Alte Geschichte



Dr. Philip John Victor Davies

Dr. Philip Davies



Historisches Seminar der LMU

Alte Geschichte
Geschwister-Scholl-Platz 1
80539 München

I am an Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral Research Fellow, working on 'Plutarch's Sparta' - an examination of the diverse factors which influenced this author's understanding of Sparta and Spartan society. Before coming to Munich I was based at the University of Nottingham, where I completed my doctoral thesis on 'Individuals and Institutions: Status in Spartan Society in the Classical Period' (2009-14) and served as a Teaching Associate (2013-16). Prior to this, I took my B.A. in Ancient and Modern History (2004-7) and M.St. in Greek History (2008-9) at Magdalen College, Oxford.

Plutarch has traditionally been a key source for the study of Sparta. However, in recent decades scholars have become increasingly conscious of the centuries which separate this Roman-period author from the Sparta he describes - a gap at points spanning 500 years, or more. Consequently, researchers have become more sceptical of Plutarch's testimony regarding Sparta, giving preference to more contemporary sources. In light of these developments, I aim to provide a detailed examination of the ways in which Plutarch's historical, cultural and intellectual context shaped his understanding of Sparta. I consider the source traditions upon which Plutarch drew, but also wider questions such as the influence which Plutarch's neo-Platonist thought had upon his presentation of Sparta, and the impact of the vision of classical Sparta propagated by the Sparta of Plutarch's own time. My analysis will not only create a more nuanced basis for Spartanists and other historians to engage with Plutarch as a source, and contribute to wider Plutarch scholarship, but will provide valuable insight into the reception of Sparta within antiquity, and the complex process by which Greeks living under the Roman Empire accessed and constructed their own history.