restricted access Taking Pleasure Seriously: Plutarch on the Benefits of Poetry and Philosophy*


This paper examines the role that Plutarch allots to poetry within the philosophical education outlined in the De Audiendis Poetis. It demonstrates how Plutarch’s use of one Pindaric quotation across several books of the Moralia typifies the method of mixing philosophy with poetry that was advocated in the De Audiendis Poetis. The point of doing so, by Plutarch’s own reckoning, is to impart a pleasing seriousness to philosophical discourse, one that derives from a blend of aesthetic pleasure with philosophical rigor. In his own writing, then, Plutarch models a way to enjoy poetry in moderation, in which the ethically deleterious effects of poetry are tempered by their mixture with philosophy.