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Bill Thayer

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On the Fortune or the Virtue of Alexander


The work appears in pp379‑487 of Vol. IV of the Loeb Classical Library's edition of the Moralia, first published in 1936. The Greek text and the English translation (by F. C. Babbitt) are now in the public domain pursuant to the 1978 revision of the U. S. Copyright Code, since the copyright expired in 1964 and was not renewed at the appropriate time, which would have been that year or the year before. (Details here on the copyright law involved.)

The Text on LacusCurtius

This site is a transcription of the English translation of Plutarch's work by Frank Cole Babbitt as printed in pp379‑487 of Vol. IV of the Loeb Classical Library edition of the Moralia, published in 1936. I have no intention of transcribing the original Greek text: the paucity of readers of ancient Greek out there make it a case of diminishing returns.

As almost always, I retyped the text by hand rather than scanning it — not only to minimize errors prior to proofreading, but as an opportunity for me to become intimately familiar with the work, an exercise I heartily recommend: Qui scribit, bis legit. (Well-meaning attempts to get me to scan text, if success­ful, would merely turn me into some kind of machine: gambit declined.)

This transcription has been minutely proofread. In the little table of contents below, the sections are therefore shown on blue backgrounds, indicating that I believe the text of them to be completely errorfree. As elsewhere onsite, the header bar at the top of each chapter's webpage will remind you with the same color scheme. Should you spot an error, however . . . please do report it.

Loeb Edition Introduction

Again we have epideictic orations similar to the preceding and the following essays,​a and the conclusion again is abrupt, as if the speaker had been obliged to stop after a certain period of time had elapsed. Note, however, the very considerable difference in length between the first and the second part of the present work.

We know nothing of the circumstances under which these orations were delivered, but it is quite possible that they were spoken at Rome to show the Romans what an educated Greek could do in the treatment of a controversial subject.

The first oration deals mostly with the manner in which Fortune used Alexander; but much is also said of the manner in which he met the buffetings of Fortune and rose superior to them. In the second oration Fortune is by no means neglected, but rather more is said of Alexander's Virtue; thus it is not surprising to find in Lamprias's list of Plutarch's works two entries: the first, No. 176, Alexander's Fortune (Περὶ τῆς Ἀλεξάνδρου τύχης) and the second, No. 186, Alexander's Virtue (Περὶ τῆς Ἀλεξάνδρου ἀρετης).

Much that is included here is found also in Plutarch's Life of Alexander, in Arrian's Anabasis, and in other writers cited in the notes.

 p381  The genuineness of the tradition which ascribes these works to Plutarch (for the attribution had been attacked by A. Schäfer and by L. Weber) has been brilliantly vindicated by W. Nachstädt in his dissertation, De Plutarchi Declamationibus quae sunt De Alexandri Fortuna (Berliner Beiträge für klassischen Philologie, ii), Karl Vogt, Berlin, 1895. This excellent work also contains a discussion of many of the problems which confront the editor of these essays and has been of great service.

On this site, only the English translations:

Thayer's Note:

a Respectively, On the Fortune of the Romans and On the Fame of the Athenians.

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Page updated: 29 May 16