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Historiography in Lives: Plutarch's Use of Thucydides in the Lives of Pericles and Nicias

BISHOP, PAUL,BERNARD (2016) Historiography in Lives: Plutarch's Use of Thucydides in the Lives of Pericles and Nicias. Masters thesis, Durham University.

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This dissertation argues that Plutarch’s biographical method falls within the realm of historiography, offering Plutarch’s handling of Thucydides’ History as a source for the Pericles and Nicias as test cases. The first chapter discusses the relationship between historiography and biography. History was among the influences in biographical literature’s development into a genre of its own. The genre of biography had the capacity for critical inquiry into what the individual in focus was truly like. The chapter also explores their similarities in methodology and purpose, and argues that historiography is broad enough to include biographical models of interpretation. The next chapter establishes Plutarch’s philosophical framework, examining what theories would influence his interpretation of the historical record. While taking Plutarch’s statements of separation between history and biography seriously, we can still see that his methods of interpretation are not substantially different from historiography, and he displays a rigorous critical inquiry in the Lives. The third and fourth chapters examine Plutarch’s engagement with Thucydides for the Pericles and Nicias. Where Plutarch quotes Thucydides, he preserves the main facts yet uses vocabulary and style of his own. We place particular focus, however, on Plutarch’s divergences from Thucydides, and theorize that these differences are due to Plutarch’s own historical reasoning about what happened. We argue ways in which Plutarch was making inferences and deductions from the text before him based upon his philosophical paradigms and broader knowledge of the history. Plutarch also makes deductions based upon his theory of character types, especially evident in the Nicias. His judgment of the character of every individual is formed by the historical record, and he makes further predictions of what individuals did or felt where the source is silent, drawing from his philosophical understanding of character.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Classics and Ancient History, Department of
Thesis Date:2016
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:10 May 2016 10:45

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