Solon of Athens as a precedent for Plutarch's authorial persona

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    Abstract

    Solon is the subject of both a Plutarchan biography (Solon) and a philosophical dialogue (Convivium septem sapientium). In this article I argue that Plutarch creates a precedent for his authorial persona of wise but modest adviser of the ruling class under the Roman empire in the figure of the Athenian sage Solon. To this end I analyze in particular how Plutarch represents Solon's way of dealing with rulers and tyrants (Pisistratus, Philocyprus, Croesus; Periander). I ask whether in this he can be considered successful or not, and why. I submit that Plutarch's representation of Solon aims to provide authority to some of the novel aspects of his authorial persona, in particular its emphatic modesty and pragmatism with regard to absolute rule. Plutarch does this in particular by showing that it was a time-honoured and respectable practice for wise Greeks to act as advisor to rulers, even tyrants.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article numberMNEM-2247
    Pages (from-to)247-264
    Number of pages19
    JournalMnemosyne, A Journal of Classical Studies
    Volume71
    Issue number2
    Early online dateJul-2017
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2018

    Keywords

    • authorial persona
    • tyrants
    • Parallel Lives
    • Plutarch
    • Solon of Athens
    • Anchoring Innovation
    • Roman Empire
    • Moralia

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