisian fiction has the effect of emptying it of its strictly utopian contentGargantua then Pantagruel are presented as the new kings of Utopia, without any explanation being given on the history of the succession of the founding king Utopus: as eminent philosophers and humanist sovereigns, the Rabelaisian giants spontaneously appropriate this distant Utopia, no longer a utopian fiction, but a true literary place, in which Rabelais anchors his text, making it the family cradle of his humanist dynasty.

40Certain narrative motifs also particularly caught Rabelais' attention, such as that of the utopian colonies. He indeed takes up the motif in great detail at the beginning of the Third Book, in what constitutes the most developed and explicit example of the intertextuality which unites the Rabelaisian text to that of More. Having "entirely conquered the country of Dipsody", Pantagruel

  • 76 Rabelais, Tiers Livre , chapter I, incipit .

in icelluy transported a colony of Utopians numbering .9876543210. men, without women and small children: craftsmen of all trades, and professors of all liberal sciences: for the said country to refresh, populate and adorn, badly otherwise inhabited and largely desert  .

  • 77 Rabelais probably had in mind, when he wrote, the example of his protector and (...)

Rabelais takes up here the motif of fallow lands which, in Raphaël Hythlodée's presentation, are considered a sufficient reason to justify their annexation by the utopian colonists. On the other hand, there is no question in Rabelais of the outpouring of an overflow of utopian population, nor of the possible resistance of the colonized which could lead to war: it is because he wishes to maintain his authority, that he exercises with the greatest kindness, on this newly conquered country that Pantagruel installs in Dipsody a colony of Utopians. The rest of the chapter is also a long warning, accompanied by numerous references to ancient texts, against the use of violence and force in such circumstances:.

41The Rabelaisian narrator underlines the effectiveness of Pantagruel's non-violent approach by showing how quickly the Dipsodes show themselves won over by their new king, an enthusiasm that might seem surprising but which can be explained

  • 78 Rabelais (Huchon 1994), 354.

I don't know what natural fervor in all humans at the beginning of all works that come to their liking. Only they complained…that the reputation of the good Pantagruel had no longer come to their notice .

  • 79 Prevost 1978, 142.

The reference to another passage from Book II of Utopia comes to light here, which clearly shows how much More's text was still present in Rabelais' mind during the writing of the Tiers Livre: the passage seems to direct reference to the description by Hythlodée of the reaction of the Utopians when they discovered Christianity for the first time through the accounts of the group of travelers of which Hythlodée belonged: many Utopians were immediately conquered by this doctrine whose natural religion turned out to be very close, although they have never heard of Christ: they can only regret not having known him earlier.

  • 80 For a detailed analysis of Rabelais' Lucian intertext, see Lauvergnat-Gagni (...)
  • 81 Rabelais (Huchon 1994), 540-542.
  • 82 J. Bompaire (Bompaire 1958, 708) analyzed the importance of the motif of the ecphrasis of d (...)

42The explicit references to the island of Utopia end with the episode of the Utopian colonies in Dipsody. But More and Lucien nevertheless remain implicitly present in the navigations of Pantagruel and his companions, in search of the oracle of the "dive bottle" in the Fourth Book: the kind of fabulous navigation to which the book relates not only to Lucien's True Stories, which inspired several episodes of the Fourth Book but also to utopian writing: the reference to Utopiaremains implicitly present in the background of each landing on the islands which are so many new worlds for the companions. In this regard, the episode of Medamothi Island, this island of Nowhere that constitutes the first stopover of the companions, can appear completely symbolic of this implicit intertext, reinforced by a bundle of intriguing details: Pantagruel and his companions do not venture further than the port of Medamothi, where a lively fair is held which will lead them to the purchase of quite mysterious paintings. Among the latter, two in particular hold the attention: a painting, bought by Brother Jean, represents the face of a litigant – should we see there an encrypted allusion to the magistrate of London, or to the peroration of his character Hythlodée? Epistemon, meanwhile, acquired a painting "on which were vividly painted the ideas of Plato",The fact that Frère Jean pays for his purchases “in monkey money” can also be read as a confirmation of the implicit presence of the chapter on this island of Utopia where all bargaining chips have been banned.

  • 83 Rabelais (Huchon 1994), 550-556.
  • 84 Prevost 1978, 38.

43The episode of the stopover at Medamothi is closely followed by the well-known episode of the sheep that Panurge buys from the merchant DindenaultThe ship of Pantagruel crosses at the beginning of chapter VI a ship returning from the land of the Lanterns (directly taken from the True Stories of Lucian). On board is Dindenault, a prosperous sheep merchant, with whom Panurge almost immediately begins a quarrel, Dindenault refusing to sell him one of his sheep. The character of the merchant is particularly obnoxious: he makes the article about his marvelous sheep to Panurge, emphasizing that they are intended for royal customers, and humiliatingly mocking Panurge's claim to buy one from him. The theme of the sheep trade, coupled with the particularly arrogant character of the merchant, recalls the diatribe of Hythlodée in the book I in which the latter denounces the "oligopoly" of English sheep breeders who have enriched themselves by the iniquitous process of enclosures, these barriers raised around fields hitherto accessible to all, and in particular to the most destituteThey thus took away from the poor the resources that they could still find as agricultural laborers or through modest breeding or family crafts.

44“Chase away these mortal scourges!… Put a brake on the massive purchases of the rich and restrict the freedom of all that resembles a monopoly” exclaims Hythlodée in the conclusion of the gloomy picture he has just drawn of the disastrous consequences of a trade savage. The gesture of Panurge, who throws into the sea the sheep that he has just bought with great difficulty from the merchant, immediately causing his ruin by the loss of the whole herd, takes on a new dimension in this parallel, as if the gesture of Panurge could be read as the narrative materialization, in the Rabelaisian text, of Hythlodée's anger.

  • 85 See Trédé 1994, for an analysis of the game of quotations and parody in (...)
  • 86 Rabelais (Huchon 1994), 137-150.
  • 87 Dubois 1968, 5: “Arcadia makes a social law of individual desire, assuming (...)

45The references to Utopia in the Rabelaisian text are therefore essentially made in the eminently Lucian style of allusion, imitation, and rewriting. The humanism of More's utopian writing is what holds Rabelais' attention above all, much more than his utopianism. If the shadow of Utopia looms in the background of the fabulous navigations of the Quarter Book, through the motif of the discovery of new worlds, all the more interesting as they are isolated from the rest of the world and have developed in isolation, the description of the majority of these islands is more dystopia than reality. 'Utopia. The only episode of the Rabelaisian text which strictly speaking comes close to an essay in utopian writing is that of the foundation of the Abbey of Thélème at the end of Gargantua: to thank Brother Jean for his decisive role in the defeat of Picrochole, Gargantua offers him "all his country of Thélème near the Loire river and two leagues from the great forest of Port Huault", so that he can found an abbey “according to his estimate”, where religion will be instituted “contrary to all the others”. The land is described, as comfortable, bathed by the waters of a river, not far from a forest: all the conditions are met for the description of this utopian community to be sketched out. But any resemblance to Utopia ends there: by taking the opposite view from what constitutes the essence of any monastic community, The Abbey of Thélème brings back the luxury and refinement that had been banished from the utopian and Platonic cities, both in the detail of the rich finery of the Thelemites and in the interior layout of their abbey-palace. The only motto that governs the life of the Thelemites is "do what you want": time itself is no longer counted, neither clocks nor bells punctuate the life of the community, which navigates according to the desire of each one. according naturally to that of all, by the grace of the natural goodness and good sense of the Thelemites. From this point of view, and despite the refinement of the architecture and the gardens of the abbey, Thélème is, to use the words of C.-G. Dubois, "more Arcadian than utopian" both in the detail of the rich finery of the Thelemites and in the interior layout of their abbey-palace. The only motto that governs the life of the Thelemites is "do what you want": time itself is no longer counted, neither clocks nor bells punctuate the life of the community, which navigates according to the desire of each one. according naturally to that of all, by the grace of the natural goodness and good sense of the Thelemites. From this point of view, and despite the refinement of the architecture and the gardens of the abbey, Thélème is, to use the words of C.-G. Dubois, "more Arcadian than utopian" both in the detail of the rich finery of the Thelemites and in the interior layout of their abbey-palace. The only motto that governs the life of the Thelemites is "do what you want": time itself is no longer counted, neither clocks nor bells punctuate the life of the community, which navigates according to the desire of each one. according naturally to that of all, by the grace of the natural goodness and good sense of the Thelemites. From this point of view, and despite the refinement of the architecture and the gardens of the abbey, Thélème is, to use the words of C.-G. Dubois, "more Arcadian than utopian" time itself is no longer counted, neither clocks nor bells punctuate the life of the community, which navigates according to the desire of each one naturally agreeing with that of all, by the grace of natural kindness and common sense of the Thelemites. From this point of view, and despite the refinement of the architecture and the gardens of the abbey, Thélème is, to use the words of C.-G. Dubois, "more Arcadian than utopian" time itself is no longer counted, neither clocks nor bells punctuate the life of the community, which navigates according to the desire of each one naturally agreeing with that of all, by the grace of natural kindness and common sense of the Thelemites. From this point of view, and despite the refinement of the architecture and the gardens of the abbey, Thélème is, to use the words of C.-G. Dubois, "more Arcadian than utopian" and despite the refinement of the architecture and the gardens of the abbey, Thélème is, to use the words of C.-G. Dubois, "more Arcadian than utopian" and despite the refinement of the architecture and the gardens of the abbey, Thélème is, to use the words of C.-G. Dubois, "more Arcadian than utopian".

  • 88 A. Prévost has analyzed the importance, of what he calls “the subconscious elaboration of (...)

46An inverted reflection of religious life, the episode of Thélème also brings out with particular acuity what the organization of life in Utopia owes to the example of monastic communitiesThe philosophical dialogues and treatises on the political philosophy of the Ancients gave shape and substance to More's reflection on the best form of the political community; but the concrete details of the well-regulated existence of the Utopians, their common work, the simplicity of their dress, as well as of their contempt for riches, are drawn directly from the source of these communities of men and women living according to the example of Christ. In his letter to Thomas Lupset dated July 1517, and placed by the editors as a preface to Utopia, Budé sealed the interpretation of a Utopia between earth and sky, refuge of Justice on the way to heaven, in an elsewhere that he calls “Udepotia” and which could well be, according to him, one of the fortunate islands. He calls it "Hagnopolis", a prefiguration of the Holy City in the Apocalypse, with which it is however not to be confused: it is this step towards heaven, this haven of hope which raises justice and equity a little more high towards the ideals to which aspire since ancient times, philosophers or not, the just among men.