Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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"If I Were Not Alexander..." An Examination of the Political Philosophy of Plutarch’s Alexander-Caesar

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Version 1 2021-11-15, 20:59
posted on 2023-09-22, 01:42 authored by Buckley-Gorman, Richard

This thesis examines Plutarch’s Alexander-Caesar. Plutarch’s depiction of Alexander has been long recognised as encompassing many defects, including an overactive thumos and a decline in character as the narrative progresses. In this thesis I examine the way in which Plutarch depicts Alexander’s degeneration, and argue that the defects of Alexander form a discussion on the ethics of kingship. I then examine the implications of pairing the Alexander with the Caesar; I examine how some of the themes of the Alexander are reflected in the Caesar. I argue that the status of Caesar as both a figure from the Republican past and the man who established the Empire gave the pair a unique immediacy to Plutarch’s time. I then examine the argument, made by some, that it is possible to discern in the Parallel Lives a statement of cultural resistance to the Roman Empire. I argue that the affirmative Hellenism which pervades the Lives reflects not so much a cultural resistance to the Roman Empire, but a concern that the Hellenic values that Plutarch valorised should be dominant within the Roman Empire.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

CC BY 4.0

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Arts

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Art History, Classics and Religious Studies


Tatum, Jeff