Self-fashioning and rhetoric in the french revolution: Anacharsis Cloots, orator of the human race

Global Intellectual History. Published online 30 May 2018,

This article analyses what Anacharsis Cloots (1755–1794) meant when he chose the name Anacharsis and called himself ‘Orator of the human race’. It argues that it was an act of self-fashioning by a foreigner in the French Revolution trying to find his place by representing other foreign populations in the new nation of free and equal citizens. Cloots, therefore, saw the Revolution as a performance on the global stage. Cloots chose Anacharsis as first name as an act of rejection against Christianity, but also because Anacharsis was a philosopher of Ancient Greece he identified with. Cloots chose the function of orator against ‘feudalism’ because, in the Roman republic, Cicero described the orator as a hero—a philosopher pondering the truth and convincing his audience with rhetorical skills. The orator is delivering universal truths and that is also why Cloots chose to publish pamphlets rather than treatises, in line with the rhetoric of the Enlightenment and the rhetoric of the Revolution. His political thought should therefore be considered seriously as the work of a political philosopher.


The Education of Anacharsis Cloots (1755–1794) at the Berlin Académie militaire des nobles (1770–1773)

untitledHistory of European Ideas. Published online 12 June 2018,

This article examines the education that Anacharsis Cloots (1755–1794) received during his stay at the Berlin Académie des nobles (1770–1773). Cloots wrote at several occasions about his education there, notably naming Sulzer as a philosophical influence 10 years later. Examining the pupils’ life at the Académie, Sulzer’s teaching, and the detailed study schedule, this paper wonders what elements may have influenced Cloots. It is likely that Sulzer taught the philosophy of Wolff, but it is difficult to ascertain his influence on Cloots. There are similarities between Wolff’s civitas maxima and Cloots’s ‘universal republic’ that justify further studies.

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