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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5/15/2019  |   2:00 PM - 2:30 PM   |  Hampton Inn Conference Room

Plutarch on the Christians: Why So Silent?

Christians possibly appeared on the Roman radar as early as 44 or 45 (Fitzmyer 1998, 139). Plutarch might have heard of them during his trip to Smyrna during the reign of Nero (for the trip, see Jones, 1971, 5). In none of his extant works, such as the Sympotic Questions, does Plutarch mention them, but they might have appeared, as in Suetonius’ Lives and Tacitus’ Annals, in Plutarch’s lost Claudius and Nero. With possibly three trips to Rome after the fire, and with many friends there, such as Sextius Sulla, he should have heard about Christians in connection with the fire. A fruitful line of inquiry is Plutarch’s association with prominent Romans, as studied by Stadter (2015) and documented by Puech (1991). The following names are suggestive: L. Mestrius Florus, proconsul of Asia under Domitian, probably 88/89; Minucius Fundanus, suffect consul in 107, born near Pliny’s birthplace, and a correspondent of that author (Jones 1971, 58); Arulenus Rusticus, suffect consul in 92, a friend both of Pliny and Tacitus. Some of Plutarch’s friends governed provinces where there were problems with Christians, similar to those of Pliny in Pontus. Pliny earlier had worked with the prefect in Rome, where cases involving Christians arose. Overall, it seems impossible that Plutarch, with his interest in cults, something shared by many governors of provinces, would not have learned something about Christianity. This does not mean, however, that he would have felt compelled to write about it. Moreover, his avoidance of contemporary topics and use of old sources might have prevented him from including Christianity somewhere in his extant writings such as the Sympotic Questions. Study of Plutarch’s treatment of Judaism in this work can offer important insights into why he might have been silent about the Christians (on his treatment of Judaism, see Geiger, 2010).

Frederick Brenk (Primary Presenter), fbrenk@jesuits.org;
TBA

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