<i>Erōs</i> and Ambition in the <i>Alexander–Caesar</i>

Jeffrey Beneker

in The Passionate Statesman

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199695904
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741319 | DOI:
Erōs and Ambition in the Alexander–Caesar

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This chapter examines the Alexander–Caesar, and in particular Plutarch's interpretation of Alexander's victory over the Persian king Darius III and Julius Caesar's victory over his Roman political rivals, especially Pompey. It argues that Plutarch equates self-control with kingly behaviour and that, in general, he assumes that successful leadership in war and in politics depends on ethical behaviour. It demonstrates that Plutarch has adopted Xenophon's depiction of Cyrus I from the Cyropaedia as a model for his moderate, kingly, and victorious Alexander. The chapter further demonstrates how Plutarch connects Alexander's less successful later years with a corresponding lapse in resistance to luxury and sexual activity. Turning to the Caesar, it concludes by arguing that Plutarch has also applied the example of a moderate Alexander to Caesar, despite Caesar's well-established reputation for sexual extravagance.

Keywords: Alexander the Great; Julius Caesar; Cyrus I; Darius III; Xenophon; Cyropaedia; self-control; moderation; appetites; erōs

Chapter.  20803 words. 

Subjects: Classical Literature

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