The Art of Biography in Antiquity

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Cambridge University Press, Apr 5, 2012 - History
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Greek and Roman biography embraces much more than Plutarch, Suetonius and their lost Hellenistic antecedents. In this book Professor Hägg explores the whole range and diversity of ancient biography, from its Socratic beginnings to the Christian acquisition of the form in late antiquity. He shows how creative writers developed the lives of popular heroes like Homer, Aesop and Alexander and how the Christian gospels grew from bare sayings to full lives. In imperial Rome biography flourished in the works of Greek writers: Lucian's satire, Philostratus' full sophistic orchestration, Porphyry's intellectual portrait of Plotinus. Perhaps surprisingly, it is not political biography or the lives of poets that provide the main artery of ancient biography, but various kinds of philosophical, spiritual and ethical lives. Applying a consistent biographical reading to a representative set of surviving texts, this book opens up the manifold but often neglected art of biography in classical antiquity.
 

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Contents

Prolegomena on biography modern and ancient
1
chapter 1 In the beginning was Xenophon
10
chapter 2 Hellenistic theory and practice
67
chapter 3 Popular heroes
99
chapter 4 The gospels
148
chapter 5 Political biography at Rome
187
chapter 6 Plutarch and his Parallel Lives
239
chapter 7 Ways of life
282
Epilogue on ancient and Christian biography
380
Further reading
390
Bibliography
417
Index
476
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About the author (2012)

Tomas Hgg is Emeritus Professor of Classics at the University of Bergen. His previous publications include The Novel in Antiquity (1983) and The Virgin and her Lover (2003).

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