Putting the ‐viv‐ into ‘Convivial’

Christopher Pelling

in The Philosopher's Banquet

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199588954
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191728907 | DOI:
Putting the ‐viv‐ into ‘Convivial’

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The Table Talk and the Parallel Lives were written around the same time and had the same dedicatee, Q. Sossius Senecio. Several topics are treated in both works, with closer contact with the Greek Lives than the Roman: that corresponds to the types of topic thought to be sympotically appropriate, even when parties involve Roman grandees as well as Greeks. QC 1.1, 614 A-B demands that historical material should be discussed ‘without suspicion’, and this perhaps suggests both a co-operative openness in the behaviour of the diners and an attitude of generosity – but qualified generosity – towards the historical figures who feature in the anecdotes themselves. There are some cases where we can detect the Table Talk exploiting reading done ‘for’ the Lives: there are mild divergences between versions that are best explained in terms of Plutarch's working methods. Perhaps, however, we might have expected more contact than we find: is there a deliberate avoidance of a self-characterisation as ‘the man who is working on the Lives’?

Keywords: Sossius Senecio; self‐characterisation; historical figures; anecdote; Parallel Lives

Chapter.  10550 words. 

Subjects: Classical Literature

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