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  |   11:00 AM - 11:30 AM   |  Hampton Inn Conference Room

Plutarch’s Narratorial Silences in the Life of Dion

The Lives of Plutarch are chock full of silence. As recently argued by Chrysanthou (2018), what Plutarch leaves out is vital to the method of moral instruction he is employing, in that it makes the reader work, to make their own connections and interpretations of the subject. And Plutarch, as Konstan (2004) has demonstrated with regard to the De audiendis poetis, is conscious of complex, even modern methods of interpreting reading, and, as Duff (2011) has demonstrated, his audience in the Lives is particularly sophisticated, assumed to be capable of myriad types of interpretive nuance and possibility. And so, Plutarch’s silences are an instructive area for exploration in Plutarch’s narrative practices. Such gaps in the Life of Dion form fertile ground for this sort of examination, as Plutarch offers multiple types of narratorial silence in this Life. Of course, he employs standard interpretative gaps that are a crucial part of any narrative, but there are other occurrences that are likely a conscious result of Plutarch’s compositional approach. For example, for a portion of Dion’s exile, he devotes his narrative to events in Sicily, abandoning Dion’s affairs in Greece. Also, Plutarch provides sparse details of plot and counter-plot as Dion gathers recruits to usurp Dionysius II. Finally, Plutarch’s omission of Callippus from the narrative until the conclusion despite his historical presence during the events of Dion’s return to Sicily is particularly interesting. Here, Plutarch retroactively fills in details that the biographer had passed over in silence before, while also alerting the reader to the fact that he had omitted these details! Through my examination of scenes like this from the Dion, we will examine the impact that these silences have on the narrative and the sophisticated reader’s moral and historical interpretation of the Sicilian statesman.

Michael Nerdahl (Primary Presenter), mnerdahl@bowdoin.edu;
Michael is a lifelong Badger, having received his B.S., M.A., and Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin. He teaches classes of all levels in Latin and Greek, as well as courses in ancient culture (Mythology, Greek Civilization) and Roman history and politics, particularly of the Roman Republic. Michael specializes in Plutarchan biography, Roman Republican politics, and creating role-immersion games for the classroom based in Greco-Roman antiquity.

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