Daemons in the Cave: Plutarch on Plato and the Limits of Politics

M. Bonazzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The aim of the paper is to provide a unitary reading of Plutarch’s De genio Socratis by concentrating on the character of Epameinondas. Against those who claim that the philosophical speeches are the main theme of the dialogue, it is argued that Epameinondas, one of the speakers, also plays an active role in the liberation of Thebes. Against those who insist on the political action alone, it is shown that Epameinondas’ commitment is not the same as that of the other conspirators. His goal – like that of Plato and Socrates (as they are represented in the text) – is to take care of his fellow citizens, and lead them to moral virtue, in accordance with the divine order. This idea may appear piously unrealistic, but it clearly illustrates the merits and limits of Plato’s political philosophy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-86
Number of pages24
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Plutarch of Chaeronea
  • Platonism
  • Plato's political philosophy
  • Middle Platonism
  • Philosophy and Society


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