The Cursus Honorum
This chapter reviews Plutarch’s unusual familiarity with the Roman senatorial career pattern, the cursus honorum. A Roman statesman was honoured according to the offices he had held, the victories he had won, and the triumphs he had celebrated. Offices were held in sequence, and formed a cursus, a standard career path: quaestor, aedile, praetor, consul, censor. These were documented in the family imagines, inscriptions, and memoirs, while historians often recorded major offices. Nepos’ biography of Cato Censor gives a full cursus; presumably his other lost lives did the same. The cursus continued in use under the principate, although the importance of the offices diminished. Plutarch would have known the cursus offices both from history and inscriptions and from his Roman friends. In the course of writing his Parallel Lives and treating statesmen of the second century BC and later, Plutarch used his subject’s cursus as a structural element for his Roman lives, recognizing its importance to Roman culture. This chapter then discusses Plutarch’s references to offices of the cursus held by his Roman heroes, and supplies an appendix with a full listing.
Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.
If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.