This chapter starts with a survey of the preceding scholarly literature on Plutarch's practical ethics, a group of twenty-odd texts within the Moralia. Although Ziegler's discussion of what he labelled Plutarch's ‘popular-philosophical’ writings, following upon a century of Quellenforschung, brought about an increased interest in several of the texts involved, it also contributed to them being regarded as second-rank philosophy. This book is the first monograph that studies this group of texts as literary compositions in dynamic interaction with their socio-historical context. Methodologically, it combines close reading with perspectives opened up by new cultural history, new historicism, and speech-act theory in order to show that Plutarch's practical ethics were designed not only to contribute to the ethical and social well-being of the Graeco-Roman elite, but also to establish and consolidate Plutarch's own social identity as a philosopher-citizen. The Introduction ends with a survey of the contents of the book.
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