Braniff Salon

Braniff Salon: A Tradition of Conviviality 

Plutarch's Parallel Lives: "Dion & Brutus"

Date: Friday, March 23, 2018 | 7 p.m.
Location: University of Dallas, SB Hall, Multifunction Room
Admission: By donation; Underwriting opportunities are also available »
Reception: Reception will be from 7-8 p.m. Lecture will begin at 8 p.m.

Come discuss the nature of philosophy, its relationship to politics, the character of tyranny and how one ought to respond to it, and much more—all of which are topics dealt with by Plutarch 2000 years ago in his Parallel Lives.

About Plutarch & "Parallel Lives"

Plutarch was one of the most influential writers of the ancient world. With Thucydides and Cicero, among others, his work was a formative part of education through the nineteenth century and hence important for the forming of our own political, civic and social milieux. Shakespeare saw in Plutarch such depth of analysis that he used many of his Lives as sources for his own plays, including his CoriolanusJulius Caesar, and Antony and Cleopatra.

In his Parallel Lives, Plutarch compares the lives of significant and some not-so-significant Greeks and Romans. Though he did write histories, he did not consider the Parallel Lives to be histories. His interest is in character, in virtue and vice, and so he notes in his “Alexander” that he follows the path of the portrait-painter who is more exact in the lines and features of the face than of the rest of the body, for there character is revealed. As portraits of various virtues and vices, his Parallel Lives illustrate how people with such virtues and vices would or could act in various political and civic situations. One might say his lives breathe life into the account of virtue and vice one finds in Aristotle’s Ethics (though, to be sure, Plutarch is normally classified as a Platonist).

In a curious decision, Plutarch chooses to compare the life of Dion with that of Brutus. The immediate parallels, he suggests, are to be found in the fact that they were both philosophers and that they each had premonitions of their own demise. But the parallel also allows him to investigate issues such as the nature of philosophy, the relationship between philosophy and politics, the character of tyranny and how one ought to respond to it, and the lessons of historical circumstance. All of which, if one reflects upon it, are important for our own day, and, indeed, for every age.

Panelists

  • John Alvis, Ph.D., English
  • Richard Dougherty, Ph.D., Politics
  • David Sweet, Ph.D., Classics
  • Matthew Walz, Ph.D., Philosophy
  • Moderator: David Davies, Ph.D., English & Classics

About the Braniff Salon

The Braniff Salons have become popular events, bringing alumni, faculty, students and visitors together, usually on a Friday afternoon or evening. Members of our faculty are invited to make remarks and lead a panel discussion on a pre-arranged topic. The occasion is leavened by wine and food, with discussion lasting as long as wine and social energy avail.

Explore Braniff Salon Archives > 

Galbraith Lecture featuring Anthony Esolen to Precede Braniff Salon:

Prior to this year's Braniff Salon will be the Annual Galbraith Lecture, featuring Anthony Esolen on "Dante & Liturgical Time," at 6 pm in SB Hall, Multifunction Room. There will be a joint reception for the two events, at 7 p.m. (following the Galbraith Lecture and prior to the Braniff Salon). Come for one event, or for both! It will be a charged evening of intellectual candor. 

6 p.m. | Galbraith Lecture
7 p.m. | Open Reception

8 p.m. | Braniff Salon

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