Alcibiades and the Hermae Account Reliability: Plutarch and Thucydides

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Plutarch’s account of Alcibiades and the Hermae
This incident has been recorded in many historical documents such as the works, biographer Plutarch and, historian Thucydides. From analysis of these their accounts is can be deduced that Plutarch’s account is unreliable and presents a biased point of view. Plutarch was a biographer in ancient times; he was born in Greece and is best known for his ‘immortal’ text Parallel lives. The idea of this text was to pair a philosophical biography of a famous Greek with a Roman who was in some way comparable.” His announced intention was not to write a chronicle of great historical events, but rather to examine the character of great men, as a lesson for the living." (Quoted from “Plutarch-his life and legacy”). It is statements such as this that would lead an audience to believe that Plutarch’s point of view is biased and less reliable than that of other historians such as Thucydides who recounts facts and events from a more objective point of view although Plutarch’s originally intended audience would most likely have been highly educated people with an interest in his various other essays. Though mostly historically accurate, Plutarch presents his evidence in a biased manner which suggests that the evidence he has provided cannot be relied upon in modern times. Plutarch’s account of Alcibiades is highly subjective at times. “At first, as I have said, nothing more than vague suspicions and slanders had been made against Alcibiades by a number of slaves and resident aliens” (Plutarch’s account of Alcibiades and the Hermae in parallel lives) there are many sections of Plutarch’s account which are heavily opinionated and not particularly relevant giving further reason to believe that his account is not reliable unlike that of Thucydides who focuses more on the facts with little personal opinion included. Plutarch also mentions features of Alcibiades personal life during his time in Sparta; “he captivated the people and...
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