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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 and Apollo of Delphi

Plutarch and Apollo of Delphi

(p.82) 5 Plutarch and Apollo of Delphi
Plutarch and his Roman Readers

Philip A. Stadter

Oxford University Press

This chapter reviews Plutarch’s presentation of Roman dealings with the sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi. After a brief description of the procedure for oracular consultation over which Plutarch would have presided, it turns to the reports of Delphic oracles in the Greek lives, with the caveat that this chapter discusses not what actually happened, but Plutarch’s treatment. In these Greek Lives, Plutarch finds Apollo’s oracle admired for its wisdom and respected for its assistance in time of crisis, but ignored when it warned of danger, and cynically exploited by politicians. In the Roman Lives, the Delphic sanctuary is used by Flamininus and Aemilius Paullus as a place to advertise themselves,, and by Sulla as a ready source of wealth to pay his soldiers. Plutarch brings out the ambiguity of Apollo’s relation to Sulla: did he disapprove or favour him? Remarkably, Plutarch does not speak of contemporary Romans consulting the god, although some Romans may have requested a consultation that failed.

Keywords:   Plutarch, Delphi, Rome, Flamininus, Aemilius Paullus, Sulla, Apollo, oracle

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