Chapter

Plutarch and the Biographical Tradition

Stephen V. Tracy

in Pericles

Published by University of California Press

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780520256033
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520943629 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520256033.003.0012
Plutarch and the Biographical Tradition

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Plutarch's Lives is the most extensive example of ancient biography, presenting pairs of lives of important Greek and Roman political and military figures whom Plutarch considered similar. Plutarch exercised considerable influence in the imperial circle at Rome and used his writing to promote cooperation between Greece and Rome. His Lives are meant to instruct readers by illustrating individual virtues (or their opposite) as evidenced in the careers of eminent men. Chief among the virtues that made Pericles and Fabius Maximus most useful, according to Plutarch, were their gentle patience, innate sense of rightness, and unusual ability to put up with the follies of their fellow citizens and colleagues in government. More often, Plutarch offers information that supplements events already known to us. Among the most important is his account of the attacks of opponents of the building program, who accused Pericles of adorning Athens at the expense of the allies as though she were a wanton woman.

Keywords: Pericles; Athens; Plutarch; biography; Lives; Rome; Greece; virtues; Fabius Maximus

Chapter.  1991 words. 

Subjects: Greek and Roman Archaeology

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