Plutarch's Advice to the Bride and Groom, and A Consolation to His Wife

Plutarch's Advice to the Bride and Groom, and A Consolation to His Wife

Plutarch's Advice to the Bride and Groom, and A Consolation to His Wife

Plutarch's Advice to the Bride and Groom, and A Consolation to His Wife

Synopsis

While perhaps best known for his Lives, Plutarch also wrote philosophical dialogues that constitute a major intellectual legacy from the first century A.D. This collection presents two important short works from his writings in moral philosophy. They reveal Plutarch at his best--informative, sympathetic, rich in narrative--and are accompanied by an extensive commentary that situates Plutarch and his views on marriage in their historical context.

Excerpt

After talking with Dr. Lin Foxhall in London in January 1996, I decided to publish this book. Though one of us teaches in Great Britain and the other in the United States, Dr. Foxhall and I both assign Plutarch Advice to the Bride and Groom and Consolation to His Wife to be read by undergraduate and graduate students in classics and ancient history courses dealing with women, gender, and the family. When we were together in London we lamented the lack of historical commentary on these works because although they are central to our teaching, it has been difficult to decide how to treat them in the classroom, and there is little "further reading" to recommend. Since I had just completed a commentary on a related text, Xenophon Oeconomicus (a treatise which was quite influential on Plutarch), the Plutarch volume seemed a natural sequel.

A glance at L'Année philologique will confirm that among professional classicists and ancient historians there is substantial interest in Plutarch nowadays, though recent scholarship does not take sufficient cognizance of the Advice to the Bride and Groom and the Consolation to His Wife. Because of the dearth of scholarly discussion of Plutarch's works on the family, and the desirability of publishing this volume as soon as possible, it seemed best to assemble a team of experts who would use a wide range of historical and theoretical approaches in discussing the issues and questions raised by these texts and who would investigate and describe various aspects of Plutarch's world. For example, what does one mean by "Roman" or "Greek" marriage in a Hellenistic context when Greeks and Romans were mutually influential? (Nevertheless, Susan Treggiari refers to Plutarch on only one page -- p. 314 -- of Roman Marriage.) To begin to answer this question, it is imperative to take notice of Greek traditions, the Roman Imperial context, and the changing views of the family in Greek philosophy and early Christianity. Furthermore, for an understanding of the Consolation to His Wife it is necessary to study Roman demography and to examine contemporary Latin consolatory literature. Inasmuch as the Romans had conquered the Greeks, one would expect the former to exercise more influence upon the latter than vice versa. But an examination of the tradition of philosophical consolatory literature shows that Romans adopted Greek precedents. Although . . .

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