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Plutarch's Maxime cum principibus philosopho esse disserendum

An Interpretation with Commentary

Geert Roskam

Publication Year: 2009

The question of the political relevance of philosophy, and of the role which the philosopher should play in the government of his state, was often discussed in Antiquity. Plato’s ideal of the philosopher-king is well-known, but was precisely his failure to realise his political ideal in Syracuse not the best argument against the philosopher’s political engagement? Nevertheless, Plato’s ideal remained attractive for later Greek thinkers. This is illustrated, for instance, by one of Plutarch’s short political works, in which he tries to demonstrate that the philosopher should especially associate with powerful rulers, because he can in this way exert the greatest positive influence on his society and at the same time maximise his personal pleasure. This study provides a thorough analysis of Plutarch’s Maxime cum principibus philosopho esse disserendum. A lengthy general introduction deals with the author and the text and discusses each step in Plutarch’s argumentation in detail. A systematic lemmatic commentary then provides a systematic complement to the previous analysis of the work, dealing with many problems of textual criticism, explaining all kinds of realia, and discussing a great number of passages through parallels from Plutarch’s own oeuvre and from other authors.

Published by: Leuven University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 1-4

Contents

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pp. 5-6

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Acknowledgements

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p. 7-7

In his Political precepts, Plutarch tells of how many great politicians began their career by attaching themselves to a famous statesman and how they later cherished and honoured their teachers, “enhancing in turn with their own radiance, and illuminating, like the heavenly bodies that face the sun, that which caused themselves to shine” (805f-806a, transl. H.N. Fowler). Although...

Abbreviations

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pp. 8-14

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INTRODUCTION

Plutarch was a political animal. After all, we have relatively little information about his life, but active involvement in political affairs seems to have been an uninterrupted refrain from his youth to old age. A charming anecdote informs us about his early political experiences as an envoy to the proconsul of Achaea. When his colleague was left behind for some...

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1.The first steps in the analysis of Maxime cum principibus

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pp. 17-30

For more than one reason, Greek παιδεία gains in the person and works of Plutarch of Chaeronea one of its greatest triumphs. First of all, it is well known that Plutarch uses the degree of familiarity with Greek culture as an essential standard in his evaluation of his heroes1. Secondly, most of Plutarch’s writings somehow play a part in his own philosophical...

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2.Two further stepping-stones

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pp. 31-70

For more than one reason, Greek mπαιδεία gains in the person and works of Plutarch of Chaeronea one of its greatest triumphs. First of all, it is well known that Plutarch uses the degree of familiarity with Greek culture as an essential standard in his evaluation of his heroes1. Secondly, most of Plutarch’s...

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3.Plutarch’s argument in Maxime cum principibus

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pp. 71-144

The opening sentence of Maxime cum principibus is carefully composed. With regard to content, it falls into two sections of unequal length. The first part of the sentence, written in a circumstantial and high style, immediately introduces Plutarch’s own position: the philosopher who strikes up a friendship with a ruler proves his love of honourable things...

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COMMENTARY

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pp. 145-192

By associating with rulers, the philosopher provides evidence of his love of what is honourable (φιλοκαλία), his political spirit, and his love of mankind (φιλανθρωπία). Some people (ἔνιοι) rather claim that such an association is a token of ambition, but they are ambitious themselves. A politician who needs philosophy should...

Bibliography

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pp. 193-216

INDICES

Index nominum

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pp. 219-223

Index locorum

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pp. 224-252


E-ISBN-13: 9789461660114
Print-ISBN-13: 9789058677365

Page Count: 252
Publication Year: 2009

Series Title: Plutarchea Hypomnemata

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Subject Headings

  • Plutarch. Maxime cum principibus philosopho esse disserendum.
  • Philosophy, Ancient.
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