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The International Plutarch Society



The North American Sections (USA, Canada) of the International Plutarch Society announce a Call for Papers for a sponsored panel at the annual meeting of the American Philological Association, January 2-5, 2014, in Chicago.


Representation and Self-Representation in Imperial Greek and Latin Dialogues


Sponsored by the International Plutarch Society. Organized by Jeffrey Beneker, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Noreen Humble, University of Calgary.


The dialogic form originated by Plato and other Socratic philosophers has long been the subject of scholarly study and debate. Questions have been posed about the intersection of the dialogues' literary form and their philosophical content, why the dialogue became the Socratics' preferred genre, and the realism of the dialogues' characters and settings. The genre, however, has a long tradition that crosses into Latin and extends well into the Imperial Era. Dialogues from the later part of the tradition have raised interesting questions of their own, and several recent studies have focused on developments in the genre that manifest themselves during the Imperial Era. These include broad studies, such as Goldhill (ed.), The End of Dialogue in Antiquity (2008), which takes a comparative look at the dialogue across Greek, Roman, Christian and Jewish cultures, and more narrow studies devoted to individual works, such as Klotz & Oikonomopoulou(eds.), The Philosopher's Banquet (2011), a collection of essays on Plutarch's Table Talk. Books such as these have helped to illuminate the great variety in the form, content, setting, and purpose of the Imperial dialogues. In this panel we aim to continue this investigation particularly in regard to the representation of individuals and the intersection of reality and fiction when it comes to the "guest lists" of literary dialogues.


The International Plutarch Society invites abstracts for papers that explore the representation of self and of others in Greek and Roman dialogues from the Imperial Era. Some preference may be given to papers that shed light on Plutarch's aims and methods, but our primary goal is to assemble a collection of papers that explore various aspects of representation in the dialogues of this period.


Questions addressed by the panel might include the following: How realistic are the portraits of the known characters who participate in these dialogic compositions (e.g. Plutarch's brother Timon in the Table Talk)? Are they meant to be realistic or are they simply vessels for the discussion at hand? If they are meant to be readily identifiable, how much of what is unstated about their character is meant to be understood as augmenting their presentation? To what extent are supposed historical figures, particularly philosophers, vehicles for an author's own agenda (e.g. Plotinus in St Augustine's Against the Academicians)? How far are we to separate author from character when an author appears as a character in his own dialogue? And how much does an ancient understanding of the role of Socrates in Plato's dialogues or of Cicero in his own dialogues affect the presentation of interlocutors in the later tradition?


Abstracts should be sent electronically, in MS Word format or PDF, to Jeffrey Beneker ( In preparing the abstract, please follow the formatting guidelines for individual abstracts that appear in the APA Program Guide, and plan for a paper that takes no more than 20 minutes to deliver. Abstracts will be judged anonymously. Membership in the International Plutarch Society is not required for participation in this panel. The deadline is February 1, 2013.


For more information about the annual meeting of the APA or the format of abstracts, please visit:




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