Episode 44 – Plutarch and Dionysius of Halicarnassus

— In order to really appreciate the beauty of a beach, one should not be swimming in the sea, neck-deep in the water.

Second installment of our Biography episodes. This time, we tackle Plutarch and Dionysius of Halicarnassus.

Partial Transcript

Plutarch and Dionysius of Halicarnassus — two names we heard along this podcast, again and again.

This — undoubtedly means, that — as faithful learners of Ancient Rome, we often depend on these two characters, in the same way we depend on what Virgil and Titus Livius wrote, which we’ve seen in our episode 40.

We depend on Plutarch for how he described those early beginnings of Rome. We also depend on him for his masterpiece, called “Parallel Lives” and the way he portrayed Romans and Greeks who lived in his times and the times before him.

We’ll talk about Parallel Lives a lot more, in this episode.

We also depend on Dionysius of Halicarnassus for the way he wrote, and his unique point of view, just to name two of his powers. But — perhaps, his biggest power was his world famous sobriety when writing about Rome. His refreshing view of men and their faults.

Well — that’s also something we’ll see today, further down the line.

But first, I want to list a few of the biggest differences that come to mind, between these two giants and the other two guys we had in Episode 40 — Livy and Virgil.

Here we go.

ONE — By reading their works, it is easy to infer that both Livy and Virgil were more — should I say — lost, when it came to writing.

Even though this is my opinion, I believe that Livy and Virgil sailed the oceans of their imaginations, without guidelines on where they would find themselves after dark, almost as if it didn’t really matter if they were even able to drop anchors, at the end of each chapter.

Plutarch and Dionysius — on the other hand, seemed to know the direction of their vessels very well. It almost feels like they knew the winds, the currents, and even the depth of the waters they were sailing through.

At the end of each paragraph, they already knew the next port of call, and they knew the weather patterns that would allow them to get there.

In writer’s terms — to me, Livy and Virgil were much more like “pantsers” — writing by the seat of their pants, while Plutarch and Dionysius were much more like “plotters.”

For those not familiar with these two terms — pantsers versus plotters, here is a side-note.

Pantsers start writing a novel — usually without much of a plan, and let their imaginations fly, and take them were they may take them. They develop story plots on the fly, and add sub-plots to their main story as they go.

Plotters do the opposite. They lay out the plot, the sub-plots, and even the changes that story characters go through, before starting chapter one. After that, they write it all down.

In general, we consider that most writers fall into one of these two categories, but the truth is, that we all have parts of both sides.

[…]

And now, without any further ado, here are TEN pairs of Greek and Roman lives, in no particular order.

ONE — Theseus and Romulus — mythical founders of Athens and Rome, respectively.

TWO — Lycurgus and Numa Pompilius

THREE — Themistocles and Camillus. Yep — that Marcus Furius Camillus!

FOUR — Pericles and Fabius Maximus

FIVE — Alcibiades and Gaius Marcius Coriolanus

SIX — Aristides and Cato the Elder

SEVEN — Pyrrhus and Gaius Marius — How fitting is that!

EIGHT — Lysander and Sulla

NINE — Demosthenes and Cicero

And finally — TEN — Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar

My personal opinion? What an honor for Julius Caesar!

[…]

Episode 39 – State of the Union – 320 BC

— From this point of view, I can hardly wait until we get to the Emperors!

A view of the world, three years after the death of Alexander the Great, and right after Rome’s most humiliating defeat, up to this point.

Partial Transcript

Hello, this is Abel, speaking from Beijing, China. Welcome to my podcast.

The Tale of Rome, Episode 39 — State of the Union – 320 BC.

This is our third episode of the State of the Union, and as I said in our episode 13, at this time we already have many of the styles, and other standards set, for this type of episodes.

Slowly, but surely, these episodes — every 13th episode, will become tradition in this podcast.

Alright. We find ourselves in the year 320 BC. just after the shameful defeat at the already famous Caudine Forks.

So during this episode, we’re going to divide our time into three sections, as follows:

ONE — let’s see what happened to those troops on their way to Rome, and what were the next events before closing that year.

TWO — we’re going to give our typical eagle flight around the world of Rome, just as we did in our episodes 13 and 26.

AND THREE — let’s do a quick review of the people who ruled Rome’s fates, between the years 390 and 320 BC. just like we did last time.

And as always, during this episode we won’t have our segment of the Latin Word of the Week, so that’s going to be left for our next REGULAR episode.

Let’s start now!

[…]

He says that Alexander gave his ring to Perdicas, a bodyguard of his, nominating him as a successor, by doing so.

Anyway, Perdicas did never try to get the throne, and instead, he said that the heir should be Roxanne’s son, if he was born male. He also said, that the baby would have Crateros, Leonnatus, Antipater, and himself, as guardians, until the boy would grow up, and then govern by himself.

Obviously, that plan was rejected. Perdicas was killed two years later.

The unity of Macedonia collapsed, and 40 years of war erupted among the successors. These successors were now known, as the Diadochi. And at the end of that period, four clear blocks emerged. And for a time being, these blocks maintained some stability:

Egypt belonged to the Ptolemy’s.

Mesopotamia became part of the upcoming Seleucid Empire.

Anatolia went to Lysimachus.

And finally, Macedonia went to Antigonus.

[…]