Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Julie Langford, Ph.D.

Committee Member

William M. Murray, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Eleni Manolaraki, Ph.D.


Ethnicity, Gender, Manhood, Paideia, Second Sophistic


This thesis investigates 1st-2nd century CE biographer and philosopher, Plutarch's, manipulation and construction of gender ideals in three sets of his Parallel Lives, Coriolanus and Alcibiades, Pelopidas and Marcellus, and Phocion and Cato the Younger in which he presented his particular version of the ideal man and route to manhood. Plutarch discouraged traditional paths to gaining masculine status and simultaneously promoted a type of masculinity that benefited other aspects of his identity, particularly promoting his social and economic position and ethnicity. He asserted throughout that martial men were not in control of their emotions and therefore were incomplete men. Plutarch then promoted the study of Hellenic education, or paideia, and philosophy as the route to ideal manhood. This sub-discourse served as a reaction to Roman rule and the position of Greek men in the Roman Empire. Although Plutarch wrote centuries after the Roman annexation of Greece, he and his contemporaries continued to negotiate and redefine the complex power relations that existed between Greece and Rome. Living and writing at the beginning of the Second Sophistic (60-230 CE), Plutarch's work reflects a wider phenomenon that was occurring within Greece between the 1st and 3rd centuries CE. This study is therefore multi-layered, investigating not only how gender ideology is constructed and redefined but also how it can be manipulated to suit social and political circumstances in order to participate in discourses about identity, authority and power.