Alexander, his Teacher and his Status of Philosophy in Plutarch of Chaeronea: an Inquiry into the Meaning of a Certain Exchange of Letters

Authors

  • Joanna Komorowska Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University, Warsaw, Poland

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.12797/CC.19.2016.07

Abstract

Alexander, his Teacher and his Status of Philosophy in Plutarch of Chaeronea: an Inquiry into the Meaning of a Certain Exchange of Letters

The principal focus of the present article is the exchange of letters quoted by Plutarch of Chaeronea, celebrated teacher and Middle-Platonist of the first century CE, in his equally famous bios Alexandrou, a work describing the life and deeds of the great Macedonian as juxtaposed with those of his Roman counterpart, Caesar. My aim is simple enough: to evaluate the function and meaning of said exchange in the framework of the bios, its possible cultural and moral import, and thus, its contribution to the Plutarchean portrayal of Alexander and his attitude toward philosophy. As for the authenticity of the exchange, the issue is of limited relevance in the present essay, since Plutarch very clearly considers the letters in question as authentic – for clarity’s sake, however, one may add that Hadot dismisses them as a Hellenistic apocryph, intended to bolster the standing of Andronicus’ redaction of Aristotelian Metaphysics2. As far the more general issue of Plutarch’s employment of letters in Alexander’s biography is concerned, the Aristotle letter is hardly a unique instance of such an occurrence – much in keeping with his predilection for the anecdotal, Plutarch does occasionally invoke the testimony of correspondence: as private means of communication letters are a valuable testimony to man’s character and customs: thus, in the later parts of the bios, we find quotations (some paraphrased) from Alexander’s correspondence with his mother, Olympias (mentioned in Alex. 39.5) or from letters exchanged between him and various officials: hence, the appearance of the Aristotle letters conforms to the more general Plutarchean usage.

References

Baltussen H., 2008, Philosophy and Exegesis in Simplicius: The Methodology of a Commentator, London.

Bartol K., 2015, ‘Senecio and Larensis at dinners: two non-Greek intellectuals at the heart of a Hellenic symposion’, Classica Cracoviensia 18, pp. 27-37. DOI: https://doi.org/10.12797/CC.18.2015.18.01

Boulet B., 2014, ‘The Philosopher-King’, [in:] M. Beck (ed.), A Companion to Plutarch, Malden, pp. 449-462. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118316450.ch30

Brechét Ch., 2008, ‘Grecs, Macédoniens et Romains au ‘test’ d’Homère.

Référence homérique et hellénisme chez Plutarque’, [in:] A.G. Nikolaidis (ed.), The Unity of Plutarch’s Work, Berlin, pp. 85-109.

Fausti D., 1993, ‘Lo stereotipo de la superiorità de la cultura greca: la situazione in epoca imperiale attraverso le testimonianze di Plutarco e Galeno’, Prometheus 19, pp. 265-277.

Frazier F., 2014, ‘The Perils of Ambition’, [in:] M. Beck (ed.), A Companion to Plutarch, Malden, pp. 488-502. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118316450.ch33

Hercher R., 1873, Epistolographi Graeci, Paris.

Hernández Gómez M., 2011, ‘La Carta Séptima de Jenofonte y el Agesilao de Plutarco’, [in:] J. M. Candau Morón, F.J. Gonzales Ponce, A.L. Chávez Reino (eds.), Plutarco transmissor. Actas del X simposio internacional de la Sociedad Española de Plutarquistas, Sevilla, 12-14 de noviembre de 2009, Universidad de Sevilla, pp. 191-197.

Humbert S., 1991, ‘Plutarque, Alexandre et l’Hellénisme’, [in:] S. Saïd (ed.), ῾Ελλενισμóς. Quelques jalons pour une histoire de l’identité grecque, Actes de Colloque de Strasbourg (25-27 octobre 1989), Leiden, pp. 169-181.

d’Ippolito G., 2005, ‘Filantropia, ellenocentrismo e polietnismo in Plutarco’, [in:] A. Pérez Jiménez, F. Titchener (eds.), Historical and Biographical Values of Plutarch’s Works. Studies devoted to Professor Philip A. Stadter, Málaga-Utah, pp. 179-195.

Karamanolis G. E., 2006, Plato and Aristotle in agreement? Platonists on Aristotle from Antiochus to Porphyry, Oxford. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/0199264562.001.0001

Kennedy G.A., 1963, The Art of Persuasion in Greece, Princeton.

Mirhady D.C., 1995, ‘Plutarch’s Use of Theophrastus’ πρὸς τοὺς καιρούς’, [in:] I. Gallo, B. Scardigli (acd), Teoria e prassi politica nelle opera di Plutarco. Atii del V Convegno plutarcheo, Cartosa di Pontignano, 7-9 giugno 1993, Napoli, pp. 269-273.

Muccioli F., 2011, ‘Plutarco, il ‘buon uso’ delle fonti epigrafiche e il decreto di Temistocle’, [in:] J. M. Candau Morón, F.J. Gonzales Ponce, A.L. Chávez Reino (eds.), Plutarco transmissor. Actas del X simposio internacional de la Sociedad Española de Plutarquistas, Sevilla, 12-14 de noviembre de 2009, Universidad de Sevilla, pp. 207-222.

Mossman J., 1988, ‘Tragedy and Epic in Plutarch’s Alexander’, JHS 108, pp. 83-93. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/632632

Nikolaidis A.G., 1986, ‘Ἑλλενικός – βαρβαρικός, Plutarch on Greek and barbarian characteristics’, WS 20, pp. 229-244.

Ottone G., 2011, ‘Plutarco trasmissore: ratio e prassi dell citazione nella Vita di Agesilao’, [in:] J. M. Candau Morón, F.J. Gonzales Ponce, A.L. Chávez Reino (eds.), Plutarco transmissor. Actas del X simposio internacional de

la Sociedad Española de Plutarquistas, Sevilla, 12-14 de noviembre de 2009, Universidad de Sevilla, pp. 223-242.

Pelling Ch., 1989, ‘Plutarch: Roman Heroes and Greek culture’, [in:] M. Griffin, J. Barnes (eds.), Philosophia Togata, Oxford, pp. 199-232.

Penella R.J., 1979, The Letters of Apollonius of Tyana: A Critical Text with Prolegomena, Translation and Commentary, Leiden. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004327733

Prandi L., 2000, ‘L’Alessandro di Plutarco. Riflessioni su De Al. Magn. Fort.

e su Alex.’, [in:] L. van der Stockt (ed.), Rhetorical Theory and Praxis in Plutarch. Acta of the IVth International Congress of the International Plutarch Society, Leuven, July 3-6, 1996, Louvain-Namur, pp. 375-386.

Rosenmeyer P., 2001, Ancient Epistolary Fictions. The Letter in Greek Literature, Cambridge.

Roskam G., 2002, ‘A Paideia for a Ruler: Plutarch’s Dream of Collaboration between Philosopher and Ruler’, [in:] P.A. Stadter, L. Van der Stockt (eds.), Sage and Emperor: Plutarch, Greek Intellectuals, and Roman Power in the Time of Trajan (98-117 A.D.), Leuven, pp. 175-189.

Schettino M.T., 2014, ‘The Use of Historical Sources’, [in:] M. Beck (ed.), A Companion to Plutarch, Malden, pp. 417-436. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118316450.ch28

Schmidt Th. S., 1999, Plutarque et les barbares. La rhetorique d’une image, Louvain-Namur.

Swain S., 1990, ‘Hellenic culture and Roman heroes of Plutarch’, JHS 110, pp. 126-145. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/631736

Swain S., 1996, Hellenism and Empire. Language, classicism, and power in the Greek world AD 50-250, Oxford.

Teodorsson S.-T., 2008, ‘The Education of Rulers in Theory (Mor.) and Practice (Vitae)’, [in:] A.G. Nikolaidis (ed.), The Unity of Plutarch’s Work, Berlin, pp. 339-350. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110211665.6.339

Tirelli A., 1995, ‘L’intellettuale e il potere; pedagogia e politica in Plutarco’, [in:] I. Gallo, B. Scardigli (eds.), Teoria e prassi politica nelle opera di plutarco. Atii del V Convegno plutarcheo, Cartosa di Pontignano, 7-9 giugno 1993, Napoli, pp. 439-455.

Van der Stockt L., 2014, ‘Compositional Methods in the Lives’, [in:] M. Beck (ed.), A Companion to Plutarch, Malden, pp. 321-332. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118316450.ch22

Van Raalte M., 2005, ‘More philosophico: political virtue and philosophy in Plutarch’s Lives’, [in:] L. de Blois, J. Bons, T. Kessels, D.M. Schenkeveld (eds.), The Statesman in Plutarch’s Works, Vol. 2: Greek and Roman Lives, Leiden, pp. 75-112. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1163/9789047405191_008

Downloads

Published

2016-10-31

How to Cite

Komorowska, J. “Alexander, His Teacher and His Status of Philosophy in Plutarch of Chaeronea: An Inquiry into the Meaning of a Certain Exchange of Letters”. Classica Cracoviensia, vol. 19, Oct. 2016, pp. 115-26, doi:10.12797/CC.19.2016.07.

Issue

Section

Articles