Abstract | Constructing Periander in Plutarch’s Symposium of the Seven Sages

In Plutarch’s Symposium of the Seven Sages, a seer called Diocles recounts what transpired at a symposium hosted by Periander, the tyrant of Corinth, and attended by several individuals, including the Seven Sages. It is the scholarly consensus that, while Periander was sometimes considered one of the Sages, he is not part of this elite group in Plutarch’s dialogue. This claim is, of course, correct, but, as I hope to show, it does not do justice to the complexities of the narrative. In the first six chapters of the Symposium (146B-152B), the text remains ambiguous regarding Periander’s exact status, thus raising the possibility that he may be one of the Seven. Even after it becomes clear that he is not a Sage, moreover, the Corinthian tyrant maintains a privileged relationship with the Seven and displays intellectual affinity to them. I suggest that, by blurring the line between the Cypselid and the Sages, Plutarch reinforces his construction of Periander as a paradigm for the wise ruler.