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60.4.Beck

One location of supreme importance for several of his Greek Lives is Athens of course, a city in which Plutarch resided for some time as a pupil of the philosopher Ammonius. The Life of Pericles is one of several Greek Lives that deal with Athenian statesmen and is one of the most important for understanding Plutarch’s view of the educational role of biography and the importance of space. The prologue to the Lives of Pericles and Fabius Maximus (Per. 1-2) is allusive and complex. It presents Plutarch’s ideas about mimesis and emulation, and is rife with words that denote the act of viewing or contemplation. Significantly for our topic this prologue explains the powerful psychological effect that a certain type of analytical viewing and contemplation of buildings and other monuments can have. It conditions the reader for an enhanced appreciation of the Periclean constructions on the Acropolis presented later in the life (Per. 12-13). Pericles’ adornment of the Acropolis is a chronotope. Pericles is gone but the monuments, whose erection he oversaw, survived him, a physical testimony to his virtue. By adopting this rhetorical strategy in the prologue to call attention to erga arising from arête, Plutarch is echoing parts of Pericles’ famous funeral oration (Epitaphios) transmitted to us by Thucydides (esp. 2.41-43). A subtle intertextual relationship is detectable between Plutarch and Thucydides in this context. It involves the intersection between character formation and space. Space in the form of buildings and foundations inspires emulation, valor, and arête, because the deeds are fixed in the commemorative monuments and the monuments support collective memory and ritual. In this paper I will analyze the relationship between these two texts and Plutarch’s use of the chronotope to arrive at a deeper understanding of one of Plutarch’s most important Athenian Lives.

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