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The Great Conversation: How Should We Live?

  • Abigail Adams Institute 14 Arrow Street Cambridge United States (map)

How should we live? This question lies at the core of what it means to be human. In volume I we explore the “best which has been thought and said” from the dawn of civilization through the fall of Rome. Today’s session is on Plutarch’s Parallel Lives (Alcibiades):

Plutarch (A.D. c.46-c.120), Greek man of letters and a Roman citizen, as well as a priest of the Delphic temple, wrote his Parallel Lives as an ethical pedagogue, attempting to shape others through the biographies he presented. He wanted to show how character affects destiny. We have chosen his life of Alcibiades (c.450-404 B.C.), not only because of the inherent interest of this high-living and brilliant Machiavellian, but to indicate further the interplay of Greek and Roman in the Hellenistic milieu of the early Roman Empire and to see how Athens in the time of the Peloponnesian War appears in that light. What danger does charisma pose to democracy? What is the relation of eros and responsibility?