In an age of constant reinvention of the genre of epic, the ancient biographer Plutarch creates poignant connections between his Life of Marius and the Odyssey. Such a connection is unexpected, since Gaius Marius, the ancient late Roman Republican general, is a brutish and unphilosophical statesman, while Odysseus is portrayed by Plutarch as a man of virtue who is always concerned with public welfare. The links between these two works serve not to draw the heroes together and confirm Marius's moral virtue, but to illustrate that the character of Marius, when placed into a literary mold that recalls the Odyssey, betrays a complete lack of the qualities that aid Odysseus and charm Plutarch. Implicit comparisons to Odysseus and his journey further show how harmful a lack of philosophical virtue is to Marius's own psyche as well as how dangerous such a man can be to the state.


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pp. 110-126
Launched on MUSE
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