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A Commentary on Plutarch's

De latenter vivendo

Geert Roskam

Publication Year: 2007

Plutarch's De latenter vivendo is the only extant work from Antiquity in which Epicurus' famous ideal of an 'unnoticed life' (lathe biosas) is thematised as such. Moreover, the short rhetorical work provides a lot of interesting information about Plutarch's polemical strategies and about his own philosophical convictions in the domains of ethics, politics, metaphysics, and eschatology. In this book, Plutarch's anti-Epicurean polemic is understood against the background of the previous philosophical tradition. An examination of Epicurus' own position is followed by a discussion of Plutarch's polemical predecessors (Timocrates, Cicero, the early Stoics, and Seneca) and contemporaries (Epictetus), and by a systematical and detailed analysis of Plutarch's own arguments. The lemmatic commentary offers additional information and parallel passages (both from Plutarch's own works and from others authors) that cast a new light on the text.

Published by: Leuven University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 1-4


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pp. 5-6

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pp. 7-7

Gratitude to friends was of paramount importance in the Garden. Although I disagree with Epicurus’ basically self-centred motivation, I have no difficulty in admitting that I derived many Epicurean pleasures from the following paragraphs. ...


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pp. 8-14


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1. Epicurus and the Epicurean Tradition

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pp. 17-42

The story of this book begins at the end of the fourth, or the beginning of the third, century B.C. At about that moment, Epicurus formulated his famous advice to ‘live unnoticed’ (λάθε βιώσας; fr. 551 Us.). This advice was based on his sincere conviction that happiness could best be reached by avoiding a brilliant career1. ...

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2. The Anti-Epicurean Tradition before Plutarch

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pp. 43-84

If Timocrates undoubtedly occupies a special place in the rich history of anti-Epicurean polemical literature, this is not because he brought forward the best arguments against the philosophy of his previous master, nor even because he was his first opponent (Eudoxus of Cnidus and his followers at Cyzicus were probably earlier). ...

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3. Plutarch’s De latenter vivendo

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pp. 85-182

Plutarch hardly needs an introduction. The scarce biographical data which we can recover from his own works and from other sources have been intensively studied and enable us to catch at least a glimpse of the author1. We can follow his traces on his journeys to Rome and Italy, Alexandria, and Asia Minor; ...

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pp. 183-222

Epicurus proves to be inconsistent and unfair. He formulated his advice to ‘live unnoticed’ in order to make fame unattractive for others and thus secure it for himself. For why did he say this and write it down if he really wished to remain unknown? ...


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pp. 223-246


Index Nominum

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pp. 249-252

Index Locorum

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pp. 253-280

E-ISBN-13: 9789461660190
Print-ISBN-13: 9789058676030

Page Count: 279
Publication Year: 2007

OCLC Number: 652153790
MUSE Marc Record: Download for A Commentary on Plutarch's