• [42] 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.

  • 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.

  • [30] Parallel Lives[edit] Main article: Parallel Lives A page from the 1470 Ulrich Han printing of Plutarch’s Parallel Lives Plutarch’s best-known work is the Parallel Lives,
    a series of biographies of illustrious Greeks and Romans, arranged in pairs to illuminate their common moral virtues and vices, thus it being more of an insight into human nature than a historical account.

  • It includes anecdotes and descriptions of events that appear in no other source, just as Plutarch’s portrait of Numa Pompilius, the putative second king of Rome, holds much
    that is unique on the early Roman calendar.

  • 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.

  • [7] As a Roman citizen, Plutarch would have been of the equestrian order, he visited Rome some time c. AD 70 with Florus, who served also as a historical source for his Life
    of Otho.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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…'”[51] Ralph Waldo Emerson and the 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”.

  • The Moralia was composed first, while writing the Lives occupied much of the last two decades of Plutarch’s own life.

  • The third volume, Greek and Roman Lives, published in 1973, presented the remaining biographies and parallels as translated by Halevy.

  • [7] The exact number of his sons is not certain, although two of them, Autobulus and the second Plutarch, are often mentioned.

  • Lost works[edit] The lost works of Plutarch are determined by references in his own texts to them and from other authors’ references over time.

  • In 1770, English brothers John and 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.

  • Rualdus, in his 1624 work Life of Plutarchus, recovered the name of Plutarch’s wife, Timoxena, from internal evidence afforded by his writings.

  • 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.

  • Life of Alexander[edit] Plutarch’s Life of Alexander, written as a parallel to that of Julius Caesar, is one of five extant tertiary sources on the Macedonian conqueror Alexander
    the Great.

  • The second volume, Greek Lives, first published in 1971 presents A.

  • [55] 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.

  • “[27] Therefore, they do not form a part of the Plutarchian canon of single biographies – as represented by the Life of Aratus of Sicyon and the Life of Artaxerxes II (the
    biographies of Hesiod, Pindar, Crates and Daiphantus were lost).

  • [37] 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”.

  • [38] 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
    devil’s advocate to see what could be said against so favourite and well-known a writer.

  • According to Ammonius, the letter ‘E’ written on the temple of Apollo in Delphi originated from the following fact: The Seven Sages of Greece, whose maxims were also written
    on the walls of the vestibule of the temple, were not seven but actually five: Chilon, Solon, Thales, Bias, and Pittakos.

  • One of his most famous quotes was one that he included in one of his earliest works.

  • [32] Life of Pyrrhus[edit] 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’ and Livy’s texts are lost.

  • 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.

  • [18][page needed] Late period: Priest at Delphi[edit] Portrait of a philosopher, and a hermaic stele at the Delphi Archaeological Museum Some time c. AD 95, Plutarch was made
    one of the two sanctuary priests for the temple of Apollo at Delphi; the site had declined considerably since the classical Greek period.

  • 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—an important adjunct to his Life of the great king, On the Worship of Isis and Osiris (a crucial source of information on Egyptian religious rites),[34] 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.

  • Plutarch’s influence declined in the 19th and 20th centuries, but it remains embedded in the popular ideas of Greek and Roman history.

  • The ‘Catalogue of Lamprias’, an ancient list of works attributed to Plutarch, lists 227 works, of which 78 have come down to us.

  • 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.

  • Even the lives of such important figures as Augustus, Claudius and Nero have not been found and may be lost forever.

  • Spartan lives and sayings[edit] 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 Lacedaemonia.

  • [28] “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).

  • [52] 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.

  • 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 and Epaminondas, and the companions
    to the four solo biographies.

  • Latin translations[edit] 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.

  • [24] Works Plutarch’s surviving works were intended for Greek speakers throughout the Roman Empire, not just Greeks.

  • [33] “It is not histories I am writing, but lives; and in the most glorious deeds there is not always an indication of virtue or vice, indeed a small thing like a phrase or
    a jest often makes a greater revelation of a character than battles where thousands die.

  • He also draws extensively on the work of Lysippus, Alexander’s favourite sculptor, to provide what is probably the fullest and most accurate description of the conqueror’s
    physical appearance.

  • [23] But a fragmentary hermaic 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”.

  • 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

  • [37][43] Lost works that would have been part of the Moralia include “Whether One Who Suspends Judgment on Everything Is Condemned to Inaction”, “On Pyrrho’s Ten Modes”, and
    “On the Difference between the Pyrrhonians and the Academics”.

  • [37] James Boswell quoted Plutarch on writing lives, rather than biographies, in the introduction to his own Life of Samuel Johnson.

  • [19] His priestly duties connected part of his literary work with the Pythian oracle at Delphia: one of his most important works is the “Why Pythia does not give oracles in

  • There is reason to believe that the two Lives still extant, those of Galba and Otho, “ought to be considered as a single work.

  • [46] The most characteristic feature of Plutarch’s ethics is, however, its close connection with religion.

  • Italian translations[edit] Note: only the main translations from the second half of 15th century are given.

  • 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

  • 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”.

  • While flawed, Plutarch is nonetheless indispensable as one of the only ancient sources of information on Spartan life.

  • [21] Even more important is the dialogue “On the ‘E’ at Delphi”,[22] which features Ammonius, a Platonic philosopher and teacher of Plutarch, and Lambrias, Plutarch’s brother.

  • [14] Work as magistrate and ambassador[edit] In addition to his duties as a priest of the Delphic temple, Plutarch was also a magistrate at Chaeronea and he represented his
    home town on various missions to foreign countries during his early adult years.

  • He mentions this service in his work, Whether an Old Man Should Engage in Public Affairs (17 = Moralia 792f).

  • “[35] Questions[edit] Book IV of the Moralia contains the Roman and Greek Questions.

  • [citation needed] Pseudo-Plutarch Some editions of the Moralia include several works now known to have been falsely attributed to Plutarch.

  • 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.

  • It has been called the “first instance in literature of the slashing review”.

  • [47] Thus Plutarch sought to combine the philosophical and religious conception of things and to remain as close as possible to tradition.

  • Another person, Soklarus, is spoken of in terms which seem to imply that he was Plutarch’s son, but this is nowhere definitely stated.

  • [8] 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.

  • 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.

  • Currently, only 19 of the parallel lives end with a comparison, while possibly they all did at one time.

  • 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.

  • He is known primarily for his Parallel Lives, a series of biographies of illustrious Greeks and Romans, and Moralia, a collection of essays and speeches.

  • [47] 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.

  • Shakespeare paraphrased parts of Thomas North’s translation of selected Lives in his plays, and occasionally quoted from them verbatim.

  • 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.

  • Sometimes, Plutarch quotes directly from the De Bello Gallico and even tells us of the moments when Caesar was dictating his works.

  • 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).


Works Cited

[‘The name Mestrius or Lucius Mestrius was taken by Plutarch, as was common Roman practice, from his patron for citizenship in the empire.[citation needed]
2. Paley, Frederick Apthorp; Mitchell, John Malcolm (1911). “Plutarch” . In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.).
Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 21 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 857–860.
3. ^ Dillon, John M. Middle Platonists: 80 BC to AD 220. Cornell University Press, 1996. pp. 184 ff.
4. ^ “Plutarch”. Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy.
5. ^
Jump up to:a b c Russell 2012.
6. ^ Stadter 2014, p. 13.
7. ^ Plutarch (1959). “Consolatio ad Uxorem”. Moralia. Loeb Classical Library. Translated by De Lacy, Phillip H; Einarson, Benedict. Harvard University Press. pp. 575–605. Retrieved 17 March
2018 – via LacusCurtius.
8. ^ Jump up to:a b c Stadter 2014, p. 14.
9. ^ Jump up to:a b Stewart, Aubrey; Long (1894). “Life of Plutarch”. Plutarch’s Lives. Vol. 1. George Bell & Sons. Retrieved 3 January 2007 – via Gutenberg.
10. ^ Chrysopoulos,
Philip. “Ancient Greek Historian Plutarch Might Have Been the First Vegetarian”. Greek Reporter. Retrieved 5 September 2020.
11. ^ Newmyer, Stephen (1992). “Plutarch on Justice Toward Animals: Ancient Insights on a Modern Debate”. Scholia: Studies
in Classical Antiquity. 1 (1): 38–54. Retrieved 5 September 2020.
12. ^ Plutarch. “On the Eating of Flesh”. Moralia.
13. ^ Plutarch, Otho 14.1
14. ^ “The Eleusinian Mysteries: The Rites of Demeter”. World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved 27 April
15. ^ Stadter 2014, p. 15.
16. ^ Clough, Arthur Hugh (1864). “Introduction”. Plutarch’s Lives. Liberty Library of Constitutional Classics.
17. ^ West, Allen B. (1928). “Notes on Achaean Prosopography and Chronology”. Classical Philology.
23 (3): 262–267. doi:10.1086/361044. ISSN 0009-837X. JSTOR 263715. S2CID 161334831.
18. ^ Gianakaris, C. J. Plutarch. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1970.
19. ^ Russell, D. A. Plutarch. New York: Scribner, 1973.
20. ^ Stadter 2014, p. 20.
21. ^
Plutarch. Moralia. 11.
22. ^ “Περί του μη χραν έμμετρα νυν την Πυθίαν (Πλούταρχος) – Βικιθήκη”. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
23. ^ Plutarch. “On the ‘E’ at “Delphi””. Moralia (in Ancient Greek).
24. ^ “SELECTED EXHIBITS – Archaeological
Site of Delphi – Museum of Delphi”. Delphi Archaeological Museum. 11 December 2019. Retrieved 26 October 2022.
25. ^ Syll.3 843=CID 4, no. 151[full citation needed]
26. ^ Stadter, Philip A. (2015). Plutarch and His Roman Readers.
Oxford University Press. p. 69. ISBN 978-0198718338. Retrieved 4 February 2015. Although Plutarch wrote in Greek and with a Greek point of view, […] he was thinking of a Roman as well as a Greek audience.
27. ^ Ziegler, Konrad, Plutarchos von
Chaironeia (Stuttgart 1964), 258. Citation translated by the author.
28. ^ Cf. among others, Holzbach, M.-C.(2006). Plutarch: Galba-Otho und die Apostelgeschichte : ein Gattungsvergleich. Religion and Biography, 14 (ed. by Detlev Dormeyer et al.).
Berlin London: LIT, p. 13
29. ^ Jump up to:a b Cf. Holzbach, op. cit., 24, 67–83
30. ^ The citation from Galba was extracted from the Dryden translation as given at the MIT Internet Classics Archive
31. ^ Cf. Holzbach, op. cit., 24
32. ^ Plutarch.
The life of Alexander. p. 1.
33. ^ Plutarch. The life of Caesar.
34. ^ Cornell, T.J. (1995). “Introduction”. The Beginnings of Rome: Italy and Rome from the Bronze Age to the Punic Wars (c. 1000–264 BC). Routledge. p. 3.
35. ^ (but which according
to Erasmus referred to the Thessalonians)Plutarch. “Isis and Osiris”. Frank Cole Babbitt (trans.). Retrieved 10 December 2006.
36. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e 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. ISBN 0-19-509742-4. OCLC 38504496.[page needed]
37. ^ “Plutarch • Roman Questions, 90 113”.
38. ^ Jump up to:a b c Kimball, Roger. “Plutarch
& the issue of character”. The New Criterion Online. Archived from the original on 16 November 2006. Retrieved 11 December 2006.
39. ^ Grote, George (19 October 2000) [1830]. A History of Greece: From the time of Solon to 403 B.C. Routledge. p.
40. ^ Barrow, R.H. (1979) [1967]. Plutarch and his Times.
41. ^ “Plutarch: Symposiacs, in The complete works of Plutarch: essays and miscellanies, New York: Crowell, 1909. Vol. III”. Archived from the original on 19 April 2017. Retrieved
6 October 2014.
42. ^ Russell, D.A.F.M. (1970) The Oxford Classical Dictionary, Clarendon Press, Oxford, p. 849
43. ^ “Translator’s Introduction”. The Parallel Lives (Vol. I ed.). Loeb Classical Library Edition. 1914.
44. ^ McCutchen, Wilmot
H. “Plutarch – His Life and Legacy”. Archived from the original on 5 December 2006. Retrieved 10 December 2006.
45. ^ Mauro Bonazzi, “Plutarch on the Differences Between the Pyrrhonists and Academics”, Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, 2012
46. ^ Jump up to:a b Eduard Zeller, Outlines of the History of Greek Philosophy, 13th edition,
p. 306
47. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f g h Eduard Zeller, Outlines of the History of Greek Philosophy, 13th edition, p. 307
48. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e Eduard Zeller, Outlines of the History of Greek Philosophy, 13th edition, p. 308
49. ^ Richter,
Daniel S.; Johnson, William Allen (2017). The Oxford Handbook of the Second Sophistic. Oxford University Press. p. 552. ISBN 978-0-19-983747-2.
50. ^ “Shakespeare: Metamorphosis – Plutarch’s “Lives” (1579)”. Senate House Library at Vimeo. 31 March
2016. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
51. ^ Honigmann 1959.
52. ^ Rousseau, Jean-Jacques (1911). Emile, or On Education (PDF). Translated by Foxley, Barbara. JM Dent & Sons / EP Dutton & Co. p. 118.
53. ^ Emerson, Ralph Waldo (1870). “Introduction”. In
William W. Goodwin (ed.). Plutarch’s Morals. London: Sampson, Low. p. xxi.
54. ^ Emerson, Ralph Waldo (1850). “Uses of Great Men”. Representative Men.
55. ^ H. J. Rose. A Handbook of Greek Literature: From Homer to the Age of Lucian.. New York:
Dutton, 1960. p. 409.
56. ^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). “Amyot, Jacques” . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 01 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 901. He was thus enabled to go to Italy to study the Vatican text of Plutarch, on the translation
on whose Lives (1559; 1565) he had been some time engaged.
57. ^ “Bernadotte Perrin Papers (MS 1018)”. Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library. hdl:10079/fa/
58. ^ The Age of Alexander, rev. ed. (Penguin, 2012), “Penguin
59. ^ Virgilio Costa, Sulle prime traduzioni italiane a stampa delle opere di Plutarco (secc. XV–XVI)
60. ^ Jump up to:a b Blank, D. (2011). Martínez, J. (ed.). ‘Plutarch’ and the Sophistry of ‘Noble Lineage’. Fakes and Forgers
of Classical Literature. Madrid: Ediciones Clásicas. pp. 33–60.
61. ^ Marietta, Don E. (1998). Introduction to Ancient Philosophy. M.E. Sharpe. p. 190. ISBN 978-0765602169.
b. Blackburn, Simon (1994). Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford
University Press.
c. Russell, D.A. (2001) [1972]. Plutarch. Duckworth Publishing. ISBN 978-1-85399-620-7.
d. Duff, Timothy (2002) [1999]. Plutarch’s Lives: Exploring Virtue and Vice. UK: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-925274-9.
e. Hamilton,
Edith (1957). The Echo of Greece. W. W. Norton & Company. p. 194. ISBN 0-393-00231-4.
f. Honigmann, E.A.J. “Shakespeare’s Plutarch.” Shakespeare Quarterly, 1959: 25–33.
g. Pelling, Christopher (2002). Plutarch and History: Eighteen Studies. Swansea:
Classical Press of Wales. ISBN 0-7156-3128-4. OCLC 50552352.
h. Russell, Donald (2012). “Plutarch”. In Hornblower, Simon; Spawforth, Antony; Eidinow, Esther (eds.). The Oxford classical dictionary (4th ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp.
1165–66. doi:10.1093/acrefore/9780199381135.013.5141. ISBN 978-0-19-954556-8. OCLC 959667246.
i. Stadter, Philip A (2014). “Plutarch and Rome”. In Beck, Mark (ed.). A companion to Plutarch. Blackwell Companions to the Ancient World. Wiley Blackwell.
pp. 13–31. ISBN 978-1-4051-9431-0. LCCN 2013028283.
j. Wardman, Alan (1974). Plutarch’s “Lives”. Elek. p. 274. ISBN 0-236-17622-6.
k. John M. Dillon ( 1996).The Middle Platonists: 80 B.C. to A.D. 220, Cornell University Press, ISBN 978-0801483165
Photo credit:’]