SECOND MEETING OF THE
NORTH AMERICAN SECTIONS
INTERNATIONAL PLUTARCH SOCIETY
"Plutarch's Unexpected Silences"
15-18 May, 2019
HIGHLY CUSTOMIZABLE THEME
SECOND MEETING OF THE
NORTH AMERICAN SECTIONS
INTERNATIONAL PLUTARCH SOCIETY
"Plutarch's Unexpected Silences"
15-18 May, 2019
HIGHLY CUSTOMIZABLE THEME
SECOND MEETING OF THE
NORTH AMERICAN SECTIONS
INTERNATIONAL PLUTARCH SOCIETY
"Plutarch's Unexpected Silences"
15-18 May, 2019
By Itidorfa07 (Own work) CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons (cropped from original)
Lion of Chaeronea Statue

Abstract Details

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5/18/2019  |   10:15 AM - 10:45 AM   |  Hampton Inn Conference Room

'A Deathly Hush: the lack of last words in Plutarch's Lives'

We expect biographies to include the last words of their subjects, and last words are themselves anthologised and form a sub-type of anecdote which is usually more entertaining than full of pathos. So King George V is credited variously with 'How is the Empire?', and the less patriotic, but more memorable phrase (said in response to a suggestion that he would soon be well enough to visit his favourite resort) 'Bugger Bognor!'. It comes as surprise, then, that Plutarch does not invariably record the last words of his subjects and that even where their deaths are elaborately recounted they may well in fact expire silently. This paper argues that this is part of a wider picture of Plutarch's interest in the interweaving of speech and silence, and exemplifies his subtle use of direct and indirect speech, rather than the function of lack of evidence or lack of interest. In some cases, interesting comparisons can be made between pairs of Lives such as Demosthenes (loquacious to the end) and Cicero (silent); and in many cases the silence of Plutarch's heroes is extremely eloquent.

Judith Mossman (Primary Presenter), judith.mossman@coventry.ac.uk;
Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Arts and Humanities, Coventry University. Previously (since 2004) Professor of Classics at University of Nottingham, Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Trinity College, Dublin until 2003. Educated at Corpus Christi College, Oxford.

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