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This is Sparta...is it?

Date & Time:
February 11, 2015 | 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm
Location:
Biological Sciences Building 587
Speaker:
Noreen Humble

Xenophon's View of Sparta: This project is a re-evaluation of the purpose of a short but important treatise on Sparta, the Spartan Constitution, which was written sometime in the decades of the fourth century BCE by the Athenian Xenophon (c. 430-355). The treatise, which examines features peculiar to Sparta which are responsible for that state's hegemony, is our only contemporary description of the internal workings of Classical Sparta but it has traditionally been regarded as an incoherent collection of information written by an uncritical pro-Spartan. As a result it has not been taken as seriously as it should be and is frequently superseded as a source on Sparta by information found in the second-century CE biographer Plutarch. My work aims to redress the balance in favour of Xenophon and to contextualize his work more firmly within his own intellectual world, i.e. alongside the work of the fourth-century BCE philosophers Plato and Aristotle.

Noreen Humble is an Associate Professor in the Department of Classic and Religion. She has published widely on Xenophon (c. 430-355 BCE), focusing on him as a political philosopher and as a literary innovator. She also works on the reception of ancient authors (particularly Xenophon and the later Greek biographer Plutarch) in the Byzantine and early modern periods exploring how their works were assimilated into different intellectual milieus and why they were regarded so highly until the 19th century. She is the editor of Plutarch's Lives: Parallelism and Purpose (London 2010), and co-editor of Mediterranean Travels: Writing Self and Other from the Ancient World to Contemporary Society (Oxford 2011).

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