Relations between the sage (Anaxagoras) and the politician (Pericles): pouring oil on the lamp: an anecdote ad maiorem gloriam Periclis?
In chapter 16 of the Life of Pericles Plutarch, to dispraise that the Athenian
politician was disengaged from his friend due to his numerous obligations of government,
tells us an anecdote that we only know from him. Certainly it is framed in
the opposition between the βίος πρακτικός represented on this occasion by Pericles
and the βίος θεωρητικός, own of the wise; but it has given also rise to diverse interpretations
for or against the human or the political Pericles. The anecdote allows us
(in addition to understanding that it is in accordance with Plutarch’s thought and
that probably has had an interested role concerning the relations with his influential
friends in the Roman administration) to review again the relationship between the
sage and the politician in this Life. In my study I underline the literary interest of
Plutarch concerning the friendship between Pericles and Anaxagoras, as well as I offer
a brief commentary on the influence, enough limited, that the anecdote had in the
European literary tradition.