History and Character of the Leaders in the Peloponnesian War.

NOTE, registration for this course is handled by the Cambridge Center for Adult Education.

Plutarch of Chaeronea lived about A.D. 46-120 as a Greek in the Roman Empire. He was a teacher and philosopher and a continuing influence on the best minds of later generations including Shakespeare, the U.S. Founding fathers, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. His works include several pieces ranging from philosophy to natural science to practical guides of the self-help type (known collectively as the Moralia. Of his Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans 46 parallel lives and four 4 single lives survive.

Why read Plutarch's Lives? There are many reasons; for this class it is his interest in character. Purpose of this class is not to compare Plutarch's version of history and biography with that of other ancient or modern investigators.

In this course of study of seven weekly 90 minute sessions we'll explore the background the events and persons who brought about the fall of the Athenian democracy in the course of a ruinous war with Sparta.

A democracy lost because of imperialistic expansionism and an unnecessary foreign war. The golden age of Athens, that flowering of democracy, art, literature, and philosophy, came to a premature end with the ruinous 30 year war with neighboring Sparta. In this seven week course we'll read and discuss the history of the Peloponnesian War as recorded by contemporary and combatant Thucydides. We'll also attempt to understand the character and motivation of the Athenian leaders Pericles and Nicias, of the Spartan general Lysander, and of the brilliant but unprincipled Alcibiades as reported in the writings of later Greek historian Plutarch..