Moral Virtue, <i>Erōs</i>, and History

Jeffrey Beneker

in The Passionate Statesman

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199695904
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741319 | DOI:
Moral Virtue, Erōs, and History

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This chapter examines how Plutarch applied his system of ethics both to his reading of history and to his writing of biography. Drawing upon the work of Russell, Wiseman, and Pelling, it first establishes that Plutarch employed techniques similar to rhetorical invention to flesh out his narrative of the past. Using the Pelopidas-Marcellus as a case study, it then argues that Plutarch also brought to bear his conception of moral virtue in order to explain the actions of historical figures. The chapter introduces the term ‘historical-ethical reconstruction’ to describe this technique for reinterpreting historical material. Focusing more closely on erōs, the concluding section examines the Dion to show how Plutarch uses Plato as a both a historical source (Seventh Letter) and a philosophical source (Republic) to reconstruct the character and the actions of Dionysius II of Syracuse.

Keywords: inventio; Pelopidas-Marcellus; Dion; Dionysius II; moral virtue; Plato; Seventh Letter; Republic; erōs

Chapter.  18791 words. 

Subjects: Classical Literature

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