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date: 27 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses first the general cosmological principles which lie behind Plutarch’s historiographical work, such as can be recovered through significant passages of his Delphic Dialogues. Second, it investigates the reasons why Plutarch wrote biographies, and more specifically parallel biographies, instead of outright histories: in this way, Plutarch aimed to emphasize, on the one hand, the dominant role of individual personalities in the political world of his own time, and, on the other hand, the mutual and exclusive relevance of Greece and Rome in the history of human culture. Third, the chapter seeks to connect the rise-and-fall pattern, typical of biography, with the general rise-and-fall pattern which Plutarch recognizes both in the Greek and in the Roman civilizations; through that connection one can rule out the idea that Plutarch had any providential view of history. Finally, some reflections are offered on Nietzsche’s special interest in Plutarch’s biographies.

Keywords: cosmology, historiography, biography, parallelism, rise-and-fall pattern, providential history

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