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Plutarch (; grc-gre, Πλούταρχος, ''Ploútarchos''; ; AD 46 – after AD 119) was a Greek
Middle Platonist Middle Platonism is the modern name given to a stage in the development of Platonic philosophy, lasting from about 90 BC – when Antiochus of Ascalon rejected the Academic skepticism , scepticism of the New Academy – until the develop ...
philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, ...

philosopher
,
historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest historians whose work survives. A historian is a person who studies and writes about the past and is regarded as an authority on it. Historians are con ...
,
biographer Biographers are author An author is the creator or originator of any written work such as a book or play, and is also considered a writer. More broadly defined, an author is "the person who originated or gave existence to anything" and whose aut ...

biographer
,
essay An essay is, generally, a piece of writing that gives the author's own argument, but the definition is vague, overlapping with those of a Letter (message), letter, a term paper, paper, an article (publishing), article, a pamphlet, and a short ...

essay
ist, and priest at the Temple of Apollo in
Delphi Delphi (; ), in legend previously called Pytho (Πυθώ), in ancient times was a sacred precinct that served as the seat of , the major who was consulted about important decisions throughout the ancient classical world. The oracle was interna ...

Delphi
. He is known primarily for his ''
Parallel Lives Plutarch Plutarch (; grc-gre, Πλούταρχος, ''Ploútarchos''; ; AD 46–after AD 119) was a Greek Middle Platonism, Middle Platonist philosopher, historian, Biography, biographer, essayist, and priest at the Temple of Apollo (Delphi ...
'', a series of biographies of illustrious Greeks and Romans, and ''
Moralia The ''Moralia'' ( grc, Ἠθικά ''Ethika''; loosely translated as "Morals" or "Matters relating to customs and mores") is a group of manuscripts dating from the 10th-13th centuries, traditionally ascribed to the 1st-century Greek scholar Plutarc ...
'', a collection of essays and speeches. Upon becoming a
Roman citizen Citizenship in ancient Rome () was a privileged political and legal status afforded to free individuals with respect to laws, property, and governance. *Women in Ancient Rome, Roman women had a limited form of citizenship. They were not allowed t ...
, he was named Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus ().


Life


Early life

Plutarch was born to a prominent family in the small town of
Chaeronea Chaeronea ( or ; el, Χαιρώνεια ''Khaironeia'', ) is a village and a former municipality in Boeotia, Greece, located about 80 kilometers east of Delphi. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Livadeia, of whic ...
, about east of
Delphi Delphi (; ), in legend previously called Pytho (Πυθώ), in ancient times was a sacred precinct that served as the seat of , the major who was consulted about important decisions throughout the ancient classical world. The oracle was interna ...

Delphi
, in the Greek region of
Boeotia Boeotia, sometimes alternatively Latinised Latinisation or Latinization can refer to: * Latinisation of names, the practice of rendering a non-Latin name in a Latin style * Latinisation in the Soviet Union, the campaign in the USSR during the 1920 ...

Boeotia
. His family was wealthy. The name of Plutarch's father has not been preserved, but based on the common Greek custom of repeating a name in alternate generations, it was probably Nikarchus (). The name of Plutarch's grandfather was
Lamprias Lamprias (Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as o ...
, as he attested in ''
Moralia The ''Moralia'' ( grc, Ἠθικά ''Ethika''; loosely translated as "Morals" or "Matters relating to customs and mores") is a group of manuscripts dating from the 10th-13th centuries, traditionally ascribed to the 1st-century Greek scholar Plutarc ...
'' and in his ''Life of Antony''. His brothers, Timon and Lamprias, are frequently mentioned in his essays and dialogues, which speak of Timon in particular in the most affectionate terms. Rualdus, in his 1624 work ''Life of Plutarchus'', recovered the name of Plutarch's wife, Timoxena, from internal evidence afforded by his writings. A letter is still extant, addressed by Plutarch to his wife, bidding her not to grieve too much at the death of their two-year-old daughter, who was named Timoxena after her mother. He hinted at a belief in
reincarnation . Reincarnation, also known as rebirth or transmigration, is the Philosophy, philosophical or religious Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of designated religious behaviour, behaviors and practices, morality, morals, beli ...
in that letter of consolation. The exact number of his sons is not certain, although two of them, Autobulus and the second Plutarch, are often mentioned. Plutarch's treatise ''De animae procreatione in Timaeo'' is dedicated to them, and the marriage of his son Autobulus is the occasion of one of the dinner parties recorded in the "Table Talk". Another person, Soklarus, is spoken of in terms which seem to imply that he was Plutarch's son, but this is nowhere definitely stated. His treatise on marriage questions, addressed to Eurydice and Pollianus, seems to speak of the former as having recently lived in his house, but without any clear evidence on whether she was his daughter or not. Plutarch was the uncle of
Sextus of Chaeronea Sextus of Chaeronea ( grc-gre, Σέξτος ὁ Χαιρωνεύς ''Sextos o Cheronefs'', c. 95 - c. 185) was a philosopher, a nephew or grandson of Plutarch Plutarch (; grc-gre, Πλούταρχος, ''Ploútarchos''; ; AD 46–after AD 1 ...

Sextus of Chaeronea
, who was one of the teachers of
Marcus Aurelius Marcus Aurelius Antoninus ( ; 26 April 121 – 17 March 180) was a from 161 to 180 and a philosopher. He was the last of the rulers known as the (a term coined some 13 centuries later by ), and the last emperor of the (27 BC to 180 AD), ...

Marcus Aurelius
, and who may have been the same person as the philosopher
Sextus Empiricus Sextus Empiricus ( grc-gre, Σέξτος Ἐμπειρικός; c. 160 – c. 210 AD) was a Ancient Greece, Greek Pyrrhonism, Pyrrhonist philosopher and a physician. His philosophical works are the most complete surviving account of ancient Greek ...
. Plutarch studied
mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers ( and ), formulas and related structures (), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (), and quantities and their changes ( and ). There is no general consensus abo ...
and
philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence Existence is the ability of an entity to interact with physical reality Reality is the sum or aggregate of all that is real or existen ...

philosophy
in
Athens , image_skyline = File:Athens Montage L.png, center, 275px, alt=Athens montage. Clicking on an image in the picture causes the browser to load the appropriate article. rect 15 15 985 460 rect 15 475 485 874 rect 500 475 ...

Athens
under Ammonius from 66 to 67. Plutarch was a
vegetarian Vegetarianism is the practice of abstaining from the consumption of meat Meat is animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular eukaryotic organisms that form the Kingdom (biology), biological kingdom Animalia. With few exc ...
, though how long and how strictly he adhered to this diet is unclear. He wrote about the
ethics Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about Metaphysics, existence, reason, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, m ...

ethics
of meat-eating in two discourses in ''Moralia''. At some point, Plutarch received
Roman citizenship Citizenship Citizenship is a relationship between an individual and a state to which the individual owes allegiance and in turn is entitled to its protection. Each state determines the conditions under which it will recognize persons as its ci ...
. As evidenced by his new name, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus, his sponsor for citizenship was Lucius Mestrius Florus, a Roman of
consular A consul is an official representative of the government of one Sovereign state, state in the territory of another, normally acting to assist and protect the citizens of the consul's own country, and to facilitate trade and friendship between th ...
status whom Plutarch also used as a historical source for his ''Life of Otho''. He lived most of his life at Chaeronea, and was initiated into the mysteries of the Greek god
Apollo Apollo, grc, Ἀπόλλωνος, ''Apóllōnos'', label=genitive , ; , grc-dor, Ἀπέλλων, ''Apéllōn'', ; grc, Ἀπείλων, ''Apeílōn'', label=, ; grc-aeo, Ἄπλουν, ''Áploun'', la, Apollō, la, Apollinis, lab ...

Apollo
. For many years Plutarch served as one of the two priests at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, the site of the famous Delphic Oracle, twenty miles from his home. He probably took part in the
Eleusinian Mysteries The Eleusinian Mysteries ( el, Ἐλευσίνια Μυστήρια, Eleusínia Mystḗria) were initiations held every year for the Cult (religious practice), cult of Demeter and Persephone based at the Panhellenic Sanctuary of Eleusis in ancient ...
. By his writings and lectures Plutarch became a celebrity in the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post- period of . As a it included large territorial holdings around the in , , and ruled by . From the t ...

Roman Empire
, yet he continued to reside where he was born, and actively participated in local affairs, even serving as mayor. At his country estate, guests from all over the empire congregated for serious conversation, presided over by Plutarch in his marble chair. Many of these dialogues were recorded and published, and the 78 essays and other works which have survived are now known collectively as the ''Moralia''.


Work as magistrate and ambassador

In addition to his duties as a priest of the Delphic temple, Plutarch was also a
magistrate The term magistrate is used in a variety of systems of governments and laws to refer to a civilian officer who administers the law. In , a ' was one of the highest ranking government officers, and possessed both and powers. In other parts of t ...
at Chaeronea and he represented his home town on various missions to foreign countries during his early adult years. Plutarch held the office of
archon ''Archon'' ( gr, ἄρχων, árchōn, plural: ἄρχοντες, ''árchontes'') is a Greek word that means "ruler", frequently used as the title of a specific public office. It is the masculine present participle of the verb stem αρχ-, meanin ...

archon
in his native municipality, probably only an annual one which he likely served more than once. He busied himself with all the little matters of the town and undertook the humblest of duties. The ''
Suda First page of an early printed edition of the ''Suda'' The ''Suda'' or ''Souda'' (; grc-x-medieval, Σοῦδα, Soûda; la, Suidae Lexicon) is a large 10th-century Byzantine encyclopedia An encyclopedia or encyclopaedia (British Engli ...

Suda
'', a
medieval In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of ...

medieval
Greek encyclopedia, states that Emperor
Trajan Trajan ( ; la, Caesar Nerva Trajanus; 18 September 539/11 August 117) was from 98 to 117. Officially declared by the ''optimus princeps'' ("best ruler"), Trajan is remembered as a successful soldier-emperor who presided over the second-g ...

Trajan
made Plutarch
procurator Procurator (with procuracy or procuratorate referring to the office itself) may refer to: * Procurator, one engaged in procuration, the action of taking care of, hence management, stewardship, agency * ''Procurator'' (Ancient Rome), the title of ...
of
Illyria In classical antiquity, Illyria ( grc, Ἰλλυρία, ''Illyría'' or , ''Illyrís''; la, Illyria, ''Illyricum'') was a region in the western part of the Balkan Peninsula inhabited by numerous tribes of people collectively known as the Illyria ...

Illyria
. However, most historians consider this unlikely, since Illyria was not a procuratorial province, and Plutarch probably did not speak
Illyrian Illyrian may refer to: * Illyria, the historical region on the Balkan Peninsula ** Illyrians, ancient tribes inhabiting Illyria ** Illyrian language, a language or group of languages of ancient Illyrian tribes * Illyrian (South Slavic), a common na ...
. According to the 8th/9th-century historian
George SyncellusGeorge Syncellus ( el, Γεώργιος Σύγκελλος, ''Georgios Synkellos''; died after 810) was a Byzantine chronicler and ecclesiastic. He had lived many years in Palestine (probably in the Old Lavra of Saint Chariton or Souka, near Tekoa) ...
, late in Plutarch's life, Emperor
Hadrian Hadrian (; la, Caesar Traianus Hadrianus ; 24 January 76 – 10 July 138) was from 117 to 138. He was born into a Roman Italo-Hispanic family, which settled in Spain from the Italian city of in . His father was of senatorial rank and was ...

Hadrian
appointed him nominal
procurator Procurator (with procuracy or procuratorate referring to the office itself) may refer to: * Procurator, one engaged in procuration, the action of taking care of, hence management, stewardship, agency * ''Procurator'' (Ancient Rome), the title of ...
of
Achaea Achaea () or Achaia (), sometimes transliterated from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its ...
– which entitled him to wear the vestments and ornaments of a consul.


Late period: Priest at Delphi

Plutarch spent the last thirty years of his life serving as a priest in Delphi. He thus connected part of his literary work with the sanctuary of Apollo, the processes of oracle-giving and the personalities who lived or traveled there. One of his most important works is the “Why Pythia does not give oracles in verse”(). Even more important is the dialogue “On the ‘E’ at Delphi” (), which features Ammonius, a Platonic philosopher and teacher of Plutarch, and Lambrias, Plutarch's brother. According to Ammonius, the letter ‘E’ written on the temple of Apollo in Delphi originated from the following fact: The
Seven Sages of Greece The Seven Sages (of Greece) or Seven Wise Men ( Greek: ''hoi hepta sophoi'') was the title given by classical Greek tradition to seven philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term ''philosopher'' comes from the grc, ...
, whose maxims were also written on the walls of the vestibule of the temple, were not seven but actually five:
Chilon Image:Chilon of Sparta.jpg, Chilon of Sparta Chilon of Sparta ( grc, Χείλων) (fl. 6th century BCE) was a Spartan and one of the Seven Sages of Greece. Life Chilon was the son of Damagetus, and lived towards the beginning of the 6th century BC ...
,
Solon Solon ( grc-gre, Σόλων Solon ( grc-gre, wikt:Σόλων, Σόλων ''Sólōn'' ;  BC) was an Archaic Greece#Athens, Athenian statesman, lawmaker and poet. He is remembered particularly for his efforts to legislate against political, e ...

Solon
,
Thales Thales of Miletus ( ; el, Θαλῆς Thales of Miletus ( ; el, Θαλῆς (ὁ Μιλήσιος), ''Thalēs''; ) was a Greek mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics Mathematics (fr ...

Thales
,
Bias Bias is a disproportionate weight ''in favor of'' or ''against'' an idea or thing, usually in a way that is closed-minded, Prejudice, prejudicial, or unfair. Biases can be innate or learned. People may develop biases for or against an individual, ...

Bias
, and . However, the tyrants Cleobulos and Periandros used their political power to be incorporated in the list. Thus, the ‘E’, which was used to represent the number 5, constituted an acknowledgement that the Delphic maxims actually originated from only five genuine wise men.


Portrait

The portrait of a philosopher exhibited at the exit of the Archaeological Museum of Delphi, dates to the 2nd century; due to its inscription, in the past it had been identified with Plutarch. The man, although bearded, is depicted at a relatively young age: His hair and beard are rendered in coarse volumes and thin incisions. The gaze is deep, due to the heavy eyelids and the incised pupils. The portrait is no longer thought to represent Plutarch. But a fragmentary hermaic
stele A stele ( ),Anglicized plural steles ( ); Greek plural stelai ( ), from Greek , ''stēlē''. The Greek plural is written , ''stēlai'', but this is only rarely encountered in English. or occasionally stela (plural ''stelas'' or ''stelæ''), ...

stele
''next'' to the portrait probably did once bear a portrait of Plutarch, since it is inscribed, "The Delphians, along with the Chaeroneans, dedicated this (image of) Plutarch, following the precepts of the Amphictyony" ( , .


Works

Plutarch's surviving works were intended for Greek speakers throughout the Roman Empire, not just Greeks.


Lives of the Roman emperors

Plutarch's first biographical works were the Lives of the Roman Emperors from
Augustus Caesar Augustus (23 September 63 BC19 August AD 14) was the first Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different titles through ...

Augustus
to
Vitellius Aulus Vitellius (; ; 24 September 1522 December AD 69) was Roman emperor for eight months, from 16 April to 22 December AD 69. Vitellius was proclaimed emperor following the quick succession of the previous emperors Galba and Otho, in a year ...
. Of these, only the Lives of
Galba Galba (; born Servius Sulpicius Galba; 24 December 3 BC – 15 January AD 69) was a Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different ...

Galba
and
Otho Marcus Otho (; born Marcus Salvius Otho; 28 April 32 – 16 April 69) was for three months, from 15 January to 16 April 69. He was the second emperor of the . A member of a noble family, Otho was initially a friend and courtier of the young ...
survive. The Lives of
Tiberius Tiberius Caesar Augustus (; 16 November 42 BC – 16 March AD 37) was the second Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different titl ...

Tiberius
and
Nero Nero ( ; full name: Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus; 15 December AD 37 – 9 June AD 68) was the fifth . He was by the Roman emperor at the age of 13 and succeeded him to the throne. Nero seems to have been popu ...

Nero
are extant only as fragments, provided by Damascius (Life of Tiberius, cf. his Life of Isidore) and Plutarch himself (Life of Nero, cf. Galba 2.1), respectively. These early emperors’ biographies were probably published under the
Flavian dynasty The Flavian dynasty ruled the Roman Empire between AD 69 and 96, encompassing the reigns of Vespasian (69–79), and his two sons Titus (79–81) and Domitian (81–96). The Flavians rose to power during the civil war of 69, known as ...
or during the reign of Nerva (AD 96–98). There is reason to believe that the two Lives still extant, those of Galba and Otho, "ought to be considered as a single work." Therefore, they do not form a part of the Plutarchian canon of single biographies – as represented by the Life of
Aratus of Sicyon Aratus of Sicyon (Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following period ...

Aratus of Sicyon
and the Life of
Artaxerxes II Artaxerxes II Mnemon ( peo, :wikt:𐎠𐎼𐎫𐎧𐏁𐏂𐎠, 𐎠𐎼𐎫𐎧𐏁𐏂𐎠, transl=Artaxšaçā, lit=whose reign is through truth)R. Schmitt"ARTAXERXES" ''Encyclopædia Iranica''. 15 December 1986. Retrieved 12 March 2012. was th ...
(the biographies of
Hesiod Hesiod (; grc-gre, Ἡσίοδος ''Hēsíodos'', 'he who emits the voice') was an ancient Greek poet generally thought to have been active between 750 and 650 BC, around the same time as Homer. He is generally regarded as the first written ...
,
Pindar Pindar (; grc-gre, Πίνδαρος , ; la, Pindarus; c. 518 – 438 BC) was an Ancient Greek lyric poet from Thebes. Of the canonical Canonical may refer to: Science and technology * Canonical form In mathematics Mathematics (from ...

Pindar
, and Daiphantus were lost). Unlike in these biographies, in ''Galba-Otho'' the individual characters of the persons portrayed are not depicted for their own sake but instead serve as an illustration of an abstract principle; namely the adherence or non-adherence to Plutarch's morally founded ideal of governing as a
Princeps Princeps (plural: principes) is a Latin word meaning "first in time or order; the first, foremost, chief, the most eminent, distinguished, or noble; the first man, first person". As a title, "princeps" originated in the Roman Republic wherein the ...
(cf. Galba 1.3; Moralia 328D–E).Cf. Holzbach, op. cit., 24, 67–83 Arguing from the perspective of Platonic political philosophy (cf. Republic 375E, 410D-E, 411E-412A, 442B-C), in ''Galba-Otho'' Plutarch reveals the constitutional principles of the
Principate The Principate is the name sometimes given to the first period of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republ ...
in the time of the civil war after Nero's death. While morally questioning the behavior of the autocrats, he also gives an impression of their tragic destinies, ruthlessly competing for the throne and finally destroying each other. "The Caesars' house in Rome, the Palatium, received in a shorter space of time no less than four Emperors", Plutarch writes, "passing, as it were, across the stage, and one making room for another to enter" (Galba 1). ''Galba-Otho'' was handed down through different channels. It can be found in the appendix to Plutarch's ''Parallel Lives'' as well as in various Moralia manuscripts, most prominently in
Maximus Planudes Maximus Planudes ( grc-gre, Μάξιμος Πλανούδης, ''Máximos Planoúdēs''; ) was a Byzantine The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eas ...
' edition where Galba and Otho appear as ''Opera'' XXV and XXVI. Thus it seems reasonable to maintain that ''Galba-Otho'' was from early on considered as an illustration of a moral-ethical approach, possibly even by Plutarch himself.


''Parallel Lives''

Plutarch's best-known work is the ''
Parallel Lives Plutarch Plutarch (; grc-gre, Πλούταρχος, ''Ploútarchos''; ; AD 46–after AD 119) was a Greek Middle Platonism, Middle Platonist philosopher, historian, Biography, biographer, essayist, and priest at the Temple of Apollo (Delphi ...
'', a series of
biographies A biography, or simply bio, is a detailed description of a person's life. It involves more than just the basic facts like education, work, relationships, and death; it portrays a person's experience of these life events. Unlike a profile or cu ...

biographies
of illustrious Greeks and Romans, arranged in pairs to illuminate their common
moral A moral (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in rel ...

moral
virtues and vices, thus it being more of an insight into human nature than a
historical History (from Ancient Greek, Greek , ''historia'', meaning "inquiry; knowledge acquired by investigation") is the study and the documentation of the past. Events before the History of writing#Inventions of writing, invention of writing systems ar ...

historical
account. The surviving ''Lives'' contain 23 pairs, each with one Greek ''Life'' and one Roman ''Life'', as well as four unpaired single ''Lives''. As is explained in the opening paragraph of his ''Life of Alexander'', Plutarch was not concerned with history so much as the influence of character, good or bad, on the lives and destinies of men. Whereas sometimes he barely touched on epoch-making events, he devoted much space to charming anecdote and incidental triviality, reasoning that this often said far more for his subjects than even their most famous accomplishments. He sought to provide rounded portraits, likening his craft to that of a painter; indeed, he went to tremendous lengths (often leading to tenuous comparisons) to draw and
moral character Moral character or character is an analysis of an individual's steady qualities. The concept of ''character'' can express a variety of attributes including the presence or lack of s such as , , , , and , or of good behaviors or s, these attribu ...
. In many ways, he must be counted amongst the earliest
moral philosophers Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that "involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong action (philosophy), behavior".''Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy'"Ethics"/ref> The field of ethics, alo ...

moral philosophers
. Some of the ''Lives'', such as those of
Heracles Heracles ( ; grc-gre, Ἡρακλῆς, , glory/fame of Hera Hera (; grc-gre, Ἥρα, Hḗrā; grc, Ἥρη, Hḗrē, label=none in Ionic Ionic or Ionian may refer to: Arts and entertainment * Ionic meter, a poetic metre in anci ...

Heracles
,
Philip II of Macedon Philip II of Macedon ( grc-gre, Φίλιππος ; 382 – 21 October 336 BC) was the king (basileus ''Basileus'' ( el, βασιλεύς) is a Greek term and title A title is one or more words used before or after a person's name, in cer ...
,
Epaminondas Epaminondas (; grc-gre, Ἐπαμεινώνδας, Epameinṓndas; – 362 BC) was a Greeks, Greek General officer, general (''strategos''/Boeotarch) of Thebes, Greece, Thebes and statesman of the 4th century BC who transformed the Ancient Gre ...

Epaminondas
,
Scipio Africanus Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus (, , ; 236/235–183 BC) was a Roman general and statesman, most notable as one of the main architects of Rome's victory against Carthage Carthage was the capital city of the ancient , on the eastern side ...
,
Scipio Aemilianus Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus Aemilianus (185–129 BC), known as Scipio Aemilianus or Scipio Africanus the Younger, was a Roman general and statesman noted for his military exploits in the Third Punic War The Third Punic War (149 ...
and possibly
Quintus Caecilius Metellus Numidicus Quintus Caecilius Metellus Numidicus (c. 155 BC – 91 BC) was an ancient Roman statesman and general, he was a leader of the Optimates The Optimates (; Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic ...
no longer exist; many of the remaining ''Lives'' are truncated, contain obvious lacunae or have been tampered with by later writers. Extant ''Lives'' include those on
Solon Solon ( grc-gre, Σόλων Solon ( grc-gre, wikt:Σόλων, Σόλων ''Sólōn'' ;  BC) was an Archaic Greece#Athens, Athenian statesman, lawmaker and poet. He is remembered particularly for his efforts to legislate against political, e ...

Solon
,
Themistocles Themistocles (; grc-gre, Θεμιστοκλῆς ; "Glory of the Law"; c. 524–459 BC) was an Classical Athens, Athenian politician and General officer, general. He was one of a new breed of non-aristocratic politicians who rose to pro ...

Themistocles
,
Aristides Aristides (; grc-gre, Ἀριστείδης, Aristeídēs ; 530–468 BC) was an ancient Athenian statesman. Nicknamed "the Just", he flourished in the early quarter of Athens' Classical period and is remembered for his generalship in the ...

Aristides
,
Agesilaus II Agesilaus II (; grc-gre, Ἀγησίλαος ''Agesilaos''; c. 444/443 – c. 360 BC), was a king (''basileus ''Basileus'' ( el, βασιλεύς) is a Greek term and title A title is one or more words used before or after a person's name ...
,
Pericles Pericles (; grc-x-attic, Περικλῆς, in Classical Attic; c. 495 – 429 BC) was a Greek statesman and general of Athens , image_skyline = File:Athens Montage L.png, center, 275px, alt=Athens montage. Click ...

Pericles
,
Alcibiades Alcibiades, son of Cleinias, . /ˌælsəˈbaɪədiz/ Ancient Greek language, Ancient Greek: Ἀλκιβιάδης, Romanization of Ancient Greek, romanized: ''Alkibiádēs'', Help:IPA/Greek, lkibiádɛːs ( 450–404 BC), from the deme of Sc ...

Alcibiades
,
Nicias Nicias (; Νικίας ''Nikias''; c. 470–413 BC) was an Athenian , image_skyline = File:Athens Montage L.png, center, 275px, alt=Athens montage. Clicking on an image in the picture causes the browser to load the ap ...
,
Demosthenes Demosthenes (; el, Δημοσθένης, translit=Dēmosthénēs; ; 384 – 12 October 322 BC) was a statesman and orator of . His constitute a significant expression of contemporary Athenian intellectual prowess and provide an insight in ...

Demosthenes
,
Pelopidas:''For the genus Genus (plural genera) is a taxonomic rank Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, including the principles that underlie such classification. The term may also refer to a specific ...
,
Philopoemen , 1837, Louvre The Louvre ( ), or the Louvre Museum ( ), is the world's largest art museum and a historic monument in Paris Paris () is the Capital city, capital and List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, most populou ...
,
Timoleon Timoleon ( Greek: Τιμολέων), son of Timodemus, of Corinth Corinth ( ; el, Κόρινθος, Kórinthos, ) is the successor to an ancient city, and is a former municipality in Corinthia, Peloponnese (region), Peloponnese, which is ...
,
Dion of SyracuseDion (; el, Δίων ὁ Συρακόσιος; 408–354 BC), tyrant A tyrant (from Ancient Greek , ''tyrannos''), in the modern English language, English usage of the word, is an absolute ruler who is unrestrained by law, or one who has u ...
,
Eumenes Eumenes (; grc-gre, Εὐμένης; c. 362316 BC) was a Ancient Greece, Greek general and satrap. He participated in the Wars of Alexander the Great, serving as both Alexander the Great, Alexander's personal secretary and as a battlefield command ...
,
Alexander the Great Alexander III of Macedon ( grc-gre, Αλέξανδρος}, ; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great, was a king (''basileus ''Basileus'' ( el, βασιλεύς) is a Greek term and title A title ...

Alexander the Great
,
Pyrrhus of Epirus Pyrrhus (; grc-gre, Πύρρος ; 319/318–272 BC) was a Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Euro ...
,
Romulus Romulus () was the legendary foundation of Rome, founder and King of Rome, first king of Ancient Rome, Rome. Various traditions attribute the establishment of many of Rome's oldest legal, political, religious, and social institutions to Romulus ...
,
Numa Pompilius Numa Pompilius (; 753–673 BC; reigned 715–673 BC) was the legendary second king of Rome The king of Rome ( la, rex Romae) was the chief magistrate Chief magistrate is a public official, executive or judicial, whose office is the highest ...

Numa Pompilius
,
Coriolanus ''Coriolanus'' ( or ) is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1605 and 1608. The play is based on the life of the legendary Roman Republic, Roman leader Gaius Marcius Coriolanus, Caius Marcius Coriolanus. Sh ...
,
Theseus Theseus (, ; grc-gre, Θησεύς ) was the myth Myth is a folklore genre consisting of narratives that play a fundamental role in a society, such as foundational tales or origin myths. The main characters in myths are usually non-humans ...

Theseus
, Aemilius Paullus,
Tiberius Gracchus Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus (163/162–133 BC) was a populist Roman politician best known for his agrarian law, agrarian reform law entailing the transfer of land from the Roman state and wealthy landowners to poorer citizens. Against stiff opp ...

Tiberius Gracchus
,
Gaius Gracchus Gaius Sempronius Gracchus (154–121 BC) was a populist Ancient Roman, Roman politician in the 2nd century BC and brother of the reformer Tiberius Gracchus, Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus. His election to the office of tribune in the years 123 BC an ...
,
Gaius Marius Gaius Marius (; – 13 January 86 BC) was a Roman general and statesman. Victor of the and wars, he held the office of an unprecedented seven times during his career. He was also noted for his of . He set the precedent for the shift fro ...
,
Sulla Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix (; 138–78 BC), commonly known as Sulla, was a Roman general A general officer is an officer of high rank in the armies, and in some nations' air forces, space forces, or marines Marines or naval infan ...
,
Sertorius Quintus Sertorius (c. 126 – 73 BC) was a Roman general and statesman who led Sertorian War, a large-scale rebellion against the Roman Senate on the Iberian peninsula. He had been a prominent member of the Populares, populist faction of Lucius Co ...
,
Lucullus Lucius Licinius Lucullus (; 118–57/56 BC) was an '' optimatis'' politician of the late Roman Republic, closely connected with Lucius Cornelius Sulla. In the culmination of over twenty years of almost continuous military and government service ...
,
Pompey Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (; 29 September 106 BC – 28 September 48 BC), known in English as Pompey or Pompey the Great, was a leading Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization f ...
,
Julius Caesar Gaius Julius Caesar (; 12 July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC) was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened ...

Julius Caesar
,
Cicero Marcus Tullius Cicero ( ; ; 3 January 106 BC – 7 December 43 BC) was a Ancient Rome, Roman statesman, lawyer, scholar, philosopher and Academic skepticism, Academic Skeptic, who tried to uphold optimate principles during crisis of ...

Cicero
,
Cato the Elder Marcus Porcius Cato (; 234–149 BC), also known as Cato the Censor ( la, Censorius), the Elder and the Wise, was a Roman soldier, senator The Curia Julia in the Roman Forum ">Roman_Forum.html" ;"title="Curia Julia in the Roman Forum">Curia ...
,
Mark Antony Marcus Antonius (14 January 1 August 30 BC), commonly known in English as Mark Antony, was a Ancient Rome, Roman politician and general who played a critical role in the Crisis of the Roman Republic, transformation of the Roman Republic f ...
, and
Marcus Junius Brutus Marcus Junius Brutus (; 85 BC – 23 October 42 BC), often referred to simply as Brutus, was a Roman politician, orator, and the most famous of the assassins of Julius Caesar Gaius Julius Caesar (; 12 July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC) was a Ro ...
.


''Life of Alexander''

Plutarch's ''Life of Alexander'', written as a parallel to that of Julius Caesar, is one of only five extant tertiary sources on the Macedonian conqueror
Alexander the Great Alexander III of Macedon ( grc-gre, Αλέξανδρος}, ; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great, was a king (''basileus ''Basileus'' ( el, βασιλεύς) is a Greek term and title A title ...

Alexander the Great
. It includes
anecdote An ''anecdote'' is a brief, revealing account of an individual person or an incident: "a story with a point," such as to communicate an abstract idea about a person, place, or thing through the concrete details of a short narrative or to character ...

anecdote
s and descriptions of events that appear in no other source, just as Plutarch's portrait of
Numa Pompilius Numa Pompilius (; 753–673 BC; reigned 715–673 BC) was the legendary second king of Rome The king of Rome ( la, rex Romae) was the chief magistrate Chief magistrate is a public official, executive or judicial, whose office is the highest ...

Numa Pompilius
, the putative second king of Rome, holds much that is unique on the early
Roman calendar The Roman calendar was the calendar A calendar is a system of organizing days. This is done by giving names to periods of time, typically days, weeks, months and years. A calendar date, date is the designation of a single, specific ...
. Plutarch devotes a great deal of space to Alexander's drive and desire, and strives to determine how much of it was presaged in his youth. He also draws extensively on the work of
Lysippus Lysippos (; grc-gre, Λύσιππος) was a Greek sculptor of the 4th century BC. Together with Scopas and Praxiteles, he is considered one of the three greatest sculptors of the Classical Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of th ...

Lysippus
, Alexander's favourite
sculptor Sculpture is the branch of the visual arts The visual arts are art forms such as painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture Sculpture is the branch of the visual arts that operates in three dimensions. It is one of the plastic arts. D ...

sculptor
, to provide what is probably the fullest and most accurate description of the conqueror's physical appearance. When it comes to his character, Plutarch emphasizes his unusual degree of self-control and scorn for luxury: "He desired not pleasure or wealth, but only excellence and glory." As the narrative progresses, however, the subject incurs less admiration from his biographer and the deeds that it recounts become less savoury. The murder of
Cleitus the Black Cleitus the Black ( grc-gre, Κλεῖτος ὁ μέλας; c. 375 BC – 328 BC), was an officer of the Macedonian army led by Alexander the Great Alexander III of Macedon ( grc-gre, Αλέξανδρος}, ; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June ...
, which Alexander instantly and deeply regretted, is commonly cited to this end.


''Life of Caesar''

Together with
Suetonius Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus (), commonly known as Suetonius ( ; c. AD 69 – after AD 122), was a Roman historianRoman historiography stretches back to at least the 3rd century BC and was indebted to earlier Greek historiography. The Romans ...

Suetonius
's ''
The Twelve Caesars ''De vita Caesarum'' (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the ...
'', and
Caesar Gaius Julius Caesar (; 12 July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC) was a Roman people, Roman general and statesman. A member of the First Triumvirate, Caesar led the Roman armies in the Gallic Wars before defeating his political rival Pompey Caesar's C ...

Caesar
's own works and ''Commentarii de Bello Civili, de Bello Civili'', this ''Life'' is the main account of
Julius Caesar Gaius Julius Caesar (; 12 July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC) was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened ...

Julius Caesar
's feats by ancient historians. Plutarch starts by telling of the audacity of Caesar and his refusal to dismiss Lucius Cornelius Cinna, Cinna's daughter, Cornelia (wife of Caesar), Cornelia. Other important parts are those containing his military deeds, accounts of battles and Caesar's capacity of inspiring the soldiers. However, this ''Life'' shows few differences between Suetonius' work and Caesar's own works (see ''De Bello Gallico'' and ''De Bello Civili''). Sometimes, Plutarch quotes directly from the ''De Bello Gallico'' and even tells us of the moments when Caesar was dictating his works. In the final part of this ''Life'', Plutarch recounts details of Assassination of Julius Caesar, Caesar's assassination. The book ends by telling the destiny of his murderers, just after his detailed account of the scene when a Ghost, phantom appeared to Marcus Junius Brutus, Brutus at night.


''Life of Pyrrhus''

Plutarch's ''Life of Pyrrhus'' is a key text because it is the main historical account on Roman history for the period from 293 to 264 BCE, for which both Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Dionysius’ and Livy’s texts are lost.


''Moralia''

The remainder of Plutarch's surviving work is collected under the title of the ''
Moralia The ''Moralia'' ( grc, Ἠθικά ''Ethika''; loosely translated as "Morals" or "Matters relating to customs and mores") is a group of manuscripts dating from the 10th-13th centuries, traditionally ascribed to the 1st-century Greek scholar Plutarc ...
'' (loosely translated as ''Customs and Mores''). It is an eclectic collection of seventy-eight essays and transcribed speeches, including ''On Fraternal Affection''—a discourse on honour and affection of siblings toward each other, ''On the Fortune or the Virtue of
Alexander the Great Alexander III of Macedon ( grc-gre, Αλέξανδρος}, ; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great, was a king (''basileus ''Basileus'' ( el, βασιλεύς) is a Greek term and title A title ...

Alexander the Great
''—an important adjunct to his Life of the great king, ''On the Worship of Isis and Osiris'' (a crucial source of information on Ancient Egypt, Egyptian religious rites), along with more philosophical treatises, such as ''On the Decline of the Oracles'', ''On the Delays of the Divine Vengeance'', ''On Peace of Mind'' and lighter fare, such as ''Odysseus and Gryllus'', a humorous dialogue between Homer's Odysseus and one of Circe's enchanted pigs. The ''Moralia'' was composed first, while writing the Lives occupied much of the last two decades of Plutarch's own life.


Spartan lives and sayings

Since Spartans wrote no history prior to the Hellenistic period – their only extant literature is fragments of 7th-century lyrics – Plutarch's five Spartan lives and ''Sayings of Spartans'' and ''Sayings of Spartan Women'', rooted in sources that have since disappeared, are some of the richest sources for historians of Laconia (ancient region), Lacedaemonia.Pomeroy, Sarah B.; Burstein, Stanley M.; Donlan, Walter; and Tolbert Roberts, Jennifer (1999). ''Ancient Greece: A Political, Social, and Cultural History''. New York: Oxford University Press But while they are important, they are also controversial. Plutarch lived centuries after the Sparta he writes about (and a full millennium separates him from the earliest events he records) and even though he visited Sparta, many of the ancient customs he reports had been long abandoned, so he never actually saw of what he wrote. Plutarch's sources themselves can be problematic. As the historians Sarah B. Pomeroy, Sarah Pomeroy, Stanley M. Burstein, Stanley Burstein, Walter Donlan, and Jennifer Tolbert Roberts have written, "Plutarch was influenced by histories written after the decline of Sparta and marked by nostalgia for a happier past, real or imagined." Turning to Plutarch himself, they write, "the admiration writers like Plutarch and Xenophon felt for Spartan society led them to exaggerate its monolithic nature, minimizing departures from ideals of equality and obscuring patterns of historical change." Thus the Spartan egalitarianism and superhuman immunity to pain that have seized the popular imagination are likely myths, and their main architect is Plutarch. While flawed, Plutarch is nonetheless indispensable as one of the only ancient sources of information on Spartan life. Pomeroy et al. conclude that Plutarch's works on Sparta, while they must be treated with skepticism, remain valuable for their "large quantities of information" and these historians concede that "Plutarch's writings on Sparta, more than those of any other ancient author, have shaped later views of Sparta", despite their potential to misinform. He was also referenced in saying unto Sparta, "The beast will feed again."


''Questions''

Book IV of the ''Moralia'' contains the ''Roman and Greek Questions'' (Αἰτίαι Ῥωμαϊκαί and Αἰτίαι Ἑλλήνων). The customs of Romans and Greeks are illuminated in little essays that pose questions such as "Why were patricians not permitted to live on the Capitoline?" (no. 91) and then suggests answers to them.


''On the Malice of Herodotus''

In ''On the Malice of Herodotus'' Plutarch criticizes the historian Herodotus for all manner of prejudice and misrepresentation. It has been called the "first instance in literature of the slashing review". The 19th century English historian George Grote considered this essay a serious attack upon the works of Herodotus, and speaks of the "honourable frankness which Plutarch calls his malignity". Plutarch makes some palpable hits, catching Herodotus out in various errors, but it is also probable that it was merely a rhetorical exercise, in which Plutarch plays wikt:devil's advocate, devil's advocate to see what could be said against so favourite and well-known a writer. According to Barrow (1967), Herodotus' real failing in Plutarch's eyes was to advance ''any criticism at all'' of the city-states that saved Greece from Persia. Barrow concluded that ''"Plutarch is fanatically biased in favor of the Greek cities; they can do no wrong."''


Other works

''Symposiacs'' (Συμποσιακά); ''Convivium Septem Sapientium''. ''Dialogue on Love'' (Ερωτικος); Latin name = ''Amatorius''.


Lost works

The Lost work#Classical world, lost works of Plutarch are determined by references in his own texts to them and from other authors' references over time. Parts of the ''Lives'' and what would be considered parts of the ''Moralia'' have been lost. The 'Catalogue of Lamprias', an ancient list of works attributed to Plutarch, lists 227 works, of which 78 have come down to us. The Romans loved the ''Lives''. Enough copies were written out over the centuries so that a copy of most of the lives has survived to the present day, but there are traces of twelve more Lives that are now lost. Plutarch's general procedure for the ''Lives'' was to write the life of a prominent Greek, then cast about for a suitable Roman parallel, and end with a brief comparison of the Greek and Roman lives. Currently, only 19 of the parallel lives end with a comparison, while possibly they all did at one time. Also missing are many of his ''Lives'' which appear in a list of his writings: those of Hercules, the first pair of ''Parallel Lives'',
Scipio Africanus Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus (, , ; 236/235–183 BC) was a Roman general and statesman, most notable as one of the main architects of Rome's victory against Carthage Carthage was the capital city of the ancient , on the eastern side ...
and
Epaminondas Epaminondas (; grc-gre, Ἐπαμεινώνδας, Epameinṓndas; – 362 BC) was a Greeks, Greek General officer, general (''strategos''/Boeotarch) of Thebes, Greece, Thebes and statesman of the 4th century BC who transformed the Ancient Gre ...

Epaminondas
, and the companions to the four solo biographies. Even the lives of such important figures as
Augustus Caesar Augustus (23 September 63 BC19 August AD 14) was the first Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different titles through ...

Augustus
, Claudius and
Nero Nero ( ; full name: Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus; 15 December AD 37 – 9 June AD 68) was the fifth . He was by the Roman emperor at the age of 13 and succeeded him to the throne. Nero seems to have been popu ...

Nero
have not been found and may be lost forever. Lost works that would have been part of the ''Moralia'' include "Whether One Who epoche, Suspends Judgment on Everything Is Condemned to Inaction", "On Pyrrho’s Ten Modes", and "On the Difference between the Pyrrhonism, Pyrrhonians and the Academic Skepticism, Academics".


Philosophy

Plutarch was a Middle Platonism, Platonist, but was open to the influence of the Peripatetics, and in some details even to Stoicism despite his criticism of their principles.Eduard Zeller, ''Outlines of the History of Greek Philosophy'', 13th edition, p. 306 He rejected only Epicureanism absolutely. He attached little importance to theoretical questions and doubted the possibility of ever solving them.Eduard Zeller, ''Outlines of the History of Greek Philosophy'', 13th edition, p. 307 He was more interested in moral and religious questions. In opposition to Stoic materialism and Epicurean atheism he cherished a pure idea of God that was more in accordance with Plato. He adopted a second principle (''Dyad (Greek philosophy), Dyad'') in order to explain the phenomenal world. This principle he sought, however, not in any indeterminate matter but in the evil Anima mundi, world-soul which has from the beginning been bound up with matter, but in the creation was filled with reason and arranged by it. Thus it was transformed into the divine soul of the world, but continued to operate as the source of all evil. He elevated God above the finite world, and thus Daemon (mythology), daemons became for him agents of God's influence on the world. He strongly defends freedom of the will, and the immortality of the soul. Platonic-Peripatetic
ethics Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about Metaphysics, existence, reason, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, m ...

ethics
were upheld by Plutarch against the opposing theories of the Stoics and Epicureans. The most characteristic feature of Plutarch's ethics is, however, its close connection with religion.Eduard Zeller, ''Outlines of the History of Greek Philosophy'', 13th edition, p. 308 However pure Plutarch's idea of God is, and however vivid his description of the vice and corruption which superstition causes, his warm religious feelings and his distrust of human powers of knowledge led him to believe that God comes to our aid by direct revelations, which we perceive the more clearly the more completely that we refrain in "enthusiasm" from all action; this made it possible for him to justify popular belief in divination in the way which had long been usual among the Stoics. His attitude to popular religion was similar. The gods of different peoples are merely different names for one and the same divine Being and the powers that serve it. The Greek mythology, myths contain philosophical truths which can be interpreted allegorically. Thus Plutarch sought to combine the philosophical and religious conception of things and to remain as close as possible to tradition. Plutarch was the teacher of Favorinus.


Influence

Plutarch's writings had an enormous influence on English Literature, English and French literature. William Shakespeare, Shakespeare paraphrased parts of Thomas North's translation of selected ''Lives'' in Shakespeare's plays, his plays, and occasionally quoted from them verbatim. Jean-Jacques Rousseau quotes from Plutarch in the 1762 ''Emile, or On Education'', a treatise on the education of the whole person for citizenship. Rousseau introduces a passage from Plutarch in support of his position against eating meat: You ask me', said Plutarch, 'why Pythagoras abstained from eating the flesh of beasts... Ralph Waldo Emerson and the Transcendentalism, Transcendentalists were greatly influenced by the ''Moralia'' and in his glowing introduction to the five-volume, 19th-century edition, he called the ''Lives'' "a bible for heroes". He also opined that it was impossible to "read Plutarch without a tingling of the blood; and I accept the saying of the Chinese Mencius: 'A sage is the instructor of a hundred ages. When the manners of Loo are heard of, the stupid become intelligent, and the wavering, determined. Michel de Montaigne, Montaigne's ''Essays (Montaigne), Essays'' draw extensively on Plutarch's ''Moralia'' and are consciously modelled on the Greek's easygoing and discursive inquiries into science, manners, customs and beliefs. ''Essays'' contains more than 400 references to Plutarch and his works. James Boswell quoted Plutarch on writing lives, rather than biographies, in the introduction to his own ''Life of Samuel Johnson''. Other admirers included Ben Jonson, John Dryden, Alexander Hamilton, John Milton, Louis L'amour, and Francis Bacon, as well as such disparate figures as Cotton Mather and Robert Browning. Plutarch's influence declined in the 19th and 20th centuries, but it remains embedded in the popular ideas of Greek and Roman history. One of his most famous quotes was one that he included in one of his earliest works. "The world of man is best captured through the lives of the men who created history."


Translations of ''Lives'' and ''Moralia''

There are translations, from the original Ancient Greek, Greek, in Latin, English language, English, French language, French, German language, German, Italian language, Italian, Polish language, Polish and Hebrew language, Hebrew. British classical scholar H. J. Rose writes "One advantage to a modern reader who is not well acquainted with Greek is, that being but a moderate stylist, Plutarch is almost as good in a translation as in the original."


French translations

Jacques Amyot's translations brought Plutarch's works to Western Europe. He went to Italy and studied the Vatican text of Plutarch, from which he published a French translation of the ''Lives'' in 1559 and ''Moralia'' in 1572, which were widely read by educated Europe. Amyot's translations had as deep an impression in England as France, because Thomas North later published his English translation of the ''Lives'' in 1579 based on Amyot's French translation instead of the original Greek.


English translations

Plutarch's ''Lives'' were translated into English, from Amyot's version, by Sir Thomas North in 1579. The complete ''Moralia'' was first translated into English from the original Greek by Philemon Holland in 1603. In 1683, John Dryden began a life of Plutarch and oversaw a translation of the ''Lives'' by several hands and based on the original Greek. This translation has been reworked and revised several times, most recently in the 19th century by the English poet and classicist Arthur Hugh Clough (first published in 1859). One contemporary publisher of this version is Modern Library. Another is Encyclopædia Britannica in association with the University of Chicago, , 1952, . In 1770, English brothers John Langhorne (poet), John and William Langhorne (clergyman), William Langhorne published "Plutarch's ''Lives'' from the original Greek, with notes critical and historical, and a new life of Plutarch" in 6 volumes and dedicated to Lord Folkestone. Their translation was re-edited by Archdeacon Wrangham in the year 1819. From 1901 to 1912, an American classicist, Bernadotte Perrin, produced a new translation of the ''Lives'' for the Loeb Classical Library. The ''Moralia'' is also included in the Loeb series, translated by various authors. Penguin Classics began a series of translations by various scholars in 1958 with ''The Fall of the Roman Republic'', which contained six Lives and was translated by Rex Warner. Penguin continues to revise the volumes.


Italian translations

Note: only the main translations from the second half of 15th century are given. *Battista Alessandro Iaconelli, ''Vite di Plutarcho traducte de Latino in vulgare in Aquila'', L’Aquila, 1482. *Dario Tiberti, ''Le Vite di Plutarco ridotte in compendio, per M. Dario Tiberto da Cesena, e tradotte alla commune utilità di ciascuno per L. Fauno, in buona lingua volgare'', Venice, 1543. *Lodovico Domenichi, ''Vite di Plutarco. Tradotte da m. Lodouico Domenichi, con gli suoi sommarii posti dinanzi a ciascuna vita...'', Venice, 1560. *Francesco Sansovino, ''Le vite de gli huomini illustri greci e romani, di Plutarco Cheroneo sommo filosofo et historico, tradotte nuovamente da M. Francesco Sansovino...'', Venice, 1564. *Marcello Adriani il Giovane, ''Opuscoli morali di Plutarco volgarizzati da Marcello Adriani il giovane'', Florence, 1819–1820. *Girolamo Pompei, ''Le Vite Di Plutarco'', Verona, 1772–1773.


Latin translations

There are multiple translations of ''Parallel Lives'' into Latin, most notably the one titled "Pour le Dauphin" (French for "for the Prince") written by a scribe in the court of Louis XV of France and a 1470 Ulrich Han translation.


German translations


Hieronymus Emser

In 1519, Hieronymus Emser translated ''De capienda ex inimicis utilitate'' (''wie ym eyner seinen veyndt nutz machen kan'', Leipzig).


Gottlob Benedict von Schirach

The biographies were translated by Gottlob Benedict von Schirach (1743–1804) and printed in Vienna by Franz Haas (1776–1780).


Johann Friedrich Salomon Kaltwasser

Plutarch's ''Lives'' and ''Moralia'' were translated into German by Johann Friedrich Salomon Kaltwasser: * ''Vitae parallelae. Vergleichende Lebensbeschreibungen''. 10 Bände. Magdeburg 1799–1806. * ''Moralia. Moralische Abhandlungen''. 9 Bde. Frankfurt a.M. 1783–1800.


Subsequent German translations

* ''Lives'' ** ''Große Griechen und Römer''. , 6 vols. Zürich 1954–1965. (''Bibliothek der alten Welt''). * ''Moralia'' ** ''Plutarch. Über Gott und Vorsehung, Dämonen und Weissagung'', Zürich: Konrat Ziegler, 1952. (''Bibliothek der alten Welt'') ** ''Plutarch. Von der Ruhe des Gemüts – und andere Schriften'', Zürich: Bruno Snell, 1948. (''Bibliothek der alten Welt'') ** ''Plutarch. Moralphilosophische Schriften'', Stuttgart: Hans-Josef Klauck, 1997. (''Reclams Universal-Bibliothek'') ** ''Plutarch. Drei Religionsphilosophische Schriften'', Düsseldorf: Herwig Görgemanns, 2003. (''Tusculum'')


Hebrew translations

Following some Hebrew translations of selections from Plutarch's ''Parallel Lives'' published in the 1920s and the 1940s, a complete translation was published in three volumes by the Bialik Institute in 1954, 1971 and 1973. The first volume, ''Roman Lives'', first published in 1954, presents the translations of Joseph G. Liebes to the biographies of Coriolanus, Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus, Fabius Maximus,
Tiberius Gracchus Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus (163/162–133 BC) was a populist Roman politician best known for his agrarian law, agrarian reform law entailing the transfer of land from the Roman state and wealthy landowners to poorer citizens. Against stiff opp ...

Tiberius Gracchus
and
Gaius Gracchus Gaius Sempronius Gracchus (154–121 BC) was a populist Ancient Roman, Roman politician in the 2nd century BC and brother of the reformer Tiberius Gracchus, Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus. His election to the office of tribune in the years 123 BC an ...
,
Cato the Elder Marcus Porcius Cato (; 234–149 BC), also known as Cato the Censor ( la, Censorius), the Elder and the Wise, was a Roman soldier, senator The Curia Julia in the Roman Forum ">Roman_Forum.html" ;"title="Curia Julia in the Roman Forum">Curia ...
and Cato the Younger,
Gaius Marius Gaius Marius (; – 13 January 86 BC) was a Roman general and statesman. Victor of the and wars, he held the office of an unprecedented seven times during his career. He was also noted for his of . He set the precedent for the shift fro ...
, Sulla,
Sertorius Quintus Sertorius (c. 126 – 73 BC) was a Roman general and statesman who led Sertorian War, a large-scale rebellion against the Roman Senate on the Iberian peninsula. He had been a prominent member of the Populares, populist faction of Lucius Co ...
,
Lucullus Lucius Licinius Lucullus (; 118–57/56 BC) was an '' optimatis'' politician of the late Roman Republic, closely connected with Lucius Cornelius Sulla. In the culmination of over twenty years of almost continuous military and government service ...
,
Pompey Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (; 29 September 106 BC – 28 September 48 BC), known in English as Pompey or Pompey the Great, was a leading Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization f ...
, Crassus,
Cicero Marcus Tullius Cicero ( ; ; 3 January 106 BC – 7 December 43 BC) was a Ancient Rome, Roman statesman, lawyer, scholar, philosopher and Academic skepticism, Academic Skeptic, who tried to uphold optimate principles during crisis of ...

Cicero
,
Julius Caesar Gaius Julius Caesar (; 12 July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC) was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened ...

Julius Caesar
, Brutus and Mark Antony, Mark Anthony. The second volume, ''Greek Lives'', first published in 1971 presents A. A. Halevy's translations of the biographies of Lycurgus of Sparta, Lycurgus,
Aristides Aristides (; grc-gre, Ἀριστείδης, Aristeídēs ; 530–468 BC) was an ancient Athenian statesman. Nicknamed "the Just", he flourished in the early quarter of Athens' Classical period and is remembered for his generalship in the ...

Aristides
, Cimon,
Pericles Pericles (; grc-x-attic, Περικλῆς, in Classical Attic; c. 495 – 429 BC) was a Greek statesman and general of Athens , image_skyline = File:Athens Montage L.png, center, 275px, alt=Athens montage. Click ...

Pericles
,
Nicias Nicias (; Νικίας ''Nikias''; c. 470–413 BC) was an Athenian , image_skyline = File:Athens Montage L.png, center, 275px, alt=Athens montage. Clicking on an image in the picture causes the browser to load the ap ...
, Lysander, Agesilaus,
Pelopidas:''For the genus Genus (plural genera) is a taxonomic rank Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, including the principles that underlie such classification. The term may also refer to a specific ...
, Dion of Syracuse, Dion,
Timoleon Timoleon ( Greek: Τιμολέων), son of Timodemus, of Corinth Corinth ( ; el, Κόρινθος, Kórinthos, ) is the successor to an ancient city, and is a former municipality in Corinthia, Peloponnese (region), Peloponnese, which is ...
,
Demosthenes Demosthenes (; el, Δημοσθένης, translit=Dēmosthénēs; ; 384 – 12 October 322 BC) was a statesman and orator of . His constitute a significant expression of contemporary Athenian intellectual prowess and provide an insight in ...

Demosthenes
,
Alexander the Great Alexander III of Macedon ( grc-gre, Αλέξανδρος}, ; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great, was a king (''basileus ''Basileus'' ( el, βασιλεύς) is a Greek term and title A title ...

Alexander the Great
,
Eumenes Eumenes (; grc-gre, Εὐμένης; c. 362316 BC) was a Ancient Greece, Greek general and satrap. He participated in the Wars of Alexander the Great, serving as both Alexander the Great, Alexander's personal secretary and as a battlefield command ...
and Phocion. Three more biographies presented in this volume, those of
Solon Solon ( grc-gre, Σόλων Solon ( grc-gre, wikt:Σόλων, Σόλων ''Sólōn'' ;  BC) was an Archaic Greece#Athens, Athenian statesman, lawmaker and poet. He is remembered particularly for his efforts to legislate against political, e ...

Solon
,
Themistocles Themistocles (; grc-gre, Θεμιστοκλῆς ; "Glory of the Law"; c. 524–459 BC) was an Classical Athens, Athenian politician and General officer, general. He was one of a new breed of non-aristocratic politicians who rose to pro ...

Themistocles
and
Alcibiades Alcibiades, son of Cleinias, . /ˌælsəˈbaɪədiz/ Ancient Greek language, Ancient Greek: Ἀλκιβιάδης, Romanization of Ancient Greek, romanized: ''Alkibiádēs'', Help:IPA/Greek, lkibiádɛːs ( 450–404 BC), from the deme of Sc ...

Alcibiades
were translated by M. H. Ben-Shamai. The third volume, ''Greek and Roman Lives'', published in 1973, presented the remaining biographies and parallels as translated by Halevy. Included are the biographies of Demetrius I of Macedon, Demetrius, Pyrrhus of Epirus, Pyrrhus, Agis IV, Agis and Cleomenes III, Cleomenes, Aratus and Artaxerxes I of Persia, Artaxerxes,
Philopoemen , 1837, Louvre The Louvre ( ), or the Louvre Museum ( ), is the world's largest art museum and a historic monument in Paris Paris () is the Capital city, capital and List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, most populou ...
, Marcus Furius Camillus, Camillus, Marcus Claudius Marcellus, Marcellus, Flamininus, Aemilius Paulus,
Galba Galba (; born Servius Sulpicius Galba; 24 December 3 BC – 15 January AD 69) was a Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different ...

Galba
and
Otho Marcus Otho (; born Marcus Salvius Otho; 28 April 32 – 16 April 69) was for three months, from 15 January to 16 April 69. He was the second emperor of the . A member of a noble family, Otho was initially a friend and courtier of the young ...
,
Theseus Theseus (, ; grc-gre, Θησεύς ) was the myth Myth is a folklore genre consisting of narratives that play a fundamental role in a society, such as foundational tales or origin myths. The main characters in myths are usually non-humans ...

Theseus
,
Romulus Romulus () was the legendary foundation of Rome, founder and King of Rome, first king of Ancient Rome, Rome. Various traditions attribute the establishment of many of Rome's oldest legal, political, religious, and social institutions to Romulus ...
,
Numa Pompilius Numa Pompilius (; 753–673 BC; reigned 715–673 BC) was the legendary second king of Rome The king of Rome ( la, rex Romae) was the chief magistrate Chief magistrate is a public official, executive or judicial, whose office is the highest ...

Numa Pompilius
and Poplicola. It completes the translation of the known remaining biographies. In the introduction to the third volume Halevy explains that originally the Bialik Institute intended to publish only a selection of biographies, leaving out mythological figures and biographies that had no parallels. Thus, to match the first volume in scope the second volume followed the same path and the third volume was required.


Pseudo-Plutarch

Some editions of the ''Moralia'' include several works now known to have been Pseudepigrapha, falsely attributed to Plutarch. Among these are the ''Lives of the Ten Orators'', a series of biographies of the Attic orators based on Caecilius of Calacte; ''On the Opinions of the Philosophers'', ''On Fate'', and ''On Music''. These works are all attributed to a single, unknown author, referred to as "Pseudo-Plutarch". Pseudo-Plutarch lived sometime between the third and fourth centuries AD. Despite being falsely attributed, the works are still considered to possess historical value.


See also

* Middle Platonism * Numenius of Apamea * 6615 Plutarchos * Plutarchia (wasp), ''Plutarchia'' (wasp) * Plutarchia (plant), ''Plutarchia'' (plant) (named after Plutarch)


Notes


References


Sources

* * * * * Honigmann, E.A.J. "Shakespeare's Plutarch." ''Shakespeare Quarterly'', 1959: 25–33. * Pelling, Christopher (2002). ''Plutarch and History. Eighteen Studies'', London * * John M. Dillon ( 1996).''The Middle Platonists: 80 B.C. to A.D. 220'', Cornell University Press,


Further reading

*Beck, Mark. 2000. "Anecdote and the representation of Plutarch’s ethos." In ''Rhetorical theory and praxis in Plutarch: Acta of the IVth international congress of the International Plutarch Society, Leuven, 3–6 July 1996.'' Edited by Luc van der Stockt, 15–32. Collection d’Études Classiques 11. Leuven, Belgium: Peeters. *--, ed. 2014. ''A companion to Plutarch.'' Blackwell Companions to the Ancient World. Malden, MA, and Oxford: Blackwell. *Beneker, Jeffrey. 2012. ''The passionate statesman:'' Eros ''and politics in Plutarch’s Lives.'' Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press. *Duff, Timothy E. 1999. ''Plutarch’s Lives: Exploring virtues and vice.'' Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press. *Georgiadou, Aristoula. 1992. "Idealistic and realistic portraiture in the Lives of Plutarch." In ''Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt: Geschichte und Kultur Roms im Spiegel der neueren Forschung.'' Vol. 2.33.6, ''Sprache und Literatur: Allgemeines zur Literatur des 2. Jahrhunderts und einzelne Autoren der trajanischen und frühhadrianischen Zeit.'' Edited by Wolfgang Haase, 4616–23. Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyter. *Gill, Christopher. 1983. "The question of character-development: Plutarch and Tacitus." ''Classical Quarterly'' 33. no. 2: 469–87. *Humble, Noreen, ed. 2010. ''Plutarch’s Lives: Parallelism and purpose.'' Swansea: Classical Press of Wales. *McInerney, Jeremy. 2003. "Plutarch’s manly women." In Andreia'': Studies in manliness and courage in classical Athens.'' Edited by Ralph M. Rosen and Ineke Sluiter, 319–44. Mnemosyne, Bibliotheca Classica Batava, Supplementum 238. Leiden, The Netherlands, and Boston: Brill. *Mossman, Judith. 2015. "Dressed for success? Clothing in Plutarch’s Demetrius." In ''Fame and infamy: Essays for Christopher Pelling on characterization and Roman biography and historiography.'' Edited by Rhiannon Ash, Judith Mossman, and Frances B. Titchener, 149–60. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press. *Nikolaidis, Anastasios G., ed. 2008. ''The unity of Plutarch’s work:'' Moralia ''themes in the'' Lives'', features of the'' Lives'' in the'' Moralia. Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyter. *Pelling, Christopher. 2002. ''Plutarch and history: Eighteen studies.'' Swansea: Classical Press of Wales. *Scardigli, Barbara, ed. 1995. ''Essays on Plutarch’s Lives.'' Oxford: Clarendon. *Stadter, Philip. 1996. "Anecdotes and the thematic structure of Plutarchean biography." In ''Estudios sobre Plutarco: Aspectos formales; Actas del IV Simposio español sobre Plutarco, Salamanca, 26 a 28 de mayo de 1994.'' Edited by José Antonio Fernández Delgado and Francisca Pordomingo Pardo, 291–303. Madrid: Ediciones Clásicas. *--. 2015. "The rhetoric of virtue in Plutarch’s Lives." In ''Plutarch and his Roman readers.'' By Philip A. Stadter, 231–45. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press. *Lieve Van Hoof, Van Hoof, Lieve. 2010. ''Plutarch's practical ethics: the social dynamics of philosophy'' Oxford: Oxford University Press. *Wardman, Alan E. 1967. "Description of personal appearance in Plutarch and Suetonius: The use of statues as evidence." ''Classical Quarterly'' 17, no. 2: 414–20. *Zadorojnyi, Alexei V. 2012. "Mimesis and the (plu)past in Plutarch’s Lives." In ''Time and narrative in ancient historiography: The “plupast” from Herodotus to Appian.'' Edited by Jonas Grethlein and Christopher B. Krebs, 175–98. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.


External links

;Plutarch's works * * *
Perseus Project
many texts of Plutarch and Pseudo-Plutarch in Greek and English * Didot edition of Plutarch's works in Greek, with Latin translation (1857–1876)
vol. 1 (Lives, pt. 1)vol. 2 (Lives, pt. 2)vol. 3 (Moralia, pt. 1)vol. 4 (Moralia, pt. 2)vol. 5 (fragmenta et spuria)
(als
via BNF
* Collections of works in English translation
at University of AdelaideProject Gutenberg''Lives'', trans. North (PDF)
* Also in English translation (by John Dryden, 1631–1700)
Plutarch, Parallel Lives, Solon

Free Audiobooks by Plutarch from Librivox
;Secondary material *
Plutarch of Chaeronea
by Jona Lendering at Livius.Org


The relevance of Plutarch's book ''De Defectu Oraculorum'' for Christian Theology (Ploutarchos, Journal of the International Plutarch Society)
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