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Title: The Hellenistic Past in Plutarch's Lives
Authors: Monaco Caterine, Mallory Anita
Advisors: Guthenke, Constanze M
Contributors: Classics Department
Subjects: Classical literature
Ancient history
Issue Date: 2013
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation is a study of five Greek Lives (Demetrius, Pyrrhus, Aratus, Agis and Cleomenes) and one pair of Lives (Philopoemen-Flamininus) in which Plutarch of Chaeronea portrayed the Greek world between the death of Alexander and the coming of Rome. My objective is to determine how Plutarch represented Hellenistic Greece, and what cultural relevance these Hellenistic narratives might have had for his contemporary readers. This study complicates the current scholarly narrative concerning Imperial Greek literature, which maintains that Imperial authors were uninterested in Greek history after Alexander, by demonstrating that Plutarch found the Hellenistic past to be a useful tool for thinking through the socio-political dynamics of second-century AD Greece. I argue that Plutarch envisioned the Hellenistic world as analogous to his own, based on a similarly imbalanced power dynamic between the weakened Greek poleis and powerful foreign rulers who valued Greek culture. By means of this analogy, Plutarch explored timely lessons in the Hellenistic Lives that were otherwise inaccessible in the Lives of Archaic and Classical Greek statesmen. I draw on Plutarch's political Moralia and other contemporary works to illustrate the resonances between the socio-political concerns in the Greek poleis of the Roman Empire and Plutarch's themes in the Hellenistic Lives. In Chapter Two, I argue that Plutarch characterized Demetrius and Pyrrhus as failed Alexander-imitators, thereby participating in a debate about the use of Alexander as a model for kingship that had a revival during the reign of Trajan. In Chapter Three, I demonstrate that Plutarch constructed the Aratus around a series of interactions between Aratus and several Hellenistic dynasts in order to provide a historical exemplum of a Greek statesman who, like Plutarch's elite Greek readers, acted as a liaison between the Greek poleis and foreign potentates. Chapter Four examines the literary tools Plutarch employed in the Agis and Cleomenes to problematize the contemporary impulse to revive the Greek past. Finally, in Chapter Five I show how Plutarch represented the transition from Hellenistic past to Roman present in the Philopoemen-Flamininus, and in the process created both an aetiology and an exemplum for contemporary Greco-Roman interactions.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Classics

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