Plutarch's Life of Alcibiades

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2010-02-01
  • Publisher: Leuven Univ Pr

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At the beginning of the second century C.E., Plutarch of Chaeronea wrote a series of pairs of biographies of Greek and Roman statesmen. Their purposeis moral: the reader is invited to reflect on important ethical issues and to use the example of these great men from the past to improve his or her ownconduct. This book off ers the first full-scale commentary on the Life of Alcibiades. It examines how Plutarch's biography of one of classical Athens'most controversial politicians functions within the moral program of the Parallel Lives. Built upon the narratological distinction between story and text, Simon Verdegem's analysis, which involves detailed comparisons with other Plutarchan works (especially the Lives of Nicias and Lysander) and several key texts in the Alcibiades tradition (e.g., Plato, Thucydides, and Xenophon), demonstrates how Plutarch carefully constructed his story and used a wide range of narrative techniques to create a complex Life that raises interesting questions about the relation between private morality and the common good.

Author Biography

Simon Verdegem is an Associate Staff Member of the Research Unit 'Literary Studies: Text and Interpretation' of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. 11
Abbreviationsp. 13
Introductionp. 19
Moralismp. 19
Storyp. 60
Textp. 79
The Proem (Alc. I)p. 97
An Intriguing Beginningp. 97
Making a Startp. 100
Conclusionsp. 117
A Difficult Character (Alc. 2-9)p. 119
On Character Changes and Innate Passions (Alc. 2.1)p. 119
Childhood Stories (Alc. 2.2-3.2)p. 121
How to Distinguish Flatterers from a Friend (Alc. 4-6)p. 131
Sayings and Doings of a Young Adult (Alc. 7-9)p. 151
Conclusionsp. 162
The Ascent to Power (Alc. 10-15)p. 167
A Spectacular Entry (Alc. 10.1-2)p. 167
Alcibiades' Rhetoric (Alc. 10.3-4)p. 169
The Olympic Triumph (Alc. 11-12)p. 171
The Struggle for Power in Athens (Alc. 13)p. 176
Breaking the Peace of Nicias (Alc. 14-15)p. 188
Conclusionsp. 208
A Thought-Provoking Transition (Alc. 16)p. 215
Dividing Public Opinionp. 215
Combining Source Materialp. 220
The Great Reversal (Alc. 17.1-23.3)p. 225
Thinking about the Conquest of Sicily (Alc. 17.1-18.5)p. 225
From Mutilation to Condemnation (Alc. 18.6-22.5)p. 239
Alcibiades' Defection to Sparta (Alc. 23.1-3)p. 261
Conclusionsp. 264
The Art of Adaptation (Alc. 23.4-5)p. 269
Alcibiades' Adaptation of his Conductp. 269
Plutarch's Adaptation of his Materialp. 272
From Sparta to Samos (Alc. 23.6-26.9)p. 279
From Sparta to Sardis (Alc. 23.6-25.2)p. 279
From Sardis to Samos (Alc. 25.3-26.9)p. 291
Conclusionsp. 304
Fighting His Way Back (Alc. 27-31)p. 309
A Quest for Glory (Alc. 27.1-2)p. 309
The Battle of Abydus (Alc. 27.3-6[15])p. 310
In Prison (Alc. 27.6[16]-28.2[28])p. 312
The Battle of Cyzicus (Alc. 28.2[28]-10)p. 314
Alcibiades and Thrasyllus (Alc. 29.1-5)p. 318
The Expedition against Chalcedon (Alc. 29.6-30.2)p. 319
The Capture of Selybria (Alc. 30.3-10)p. 320
The Chalcedon-Treaty (Alc. 31.1-2)p. 322
The Capture of Byzantium (Alc. 31.3-8)p. 323
Conclusionsp. 326
At the Height of His Glory (Alc. 32-34)p. 331
Alcibiades' Return to Athens (Alc. 32.1-34.2)p. 331
Alcibiades' Restoration of the Procession to Eleusis (Alc. 34.3-7)p. 341
Conclusionsp. 346
A Tragic Downfall (Alc. 35-39)p. 351
In Absentia (Alc. 35.1-36.5)p. 351
A New Blow (Alc. 36.6-37.8)p. 372
The Final Act (Alc. 38-39)p. 385
Conclusionsp. 394
Conclusionsp. 399
Storyp. 399
Textp. 410
Moralismp. 417
Bibliographyp. 425
Index of Plutarch Passagesp. 469
Index of Passages in Other Authorsp. 487
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