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Flavius Josephus and Flavian Rome$
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Jonathan Edmondson, Steve Mason, and James Rives

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780199262120

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199262120.001.0001

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Parallel Lives of Two Lawgivers: Josephus' Moses and Plutarch's Lycurgus 1

Parallel Lives of Two Lawgivers: Josephus' Moses and Plutarch's Lycurgus 1

Chapter:
(p.209) 11 Parallel Lives of Two Lawgivers: Josephus' Moses and Plutarch's Lycurgus1
Source:
Flavius Josephus and Flavian Rome
Author(s):

Louis H. Feldman

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199262120.003.0012

This chapter explores the thematic and possible literary relationships between Josephus’ narrative on Moses and Plutarch’s biography of the Spartan Lycurgus, two legendary lawgivers. Parallels in the portraits of these two leaders include not only the expected emphases on such Spartan virtues as courage, wisdom, and moderation, but also their conspicuous agreement that, for example, alien customs present a serious threat to the internal harmony of their own ethnic traditions. It is remarkable that Josephus nowhere mentions Plutarch by name, since references to Greco-Roman authors are not uncommon in his corpus. The chapter suggests that it was perhaps Plutarch’s hostile attitude towards the Flavian emperors that prevented his overt mention in Josephus’ writing. It is concluded that there is insufficient evidence to determine whether Josephus knew Plutarch’s work or both writers used a common source. Both writers, however, displayed a marked concern with issues of moral exemplarity.

Keywords:   Plutarch, Lycurgus, Moses, historiography, biography, exemplarity, hostility, lawgivers, moral virtues, ethnic law

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