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Fame and InfamyEssays on Characterization in Greek and Roman Biography and Historiography$
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Rhiannon Ash, Judith Mossman, and Frances B. Titchener

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199662326

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199662326.001.0001

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‘The Love of Noble Deeds’

‘The Love of Noble Deeds’

Plutarch’s Portrait of Aratus of Sicyon

Chapter:
(p.161) 11 ‘The Love of Noble Deeds’
Source:
Fame and Infamy
Author(s):

Philip Stadter

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199662326.003.0011

Plutarch’s Life of Aratus, written for Polycrates of Sicyon and his sons, descendants of Aratus, raises the question whether contemporary Greeks will hide behind their glorious past, ‘donning the virtues of some ancestor or other and exaggerating in praising them’ (1.2), or imitate in their own lives the great deeds of their ancestors. Plutarch’s biography establishes Aratus as a paradigm. This chapter first examines his critical use of Aratus’ Memoirs as a source. Next it considers the way in which he has structured the narrative of Aratus’ life. It then analyses Plutarch’s own comments, interspersed throughout the life, praising or criticizing Aratus’ actions. He writes of Aratus’ decision to allow the Macedonians to reassert their tyranny over Achaea as a low point. Plutarch suggests that contemporary Greeks learn to build civic harmony as Aratus had, and avoid invoking outside (understand: Roman) intervention to settle internal quarrels.

Keywords:   Plutarch, biography, Aratus of Sicyon, tyranny, Macedon, harmony, Rome, virtue, imitation

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