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Abstract | Constructing Periander in Plutarch’s Symposium of the Seven Sages

In Plutarch’s Symposium of the Seven Sages, a seer called Diocles recounts what transpired at a banquet hosted by Periander, the tyrant of Corinth, and attended by several individuals, including the Seven Sages. It is the scholarly consensus that, while Periander was sometimes considered one of the Sages, he is not part of this elite group in Plutarch’s dialogue. This claim is, of course, correct, but, as I hope to show, it does not do full justice to the complexities of the narrative. In the first six chapters of the Symposium (146b-152b), the text remains ambiguous regarding Periander’s exact status, thus teasing the reader with the possibility that he may be one of the Seven. Even after it becomes clear that he is not a Sage, moreover, the Corinthian tyrant maintains a privileged relationship with the Seven and displays intellectual affinity to them. I suggest that, by blurring the line between the Cypselid and the Sages, Plutarch reinforces his construction of Periander as a paradigm for the wise ruler. 

About Zoe Stamatopoulou

Zoe Stamatopoulou received her PhD in Classics from the University of Virginia (2008) and has research interests in archaic and classical Greek poetry, Greek and Roman didactic poetry, ancient biographical traditions, and Greek literature of the Imperial era. She is the author of Hesiod and Classical Greek Poetry: Reception and Transformation in the Fifth Century BCE (forthcoming in 2016, Cambridge University Press) and of several articles on Greek literature. 2016-17 will be her first academic year as an Associate Professor of Classics at Washington University in St. Louis. During her fellowship at the CHS, she will be preparing a commentary on Plutarch's Symposium of the Seven Sages.

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