Chapter

Self‐Promotion and Self‐Effacement in Plutarch's <i>Table Talk</i>

Jason König

in The Philosopher's Banquet

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199588954
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191728907 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199588954.003.0008
Self‐Promotion and Self‐Effacement in Plutarch's Table Talk

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This chapter examines the tension between self-assertion and self-effacement in Plutarch's self-representation in the Table Talk. It opens with a survey of uses of the first person in other ancient compilatory and scientific writing in order to show that Plutarch is not unusual in steering a delicate line between authorial self-promotion and a more reticent approach to use of the first person. It also argues, however, that those tensions take on an unusual prominence in the Table Talk, in part because of the work's sympotic character. Often Plutarch himself takes a dominant role in conversation, in line with the traditional obligations of symposium conversation. At other times, however, he retreats from view in order to give space to other voices, especially the voices of the authors of the past which are brought into conversation through the act of sympotic quotation.

Keywords: symposium; ancient compilatory writing; scientific writing; self‐presentation; first person; quotation; self‐effacement

Chapter.  10049 words. 

Subjects: Classical Literature

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