Plutarch among the Postcolonialists

Shiffman, M. (2008) “Plutarch among the Postcolonialists.” Perspectives on Politics 37: 223-30.

Postcolonial interpreters of Plutarch attempt to resolve apparent contradictions between the rhetoric of the Lives and Plutarch’s attitudes toward Roman dominion by invoking conscious and unconscious tensions incident to the identity politics of a colonized Greek elite. This approach fails to render a satisfying account of relevant texts because it refuses to take seriously the fundamental importance of Plutarch’s identity as a Platonic philosopher in providing the standards for his judgments of political conditions. Plutarch welcomes Roman dominion as a solution to the intra- and interpolis rivalries that kept love of honor at a pathological pitch in classical Greece and intensified the conflict between philosophy and political practice, while he counsels defense of local administration. These concerns lead him into areas of thought developed by modern thinkers such as Publius and Tocqueville.

Taylor & Francis