Optimism, personal agency and the historical mirror in Plutarch's Parallel Lives Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/undergraduate_thesis_or_projects/9019s449w

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  • Conceivably one of the most recognizable names in written history, Plutarch has long been lauded as an invaluable historical resource. A Greek living under Roman rule in the first and second centuries, Plutarch exhibited an insatiable curiosity, one which led him to dabble in philosophy, education, the priesthood, and perhaps most famously, the genre of biography. Plutarch’s biographical writings, his "Parallel Lives," are far from the author’s only works, and should never be read outside the context of his other pieces. Consultation of philosophical essays like those encompassed within his "Moralia" reveals a fascinating drive to inform citizens of the importance of self-reflection and education. Using examples from both his "Lives" and "Moralia," this thesis attempts to analyze the form and purpose of Plutarch’s use of the past as a reflective tool through which his readers are encouraged to analyze their own characters. Plutarch viewed humans neither as the sum of their faults nor the sum of their virtues. Perfection, as this thesis interprets his writings, is unachievable in this lifetime. Actively engaging with education and philosophy, however, may foster it in the next. Self-reflection and self-improvement are dynamic processes—processes which require continuous dedication, no matter one’s age. Thus, through the lens of Plutarch, humans are not creatures of being, but rather creatures of becoming.
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  • description.provenance : Submitted by Victoria Hittner (hittnerv@oregonstate.edu) on 2016-06-01T01:24:01Z No. of bitstreams: 2 license_rdf: 1527 bytes, checksum: d4743a92da3ca4b8c256fdf0d7f7680f (MD5) HittnerVictoriaM2016.pdf: 737991 bytes, checksum: 6e902e0b4dbcc5e5df5035795c9d4179 (MD5)
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