Forum Antiquum Spring 2021 Lecture: 'The glory of ethical leadership: Plutarch and Seneca on Cicero's failure to practice philosophy'
- Thursday 11 February 2021
- The lectures are online.
Physical meetings are still very restricted for anything that is not part of the regular education programme. Therefore, we will meet in the following Kaltura Live Room.
The glory of ethical leadership: Plutarch and Seneca on Cicero's failure to practice philosophy
It is hard to remain sane when you engage in the world of politics. To speak with the words of the Greek biographer and philosopher Plutarch, “public opinion (δόξα) is able to wash away all reason from the soul, like a dye (ὥσπερ βαφήν), and to press the emotions of the people onto politicians through their daily interaction” (Cicero, 32.5). In the imperial narratives about Cicero’s career, it is precisely this desire for recognition that is seen to permeate his deeds, making him liable to criticism.
In this Forum Antiquum session, we will view the subject of Cicero’s political behaviour through the eyes of Plutarch and Seneca, whose works are founded on the belief that ethical education offers the necessary tools to be a good citizen or statesman. Especially important, as I will argue, is the concept of ‘ethical competence’, the ability to display and teach ethical principles as part of a public position. I will explain that Cicero, despite his philosophical training, is regarded as a complete failure in this department, and that his career is made into a prime example of the fallibility of the civic leader.