The introduction sets forth the volume's primary interpretive concerns. While Table Talk cannot be taken at face value as a historical document, it nevertheless embeds itself in its society, and yields rich insights into the imperial culture and intellectual mindset. By proposing a cultural-historical angle of study, the book takes a fresh stance on questions of its historicity and use as autobiographical (Plutarchan) testimony. The Introduction also draws attention to Table Talk's innovative genre, fusing as it does traditions of literary symposia, problems, and miscellany – a creative experimentation that played a large part in guaranteeing the text's early popularity. It explores the different way in which readers can negotiate the Table Talk's seemingly incoherent, miscellanistic surface by pointing to structural features and patterns; and, finally, it discusses Plutarch's ancient readership. The Introduction concludes with a summary of the essays in the volume.
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