Writing during the time of the Emperor Trajan in the first century AD, Plutarch is famous for his series of “parallel” biographies exhaustively examining perennial issues of history, public ethics, war and peace, economics, the founding and destroying of states, and others. His work is a model of careful thought about matters of virtue and vice, and serves as a sort of ultimate “manual” of practical politics. As an additional note on his importance, he is one of the most frequently cited sources in the American Founders’ Federalist Papers.
This seminar will intensively look at three of the Lives, those of Theseus (Athens), Romulus (Rome), and Lycurgus (Sparta), focusing on issues of how to set up a good political order and properly deal with the numerous problems a new state will always face as it starts to make its way in the world.
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