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The Passionate StatesmanErõs and Politics in Plutarch's Lives$
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Jeffrey Beneker

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199695904

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199695904.001.0001

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Erōs and Ambition in the Alexander–Caesar

Erōs and Ambition in the Alexander–Caesar

(p.103) 3 Erōs and Ambition in the Alexander–Caesar
The Passionate Statesman

Jeffrey Beneker

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the Alexander–Caesar, and in particular Plutarch's interpretation of Alexander's victory over the Persian king Darius III and Julius Caesar's victory over his Roman political rivals, especially Pompey. It argues that Plutarch equates self-control with kingly behaviour and that, in general, he assumes that successful leadership in war and in politics depends on ethical behaviour. It demonstrates that Plutarch has adopted Xenophon's depiction of Cyrus I from the Cyropaedia as a model for his moderate, kingly, and victorious Alexander. The chapter further demonstrates how Plutarch connects Alexander's less successful later years with a corresponding lapse in resistance to luxury and sexual activity. Turning to the Caesar, it concludes by arguing that Plutarch has also applied the example of a moderate Alexander to Caesar, despite Caesar's well-established reputation for sexual extravagance.

Keywords:   Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Cyrus I, Darius III, Xenophon, Cyropaedia, self-control, moderation, appetites, erōs

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