The Classical Quarterly

Research Article

The Myth in Plutarch's De Genio (589F–592E)

W. Hamiltona1

a1 Trinity College, Cambridge

In a former paper I endeavoured to show that the myth in Plutarch's de facie is a conscious imitation on a small scale of the Timaeus of Plato, and that therefore we might conclude that Plutarch, who regarded the Timaeus as serious philosophy, intended the main point of his own myth, the derivation of mind, soul and body from the sun, moon and earth respectively, to be taken literally. This conclusion will be equally true of the myth of the de genio, if it can be shown, first, that the two myths present what is essentially the same psychological theory, and, secondly, that there is no internal inconsistency in the myth of the de genio, such as to justify von Arnim in concluding that it consists merely of two incompatible doctrines from different sources arbitrarily placed by Plutarch in juxtaposition. The present paper is an attempt to establish these two points.