[p. 163]


It is only natural that this essay should have aroused curiosity and speculation about its sources, for Plutarch in the very first paragraph conveys the information that he has rummaged among his note-books (ὑπομνήματα 1) in great haste for the material necessary to help his friend Paccius to composure in the midst of a busy life. R. Hirzel (Hermes, xiv. 354 if., especially 373 if.) attempted to show that much was drawn from Democritus's Περὶ εὐθυμίης, some by way of the Stoic Panaetius, who, he thought, naturally opposed the Abderite's conclusions. R. Heinze (Rheinisches Museum, xlv. 497 ff.) emphasized the relation between De Tranquillitate and De Virtute et Vitio: both go back to a Stoic2 prototype and De Tranquillitate to a model which has some close relation to the Cynic Bions methods of presentation, that is, probably, to Ariston of Chios.3 M. Pohlenz4 (Hermes, xi. 275 if.), on the [p. 164] other hand, found that the source of the essay was Epicurean,5 while admitting that Plutarch added a certain amount of original material to fit the personality and circumstances of the friend he was addressing. Finally, G. Siefert6 (Plutarchs Schrift Περὶ εὐθυμίας, Progr. Pforta, Naumburg, 1908) reverts to Democritus and Panaetius, with particular emphasis on the material illustrative of Panaetius's lost work to be found in Cicero's De Officiis and in Seneca: Panaetius, who was following, not the Stoa, but Democritus, is the principal source of Plutarch, practically his only source.

Siefert's discussion, in particular, is impressive as well as learned ; but I would remark that all these authorities may well be right-and wrong. Some of them admit that portions, at least, of the essay were written, or adapted, especially to suit the particular occasion for which the essay was composed. Plutarch himself is not averse to naming authorities here and elsewhere ; that he followed exclusively one, or even two, is made very unlikely by his own opening statement and by the very mixed nature of his philosophical terminology.7

[p. 165] Theological writers of all ages have made good use of this store-house of moral precepts. Many of the imitations in the works of St. Basil and of St. John Chrysostom will be found listed in the Teubner edition and discussed by Pohlenz (Zeit.f. wiss. Theologie, xlviii. 72-95). Jeremy Taylor, also, in Holy Living, ii. 6, has again made some pleasant borrowings and paraphrases.

Sir Thomas Wyat's interesting translation of 1528, made from the Latin of Budaeus, has been reprinted, with an excellent introduction from the pen of C. R. Baskervill, by the authorities of the Huntington Library (Harvard University Press, 1931).

The ms. tradition is not good. Many passages are probably hopelessly corrupt and the reconstructions offered in the Teubner text and here are, at the best, make-shifts. The work is No. 95 in the catalogue of Lamprias.

1 Pohlens and Siefert have at times insisted that in spite of the plural there is only one main source. This lacks all probablity.

2 But Heinze (p. 507) admitted the possibility of some Epicurean excerpts also being used.

3 At the same time, O. Hense (Rheinisches Museum, xlv. 550 ff.) was attempting to trace De Curiositate to Ariston. Readers of the Jahresberichte should note that F. Bock (Jbb., clii. 1911, p. 334) has not read these articles and is, as often, a thoroughly untrustworthy guide.

4 See also Zeitschrift für wissenschaftliche Theologie, xlviii. 95 and note.

5 But now Pohlenz (in the Teubner ed., 1929) has become partially converted to Siefert's views, while rightly continuing to maintain some Epicurean influence. The fact that Plutarch in the last part of his work follows the εὐχαριστία to the gifts of Fortune urged by Epicurus (Fragg. 435 and 491 ed. Usener) seems to me decisive, in spite of Siefert's evasions.

6 For the structure of the essay see Siefert's earlier work (Commentationes Ienenses, vi. 1896, pp. 57-74), supplemented and corrected by Pohlenz, l.c.

7 This conclusion bears some resemblance to that reached by H. N. Fowler (Harvard Stud. Cl. Phil., i. 149 ff.), whose work is called by Siefert ‘noch unergiebiger’ than the ‘Biomanie’ of the Hense-Heinze school; but Fowler was inclined to stress too mcuh the relation to Democritus and the parallels which Hirzel had urged between Seneca and Plutarch. That Seneca's De Tranquillitate Animi goes back to an immediate original common to Plutarch's work also is extremely unlikely. Only one anecdote, one quotation, and a dozen or so commonplaces are not nearly enough to show any close relationship. And how dissimilar the two works are in treatment, design, terminology, and form (pace Hirzel, Der Dialog, ii. p. 28, n. 1)!

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