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Plutarch’s Life of Alcibiades Extreme Charisma?.

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Presentation on theme: "Plutarch’s Life of Alcibiades Extreme Charisma?."— Presentation transcript:

1 Plutarch’s Life of Alcibiades Extreme Charisma?

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3 Preview Discussion The eros of Alcibiades Plutarch Alcibiades 3

4 Eros, Zeus with thunderbolts. “He had a golden shield made for him, which was emblazoned not with any ancestral device, but with the figure of Eros armed with a thunderbolt.” (Plutarch Alcibiades p. 58) Plutarch Alcibiades 4

5 Comments eromenos desirable al dysfunctional eros love-hate relationship relied on eros ingratiated self with demos eros with lightening bolts lightening is the bia part both separate and simultaneous eros/bia “who I am” I am mr carrot and stick I’m hubristic Plutarch Alcibiades 5

6 Agenda Debate Continued Women in Aristophanes' Lysistrata embody positive role models (politically, etc.). Reading the Body Rhetorical Alcibiades and Charisma Discussion Alcibiades — Which Lens? Plutarch Alcibiades 6

7 Debate Continued Women in Aristophanes' Lysistrata embody positive role models (politically, etc.) Plutarch Alcibiades 7

8 Two Quotes Chorus Leader to Lysistrata: Hail the bravest of all women! Now you must be more besides: Firm but soft, high-class but low-brow, Strict but lenient, versatile. Delegates from every city, captured by your potent charms, Come before you and request your arbitration of their cause. (p. 142) Magistrate (on Demostratus)... a noisy rooftop party for Adonis, just like the one that spoiled our assembly. That ill-starred, foolish politician moved we sail to Sicily, while his wife was dancing and yelling for Adonis. When he said, let’s muster allied troops for this armada, his wife was on the rooftop getting drunk and yelling ‘Oh doomed youth!’ But he persisted, the goddamned stubborn hotheaded son of a bitch! (p. 110)

9 Reading the Body Rhetorical Alcibiades and Charisma Plutarch Alcibiades 9

10 “Theophrastus noted long ago that the strongest desire of men who have attained to leadership in a popularly governed state is not so much the acquirement of personal wealth as the gradual establishment of their own sovereignty at the expense of popular sovereignty.” (Michels 349) “The leader (demagogue) rules by virtue of the devotion and trust which his political followers have in him personally” (Weber 268) “Greek writers about politics all thought that the ‘demagogues’ gained and maintained their authority through substantive promises [i.e., rather than through “emotional appeals”] …. The evidence, as I read it, fully supports that view.” (Finley 98) Plutarch Alcibiades 10

11 Kharis, Charisma, Charm “Charisma” < kharis “charm,” “pleasure,” “favor” Compare pros kharin legein (Demosthenes) kharizomai & cognates (Aristophanes Knights) sexual political Plutarch Alcibiades 11

12 And Alcibiades? Plutarch Alcibiades 12

13 Al’s Life and Times ca. 450Born. 431Peloponnesian War starts Potidaean campaign. ca. 427Follower of Cleon. 424Battle of Delium. 421Peace with Sparta. 417/6Melian debate. 416Olympic victory. Ostracism survived. Sicilian Debate. 415Mysteries affair. Defection to Sparta. 413Fortification of Decelea Sicilian disaster. Defection to Persians. 411Oligarchic coup. 408Repatriation. 406Re-exile. 404Sparta defeats Athens Tyranny of 30. Al murdered Plutarch Alcibiades 13

14 Kharis “As for Alcibiades’ beauty,... it flowered at each season of his growth in turn, and lent him and extraordinary grace and charm (erasmion kai hēdun).... Even his lisp is said to have suited his voice well and to have made his talk persuasive and full of charm (kharis)” ( ) Plutarch Alcibiades 14

15 Erōs: Various Writers Comic poet’s quip “Though seemingly no man, he’s sure man enough for any woman.” (Pherecrates fr. 164 PCG) Bion of Borysthenes “In his adolescence he drew away the husbands from their wives, and as a young man the wives from their husbands.” (ca. 300 BCE, in Diogenes Laertius ) Plutarch Alcibiades 15

16 Erōs: Plutarch’s Life “He had a golden shield made for him, which was emblazoned not with any ancestral device, but with the figure of Eros armed with a thunderbolt.” (Plutarch Alcibiades p. 58) “But the weakness which his tempters played upon most of all was his love of distinction (philotimia) and his desire for fame (philodoxia)” (p. 250) “The hopes he aroused among the Athenians were great enough, but his own were even more ambitious, for while others regarded Sicily as the final objective …, to him it was no more than a springboard” (p. 260) “The sway which he held over the humbler and poorer classes was so potent that they were filled with an extraordinary passion (eros) for him to rule them as a dictator (turannos)” (p. 280) Plutarch Alcibiades 16

17 Savvy Orator? General assessment: “Alcibiades possessed in a higher degree than any of his contemporaries the faculty of discerning and grasping what was required of a given situation.” (Plutarch Alcibiades p. 253) Samos, 411: “He not only convinced the people and showed them their danger by his speeches in public, but he appealed to them as individuals, using entreaties with some and force with others.” (pp. 272–3) Plutarch Alcibiades 17

18 Discussion Alcibiades — Which Lens? Plutarch Alcibiades 18

19 “Theophrastus noted long ago that the strongest desire of men who have attained to leadership in a popularly governed state is not so much the acquirement of personal wealth as the gradual establishment of their own sovereignty at the expense of popular sovereignty.” (Michels 349) “The leader (demagogue) rules by virtue of the devotion and trust which his political followers have in him personally” (Weber 268) “Greek writers about politics all thought that the ‘demagogues’ gained and maintained their authority through substantive promises [i.e., rather than through “emotional appeals”] …. The evidence, as I read it, fully supports that view.” (Finley 98) Plutarch Alcibiades 19

20 Discussion… weber charisma in action fits all three finley – substantive promises weber applies – charisma michels – ambition, oligarchic side Plutarch Alcibiades


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