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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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Alexander Hamilton’s Notes on Plutarch in His Paybook

Alexander Hamilton’s Notes on Plutarch in His Paybook

(p.314) 22 Alexander Hamilton’s Notes on Plutarch in His Paybook
Plutarch and his Roman Readers

Philip A. Stadter

Oxford University Press

Alexander Hamilton, a young aide to George Washington during the American revolution and future Founding Father, made notes while reading Theseus–Romulus and Lycurgus–Numa in the winter of 1777–8 while the army was encamped at Valley Forge. He noted especially items concerned with constitutions, education, and slavery. Monarchy and the institutions that limited it, such as the Spartan ephorate and the Roman senate, attract his attention, as well as the relation between monarch and populace. He is impressed by Lycurgus’ division of property, but passes over other economic issues. He makes frequent notes on social practices and Numa’s religious institutions, and carefully copied out some thirty-three lines of Plutarch’s account of the Spartan helots. He gave little attention to military, but shows unusual curiosity on scientific, philosophical, and anthropological matters. His scribbled observations in the midst of war catch one of the most brilliant of the Founding Fathers of the United States eagerly studying ancient government structures and practices as guidelines for his own thinking.

Keywords:   Alexander Hamilton, Plutarch, Theseus, Romulus, Lycurgus, Numa, reception, United States, constitutions, slavery

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