Plutarch's Politika parangelmata (Praecepta rei publicae gerendae) is a work whose opening is diffident about its own value. Plutarch characterizes the work as a second-best way to fulfil the philosopher's duty to instruct, since the work's addressee, Menemakhos, lacks the time to learn through observation of actual politics (798A-C). This diffidence clusters especially around paradeigmata. Plutarch highlights rhe exceptional variety of his paradeigmata as the distinctive feature of the work, but distances himself from this by attributing it to Menemakhos' request (798C).
Plutarch's handling of historical paradeigmata in the Politika parangelmata is obviously relevant to the discussions of Greek collective memory during the Roman Empire, a topic for which the Politika parangelmata has traditionally been seen as a key text (e.g. Swain 1996 166-168; Roskam 2002 183; Cook 2004). The Politika parangelmata is distinguished by its interest in the alterity of the past and how that calls for the politikos to be selective in his application of historical incidents to the current situation (esp. 814A-C). However, studies of this feature of the Politika parangelmata have largely focused on its ideas about the classical Greek past (the only area in which Plutarch explicitly addresses the problem of the applicability of specific past incidents to the present).
Plutarch and Late Republican Rome