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The repulsae of Aemilius Paulus in Plutarch’s Aemilius

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Plutarch, Aemilius, repulsae

Abstract (summary)

Plutarch’s Aemilius passes over much of the political career of Lucius Aemilius Paulus in silence, offering only the briefest sketch of his life and career before his second consulship in 168 bce and the Third Macedonian War. Among the details which Plutarch omits in the biography are several repulsae which delayed Aemilius’ first consulship until 182 bce, years after he was first eligible for the office. This is not simply Plutarch wishing to avoid reporting a failure on the part of his subject, for he, and he alone of our sources, does note a later repulsa, suffered sometime before Aemilius’ second consulship. Nor is it a matter of Plutarch having had access to relatively few sources on Aemilius, for he had access to and used Polybius and Livy,1 among others, the latter of whom specifically notes and even emphasizes Aemilius’ repeated electoral defeats. The omission of the early repulsae and the addition of a later one—or more likely, as I will suggest, the chronological transposition and conflation of the three early repulsae into one later repulsa—are deliberate strategies on Plutarch’s part, by which he distinguishes his Aemilius from earlier accounts of the man.

Publication Information

Bailey, C. (2022). "Chapter 7 The Repulsae of Aemilius Paulus in Plutarch’s Aemilius". In Plutarch’s Unexpected Silences. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill. doi: 10.1163/9789004514256_009



Item Type

Book Chapter



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