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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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Paidagôgia pros to theion

Paidagôgia pros to theion

Plutarch’s Numa

(p.246) 17 Paidagôgia pros to theion
Plutarch and his Roman Readers

Philip A. Stadter

Oxford University Press

This chapter looks at how Plutarch draws Numa as a philosopher-king who uses religion to awe and control his fierce Roman subjects, creating for a brief moment a land of peace and harmony before the surge of war and continuous expansion which would make Rome a world power. Plutarch argues that the gods love all that is virtuous in man, that a proper attention to the gods is a sign of virtue, and that a pious ruler inspires his people to follow his example and is a source of peace. The many references to Roman religion reinforce Plutarch’s account of the king’s use of religion to tame the Romans. The discussion of the pontifex maximus has direct relevance to Domitian’s reign. Numa’s virtue embodied the principles of Greek, and especially Platonic, philosophy, and could serve as an ideal model, hardly imitable, for Plutarch’s contemporary readers.

Keywords:   Plutarch, Parallel Lives, Numa, religion, pontifex, peace, virtue, readers, philosophy, war, Domitian

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