"The Second Sophistic was a time of intense competition for honour and status. Like today, this often caused mental as well as physical stress for the elite of the Roman Empire. Lieve Van Hoof presents a study of Plutarch's practical ethics, a group of twenty-odd texts within the Moralia designed to help powerful Greeks and Romans successfully manage both their own ambitions and the expectations of their society. According to Plutarch (c. AD 45-120), the key for a happy life lies with philosophy, yet instead of advancing philosophical values as an alternative for worldly ambitions, as did other philosophers, he presents philosophy as a way towards distinction and success in Imperial society. By thus subtly redefining what elite culture should be like, Plutarch also firmly establishes himself as anintellectual and cultural authority. Van Hoof combines a systematic analysis of the general principles underlying Plutarch's practical including the author's target readership, therapeutic practices, and self-presentation, with five innovative case studies (of De Tranquillitate, De Exlio, De Garrulitate, De Curiositate, De Tuenda Sanitate). A picture emerges of Philosophy under the Roman Empire not as a set of abstract, theoretical doctrines, but as a kind of symbolic capital engendering power and prestige for author and reader alike. Transcending the Boundaries between literature, social history, and philosophy, Van Hoof demonstrates the pertinence and vitality of this often neglected group of texts, and shows Plutarch to be not just a philanthropic adviser, but a sophisticated author strategically manipulating his own cultural capital in pursuit of influence and glory. "--Book jacket.