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Plutarch and the Founding of the European Identity


Project reference


Principal Investigator

Delfim Ferreira Leão

Project description

As a Greek living under the Roman Empire during the 1st and 2nd centuries AD, Plutarch achieved a level of synthesis between Greece and Rome unmatched by any other ancient author. His work made a significant contribution to the establishment of the concept of a common Classical Antiquity and to the formation of a cultural identity that would shape the construction of Europe. Through his parallel portraits of outstanding Greek and Roman figures, as well as his treatises exploring a wide range of topics including politics, ethics, religion, philosophy, and aesthetics, Plutarch exerted great influence on future cultures. He was even regarded as the ‘educator of Europe’, precisely one of the main ideas that gave consistency to this project.

Scientific objectives of the project

The project aims to provide meticulous translations from the original Greek of paradigmatic treatises found in both Plutarch’s ‘Vitae’ and ‘Moralia’. These translations seek to shed light on the significant influence that Plutarch’s writings had on European thought, literature, biographical writing, and the history of ideas. The project also seeks to explore how Plutarch’s works impacted pivotal moments in political history, such as the French Revolution. In addition to the collaborative translation work, the project facilitates a systematic study of his oeuvre and its influence on the formation of the European identitarian matrix. The organisation of the international congress “Symposion and philanthropia” (Coimbra, 2008), in collaboration with the International Plutarch Society, drew collaboration from around 100 scholars from around the world. As a result of these efforts, the project led to the publication of nearly 20 volumes, along with numerous articles and papers published in internationally recognised journals and publications.