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The Plutarch Podcast
44 minutes | 6 days ago
Valerius Publius, aka Publicola, topples the tyrant Tarquin with Brutus and founds the Republic on better justice than the Roman kings had exercised. Like his parallel Solon, his obsession with justice makes him seek the happiness of his own people all the way to his death. Remembering Solon's examples of happiness, does Publicola die a happy man?Parallel - SolonImportant PeopleTarquinius Superbus - The seventh, and last, king of Rome. Thrown out because of his refusal to punish his nephew who had raped a Roman noblewoman named Lucretia. This is important to the backstory and Plutarch only briefly summarizes it. Lucius Junius Brutus - The citizen who stood up to Tarquinius and drove him into exile. Also elected first consul. Mucius Scaevola - Roman soldier famous for breaking into the enemy camp, killing the wrong man, and then sticking his hand in fire to prove Roman toughness. Lars Porsena - described by Plutarch as "the most powerful king in Italy" he attacks Rome but later becomes a strong ally. Read on to find out how. Cloelia and Valeria - Two Roman maidens given to the enemy in a hostage exchange. Horatius Cocles - A one-eyed Roman veteran who single-handedly defends the last bridge into the city of Rome while his two friends destroy the bridge behind him. While taking several more wounds, he leaps into the river in full armor and swims across to safety and eternal glory. Appius Claudius - A Sabine who breaks off from the Sabines out of respect for the Romans and, along with 5000 other families, is inducted into the citizen rolls.Important PlacesTemple of Jupiter on the CapitolineClusium - Lars Porsena's town, far north up a tributary of the Tiber (called the Clanis)Anio River - The land given to the defecting Sabines are along this tributary of the TiberFidenae - Another rival polis C. 1 - Lineage and Establishment of the RepublicC. 2 - Tarquin trying to infiltrateC. 3 - The Plot against BrutusC. 4 - Vindicius discovers the plotsC. 5 - Publicola brings the plot to public attentionC. 6 - Brutus brings justice to conspiratorsC. 7 - Collatinus falls; Valerius (Publicola) risesC. 8 - Ridding the Remains of the Tarquins from RomeC. 9 - The Romans Win By OneC. 10 - Publicola Earns his NicknameC. 11 - Consular Elections and Reform LawsC. 12 - Tyranny and the TreasuryC. 13 - 15 - Jupiter Capitoline: The Chariot on TopC. 16 - Porsena v. PublicolaC. 17 - Porsena v. Mucius ScaevolaC. 18 - Porsena: From Adversary to AllyC. 19 - Hostages Escape, sent back, ambushed! C. 20 - Triumphant Brother, with Publicola's helpC. 21 - Fourth Consulship; Sabine Enemies (Appius Claudius)C. 22 - Sabines outwitted in a three-front counter-attackC. 23 - Dies in TriumphHelpful External LinksPublicola's Stories in ArtFree Online English TranslationAnne White's Study Guide on Ambleside OnlineHoratius at the Bridge by Thomas Babbington Macaulay - An almost 600-line poem immortalizing Horatius's bravery in English verse! (a favorite poem of Winston Churchill's)
36 minutes | a month ago
It is the happy fate of all good and just men to be praised more after they are dead than when they livedPlutarch, Life of Numa 22Parallel - LycurgusImportant PeoplePythagoras - the Greek philosopher and mystic mathematician who lived on the southern Italian peninsula and started a school of philosophy obsessed with simple living, observation of the created universe, piety to the gods, and justice to all men. Egeria - the second (and supernatural) wife of Numa, a nymph who taught him much about the simple life and seeking justiceRomulus – First king of the Romans, rules before NumaTullus Hostilius – Third king of the Romans, warlike, he lives up to his name (Hostilius = hostile)Important PlacesRomeCapitoline HillTemple of Vesta - hearth of Rome; secret-keepersTemple of Janus - doors closed in times of peaceOutlineRecords unclear, hard to trace Numa’s genealogyRomulus taken awayPeople grow tired of Senators ruling seriatim, want a kingNuma moves to the country@ 40 years old, ambassadors come to offer him kingshipHis father convinces himNuma acceptsReligion as a tool to tame the spirit (Pythagorean parallels)PontificesMore on the Vestal VirginsTemple of VestaFunerals and BurialSalii - Plague and Falling ShieldsRest and Quiet as Essential for WorshipRomans grow superstitious under NumaFides and Terminus - Rome's Trust and LimitsDividing the people by trade/craftThe Calendar RevisedMore months!January – Janus (two-faces, brought man from beast to social animal) - transitionFebruary – februa (and Lupercalia) – rituals of purification (see Life of Romulus)March - MarsApril – from Aphrodite (or aperīre – to open)May – Maïa, mother of MercuryJune – JunoMaiores from May and juniors from June?July – Quintilis – Fifth (re-named under Augustus's reign after Julius Caesar)August – Sextilis – Sixth (re-named after Augustus's death after Augustus)September – SeventhOctober – EighthNovember – NinthDecember – TenthJanus’s temple - Proof that Numa is the philosopher-kingNuma’s wives and childrenNuma dies of old ageNuma’s funeralAllies and friends pour into the cityThe whole city mournsSenators carry the litterPriests following in processionAll the people, wailing and mourningThe kings after Numa (none of whom get their own biography)Last one dies in exileThree of the other four were assassinatedTullus Hostilius, who reigned right after Numa, was his opposite, loving war and “mocking most of the fine things Numa had done”Struck down by a bolt of lightning (cf. Lycurgus’s tomb hit by lightning)Helpful External LinksNuma in PaintEnglish Translation of Numa OnlinePythagoras Podcast in the History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps
22 minutes | 2 months ago
Agoge - Lycurgus Part 2
The Agōgē (ἀγωγή) [16-19]Those Laconic Spartans [19-21]Military Maneuvers [22-24]Education never stops [24-25Blessing of scholēFreedom and restraintPolitical SetupHow someone elected to Gerousia Over 60Group of candidates selectedAssembly called, and votes decided by length of shout and volume of shoutBurying the dead NO injustice or inequality in these laws Those who criticize (cough cough: ARISTOTLE + PLATO) for lack of JusticeKrypteia! And treatment of HelotsLycurgus leaves: Spartans are living the laws, established in their hearts and minds Makes Spartans promise never to deviateGoes to Delphi, sacrifices to Apollo, starves himself to deathLeaves the Spartans to 500 years of supremacy and prosperityThe End of Perfection: Why Did Sparta fail?Until LYSANDER Money flowed in and corrupted the moralsBefore then, Sparta relied on for generalsBy other GreeksBy SiciliansBy EgyptiansBy satraps and kings in AsiaLycurgus created a state not suited to rule others A state “in love with wisdom”“free, self-reliant, self-regulated” citizensMany philosophers agreed with him, but he was the only one who executed on his great ideas, leaving behind a polis rather than just writings.
28 minutes | 3 months ago
Lycurgus was once asked why Sparta had no defensive wall around its perimeter. He responded, "A city is well-fortified with a wall of men instead of brick."Parallel - NumaImportant PlacesSparta Crete Asia Minor Egypt Important PeopleHomerAlcanderLysanderOutlineUncertain origins: second son of King of SpartaExpected to become king when father and brother deadChemical Abortion or Infanticide?Charilaus born - joy of the people8-month reign as regent incites envyLycurgus Learns through TravelTravelsCretePoetry makes good laws palatablePrivate hostilities calmedAsia MinorCrete was healthy “simple and severe”Asia diseased “extravagant and permissive”Lycurgus discovers the poems of Homer! makes Homer famous all over mainland GreeceHomer's poetry harmonizes well with the Spartan ideals of military courage as the highest virtueReturn HomeLycurgus resolves to rewrite the entire Spartan system of governmentNot a written constitution; this will become particularly clear later onApollo gives his blessing calling Lycurgus “more god than man”Apollo also prophesies that his reforms will be “by far the strongest and best of all constitutions”He and 30 friends take over the marketplaceLegals changes 1, 2, 3ONE: Gerousia (Senate)γέρων (gerōn) – old man – Council of Elders --> γερουσία (Gerousia)senex – old man – Council of Elders --> Senate (see Life of Romulus)Rhetrai [sections 6 and 13]Verbal contracts with sacred forceThe name for most utterances of the gods to menNot to be ignored or trampled over lightly“named in the belief that they came from the gods as oracles”The GREAT RHETRA (from Apollo)Mixed Constitution2 KingsGerousia5 Ephors – balance the power of the oligarchsTWO: Redistribution of LandPurpose – “To end jealousy, vice, and luxury”Homoioi – equalsPerikoikoi – (not mentioned in this life)Helots – etym. “the seized” a particularly brutal form of slavery, even by an ancient standard Citizens forbidden fromUsing coins (iron bars instead)Practicing a tradeTHREE: Syssitia (Common Meals)Fixed Menu – black broth the staple!Wealth – blind, lifeless, and still in SpartaThe wealthy react poorlyLycurgus loses an eye!Punishment for AlcanderServe LycurgusConverted to thinking L is best man and himself becomes “Sparta’s most well-mannered and wise citizens”Temple to Athena OptilisThe COHORT (15 members)Everyone contributes foodKing Agis not allowed to dine at homeChildren learn self-discipline here (GRK: σωφροσύνη)What happens in here, stays in hereTake a joke, and give one!Bread-basket ballotThree other minor rhetrasDon’t write these down! (Training and Ethics more important than Laws)Simple Homes: All tools except ax and saw forbiddenDon’t fight consistently against the same enemy Marriage and Childbirth [14-16]The Agōgē (ἀγωγή) [16-19] and the Political Setup (for next time)
36 minutes | 4 months ago
Parallel - TheseusOrigin Stories Rome: What's in a name?From Aeneas to Alba LongaRomulus and Remus: ChildhoodLeft to die by a riverWolf and woodpeckerRomulus and Remus: Off to Found a CityRome is for runaways! Open the gates and seize the...day?Location, location, location!Vultures? 6/12? First/Second?Walls and Ditches – death of RemusPlows the circumference: pomerium etym.Rome's Birthday - April 21, 753 BCRoman Customs: More Etymologies and etiologiesLegion v. PopulusPatriciansSenate < senex – old manPatrons and ClientsSabine WomenNot the Sobbin' Women...Did Romulus need women or want war?R. sets up a feast (finds an altar?)Conses < consiliumOn my signal…How many taken?30, 527, or 683?Origin of the Roman TriumphAcron v. Romulus: 1 v. 1R. wins and dedicates his armor to JupiterJean Auguste Dominique Ingres (1780–1867), Romulus’ Victory over Acron (i.e. the first Roman Triumph), (1812), tempera on canvas, 276 x 530 cm, École des Beaux Arts, Paris. Wikimedia Commons.Plutarch's Walking Tour of RomeTarpeian RockLacus CurtiusJupiter StatorEtym. Quirites?Civic DutiesThree Tribes100 more SenatorsPrivileges for WomenFeasts, old and newVestals, sacred fire (more on this in the Life of Numa)Lituus and AugursLawsDivorceMurder / ParricideRomulus' End and Rome's BeginningTatius, co-king, killedHaughty KingLictors – etym.Numitor dies; Romulus inherits AlbaRomulus disappearsMurdered?Taken up into heaven?Romulus' advice to the Romans:"Tell the Romans that if they practice self-restraint, and add to it valor, they will reach the utmost heights of human power."
35 minutes | 5 months ago
Although Theseus never actually existed, Plutarch, in documenting his life, wants to cull important lessons for Greeks and Romans. Just as Theseus wrestles with villains threatening civilization, Plutarch forces his readers to grapple with the role of virtue in politics, or, less abstractly, the role the virtuous man has to play in his polis: i.e. how to be a citizen rather than a subject. This becomes explicit at the end of Theseus's life when he ceases to be a good king and becomes a tyrant, stripping citizenship from the Athenians by returning them to subjugation under a king. Historical Context - Emergence from the Dark AgesBronze-Age to Iron Age transition:Dark Ages:What were they?Bronze Age civilizations:EgyptHittitesSumer/Akkad/BabyloniansMinoans and Myceneans (Aegean)Middle Period:As most major civilizations in decline, the smaller civilizations seem to rise and fill in the gaps:PhoeniciansHebrewsArameansPhilistinesFor the Greeks, though, they lose writing and reading and see a mass exodus from the old urban centers of Mycenean Greece.Iron Age civilizations:Neo-AssyriansNeo-BabyloniansPersiansGreeksRomansEtc…OutlineParentageComes of ageDelphiTheseus’s haircutSword and Sandals under a rockSea = safeLand = dangerousTheseus personally cleans up the land around the Saronic Gulf@ Epidaurus (wins his club)On the isthmus of CorinthCrommyonian SowWrestles near EleusisProcrustesCf. Hercules and how he killed his monsters and fiendsTheseus receives first real hospitality at the Cephisus River, just outside of AthensArrival in AthensMedea!? Poison!?Recognition and InheritanceRevolt!First battle in Athens (neighborhoods named)Bull of MarathonTheseus and the MinotaurPlague and ExpiationThe most “likely” (common?) storyWas Minos good/bad?Why does Plutarch have to defend Minos?Alternative storiesVary by geographic regionReturn: the sail!Philosophical Problems: The Ship of TheseusTheseus unites Athens and AtticaCentralizes authorityInstitutes common feastsOscophoriaPanathenaic FestivalEstablishes three classes of citizen:NoblesCraftsmenFarmersGives nobles most power over law and religionOpens Athens as a “commonwealth of all nations” (cf. Romulus welcoming refugees)The many other adventures of TheseusThe AmazonsSource for Shakespeare’s Hippolyta and Theseus in Midsummer Night’s Dream?Second battle in Athens, more neighborhoods namedFalse marriagesFalse adventuresTheseus did NOT participate inJason and the ArgonautsMeleager and the Boar (cf. Iliad Book 9; Ovid Metamorphoses Bk. 7/8)Seven Against ThebesHis friendship with PerithousDid involve him in the battle of the Lapiths and CentaursSeizure of HelenEnds up in prison to the King of MolossusHeracles frees himTheseus returns to AthensCastor and Polluxbrothers of Helen and mythical Spartanscausing trouble in AthensTheseus curses the Athenians, giving them what they want (deserve?)Flees to the island of ScyrosDies there (unclear if killed or falls)
45 minutes | 6 months ago
We are not born for ourselves alone; a part of us is claimed by our nation, another part by our friends. De Officiis, I.22Parallel - DemosthenesCicero lived and died as a political failure. In what ways, then, is his failure worth studying. In what ways did he succeed? In many ways, he and Vergil become the teachers of Western Europe all the way down to the present day. Can we declare Cicero a victor in the long-run, or should we study only his failures as a warning?OutlineCicero's Early Political RiseMilitary tribune under Sulla in ItalyPro Rosciō – defends a political enemy of Sulla’sFlees to GreeceDelphic adviceFluent in Greek, studying Greek philosophyQuaestor in SicilyFights corruptionBreadbasket of Italy (before the Romans conquered Egypt)Praetor in RomeConsulship – height of Cicero's powersConspiracy of CatilineCatiline not elected consulTurns to force and fire to overthrow the Senate and the city of RomeTrial before the Senate?Death Penalty?Caesar’s speech - clementiaCato’s speech – treason deserves death, always has.Vixerunt – they have lived! (i.e. they’re dead)Cato declares Cicero pater patriae “father of the fatherland”Cicero later reminisces about the event as “arma togae cedunt” (De Officiis I.77)Arms yield to the toga (On duties I.77)Bona Dea Scandal and ExilePublius Clodius Pulcher changes from friend to enemyCicero flees, then Clodius officially banishes himDepressed in Greece (cf. Demosthenes depressed in Troezen)Return from Exile and First Round of Civil WarReturns like a heroForgiven by Caesar (cf. Demosthenes forgiven by Alexander)Not included in Brutus and Cassius’ conspiracysee Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar Act II, scene iBrutus says “He will never follow any thing / That other men begin”Second Round of Civil WarThe Philippics – consciously comparing the tyranny of Philip with the tyranny of AntonyAttacks Mark Antony explicitlyAntony retaliates with proscription (etym.)Octavian not strong enough to save CiceroAct IV, scene I of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar”History written by the victors?Augustus later sees his nephew reading a book of Cicero… how does he react?Octavian eventually removes statues and honors of Mark Antony, but Cicero’s writing is preserved.One of the best-preserved authors from pagan antiquityThanks to Tiro and AtticusInfluenced:St. JeromeSt. AugustineErasmusLutherLockeHumeJeffersonAdamsStrongest influence in bringing together Latin and Greek thoughtMuch like PlutarchWanted to "teach philosophy to speak Latin" (Tusc. 2.5)philosophia nascatur Latinis quidem litteris ex his temporibusImportant PeopleSullaCatilineClodiusCaesarPompeyCato the Younger
34 minutes | 7 months ago
Cato the Elder
Wise men profit more from fools than fools from wise men; for the wise men shun the mistakes of fools, but fools do not imitate the successes of the wise.—Plutarch “Cato the Elder” Para. 9.4Parallel - AristidesSometimes called Cato the Censor or Cato the Elder because he is the great-grandfather of the more famous Cato the Younger who resisted Julius Caesar in the first century civil wars. This Cato (234-149 BC) sets the standard for the old Roman agricultural and military virtues. He may be the best of breed, but he also seems to be the last of them. OutlineRoman History in a Nutshell:Kings: 753-509 BCThe Republic: 509-31 BC The Emperors:31 BC – AD476 (in the West)31 BC – AD 1453 (in the East)Cursus HonorumMilitary TribuneQuaestor – AccountantPraetor – Judge/governorConsul – commander-in-chief of the army, leader of the SenateCensor – in charge of public morals Militiae – on military duty with CatoSecond Punic War military tribuneSicily – quaestorSardinia – praetorHither Spain – consulGreece – as legate Thermopylae 2!Domī - At Home with CatoIn Rome CensorAnti-GreekAnti-CarthaginianAnti-luxuryAt home Raises his own sonProfit and gainLeave behind more than you receiveAdvice for the treatment of slaves sounds harsh even to Plutarch
29 minutes | 8 months ago
ῥᾷστον ἁπάντων ἐστὶν αὑτὸν ἐξαπατῆσαι: ὃ γὰρ βούλεται, τοῦθ᾽ ἕκαστος καὶ οἴεταιNothing is easier than self-deceit, for what each man wishes, that he also believes to be true.—Demosthenes “Third Olynthiac” 19Parallel - CiceroOUTLINEIntroduces both Cicero and Demosthenes Learned Latin LateA good city for researchWhy stay in a small town?Rise to Political PowerPhilipAlexander and ExileAntipater and the EndImportant PeoplePhilip – Demosthenes strongly resists Philip's incursion into Greek politics until Chaeronea (338 BC)Demosthenes flees the battle of Chaeronea but is still chosen by the Athenians to give the funeral oration.Alexander As Alexander comes to power, Demosthenes' life is spared because of the eloquence of an enemy, Demades.Aeschines – Political and personal opponent of Demosthenes of whom three speeches still survive (all having to do with Demosthenes) Aeschines v. Demosthenes several times in courtAeschines finally loses and goes into exile to avoid a fine.Demades – Orator none of whose works survive. Considered, during his lifetime, to be better than Demosthenes. Because he doesn’t survive, we can’t compare the two. The power of preparedness. Famously quoted in the Life of Solon as saying "Draco wrote his laws not in ink, but in blood"Antipater – Regent in Macedon while Alexander campaigned against Persia, he fights a war against the Greeks who revolt at the news of Alexander’s death.Important PlacesAthensChaeronea (338 BC) – The battle in which Philip cements his control over all of mainland Greece, except for Sparta.Troezen/Aegina– The city and island where Demosthenes spends his time while in exile. He flees here again at the end of his life and likely dies right outside a temple to Poseidon outside of his beloved Athens.See full show notes at plutarch.life/demosthenes grammaticus.co/podcast/demosthenes
26 minutes | 9 months ago
Why Read Plutarch?
In this podcast, I introduce you to Plutarch, the man and the biographer. We answer questions like: Who was Plutarch? An ancient biographer who wrote almost 50 biographies comparing Greek and Roman heroes. While his focus in on virtue, his characters are all human and their vices appear alongside their virtues. Why should I read him? He gives three reasons in three separate biographies! I put them all together here in one place. What's the format of this show? One episode per life, arranged chronologically. The first five episodes will represent each season as we work through chronologically for a historical overview of Greek and Roman antiquity. 1. Solon (representing Season 1: Kings and Lawgivers)2. Aristides (representing Season 2: The Rise and Fall of the Polis)3. Demosthenes (representing Season 3: Macedon Rising)4. Cato the Elder (representing Season 4: The Roman Republic: From Polis to Empire)5. Cicero (representing Season 5: The Roman Civil Wars)What's the best English translation of Plutarch? That depends on what you're looking for, but I list all the translations mentioned in the show below:Wikipedia page linking to all public domain translations of PlutarchThe Modern Library editions (Clough's update to Dryden's translation):Two paperback volumesVol. 1Vol. 2One hardback volume (ISBN: 0394607058)The Penguin Editions:The Rise and Fall of Athens (9 lives)On Sparta (4 lives)The Age of AlexanderMakers of Rome (9 lives) - this volume includes Brutus and Antony, the lives I said were missing from the other volume. Rome in Crisis (repeats some lives, and strikes me as an odd assortment overall)Fall of the Roman Republic (6 lives)
23 minutes | 9 months ago
Aristides acts as a great introduction to the wars that made Athens great, the defensive wars against the Persian invaders, occurring between 490 and 479 BC. Plutarch admired Aristides immensely, so he serves as a great introduction to the standards Plutarch holds up for the other leaders he studies.The outline of his life pretty much follows the important events of the Persian Wars:Marathon – 490 BCPolitical Heighteponymous archonostracism (etymology!)Salamis – 480 BCPlataea Disaster – 479 BCAftermathFrom defense to offenseRise of the Delian LeagueI also link the important people to their places:Miltiades is general at MarathonThemistocles is the mastermind behind SalamisPausanias leads at PlataeaTranslationThe most modern translation available, while still being in the public domain.
37 minutes | 9 months ago
Solon was not only the wisest man to be found in Athens, but the most profound political genius of antiquity; and the easy, bloodless, and pacific revolution by which he accomplished the deliverance of his country was the first step in a career which our age glories in pursuing, and instituted a power which has done more than anything, except revealed religion, for the regeneration of society .... By making every citizen the guardian of his own interest Solon admitted the element of Democracy into the State.—Lord Acton, "The History of Freedom in Antiquity" (1877)Rise to powerPolitical background in AthensDivisionsRich v. PoorHill v. Shore v. PlainLegislation 1, 2, 3!1) repeal Draconian laws2) Set up the Census Classes3) Areopagus, Council of 400, AssemblyAporias – the weird and bewilderingTravelEgyptCreteAsiaReturnTyrannyImportant PeopleThalesPisistratusCylon and Draco – political back-story for AthensImportant PlacesSalamisMegara DelphiEgypt (Canopus)AtlantisCreteLydia
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