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Title: Plutarch on Sparta : cultural identities and political models in the Plutarchan macrotext
Author: Lucchesi, Michele Alessandro
ISNI:       0000 0004 5367 7373
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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Can we consider Plutarch's Parallel Lives a historical work? Can we read them as a unitary series? These are the initial questions that this thesis poses and that are investigated in the Introduction, five main Chapters, and the Conclusion. In the Introduction, a preliminary status quaestionis about ancient biography is presented before clarifying the methodology adopted for reading the Parallel Lives as a unitary historical work and the reasons for choosing the Lives of Lycurgus, Lysander, and Agesilaus as the case studies to examine in detail. Chapter 1 discusses the historiographical principles that emerge from the De sera numinis vindicta: for Plutarch history is primarily the history of individuals and cities, based on the interpretation of historical events. Chapter 2 tries to verify the hypothesis that the Parallel Lives correspond to the historical project delineated in the De sera numinis vindicta. This Chapter, moreover, reassesses the literary form of the Parallel Lives by employing the concepts of 'open macrotext' and 'cross-complementarity' between the Lives. Chapter 3 analyses the Life of Lycurgus, focusing on the formation of the cultural identity and the political model of Sparta. In the Life of Lycurgus, Plutarch indicates already the intrinsic weaknesses of Sparta and the probable causes of Spartan decline in the fourth century BC. Chapter 4 is devoted to the Life of Lysander, where Plutarch narrates how after the Peloponnesian War Sparta established its hegemony over the Greeks and, simultaneously, began its rapid moral and political decline into decadence. Plutarch also seems to suggest that in this historical period of extraordinary changes not only Sparta and Lysander but all the Greeks were guilty of distorting moral values. Chapter 5 concentrates on Agesilaus, who could have led Sparta and the Greeks to great success against the Persians, but, instead, had to save Sparta from complete destruction after the Battle of Leuctra. The Conclusion recapitulates the main points of the thesis and proposes possible arguments for future research on Plutarch’s Parallel Lives.
Supervisor: Pelling, Christopher Brendan Reginald Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Classical Greek ; Hellenic (Classical Greek) literature ; History of the ancient world ; Plutarch ; Sparta ; Parallel Lives ; De Sera Numinis Vindicta ; Lycurgus ; Lysander ; Agesilaus ; Macrotext ; Seriality