Published: April 9, 2023

Phocion the Good and Philippe Pétain, Marshal of France: Parallel Lives?

Professor Peter Hunt

Thursday, April 20, 7:00 p.m.
Hale Science Building Room 230 & Zoom (REGISTER HERE)
Free and open to the public
Download the poster

Phocion (left), Petain (right)


This lecture imagines how the Greek biographer Plutarch might write a Parallel Lives of an ancient and a modern stateman: Phocion the Good was a fourth-century Athenian statesman, who capped his long career under the democracy with a leading position in an oligarchy imposed by the Macedonians; Philippe Pétain, the hero of Verdun in the first World War, collaborated with the Nazis after the defeat of France in the Second World War.  Both Phocion and Pétain ended their political lives on trial and then condemned by their own people.  This thought experiment can help us better understand the structure, methods, and ethical goals of Plutarch’s Parallel Lives.

  Peter HuntPeter Hunt (Ph.D. Stanford 1994) a classical Greek historian, studies warfare and society, slavery, historiography and oratory. He is the author of three books: Slaves, Warfare and Ideology in the Greek Historians (Cambridge 1998), War, Peace, and Alliance in Demosthenes' Athens (Cambridge 2010), and Ancient Greek and Roman Slavery (Wiley Blackwell 2018). Among other current projects, he is beginning work on a commentary on Plutarch’s Phocion.