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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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Revisiting Plutarch’s Lives of the Caesars

Revisiting Plutarch’s Lives of the Caesars

(p.56) 3 Revisiting Plutarch’s Lives of the Caesars
Plutarch and his Roman Readers

Philip A. Stadter

Oxford University Press

Plutarch’s early series of imperial biographies, the Lives of the Caesars, was a major work, although only Galba and Otho are preserved. It may have been over 75,000 words, c. 375 Teubner pages, and thus longer than any of his extant Moralia, even the nine books of Table Talk. The chapter argues that they presented the history of the emperors in a philosophical framework, as indicated by the preface to Galba. A review of the scarce traces of the Caesars, especially the preserved anecdotes of Augustus, suggests that Augustus was presented as a leader who brought the army and the empire under control after the long civil war, so that the trajectory of the work ran from Augustus’ initial success, through ups and downs of rule, to the decline under Nero, and renewed civil war in AD 69. The chapter argues that the work was written under Vespasian, perhaps to allow him to appear a new Augustus come to end the preceding chaos. The work is significant for indicating the extent of Plutarch’s contacts with Roman society, his study of recent Roman history, and his overall engagement with Roman culture

Keywords:   Plutarch, Lives of the Caesars, Galba, Otho, biography, Augustus, Vespasian, Roman history, culture, society

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