What makes political leaders great? For more than two millennia men and women in the West have turned to Plutarch’s Parallel Lives to answer this question. A “bible for heroes,” as Emerson put it, Plutarch’s Lives aimed to shape readers’ souls by uncovering the virtues and vices of the greatest Greeks and Romans. But the Lives were far from works of hagiography. They were a reflection on the fundamental problems of politics: the nature of republican government, the temptations of empire, the rise and fall of regimes. It was not only for inspiration, but also for instruction in such matters that American statesmen like Hamilton, Lincoln, and Truman turned to Plutarch. This course will approach the Lives in their spirit. We will read three pairs of Lives—Solon/Publicola, Pericles/Fabius, and Phocion/Cato—in order to consider how the birth, peak, and fall of republican regimes reveal the nature of statesmanship.
Dr. Hugh Liebert
Dr. Hugh Liebert is an associate professor of American politics in the Department of Social Sciences at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York, where he teaches courses in political philosophy, American politics, and civil-military relations. He also serves as director of West Point’s Graduate Scholarship Program. Liebert is the author or editor of six books, including Plutarch’s Politics: Between City and Empire. He holds a PhD and MA from the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago and a BA from Harvard University.
Director, Tikvah Scholars Program