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Plutarch Against ColotesA Lesson in History of Philosophy$
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Eleni Kechagia

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199597239

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199597239.001.0001

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Why did Plutarch Write against Colotes?

Why did Plutarch Write against Colotes?

Reading the prooemium of Πρὸς Κωλώτην

(p.18) (p.19) 1 Why did Plutarch Write against Colotes?
Plutarch Against Colotes

Eleni Kechagia

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the reasons and circumstances which led Plutarch to compose a detailed and systematic response to an otherwise unknown polemical book by Colotes, a relatively obscure Epicurean of the 3rd century bc. It offers a close reading of the prooemium of the Adversus Colotem in which Plutarch masterfully gives his own justification of his enterprise, both explicitly and through allusion to his Platonic pedigree. Prima facie the Adversus Colotem is presented as the written version of the oral refutation of Colotes which Plutarch was asked by his companions to give during one of the sessions in his school. At the same time, it transpires that responding to Colotes' polemic gave Plutarch the opportunity to engage in an exercise in the history of philosophy from the perspective of a Platonist teacher.

Keywords:   allusion, circumstances, close reading, history of philosophy, justification, oral refutation, Platonic pedigree, prooemium, Platonist teacher

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