Published online by Cambridge University Press: 08 May 2015
A great deal of modern scholarship has been expended on the subject of Plutarch’s sources and on the manner in which he composed his Lives. As a result of the painstaking analyses of the fifty or so cross-references in the Lives, a rough order in which they were probably written can now be descried and this has been a great boon for those who would use the information therein for historical purposes. As regards those Lives dealing with the luminaries of the late Republic, it can be said that the Lucullus and probably the Sertorius were among the first four sets to be written, that the Cicero appeared with the Demosthenes in the fifth set, then came the Sulla, the Brutus, the Caesar, the Pompeius, and subsequently the Crassus, Cato minor, Antony and Marius. (The order of the last four cannot be fixed, nor can the place of the Lives of the Gracchi.) A knowlege of this sequence explains the differences and occasional contradictions between individual Lives by exposing Plutarch’s earlier unfamiliarity with certain traditions and suggesting divergent source traditions which surfaced only when Plutarch was researching a particular character. (This, of course, makes the material even more valuable.)
2 E.g. his ignorance of Cicero’s part in Pompeius’, curatio annonae at Cic. 33.2–4Google Scholar (in contrast to Pomp. 49.6): Pelling, C.B.R.JHS 99 (1979), 75 ff.CrossRefGoogle Scholar (Pelling’s overall reading of the evidence leads him to a very different interpretation with regard to Plutarch’s general method of composition. His argument will be addressed below.)
3 In this regard a balance is provided by Wardman’s, A.E.Plutarch’s Lives (London 1974),Google Scholar and Frost, F.J. ‘Plutarch and Clio’, in Panhellenica. Essays in Ancient History and Historiography in honour of Truesdell S. Brown, ed. Bernstein, S.M. and Okin, L.A. (Lawrence, Kansas 1980), 155–170, esp. 164ff.Google Scholar
4 To be sure, Plutarch was (as opposed to Suetonius) highly selective in the material he chose for inclusion within the Lives; Wardman, A.E. ‘Description of Personal Appearance in Plutarch and Suetonius: The Use of Statues as Evidence’, CQ 17 (1967), 414–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar That is one thing. Deliberate distortion is another. A supposed willingness on Plutarch’s part to pervert historical fact ‘in the interests of stylistic presentation’ was outlined by Carney, T.F. (‘Plutarch’s style in the Marius’, JHS 80 , 24–31)CrossRefGoogle Scholar in opposition to the view that the Life represents ‘a patchwork composition of extracts’ from sources hostile to Marius: Rutilius, Catulus and Sulla (27–28). Surely the truth lies somewhere between. Certainly Plutarch moulded the material to his taste but the information which came into his hands for use in the Marius seems to have been severely limited and given to a certain interpretation of events. For a further emphasis on Plutarch’s style and personal control of the information available to him, see Pelling, C.B.R. ‘Plutarch and Catiline’, Hermes 113 (1985), 311–329.Google Scholar
5 C.B.R. Pelling (see the works cited below [n. 10]) is the latest to argue that Plutarch felt free to fabricate considerable circumstantial detail, but when this has been argued by earlier scholars it relates to the Lives of early republican worthies for which far less historical material survived, e.g. the Coriolanus. With the late republican Lives, Pelling acknowledges that we cannot be sure it is the leaner rather than the fuller version which reproduces the sources (JHS 100 , 129). In the specific cases where Pelling feels this can be posited (i.e. that the original material has been ‘enriched’) — e.g. with the account of the Bona Dea incident in the Caesar ‘ he admits that the elaboration is not substantial.
One other element in Plutarch’s handling of the evidence needs to be borne in mind, and that is his own, disturbingly simplistic, analysis of the dynamics of republican politics which he then imposes on the material. On this, see Pelling, ‘Plutarch and Roman polities’, in Moxon, I.S., Smart, J.D., Woodman, A.J. (eds.), Past Perspectives. Studies in Greek and Roman Historical Writing (Cambridge 1986), 159–187.Google Scholar
6 Many examples will follow.
7 From about A.D. 96 to A.D. 120; Jones (art. cit. [n.l]), 70 ff.
8 The individuality of each Life is well demonstrated by Buckler, J. ‘Plutarch on the Trials of Pelopidas and Epameinondas’, CPh 73 (1978), 36–42;Google Scholar though in this case it is clearly the result of presentation rather than source material.
9 Timoleon 1. Translations from the Lives are generally those of B. Perrin in the Loeb Classical Library.
10 ‘Plutarch’s method of work in the Roman Lives’, JHS 99 (1979), 74–96; and ‘Plutarch’s adaptation of his source-material’, JHS 100 (1980), 127–140. The thesis, on Caes. 1–27, is available from The British Library Lending Division.
11 The difference in tone and detail is sometimes remarkable, as with the accounts of the conference at Luca: Barrow, R.H.Plutarch and His Times (London 1962), 61–62.Google Scholar On the Crassus and its disproportionate emphasis on the war with Spartacus and the Parthian campaign, see Marshall, B.A.Crassus. A Political Biography (Amsterdam 1976), 176–179.Google ScholarPelling, (JHS 99 , 87 n.96; 88)CrossRefGoogle Scholar certainly does not advance his own thesis by rejecting (in my belief rightly) Q. Dellius as a source for Crassus’ Parthian campaign while allowing the likelihood that this man was the prime source for the Parthian campaigns of Antonius. Pelling (art. cit., 76) implicitly admits he has trouble with the Crassus.
12 His clearest statement of this comes in the preface to the Alexander; cf. the preface to the Nikias, eschewing competition with Thucydides.
13 Suet, apud Jerome, prolog, ad Dextrum in librum de illustribus, in Migne, J.P.PL 23.821.Google Scholar
14 An interesting facet of their different approaches lies in the description of physical appearances; Wardman (art. cit. [n.4]). Their more profound differences of approach are immediately apparent. For Suetonius in competition with Plutarch, see Baldwin, B.Suetonius (Amsterdam 1983), e.g. 217 f.Google Scholar
15 So Syme, R. suggests for the motivation of Suetonius at Gaius (Caligula) 8 (Tacitus [Oxford 19581], 502).Google Scholar
16 Academic cringe on the part of biographers goes back at least to Nepos (1.1). It has been echoed since. On biography as lesser scholarship, see Momigliano, A.The Development of Greek Biography (Cambridge, Mass. 1971), 1 f.Google Scholar For the modern perspective, Syme, R.Roman Revolution (Oxford 1939), 7,Google Scholar a lack of respect which has not been reversed by a familiarity with the HA! On biography as the easier option, ‘Biographers of the Caesars’, Mus. Helveticum 37 (1980), 104–28Google Scholar = Roman Papers III, ed. , A.R.Birley (Oxford 1984), 937–952.Google Scholar
17 Such a methodology, with special regard to the citation of documents, is seen by some scholars as an innovation of the apologetic writers: Momigliano, A. ‘Pagan and Christian historiography in the fourth century A.D.’, in The Conflict between Paganism and Christianity in the Fourth Century (Oxford 1963), 79–99;Google ScholarJudge, E.A. ‘Christian Innovation and its Contemporary Observers’, in Croke, B. and Emmett, A.M. (eds.), History and Historians in Late Antiquity (Sydney 1983), 13–29, esp. 15–16.Google Scholar
That it is not the preserve of writers with a case to put would seem to be witnessed by its fixed place within the biographical tradition (at least by the second century A.D.). [The occasions on which Nepos cites source conflict, e.g. 10 [Dion.] 1.4, or documents (without suggesting necessarily that they have been read), e.g. 6 [Lys.] 3.5, are fairly outstanding. On Nepos’ sources, Jenkinson, E.M.ANRW 1.3 (1973), 713–714;Google Scholar see also below, n. 5 3.] Compare the mischievous adherence to these canons by the author of the Augustan history. For Plutarch, this appears to be part of an earnest quest for a true understanding of character (within the framework of his prejudices, of course).
Though neither Plutarch nor Suetonius rise to the levels of masterly synthesis, the bulk of information they provide on an individual can be more challenging and more profitably studied than can the parade of characters, good and evil, which passes through Livy’s pageant [Is this what Plutarch is decrying at Alex. 1? Cf. Nik. 1 where the diffidence is not simply mock humility but is not embarrassed either] and even ultimately than the pessimistic caricatures (by comparison) penned by Sallust. In Plutarch, enquiry dominates presentation.
18 On earlier biography, see Jenkinson, E.M. ‘Nepos — An Introduction to Latin Biography’, in Dorey, T.A. (ed.), Latin Biography (London 1967);Google Scholar cf. Stuart, D.R.Epochs of Greek and Roman Biography (Berkeley 1928), 189–220.Google Scholar In defence of Suetonius’ credentials, Baldwin, B. (‘Biography at Rome’ in Deroux, C. (ed.), Studies in Latin Literature and Roman History [Coll. Lat. 164] 100–118)Google Scholar offers an analysis of the Roman attitude to the genre and a succinct, highly useful survey of the genre’s earlier practitioners.
20 See Butler, H.E. and Cary, M.C. Suetoni TranquilliDims Iulius (Oxford 1927), 11–12,Google Scholar on the care with which Suetonius sought out gossip.
21 From the stated criteria of Nepos and Plutarch, McQueen, E.I. (in Latin Biography [n.18 above], 18)Google Scholar has observed that history, by their understanding, deals with what personnages do; biography with what sort of person they are.
22 E.g. the date of Cicero’s birth (frag. 17 Peter = Geli. NA 15.28.4) and the date of Clodius’ death (frag. 23 Peter = Ascon. p. 31 St). Nonius (p.385 M = 615 Lind.) styles his work Annales.
23 Plut. Crass. 3.
24 In assuming that the annalistic format was normally restrictive, I am following Cato apud Gell. NA 2.28.6 and Sempronius Asellio (ibid. 5.18.6–9).
25 For Plutarch’s citations of his sources, see Helmbold, W.C. and O’Neil, E.N.Plutarch’s Quotations [Phil. Monographs of the Amer. Phil. Assoc.,19] (Baltimore 1959).Google Scholar Sallust is strangely omitted. Plutarch however cites him thrice (Comp. Lys. Sull. 3.2; Luc. 11 and 33) and he was probably a major source for the Lucullus and Sertorius (Peter, H.Die Quellen Plutarchs in den Biographieen der Römer [Halle 1865; rep. Amsterdam 1965], 61 f. and 106 f.).Google Scholar He was probably a major source for Pompey’s early career (ibid. 112 f.)
26 I emphasise this probability to counter Smith’s, R.E. hypothesis (for the early–republican Lives) of an ‘immediate biographical source’ for Plutarch (‘The Biographical Sources of Plutarch’s Roman Lives’, CQ 34 , 1–10),CrossRefGoogle Scholar which Smith uses to explain the differences between the material in Plutarch’s Flamininus, Paullus and Cato maior and that found in Livy. Smith has both underestimated Plutarch’s ability (assigning to another the necessary research work) and overrated the difficulties of finding biographical material.
27 Compare Cam. 38, where Livy is not cited, with Livy 6.25. For citation, see Helmbold and O’Neil. For his possible use of Claudius Quadrigarius, see Klotz, A. ‘Zu den Quellen der plutarchischen Lebensbeschreibung des Camillus’, RhM 90 (1941), 282–309.Google Scholar
28 They are sometimes remembered as giving an alternative version of events (e.g. Marc. 11.3–4) or cited simply to provide a decorative additive (stored perhaps in notebooks; see below, n.43). Livy, for instance, is quoted in the Lucullus (28.8) because, like Antiochus and Strabo, he had made an interesting remark about the battle of Tigranocerta. If Livy had been in Plutarch’s hands, at the time of composition, we might have expected the inclusion of casualty figures given by Orosius (6.3) and without doubt taken from Livy. Plutarch gave such statistics when found in his immediate source; see below.
29 See above, n.13.
30 Quintil. 10.1.95; cf. Cic. Phil. 2.41.105.
31 Plutarch made heavy use of Varro’s antiquarian research in his Romulus and Numa; Peter, H.Die Quellen Plutarchs (above, n.25), 146–172, esp. 150 ff.Google Scholar
32 Cic. Att 16.11.3; Plin. NH 35.11; Gell. 3.10.17; 11.3; 11.7; cf. Dahlmann, H. ‘M. Terentius Varro’, RE Suppl. 6 1227 f.;Google ScholarWight Duff, J.A Literary History of Rome, 1.243, particularly n.4;Google Scholar E.M. Jenkinson, art. cit. [n.18]; A. Momigliano, op.cit. [n.16], 96 f. Horsfall, N. ‘Virgil, Varro’s Imagines and the Forum of Augustus’, Ancient Society. Resources for Teachers [Macquarie University] 10 (1980), 20–23.Google Scholar Varro’s accompanying text must have been succinct but not skeletal. Gell. NA 3.11.3 records Varro’s discussion of the relative birthdates of Homer and Hesiod.
33 See Nonius 78.27; 104.16; 117.14; 170.7.
34 Suet. Ter. 4; Gramm. 14; Quintil. 12.10.16; cf. Momigliano, op. cit. [n.16], 96; T.G. McCarty, op. cit. [n.53], 44; B. Baldwin, art. cit. [n.18], 113.
35 Frag. 3 Peter = Charisius I, p.141 K.
36 Nepos, Hannibal 23.13.4.
37 Hembold and O’Neil, op.cit. [n.25], 20. On Nepos generally, Jenkinson, E.M. ‘Genus scripturae leve. Cornelius Nepos and the Early History of Biography at Rome’, ANRW 1.3 (1973), 703–719;Google Scholar cf. B. Baldwin, loc. cit., and the studies cited below in n.53. Plutarch may also be using Nepos anonymously in his record of Cornelia’s feelings (C. Gracch. 13.2). Two letters of Cornelia (of dubious authenticity) were included in the MSS of Nepos (frag. 15 Peter). Smith, R.E. (‘The Cato Censorinus of Plutarch’, CQ 34 (1940), 105–111;CrossRefGoogle Scholar cf. ibid. 5), considering only earlier republican Lives, argued against Plutarch’s use of Nepos from divergences between Plutarch and Nepos’ ‘Life of Cato’ (from the de historicis Latinis). The flaw in that argument is apparent. Plutarch’s decision not to follow Nepos does not at all disprove use (especially in this context where Plutarch’s belief that Scipio succeeded Cato in Spain aids his dramatic comparison of the two). On Plutarch’s penchant for synkrisis, see Russell, D.A. ‘On Reading Plutarch’s Lives’, G.& R. 13(1966), 139–154,particularly 150 f.Google Scholar
38 On Hyginus, Suet, de Gramm. 20; Tolkiehn, RE 10.1 628f.;Google ScholarPeter, HRR 2.101–107, 72–77 and B. Baldwin, loc. cit. (n.34).Google Scholar Possibly his librarian’s appointment carried with it the expectation that he would further undertake antiquarian and scientific research, collating and disseminating ‘useful’ information. This explains his dogging of Varro‘s heels — with agricultural treatises, work on Trojan genealogies and biographies. He was not strictly Varro’s professional successor (as Wiseman, T.P.Catullan Questions [Leicester 1969] 51 understandably styles him).Google Scholar [The fate of Varro’s commission from Caesar to assemble a library (Suet. Iul. 44) is unknown. The honour of founding Rome’s first public library went to Asinius Pollio (Plin. NH 7.30.115 ; 35.2). Pompeius Macer was charged with organising Augustus’ public libraries (Suet. Iul. 56.7) — one in the Campus Martius, the other on the Palatine. Hyginus must have served as an assistant to Macer or as head of the subsequently independent Palatine.]
39 See Columella 1.1.13; cf. 9.2; 9.11.5; 9.13.3.
40 NA 1.14; 6.1.2.
41 The author of the Agricola, for instance, was not included. Perhaps because that monograph had wider objectives; perhaps because one biography does not qualify the writer for professional status in the field. For more surprising omissions, see below.
42 Both Nepos and Hyginus published exempla, which were read by Gellius (for Nepos: NA 6.7.18, cf. Peter, HRR 2.26–34;Google Scholar for Hyginus: NA 10.18.5–6). On the practice of collecting the sayings and deeds of philosophers, kings and despots we need cite only one instance; that of Plutarch’s friend, C. Fundanus, probably the suff. cos. of A.D. 107 (decohibenda ira 9 = mor. 457D). Oratorical gems were preserved in the libraries of antiquarii (Tac. dial. 37). When composing the Dialogus, Tacitus (ibid.) announced the current compilation being carried through by C. Licinius Mucianus, Vespasian’s former legate. In the late Republic, T. Ampius Balbus devoted his literary activities to ‘recording the deeds of brave men for posterity’ (Cic. fam. 6.12.5).
43 We know that Plutarch kept notebooks of such material to be used decoratively in moral treatises (On tranquillity 1 = mor. 464F). He was certainly aware of the work of Valerius Maximus. [Had he read it? At Brutus 53.4 he crosschecks a tradition preserved by Valerius (46.5) and Nicolaus of Damascus as against Brutus’ own letters. This ‘academic’ controversy may have been preserved in a historian or commentator.] Doubtless he had access to Fundanus’ collection (n.42). He also published his own Apophthegmata (mor. 172B–236E, 240C–263C).
44 Appius Claudius Pulcher (cos. 79) was the first, but not the last, to make the elogia of his ancestors public by hanging portraits (with accompanying inscriptions) in the temple of Bellona (Plin. NH 35.3.12). Even in the family archives, where records of previous magistracies were held (ibid. 35.6), the information was hardly a closely kept secret. Passing through the atrium of a Scipio Pomponianus (where Scipio Africanus was falsely claimed as an ancestor), M. Valerius Messalla(cos. 53 B.C.) was provoked into writing his de familiis, based on more ‘scientific’ research (ibid. 35.8). The claim of Pomponianus therefore had been in the nature of a public protestation. On the openness of great houses, Vitruv. 6.5.1.
45 Cicero (Brut. 62) tells of the havoc wrought on history by these family traditions — false triumphs, false consulates etc.; cf. Livy 8.40.3–5. Cf. Ridley, R.T. ‘Falsi Triumphi, Plures Consulatus’, Latomus 42 (1983), 372–382.Google Scholar
46 Nepos 25 [Atticus] 18.5–6.
47 Ibid. 18.3.
48 Atticus covered the Marcelli, Aemilii, Fabii and Iunii. Plutarch appears most familiar with these families. Paull. 1 traces the Aemilii back to Pythagoras and digresses shortly on L. Paullus at Cannae, relating him to the subject. Fab. 1 retails the tradition tracing the Fabii back to Hercules and checks it with a less glamorous linguistic interpretation of their name. This is followed by a short digression on Fabius Rullus, from whom the subject was ‘fourth in descent’. The Brutus is opened with an extended discussion of the subject’s lineage (both patrilineal and matrilineal). Marcellus is introduced with only a discussion of his patronymic and cognomen.
I do not mean to suggest that this is anything other than coincidence. Atticus was not unique in these interests. Such studies were inevitable in aristocratic society. Varro and Hyginus both published treatises ‘On Trojan Families’: Serv. in Aen. 2.166; 5.389. Messalla has already been noted (above, n.44). The scope of his work clearly reached beyond the Scipiones, Plin. NH. 34.137. On the Aemilii, Plutarch cites, as authorities, (Paull. 1) and the discussion of the gens Iunia had come to Plutarch via politically-oriented controversy and the research of Poseidonius (Brut. 1 f). So too, we may assume, by its nature, that Plutarch’s knowledge of the fathers of the Gracchi and M. Antonius derived from his general reading of histories or collections of exempta.
50 Yet even in a context of controversy, e.g. the versions of Lucullus’ death, only Nepos is cited as recording the correct account, as against an anonymous number of misinformed authorities (Luc. 43.1–2). Asconius (In Pis. p.l3C/18–19 St.) cites two versions of the public honours awarded to M. Valerius Maximus in 505 B.C. That found in Valerius Antias appears to be the one followed by Plutarch in the Poplicola (20.1–3). An alternative account, which Asconius had discovered in the first book of Hyginus’ de viris Claris (itself resting on the authority of Varro) Plutarch does not mention. A decision not to follow one account does not of course prove that neither Varro nor Hyginus (the biographical works) had been read — though the absence of contradiction of so worthy an authority is suggestive.
Perhaps it is unfair to doubt that Plutarch’s earlier reading of biographical sources was wider than the actual citations indicate. (On the impressive range of his reading, see Gossage, A.J. in Latin Biography (above, n. 18), 51–2Google Scholar and relevant notes and Stadter, P.A.Plutarch’s Historical Method: An Analysis of the Mulierum Virtutes (Cambridge, Mass. 1965), particularly 133.)CrossRefGoogle Scholar The scarcity of texts and fragility of the literary media brought memory into constant play, as opposed to actual cross–referencing (e.g. Perikles 24.7–12; cf. Stadter, op.cit. 138; A.J. Gossage, op. cit., 52 and n.21; Hamilton, J.R.Plutarch, Alexander: A Commentary (Oxford 1969), introduction.Google Scholar On the general practice in antiquity, see Gellius 1.23.2 and [Seneca]’s disturbing, if joking, self-justification — ‘Who asks the historian for his authorities?’ — Apocolocyntosis 1). On the whole question of intermediate sources and second or third hand references, see Russell, D.A.Plutarch (London 1972), 42–43.Google Scholar
51 As mentioned in Demosth. 1.
52 On these friends, Tim. 1 (and see below, n.54).
53 See above, n.50. Although Plutarch was himself engrossed in uncovering personal information on his subjects, he probably found Nepos adequate in the provision of basic biographical frameworks. He would have feared no major omissions since earlier biographers do not seem to have striven for originality. Hyginus used Varro ( Ascon. In Pis. 13C) and the produce of the Palatine library was not generally noted for its originality: see Hor. Epist. 1.3.15–20.
Nepos frankly admitted that his work was derivative (15.4.6) but in antiquity he commanded more respect than he does today (Gell. NA 15.28.1 [ironic?]). For a properly critical appraisal of Nepos’ talents, see Horsfall, N. in Kenney, E.J. (ed.), The Cambridge History of Classical Literature 2.2 (Cambridge 1982), 116–118.Google ScholarBradley, K.R. (The Sources of Cornelius Nepos: Selected Lives [Harvard diss. 1967],Google Scholar after a systematic analysis of nine Greek lives, argues (against earlier German hypotheses) that Nepos used historical rather than biographical sources (5). This should not be taken to suggest that he ignored previous biographers: McCarty, T.G.Cornelius Nepos. Studies in his Technique of Biography (Univ. of Michigan diss. 1970), 34 ff.Google Scholar
54 It was customary — then as now — for a scholar to consult knowledgeable friends (e.g. Cicero requesting information on Sempronius Tuditanus [cos. 129] from Atticus: ad Att 13.23.2; cf. 13.4.1, 6.4, 30.3). One benefit of writing in a cultural centre, as Plutarch saw it, was knowing who held what material and therefore the increased potential of borrowing and consultation (note in passing that Plutarch did not consider he possessed this advantage as much as he desired it, Demosth. 1). Of friends who shared his specific interests, Fundanus has already found mention (above, n.42). L. Mestrius Florus, to whom Plutarch owed his Roman citizenship, escorted him on a tour of the battlefield at Bedriacum (Otho 14.2) and Julius Secundus, who had been in charge of Otho’s correspondence, informed him of Otho’s behaviour before the fatal battle (ibid. 9.3; on the probable assistance of both, Jones, C.P.Plutarch and Rome [Oxford 1971], 76).Google Scholar
Quite probably, Roman friends were responsible for the collection of anecdotes recording Lucullus’ luxurious life in retirement (Luc. 41.1) — the more so since this is the one occasion on which Plutarch cites a Roman poet, Horace. Latin poetry is otherwise outside Plutarch’s sphere (see Barrow, R.H.Plutarch and His Times, [London 1962], 151,Google Scholar who mentions two citations (no ref.). Only one is known to Helmbold and O’Neil; cf. Pelling, , JHS 99 (1979), 75 n.12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
55 Plutarch believed that by questioning people the most important particulars were discovered; that which was held in men’s memory even though it had escaped the written tradition was conspicuously entitled to belief, he says in one of his most hair–raising professional declarations (Demosth. 1 ) Thus he records local oral traditions and the remembrances of his aged relatives (Gossage, A.J.op. cit. [n.50], 73 n.17).Google Scholar
56 He may well have made a number of specific enquiries (particularly of eyewitness authorities like Mestrius and Secundus; see n. 54) but this hardly suggests that his friends were engaged in a systematic coverage of literature to which Plutarch himself was denied direct access.
57 Gomme, A.W.Historical Commentary on Thucydides 1 (Oxford 1945), 77–78;Google Scholar though it must be noted that it was not unusual for Plutarch to refer to a specific author in that vague fashion: see D.A. Russell, op. cit. 112 and n.25 on Dion 26.3; cf. Jones, C.P.Plutarch and Rome 48 ff.Google Scholar on Plutarch’s possible use of Roman friends.
58 1 P.147K.
59 Plin. NH 11.252 refers to Oppius on the subject of Marius’ varicose veins and thus, possibly, to a vita Marii. Plutarch himself cites Oppius for information on Pompeius and Caesar (Pomp. 10; Caes. 17). This does not mean he had read Lives of the two. Caesar’s personal qualities were tabulated (cf. Suet. Iul. 53) while Pompeius was viciously attacked along the lines of the adulescentulus carnifex tradition. Quite probably a political pamphlet was its origin. Peter, (HRR 2.63–64, 48–49)Google Scholar includes both fragments in a supposed de vita Caesaris. He includes also in this the Marian fragment. It was, I suppose, of some glory to Caesar that his uncle was the first Roman to have varicose veins removed while standing up.
60 We might wonder why such a loyal partisan of Caesar wrote a Life of Cassius. Plutarch (Brut. 1.4) tells us of sources hostile to Brutus because of Caesar’s murder. It is probable that Oppius was responsible for the denigration of Cassius’ motives recorded by Plutarch at Brut. 8, of which more will be said below.
61 Political pamphlets enjoyed a surprisingly long life. Curio’s invective against Caesar’s first consulship was read by Suetonius (Caes. 9). So was a tract by Cornelius Balbus, friend and colleague of Oppius (ibid. 81 ). Caesar’s anti-Cato was read by Gellius(NA 4.16.8) and Plutarch (see below).
64 On Plutarch’s use of Cicero’s letters, see the concise coverage of Barrow, op. cit. (above, n.ll), 154–5.
65 Plutarch was aware, in addition, of the de agri cultura even if he had not read it (Cat. mai. 25.1; 43 f.).
67 Pompey’s teacher, L. Voltacilius Plotus, also left several volumes on the exploits of his pupil (Suet. rhet. 3).
68 Cato’s marital arrangements (Plut. Cat min. 25.1 f.; 52); his ‘ungracious’ arrival in Rome from Cyprus (39, where Plutarch betrays ignorance of a tradition that praised Cato’s strict — albeit eccentric — honesty on this very matter: cf. Vell. 2.45.5); idiosyncratic behaviour during his praetorship (44); cf. 36–37. It is extremely difficult to disentangle Munatius’ material from that of Thrasea; see the valuable attempt of Geiger, J.A Commentary on Plutarch’s Cato Minor (Oxford D. Phil, thesis, 1971 ),Google Scholar and ‘Munatius Rufus and Thrasea Paetus on Cato the Younger’, Athenaeum 57 (1979), 48–72.
I am willing to concede that Plutarch, before he wrote the Cato minor, may have also been influenced (indirectly or otherwise) by Cicero’s Cato, a work of measured praise geared to moderating the growing legend. On the tone of Cicero’s essay and its possible influence on Plutarch, see Jones, C.P.RhM 113 (1970), 188–196.Google Scholar
Yet a tone of moderation in source material is lacking in Plutarch’s Life and it is tempting to suspect that it had been read, if at all, much earlier while research for the Cicero was in progress. On the other hand, Cicero’s Cato had its own axe to grind and may have damned with faint praise. Is it responsible for the notion that Cato was responsible for bringing Clodius and Pompeius together (PBSR 50 , 40–41 n.41)?
69 Brut. 53.5.
70 Plutarch was not uniquely at fault here. It will be remembered that Cicero considered Caesar as having robbed future historians of their task (Brut. 262). For a valuable discussion of ‘polishing’, see Wiseman, T.P.Clio’s Cosmetics (Leicester 1979), particularly 3 ff.Google Scholar
Nor was Plutarch alone in accepting the Sullan tradition from Sulla’s commentaries. It is only recently that the tradition was seriously challenged: Badian, E. ‘Waiting for Sulla’, JRS 52 (1962), 47 ff.Google Scholar
71 Cato’s stay in Spain, for instance, had seen more captured cities than days (Cato apud Plut. Cat. mai. 10.3).
72 E.g. ibid. 14.
73 Even here however caution is not necessarily of his own making. The criticism of Theophanes may have been hard to avoid, suspected the evidence (ibid.).
74 This was a conscious facet of his nature. Unnecessary repetition and sanction of unfavourable evidence was nothing less than malice: Russell, D.A.Plutarch (London 1972), 60–62;Google Scholar cf. the treatise ‘On the Malice of Herodotus’ (mor. 845E–874C) where the greater part of the criticism is in this vein.
True, he advises caution when reading Oppius on Caesar’s enemies and friends (Pomp. 10.5) but he has been provoked to the remark by Oppius’ defamation of Pompeius, and this still does not prevent him from using Oppius as an authority on Caesar’s virtues without qualification. Similarly he claimed to be aware of the dangers — in both directions (slander and flattery) — in 5th century contemporary Greek sources. Yet the declaration only arises after the pamphleteer Stesimbrotos had offered a scandalous report about Perikles and his daughter-in-law (Per. 13.5).
75 On the favourable tradition about the younger Cato’s praetorship, he says, (Cat. min. 44.1); on the unfavourable version of Cassius’ conspiratorial motives, (Brut. 9.1).
76 In this fashion, Plutarch is greatly satisfied with the explanation given by C. Gracchus’ pamphlet of Tiberius Gracchus’ motivation in 133. And, it seems, with the material in Sulla’s memoirs (on this, see further below). (He is not alone in trusting friendly sources. See Suet. Iul. 81.) On Plutarch’s tendency to write favourably of his subjects, see Pelling, C.B.R.Hermes 113 (1985), 324–325Google Scholar (where it is rightly stressed that this is not carried to extremes).
77 We may note with some apprehension that Plutarch is predisposed towards Dion and Brutus because they are philosopher-statesmen, (Dion 1–2; quotation from 2.5).
78 Tacitus (Ann. 4.34) says Messalla eulogised his old commander. Plut. Brut 40 provides a sample of his sympathy. On the other hand, he was bitterly hostile to Antonius (whom he had joined for a short while but deserted in disgust): Plin. NH 33.50. He seems to have mounted an investigation of Antony’s affairs, Charisius 1 pp. 104, 129K).
79 See above, and nn.58–60.
80 Brut. 1.4. This may refer to one slander. Then again it might be supposed that Nicolaus (cited at Brut. 53), whose Life of Augustus would probably have been used in this instance, was less favourable.
81 Demetrius 1. The Marius, almost by accident, turned out to be one such exception. Even here Plutarch tried to be as sympathetic as possible but (pace Carney and Pelling) he was overwhelmed by his sources. (Doubtless the opinions of Rutilius Rufus, Scaurus, Catulus and Sulla appealed more to Plutarch’s own political temperament.) On the twin source tradition on Marius, see the commonsense essay by Baker, R.J. ‘The Other Arpinate: Gaius Marius’, Teaching History 19 (1985), 9–23.Google Scholar
82 Tim. 1.3; cf. Per. 1–2.
83 It was more difficult to appropriate triumphs and magistracies falsely — but childhood anecdotes and private lives were open to invention.
84 This is not to say that Plutarch’s credulity in the face of friendly source material is the only problem. When favourable explanations or facts were not at hand, any had to suffice. Thus he retails a story by Stesimbrotos for whom he has registered distrust elsewhere [n.74] and which he disbelieves (Them. 25); cf. all the tales from the anti-Cato — many of which are raised, even if ultimately rejected: all in the vein of‘no stone unturned’ (Cat. min. 24).
This is fine where the source is registered. In how many cases is this not done? The belittling explanations of Cicero’s motives in testifying against Clodius in 61 B.C. probably came from a posthumous critic in a pseudo-letter such as is preserved amongst the MSS of Sallust or from Antonius, whose reply to the Philippics is cited by Plutarch (Cic. 41.4) — on the very point of Cicero’s behaviour as a husband: Wiseman, T.P.Cinna the Poet and Other Essays (Leicester, 1973), 113–115.Google Scholar
85 Perhaps because of the dramatic contrast with Brutus. † (Brut. 8.2).
87 Russell (art. cit. [n.37], 139–154, esp. 150–151) sees synkrisis as a key idea in Plutarch.
88 C. Oppius is probably the detractor; Empylus or Messalla the corrector.
89 As Pompey’s presence is essential, it must have occurred before or after his long absence from Rome in the seventies. In 78 B.C. Faustus could only have been about eight years old. (He was probably born c.86, RE 4.1515.) Cassius would have been an aequalis if not younger. Plutarch states that the guardians and relatives of Faustus wished to take the matter to court. That leaves late 71, 70 or 69. After that time, Faustus and Cassius were not likely to have been at school.
90 For references and an account of this period, see ‘The Seventies, the Senate and Popular Discontent. A Background to the first Vertine’, Ancient Society. Resources for Teachers (Macquarie University) 14 (1984), 71–125.
91 Staberius was a grammaticus. It is most probably he who was teaching the youths at that stage of their education.
92 Judge, E.A. ‘The Mind of Tiberius Gracchus’ (unpublished paper, University of Sydney, 1967).Google ScholarBrendan Nagle, D. (‘The Etruscan Journey of Tiberius Gracchus’, Historia 25 [ 1976], 487–489)Google Scholar makes heavy going of this passage, in my opinion, while clearly recognising (as one must) the dangerous nature of the evidence.
93 Sulla. The Deadly Reformer (Sydney 1970). Cf. Valgiglio, E. ‘L’ autobiografia di Silla nelle biografe di Plutarco’ in Boldrini, S., Lanciotti, S., Questa, C., Raffaelli, R. (eds.), Gli storiografi latini tramandati in frammenti [Studi Urbinati di Storia, Filosofia e Letteratura, B 1] (Urbino 1974), 245–281,Google Scholar a study which points up the general colouring of the Lives of Marius and Sulla and the extent to which Sulla’s Memoirs provide the main source of information (see esp. 278–280) — even if too enthusiastic in its attempts to isolate passages of total dependence on those commentaries.
94 See above [n.2] for a case pinpointed by Pelling where Plutarch’s growing familiarity with the subject matter — and his knowledge of a growing range of source material — allowed him to correct the omission.
95 Jones, art. cit. (n. 1 ). Note in passing the radically different accounts of the Vettius affair in the Lucullus and in those Lives composed subsequently. The earlier version must have been pressured out by later reading, most probably the wealth of Ciceronian material read for the Cicero.
97 This is the argument of Pelling at least for those Lives composed later: ibid. 84–85.
98 Much of this Life seems to deliberately counteract accusations levelled at Lucullus by inimici before and after his return to Rome: e.g. the charge that he squandered Roman lives to enrich himself is counteracted by Luc. 8.3 where Lucullus ‘harangues’ his troops that he would rather save one Roman life than take all the enemies’ possessions. The invidia consequent on his enrichment is dispelled after an account of his capture of the kingdom of the Gordyeni with the observation that ‘the soldiers were plentifully supplied [with food]’(Luc. 29.8) and that Lucullus was admired (by whom?) ‘for not taking a single drachma from the public treasury but making the war pay for itself’ (ibid.). Lucullus was accused of having protracted the war for love of power and wealth (see Plut. Luc. 33.4, 37.1; App. Mith. 12.90). Almost the entirety of Plut. Luc. 14 is given over to a speech of his justifying the delay after Cyzicus. None of this justification and apology appears in Appian, a point on which more is said below.
99 True, Plutarch is predisposed to Lucullus because of the commander’s service to Chaeronea. Yet in the preamble to the Kimon it is evident that he has found to his embarrassment much information to tell against the Roman. He confirms nonetheless that he will still give a truthful account, since honesty was the essence of Lucullus’ service to Chaeronea. The preamble seems very much an apology lest the reader think the resultant ‘truthful’ account an act of ingratitude to him whom he wishes to honour. He contents himself with the rationalisation that the of his deeds is sufficient favour (Kim. 2.3). Plutarch was doubtless pleased with the discovery of any favourable tradition. When he interpolates himself, Lucullus comes off badly.
An example. Lucullus was ridiculed by contemporaries like Crassus and Pompeius for abandoning himself to luxurious living (Plut. Luc. 38.4). Plutarch found a tradition that with some effort and much carping on precedent demonstrates that his change of life style was commendable (ibid 38.3 f.). This certainly does not mirror Plutarch’s opinion which surfaces at Comp. Kim. Luc. 1.5–7 and moralia 783B–797F.
101 Plut. Luc. 1.3. Cicero (Acad. 2.1.3) speaks of Lucullus’ superb retention of facts. That was public testimony. Privately he spoke of lack of expertise: Att. 3.16.1.
103 Plut. Luc. 15.
104 Note too that there is no mention of a Lucullan history or memoirs in the Brutus (222) where A. Albinus, Fabius Pictor, and L. Cornelius Sisenna are credited with their histories (81,228) and M. Aemilius Scaurus and Q. Lutatius Catulus ( 112,132) with their memoirs. This is not definitive. The memoirs of Rutilius Rufus are ignored (110, 113–116), nor does Cicero credit Lucullus with the Marsic War piece.
105 Die Quellen Plutarchs (above, n.25), 106–107.
106 ibid.; Barrow, op. cit., 153.
107 If Maurenbrecher has correctly assigned frag. 4.70M; cf. Syme, Sallust (Berkeley 1964), 202.Google Scholar
108 Plut. Luc. 33 cites Sallust.
109 Sall. Hist. 4.71M.
110 If Hist. 3.8M refers to Praecia as Maurenbrecher suggests; cf. Syme, op. cit. (above, n.107), 210. Nor would Sallust have been responsible for many features to be described below.
111 The question of Appian’s sources is problematical but less so than usual here. While frequently changing guides, Appian was wont to adopt his source’s account without substantial modification. The remarkable similarity between the accounts of Plutarch (Luc. 11) and Appian (Mith. 75) of the battle of the river Rhyndacus( where Plutarch specifically cites Sallust) strongly suggests that Appian chose Sallust as guide for this section of the Mithridatic wars. Compare also the similarities of a statistical nature between App. Mith. 78 and Plut. Luc. 14, and between App. Mith. 89 and Plut. Luc. 35. Reinach, Theodore (Mithridate Eupator [Paris 1890], 447),Google Scholar concerned with divergence between Appian and Plutarch, suggested that Appian had not consulted Sallust directly but had used a Greek author who had himself used Sallust imperfectly, there being mistakes in Appian inexplicable in a Roman historian. He is not allowing Appian to have been responsible for faulty memory or transmission. I would not be the first to impute carelessness to Appian. The assumption of'immediate sources’ can be taken to ridiculous lengths; e.g. R.E. Smith, art. cit. (n.26) and R.M. Geer, art. cit. below (n.112). Against such an assumption of an ‘immediate source’ in the case of Plutarch’s Cicero, seethe arguments of Pelling, C.B.R.Hermes 113(1985), 316–317 and n.18.Google Scholar
112 The differences to be noted here are of a far greater order than those between the dramatic elaboration to be found in Plutarch’s Marius and the more straightforward account of Appian, which Carney, T.F. at least, would put down simply to Plutarch’s style: JHS 80 (1960), 28–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar [It is tempting, for a fleeting moment, to recall that the poet Archias (on whom, see below) also wrote a Marius. ] It may generally be said that where Appian and Plutarch are dealing with the same topic, even where they are drawing much of their information from the same source, Plutarch will seek out more elaborate information (elsewhere, if necessary): Geer, R.M. ‘Plutarch and Appian on Tiberius Gracchus’, in Classical and Mediaeval Studies in Honor of E.K. Rand (New York 1937).Google Scholar Nor can it be imagined that Livy was responsible for augmenting Plutarch’s narrative in the manner to be outlined.
In an academic frolic, G.M. Paul (‘Sallust’, in Dorey, T.A. (ed.), Latin Historians [London 1966], 83–113, esp. 87–88)Google Scholar suggests that Sallust was himself an eyewitness authority for the Mithridatic war since he never claims to have been an eyewitness to the events in Rome in 63 B.C. (109 n.5)!
113 Cf. Rizzo, F.P.Le fonti per la storia delia conquista Pompeiana delia Siria [Supplementi a ‘Kokalos’, 2] (Palermo 1963), 31.Google Scholar Rizzo is concerned here with the delustration of Pompey’s achievements. He assumes that Archias’ poem greatly contributed to that effect.
114 Lucullus has recommended him to the Senate for reward, during or immediately after the war.
115 It was written for the Luculli: Cic. Att. 1.16.15.
116 Cic. Arch. 5.11.
117 Cic. Acad, prior 2.2 A tells us Lucullus had been much commemorated in Greek and Latin. This does not, of course, imply a multiplicity of works on Lucullus.
The importance of Archias in the historiographical tradition has not gone unnoticed on the continent. Reinach’s, Theodore doctoral dissertation, De Archia Poeta (1889–90),Google Scholar was unavailable to me. His views are summarised in his Mithridate Eupator (Paris 1890), 427, and will be referred to frequently below. He saw Archias as responsible for all epic embellishments in the accounts of the second Mithridatic war from Livy to Plutarch (427). He was followed by Villoresi, MarioLucullo (Firenze 1939), 212Google Scholar and Rizzo, op. cit. (above, n.113), 31–35.
It has not gone unnoticed by Syme, R. (Sallust, 207).Google Scholar For T.P. Wiseman’s elaboration of my suggestion, see below, nn. 121, 124. It has been registered by F. Coarelli, art. cit. [n. 132]. I will argue that the poem did not affect the general tradition so much as Plutarch specifically. This is based on the divergences between Appian and Plutarch.
118 Some of the supernatural happenings are reported in Appian too. On a prodigy at Cyzicus: App. Mith. 75 and Plut. Luc. 10, the latter taking the story further, though probably no further than the Livian tradition; see Obsequens. On a dream at Sinope: App. 82, Plut. 23. From there Plutarch is on his own. The omen from Persia Artemis at the crossing of the Euphrates (Plut. 24.6–8) and the favourable manes of that river (ibid. 24.8) would not in themselves excite suspicion. Earlier, however, Lucullus has received a visitation from Aphrodite bringing nothing less than reconnaissance information (ibid. 12.1–2) and been given meteorological support from Artemis of Priapis (ibid. 13.4). The epic touches (perhaps the artistic presentation of Plutarch) to the murder attempt on Lucullus are worth noting in passing. Appian relates the tale plainly (79). In Plutarch, Sleep is almost personified as the destroyer of many generals but the positive saviour of Lucullus (16).
119 Even Livy, who never suppresses the idea of cosmological process, is sceptical of the gods changing history and dissociates himself from such stories; see Kajanto, I.God and Fate in Livy (Annales Universitatis Turkuensis, B 64] (Turku1957);Google Scholar cf. Warde Fowler, W.Roman Ideas of Deity in the last century before the Christian Era (London 1914),Google Scholar lecture 6. Reinach(op. cit., 442) believes that Livy may have gone to Archias for prodigies but not that Plutarch used Livy. The evidence for a statement like that is simply not there (since Obsequens constitutes the only evidence for Livy’s treatment in this regard) though it is unlikely that Livy retailed anything but prodigies in the supernatural vein.
Reinach quite rightly dismisses the idea that supernatural incidents were recorded in Sallust (441). The only approximate theme in Sallust is that of fortuna as a capricious and incalculable power (likened to the use of tyche, so difficult to define in Polybius: Bolaffi, E. ‘Religione, fortuna e patria in Sallustio e negli scrittori anteriori’, RIGI 21 , 1–34).Google Scholar
120 Sulla, for instance, emphasised that, by his felicitas, he was favoured by the gods (Plut. Sull. 6). Octavian’s commentarii de vita sua claimed divine favour (Plut. Brut. 41.4; Plin. NH 2.93). Note the appearance of the to Brutus (Plut. Brut. 36.3–4,48). A specifie tradition is cited but remains tantalisingly anonymous. It is specifically stated that P. Volumnius did not mention it from which we might infer that such personally-inspired treatises were a place Plutarch expected to find such information.
Antiochus’ (cited at Luc. 28.7) possibly recorded such information as the author was ‘a friend and companion’ of Lucullus (ibid. 42.3). The incidents however seem too well incorporated into the narrative to have been gleaned from independent theological research.
121 ‘Pete nobiles amicos’, in Gold, B.K. (ed.), Literary and Artistic Patronage in Ancient Rome (Austin 1982), 33.Google Scholar Reinach (op.cit [n.l 11]), whom Wiseman also acknowledges, had hinted as much.
122 Rizzo (op. cit. [n.113], 79) has emphasised the epic potential of the battle (the prior arrogance of Tigranes, the inequality of numbers, the ignominious flight of the King etc.) and the certain interest that Archias would have taken in the battle which freed his native Antioch from its Armenian overlord. Surprisingly he makes no remarks on the very nature of the coverage and the startling contrasts with Appian (see below [text]).
123 A similar ‘epic’ military engagement is made of an unimportant skirmish at Cabira, where Lucullus personally halts fleeing Romans and leads them back to victory (Plut. Luc. 15.6–7); cf. the very different account of Appian (80); Reinach, 442.
124 Art. cit. (n.121), 45 n.54. Pelling, C.B.R. (in Past Perspectives [above, n.5], 178–179)Google Scholar argues that Plutarch’s concern for his subjects’ justice and humanity is a distinctively ‘Greek’ feature of his own, marking him out from the Roman historiographical tradition.
125 Other examples of the ‘epic’ include Lucullus’ entry into Amisus (Plut. Luc. 19.4) and the drama of the doomed harem and imprecations of Monime (ibid. 18; Reinach, 442).
Archias’ influence would explain all but the excuses for Lucullus’ withdrawal from public life in old age (see above, n.99) which cite Cicero’s non-retirement as a cautionary exemplum. This was hardly from the pen of Archias in 62/1. Possibly Varro was responsible. Cicero’s Academica implies that Lucullus and Varro were of the same literary circle. They shared an academic connection in Antiochus of Ascalon and possibly a family one through Lucullus’ brother, M. Terentius Varro Lucullus (cos. 73). It seems that Cornelius Nepos found preceding biographers a little reluctant to touch upon the more sordid details of Lucullus’ demise: Plut. Luc. 43.1–2.
126 The possibility is enhanced if we accept Reinach’s/Wiseman’s suggestion about the couplet at Luc. 12.1. There is no evidence of the poem’s survival yet no reason to doubt it. [The latest extant notice of Archias in antiquity comes from Quintilian (10.7.19) who need not have direct access to any work of the poet (cf. Cic. de orat. 3.194; Arch 18).] The summus poeta atque eruditissimus homo (ibid. 3) had won approval such as was accorded to the great writers of the past, if we are to believe Cicero (ibid. 5–6; 18), and enjoyed such popularity in Greece (ibid. 4). If this were so, it would not be strange if a copy of the epic had even found its way to Chaeronea, a village which greatly honoured Lucullus as witnessed by his statue in the agora (Plut. Kim. 2.2).
127 This was suggested, but not elaborated on, by Reinach, op. cit. (n.l 11), 430.
128 This Plutarch considered a major role of poetry; see an seni res. ger. sit 1 (= moralia 783B).
129 See Helmbold and O’Neil for quotations; cf. Russell, Plutarch (above, n.74), 46 ff.
130 See Helmbold and O’Neil for quotations of Melanthius, Archelaus, Cratinus, Eupolis, Telecleides, Aristophanes, Phrynichus, Timocreon and Archippus; for similar use of fourth century comic poets, Demosth. 9.5 and Demetrius 12, 16.3 (though the latter has significance outside the poetic context). They are merely embellishments to the narrative. cited as an authority of worth in the Kimon (5.3) and the Perikles (5.3; cf. 28.5), was far more than a poet; almost certainly a prose work (the memoirs or encomia) rather than his elegiac poems is referred to.
131 Thes. 1. Cf. the Appendix.
132 Coarelli, F. ‘Alessandro, i Licinii e Lanuvio’, in L’art décoratif à Rome à la fin de la République et au début du Principat [Collection de l’Ecole Francaise de Rome, 55] (Rome 1981), 229–284.Google Scholar On the connection with the Murenae, 251 ff., esp. 252 and nn.ll and 112. On Archias, 254 ff.
133 Ibid. 253.
134 Cf. Williams, G. ‘Phases in Political Patronage of Literature in Rome’, in Gold, B.K. (ed.), Literary and Artistic Patronage in Ancient Rome (Austin 1982), 9Google Scholar (correctly highlighting the elegance but probably overplaying the tact).
135 Plut. Luc. 8.1–4; see above, n.98.
136 Mith. 71.
137 Plut Luc. 13.1–2.
138 Murena s competence was to be expected. He had been trained in military affairs by his father in that very theatre of wan Plut. Sull 17–19; App. Mith. 32,43; Cic. Mur. 11–12, cf. 73. The sheer length of his service is perhaps indicative of his efficiency; MRR 2, under 72–68 B.C. ‘Legates, Lieutenants’. Plutarch has record of one of his successful encounters with Mithridates (69 B.C.) when the latter was almost captured (Luc. 25). In a different context, Cicero refers to Lucullus’ despatches as testimony to Murenas’ excellent service (Mur. 20). True, it is accompanied by an exaggerated panegyric of Murena’s qualities but the despatches were public records and Cicero could not invite inspection if they would refute his claims. Moreover Lucullus was present in person (ibid.).
139 At first sight it appears that Plutarch’s source has set itself against Lucullus’ estimation of Murena (as per Cic. Mur. 20). Yet it cites Lucullus’ own displeasure and the anecdote is really in praise of Lucullus’
140 LucuUus in fact took a special interest in the capture of the city and its possible salvation (Plut. Luc. 19.2 f.) and later in its restoration (ibid. 19.5 f.). Plutarch knew, probably through Sallust, that Lucullus had lingered around the city, not pushing the siege too vigorously before his departure in 72 for Cabira (Luc. 15.1; cf. 14.3): much to the disgust of his men and therefore to the interest probably of Sallust. We know that Sallust covered the inactivity at Amisus (Hist 4.13M), though his tone is elusive. The similarity between Plutarch and Appian at this point (see above, n. 111 ) suggests that Sallust is the source here.
141 Plut. Luc. 33.2. In this context, that of Lucullus’ poor public relations, Sallust is the authority; ibid. 33.3.
142 Once only do Appian and Plutarch agree in censuring a legate of Lucullus for overweaning ambition with resultant catastrophe. That is C. Valerius Triarius who suffered defeat at the hands of Mithridates in 67 B.C. (Mith. 89 and Luc. 35.1–2 respectively). This was such a spectacular defeat (with 24 tribunes and 150 centurions killed) that his incompetence was probably a cause célèbre covered by Sallust. ( This is also suggested by the agreement of Appian and Plutarch on statistical points. ) Yet even here we might wonder whether Triarius was made a scapegoat. Dio (36.12–13) was in receipt of an alternative version.
143 Cic. Mur. 37.
144 Plut. Luc. 36.4.
145 Plut. Luc. 34.1–2; Dio 17.2.
146 Cic. de har. resp. 42: if as military tribune (MRR 2.164, 165 n.6) there need not necessarily have been a personal connection. Cicero (loc. cit.) possibly suggests one.
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