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By Luigi Amerio

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Like the texts of Renaissance explorers, his structure implied a cross-cultural comparison in which the other (for him, the Romans) had their values and customs critiqued by being contrasted and opposed with the “native” (Greek) people. When we look at the structure and content of these parallel lives in detail, we find, as scholars have attested,35 that Plutarch drew comparisons throughout: there is a formal comparison at the end of each dyadic biography, called the syncrisis, but in addition, within the body of each individual Life and its counterpart there are “implicit rather than outspoken, [comparisons] [.

Judgment was the primary way in which Plutarch imposed his presence as author in the comparisons at the end of each pair of Lives in his Lives, and Montaigne imitated this whenever possible: “Le jugement est un util à tous subjects, et se mesle par tout. 301). [Judgment is a tool to use on all subjects, and comes in everywhere. ] However, Montaigne went a step further in the realm of subjectivity, sometimes adding his own life experiences to the narration. There are several instances where Montaigne compared his eating and drinking behaviors to the exaggerated or ascetic manners of the philosophers.

850)] To an earlier passage from the 1588 edition, describing his personal habits, the essayist adds a list of behaviors from the lives of the philosophers. In their juxtaposition, it becomes clear that Montaigne is comparing himself to the philosophers and inviting the reader to do the same. As he explains, when he goes through the day’s activities, he tries to keep his mind on his actions, and not to theorize or stray from the task at hand. We deduce from this that Montaigne identifies much more with Socrates (who followed a philosophy of all “conduct” and “action”) and, in his interpretation, Plato (who he claims was probably more like Socrates than the legends say) than he does with Pythagoras.

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