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Chapter 1 - A Brief Introduction to Plutarch and a Comparison of Cicero and Plutarch on Public Ethics

from Part I - Setting the Stage

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 September 2022

Rebecca Kingston
Affiliation:
University of Toronto
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Summary

The chapter is divided into three sections. In the first section I discuss Plutarch’s life and work in the general context of the first century CE. Following this, I provide a short analysis of six of Plutarch’s Lives, Lycurgus, Numa, Alexander, Caesar, Antony and Phocion, to demonstrate the key themes highlighted by scholars of his thought, and to introduce readers to accounts which figure among the most prominent as references in Western intellectual traditions. In the concluding section I offer a comparison and contrast between Cicero’s On Duties and the themes of Plutarch’s Lives and his moral essays devoted to questions of public life. This comparison highlights what distinguishes Plutarch’s contribution and signals his unique contribution to traditions of political reflection on public life and public service.

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Chapter
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Plutarch's Prism
Classical Reception and Public Humanism in France and England, 1500–1800
, pp. 23 - 64
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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