Imperium cum finibus: Plutarch's Archaic Rome
Banta, Jason L
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Issues of physical and temporal regulation dominate Plutarch's biographies of the two earliest kings of Rome, Romulus and Numa. Plutarch's formation of an Archaic Roman topography in these lives is saturated with chronotopal irregularities and problems of temporal seepage between past and present. In this dissertation I tackle the narratological strategies which embed the Romulus and the Numa ideologically as well as three-dimensionally in Plutarch's archaic vistas. These Lives are less about their ostensible subjects than about how the tension between the respective agendas of Romulus and Numa creates the backdrop of Archaic Rome. Plutarch utilizes them to create, in Bakhtin's words, a chronotopic narrative. For Bakhtin, the chronotope is a specific intersection of time and space coordinates in a literary work that are the prime determinants of its generic qualities. According to Pam Morris, at the center of this chronotopic perception is "the aesthetic visualizing of a human being in relation to their temporal and spatial world."* She points out that this is "ultimately an ideological perception; a way of comprehending human life as materially and simultaneously present within a physical-geographic space and a specific point of historical time."* It is a way of understanding experience. This theory of the chronotope operates under the premise that all contexts are necessarily and fundamentally shaped by the kinds of space and time that they operate within. Since Plutarch is first and foremost writing narrative accounts of his subjects' lives, his process is susceptible to the vagaries of Bakhtin's chronotopic theory. Hence, reading the way in which Plutarch constructs and attempts to stabilize the spatial and temporal background will reveal important qualities about his narrative strategy and the place that Rome plays in it. *Morris, Pam. The Bakhtin Reader: Writings of Bakhtin, Medvedev, Voloshinov . Arnold, 2003. 180.