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

<< Back to Schedule

5/15/2019  |   12:00 PM - 12:30 PM   |  Hampton Inn Conference Room

"The Quiet Life: Silence in Plutarch's Demetrius"

Plutarch offers his Life of Demetrius and its Roman pair the Antony as explicitly negative examples, a striking departure from his usual practice. These men, who are “conspicuous for badness” (Demetr. 1.5), habitually engage in behavior that is to be rejected, not imitated. Plutarch’s self-professed ethical and pedagogical aims should raise the suspicions of readers looking for a reliable guide to the life and times of its subject, but, due to the accidents of survival and transmission, the Demetrius shoulders a historical burden it was not designed to bear. Indeed, Plutarch’s Life is the sole extant narrative of Demetrius’ career, and provides the only literary evidence for many events from the last twenty years of his life. An examination of the fragments of contemporary historical accounts combined with epigraphic evidence reveals that silence is an important component of the didactic program at work in the Demetrius. Plutarch frequently diminishes his subject’s accomplishments and suppresses material that might elicit the reader’s approval or admiration. Even more striking than Plutarch’s omission of historical episodes is his use of silence in the characterization of Demetrius. The Life is liberally spiced with witty remarks and revealing sayings—just the sort of material that Plutarch insists are illustrative of character (Alex. 1.5)—but these are almost always put into the mouths of others. Demetrius is one of Plutarch’s most taciturn subjects. His laconic remarks reveal little, and in exchanges he is almost invariably rendered speechless. After grappling with the question of the sources for the Demetrius, this paper examines the suppression of material with which Plutarch must have been familiar as well as the use of silence as a characterizing device and demonstrates that both techniques were dictated by the unique position of the Demetrius/Antony pair in Plutarch’s biographical project.

Thomas Rose (Primary Presenter), thomasrose@rmc.edu;
Thomas Rose is an Assistant Professor of Classics at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia. His research focuses on the Successors of Alexander, the development of Hellenistic kingship and ruler cult, and Plutarch’s Hellenistic Lives.

Presentation:
This presentation is not available online.

Handouts:
Handout is not Available