Plutarch's "Life of Alcibiades"
Story, Text and Moralism
At the beginning of the second century C.E., Plutarch of Chaeronea wrote a series of pairs of biographies of Greek and Roman statesmen. Their purpose is moral: the reader is invited to reflect on important ethical issues and to use the example of these great men from the past to improve his or her own conduct. This book off ers the first full-scale commentary on the Life of Alcibiades. It examines how Plutarch's biography of one of classical Athens' most controversial politicians functions within the moral program of the Parallel Lives.
Built upon the narratological distinction between story and text, Simon Verdegem's analysis, which involves detailed comparisons with other Plutarchan works (especially the Lives of Nicias and Lysander) and several key texts in the Alcibiades tradition (e.g., Plato, Thucydides, and Xenophon), demonstrates how Plutarch carefully constructed his story and used a wide range of narrative techniques to create a complex Life that raises interesting questions about the relation between private morality and the common good.