Plutarch’s Parallel Lives and the Greek Christian Fathers of the 2nd Century, with special attention to Clement of Alexandria




Plutarch on the Christian Fathers, Parallel Lives, Tatian, Athenagoras, Theophilus of Antioch, Clement of Alexandria


It is well known the Plutarch’s influence on the Christian thought of the imperial era, especially in authors such as Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Eusebius of Caesarea, the three Capadocian Fathers, John Chrysosthomos, Theodoretus, Cyrillus of Alexandria, or Synesius of Cyrene, who not only cite (with the exception of Clement) him, but even, without explicit citing, are directly inspired by some Plutarch’s theological and ethical treatises. In this sense, the use of the Moralia by Greek Christian Apologists and other Fathers of the Church has received sufficient attention from modern bibliography, especially in the last decades of the 20th Century and so far in the 21st Century. Less researched has been, however, the imprint left by the Parallel Lives on the Greek Christian authors of the first five centuries of our Age. My article will focus on this aspect of Plutarch’s reception, although restricted to the 2nd century AD. The first Section will provide an overview (based on modern literature about this topic and on the reading of Christian texts) of the importance of references in Ancient Christian Literature to the characters of Plutarch’s Lives or to specific passages in them. In the first and second Sections I will focus on the possible references to this Plutarch’s work in the 2nd Century apologists, Tatian, Athenagoras and Theophilus (first Section), and in Clement of Alexandria (second Section).


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