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A Companion to Plutarch



A Companion to Plutarch

Mark Beck (Editor)

ISBN: 978-1-118-31637-5 November 2013 Wiley-Blackwell 648 Pages

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A Companion to Plutarch offers a broad survey of the famous historian and biographer; a coherent, comprehensive, and elegant presentation of Plutarch’s thought and influence


  • Constitutes the first survey of its kind, a unified and accessible guide that offers a comprehensive discussion of all major aspects of Plutarch’s oeuvre
  • Provides essential background information on Plutarch’s world, including his own circle of influential friends (Greek and Roman), his travels, his political activity, and his relations with Trajan and other emperors
  • Offers contextualizing background, the literary and cultural details that shed light on some of the fundamental aspects of Plutarch’s thought
  • Surveys the ideologically crucial reception of the Greek Classical Period in Plutarch’s writings
  • Follows the currents of recent serious scholarship, discussing perennial interests, and delving into topics and works not formerly given serious attention
Notes on Contributors x

Acknowledgments xvii

Note on the Translations and Abbreviations xviii

Introduction: Plutarch in Greece 1
Mark Beck

Part I Plutarch in Context 11

1 Plutarch and Rome 13
Philip A. Stadter

2 Plutarch and the Second Sophistic 32
Thomas A. Schmitz

3 The Role of Philosophy and Philosophers in the Imperial Period 43
Michael Trapp

Part II Plutarch’s Moralia 59

4 Plutarch and Platonism 61
John Dillon

5 Plutarch, Aristotle, and the Peripatetics 73
Francesco Becchi (translated by Pia Bertucci)

6 Plutarch and the Stoics 88
Jan Opsomer

7 Plutarch and Epicureanism 104
Eleni Kechagia-Ovseiko

8 Plutarch and the Skeptics 121
Mauro Bonazzi (translated by Pia Bertucci)

9 Practical Ethics 135
Lieve Van Hoof

10 Political Philosophy 149
Christopher Pelling

11 Religion and Myth 163
Rainer Hirsch-Luipold (translated by Mark Beck)

12 Poetry and Education 177
Ewen Bowie

13 Love and Marriage 191
Georgia Tsouvala

14 The Sympotic Works 207
Frieda Klotz

15 Animals in Plutarch 223
Stephen T. Newmyer

16 Plutarch the Antiquarian 235
Pascal Payen (translated by Cara Welch)

Part III Plutarch’s Biographical Projects 249

17 The Lives of the Caesars 251
Aristoula Georgiadou

18 Plutarch’s Galba and Otho 267
Lukas de Blois

19 The Aratus and the Artaxerxes 278
Eran Almagor

20 The Project of the Parallel Lives: Plutarch’s Conception of Biography 292
Joseph Geiger

21 Kratein onomatôn: Language and Value in Plutarch 304
Alexei V. Zadorojnyi

22 Compositional Methods in the Lives 321
Luc Van der Stockt

23 The Prologues 333
Timothy E. Duff

24 Morality, Characterization, and Individuality 350
Anastasios G. Nikolaidis

25 Childhood and Youth 373
Carmen Soares (translated by Camila Alvahydo)

26 Death and Other Kinds of Closure 391
Craig Cooper

27 The Synkrisis 405
David H.J. Larmour

28 The Use of Historical Sources 417
Maria Teresa Schettino (translated by Pia Bertucci)

29 Tragedy and the Hero 437
Judith Mossman

30 The Philosopher-King 449
Bernard Boulet

31 The Socratic Paradigm 463
Mark Beck

32 Fate and Fortune 479
Frances B. Titchener

33 The Perils of Ambition 488
Françoise Frazier (translated by Cara Welch)

34 Sex, Eroticism, and Politics 503
Jeffrey Beneker

35 Philanthropy, Dignity, and Euergetism 516
Geert Roskam

Part IV The Reception of Plutarch 529

36 The Reception of Plutarch from Antiquity to the Italian Renaissance 531
Marianne Pade

37 The Renaissance in France: Amyot and Montaigne 544
Olivier Guerrier (translated by Cara Welch)

38 The Reception of Plutarch in France after the Renaissance 549
Françoise Frazier (translated by Cara Welch)

39 The Reception of Plutarch in Spain 556
Aurelio Pérez Jiménez

40 Shakespeare 577
Gordon Braden

41 The Post-Renaissance Reception of Plutarch in England 592
Judith Mossman

42 Plutarch and the Early American Republic 598
Carl J. Richard

Index 611

“In sum, this handsomely produced companion provides a snapshot of current research on Plutarch, while also lighting the way for new directions of inquiry about one of our most important sources on the ancient Mediterranean.”  (Religious Studies Review, 1 September 2015)

“As a collection of essays on Plutarch the philosopher, moralist, biographer, and human being, Beck’s companion offers a well-rounded, enjoyable, and state-of-the-art introduction.”  (New England Classical Journal, 1 May 2015)  

“This book studies him in his broader contemporary and later contexts and will be invaluable to anyone, student or specialist, investigating the culture of Plutarch’s times as well, of course, as the subject himself.”  (Reference Reviews, 1 December 2014

“All in all, Beck’s Companion to Plutarch has now become the major reference work for scholars and students of Plutarch, as well as for a wider class of readers (specialists and non-specialists alike) who want to enter the charming world of the Chaeronean philosopher.”  (Bryn Mawr Classical Review, 1 September 2014)