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Failures of History According to Plutarch

By Bink23 Dec 14, 2012 665 Words
Essay #3
In Plutarch’s classic literatures, Plutarch gives us his view of women and the roles they played back in his time. He illustrates how caring and encouraging, how determined, powerful and manipulative women can be. But this is only relative to the roles that women play in their personal and social life. The first example of how Cornelia is illustrated as a caring mother, the read says she take “upon herself all the care of the household and the education of her children.” Also, Plutarch illustrates how women are encouraging is in “Life of Tiberius Gracchus”, there is one scene where the Roman citizens suggests that Tiberius’ mother, Cornelia, encouraged him to fulfill his civic duty. First of all, Cornelia’s role is to be Tiberius’ mother so we can only assume that she said this out of being a mother. I think what Plutarch is trying to imply is that women who were mothers supported their children dearly. Next, my example of how a Plutarch illustrates women being determined to get what they want is in Plutarch’s “Life of Marcus Brutus” and “Life of Antony”. In “Life of Marcus Brutus”, when Brutus’ wife Porcia asks what Brutus is up to, he does not tell her because of the importance of secrecy. Porcia then to gain Brutus’ trust, maimed herself to prove that Brutus could trust her. In this example here, Plutarch exemplifies the willingness and determination of women in love/ wife. He shows how women are attached to their husbands and how women can be strong to stand up for themselves. Also, towards the end of the story, when Porcia learns of Brutus’ death, she takes her own life by eating live coals. I think what Plutarch is trying to say is that women take their husbands very seriously and when a couple is married, maybe marriage links their lives together and deaths. In my third example, Plutarch shows how powerful and manipulative a woman can be. My example lies in the story “Life of Antony”, Cleopatra; the queen of Egypt manipulates Antony to fight war against his own kinsman. Being a queen, we can hypothesize that Cleopatra’s best interest is within the prosperity of her kingdom. So from this hypothesis, the motives of her actions can be seen clearly. She manipulates Antony with her beauty and succeeds in making him obey her every command. From reading the story, I believe that she was only using Antony to her benefit; the price was just her body. From this example, I believe what Plutarch is trying to tell us is that women in power were corrupt.

Besides the topic of the role of women in Roman times, Plutarch’s also illustrates what is the cause of great success and the fault of failure. First of all is the factors that contributes to success. Plutarch shows that having a great personality would win a war according to his example of Tiberius. Tiberius went alone into the territory of the Numantines. These people were the enemy of Tiberius, but with Tiberius’ great oratory skills, he and the Numantines agreed on a peace treaty. Another factor that contributes to great success is the appeal to the Roman citizens. This can also be accounted for by Tiberius. He shows his compassion and assists the poor people.

In relation to success, there are also many factors that Plutarch describes to be the contributors to failure. First is conspiracy. Conspiracy alone has killed most of Plutarch’s main characters for an example, Tiberius, Gaius; his brother, and Brutus. Opposing the Senate is also a bad idea because what always ended up happening was that the Senate turned the people against Tiberius, Brutus and others that did the other people well. One of Plutarch’s main example is women. Women caused the fall of Antony. Cleopatra succeeded in corrupting Antony and wages war against his own country. In Plutarch’s view, conspiracy and woman were two main factors that contributed to the failures Roman history.

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