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An examination of the sources of Plutarch's lives of Nicias % Lysander

Luft, H. M. (1952) An examination of the sources of Plutarch's lives of Nicias % Lysander. Masters thesis, Durham University.

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Source-criticism of the lives of Nicia and Lysander makes it clear that Plutarch did not adopt any uniform method in the compilation of his lives, nor was he wholly dependant upon late and wothless sources. Each lie constituted a seperate problem, requiring seperate examinantion. For the nicias, in his description of the Sicilian Expedition, he made us of Timaeus' History of Sicily, thereby incorporating Thucydides and the eye-witness record of Philistus, which formed the basis of Timaeus' account; in his description of the character of Nicias to book X of the Philippica of the Theopompus. Thus, two historians supplied the biographer with the information in aneadotal form which his required for his appreciation of the Nicias, little differernt from extant writers have recorded about him. Plutarch's approach to the Lysander was different. He was aware of two traditions - one complimentary, the other wholly derogatory. The greater part of the narrative of the Lysander is encomistic and based upon the Hellenica of Theopompus, which covered the short period of Greek History monopolised by the achievements of Lysander, and was indebted to the Hellenica of Xenophon. But small section of the Lysander was based upon a 'Hostile source', which was also used to Nepos. This source, apparently a Hellenistic biography, adapted and distorted the historical facts of Ephorus, making use of the politial pamphlets of Pausanias the younger, king of Sparta, exiled in 395 B. C. The result is a curiously contradictory life, which preserves the conflicting estimate of Lysander current in the century after his demie. In addition, both lives contain Plutarch's reflexions upon his material and his sources, or digressions of a topographical and archaelogical nature, supplemented by apophthegms noted own by the biographer in the earlier reading.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Letters
Thesis Date:1952
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:14 Mar 2014 16:11

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