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Credibility And Credulity In Plutarch'S Life Of Numa Pompilius

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Chapter Summary

Plutarch's ideas about credibility and credulity are best demonstrated by his Life of Numa Pompilius. While the term "credibility" signifies a positive value, "credulity" is ambiguous or altogether negative, assessing an "overreadiness to believe, disposition to believe on weak or insufficient grounds". According to Plutarch, Numa's challenge of re-educating the Roman people even required to resort to their credulity as a political tool, a method justified already by Plato. Plutarch himself saw it as the biographer's challenge to make plausible what the tradition says about Numa's ability to persuade the people to accept the radical reform program he imposed on them. He shows respect for Numa's philosophical and social-political goals, and even for his shrewd exploitation of ancient superstitions.

Keywords: ancient superstitions; Life of Numa Pompilius; Plato; Plutarch



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