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Plutarch and his Roman Readers$
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Philip A. Stadter

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780198718338

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198718338.001.0001

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Plutarch’s Latin Reading

Plutarch’s Latin Reading

Cicero’s Lucullus and Horace’s Epistle 1.6

(p.130) 9 Plutarch’s Latin Reading
Plutarch and his Roman Readers

Philip A. Stadter

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that Plutarch’s knowledge of the Latin language, while imperfect (cf. Dem. 1–2), still allowed him to do extensive research in Roman historians, and even to read philosophical and poetic works such as Cicero’s Lucullus and Horace’s Epistle I.6, which he quotes in the Life of Lucullus. Cicero’s Lucullus was a fundamental source for the history of the Academy in the first century BC, when leading Academic philosophers had moved from Athens to Rome. This fact makes it reasonable to suppose that Plutarch would have wished to read the work. He would have been able to do so, for although he says that he learned Latin late (Dem. 2), by the time he came to write Lucullus he had already done extensive research in Latin. Latin was essential to his biographical project. The quotation from Horace, although more problematic, may represent direct reading, since the subject matter of this book of Epistles, popular morality, would have been congenial to Plutarch, and poetry was frequently read even at an elementary level of language learning. He may have noted the anecdote and included it with others in one of his collections (hypomnemata).

Keywords:   Plutarch, Latin, historical research, poetry, Cicero, Lucullus, Horace, Parallel Lives, anecdotes, hypomnemata

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