Plutarch’s Life of Cicero. How does Cicero’s life and career reflect the constitutional and social changes that took place in Rome in his lifetime? Did Cicero understand the extent and nature of the problems which troubled Rome? How is his death described? Despite Cicero’s attachment to the ideal of the Republic, History was going to take a different course: was Cicero an outdated idealist, or a realist or a hypocrite?
Plutarch’s Life of Sulla. Let’s take a step back. How does Plutarch describe the personality of Sulla? In light of what happened afterwards, do you think that his bloody and extreme measures were necessary? Or was his use of violence counterproductive? How does Plutarch describe the proscriptions? Which attitude toward Sulla’s constitution did his lieutenants Pompey and Crassus display? What do you make of their attitude?
Plutarch’s Life of Crassus. What is Crassus’ attitude toward the crowd? How does Plutarch portray the 1st triumvirate, Crassus’ involvement with Catiline, and his expedition against the Parthians? What does Crassus’ biography show about the history of the Late Republic?
Plutarch, Life of Pompey, first part. How do Pompey’s life and career mirror the changes and problems of the late Republic? According to Plutarch, what did Pompey want? Is Plutarch’s portrayal of Pompey too idealized? What are the three most striking facts about Pompey that you learned from reading Plutarch? How does Pompey deal with the stigma of his “Sullan past”?
How does Plutarch account for the break between Pompey and Caesar? What are Pompey’s most important accomplishments? What were his aims? Who is responsible for the civil war? Why did Pompey lose it?
Think about Catullus’ poems and Plutarch’s lives of Sulla, Cicero, Pompey, Crassus and Caesar: how is their attitude toward religion and the divine typically Roman? How does it express a crisis in religious values and practices?