n Akroterion - Signs and narrative design in Plutarch's

Volume 56, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0303-1896
  • E-ISSN: 2079-2883
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Plutarch's reflects the tendency among earlier Alexander sources to augment the life of the great Macedonian with a supernatural aspect. Plutarch himself selects from, dismisses and fashions this material in accordance with his own standards for responsible biography, but also with his narrative purposes. This paper explores the relationship between signs from the supernatural sphere (, including dreams, oracles, omens, portents) and Plutarch's narrative line. In the initial section of the biography, Plutarch's deliberate association of his protagonist with divine involvement provides sanction for his future success. After establishing his character as 'spirited' (), the signs support his spirit () and ambition () towards fulfilling his allotted role. During the latter part of the narrative, portents tend to become ominous, so that Alexander is depicted as dejected (), anxious (), despairing (), and superstitious (). In this way, the signs support an ascending and descending line in Alexander's biography and hint at divine and psychological (in addition to moral) reasons for Alexander's successes and eventual demise.

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