The Classical Quarterly

Research Article

Plutarch's Biographical Sources in the Roman Lives

R. E. Smitha1

a1 Trinity College, Toronto, Ontario.

The object of this article is to set forth certain evidence that emerges from a study of three of Plutarch's Lives, the Titus, the Paullus, and the Cato Maior, evidence which indicates that these Lives are based upon a definite type of biographical composition, and to suggest its possible origin and date. Since E. Meyer's article on the Cimon of Nepos and Plutarch, biographical sources have generally been assumed for the Greek Lives, and there has been a tendency to make the same assumption for the Roman Lives also, without, however, setting forth the evidence that might justify it. Uxkull Gyllenband maintained that biographies of Greeks and Romans, the sources of Plutarch, were written in the second century b.c., but he gives no evidence for his contention, which is indeed refuted by the observations of Jacoby. Mühl argued with some force that Plutarch's source for the Marcellus was a biography. There is good reason to doubt his conclusion that Plutarch has used a biography of Poseidonius; but the arguments advanced by Klotz for the thesis that the source was the annalist Valerius Antias are still less convincing. Liedmeier postulates a biographical source for the Paullus, but without doing more than asserting the general improbability that Plutarch here used a multiplicity of sources. It seems therefore desirable to collect such evidence as there is of a biographical source in these three Roman Lives of the second century b.c., and it is with such an attempt rather than with a priori considerations that I am here concerned.