Plutarch (/ˈpluːtɑːrk/; Greek: Πλούταρχος, Ploútarkhos,
Koine Greek: [plǔːtarkʰos]; c. CE 46 – CE 120), later
named, upon becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus,
(Λούκιος Μέστριος Πλούταρχος)[a] was a Greek
biographer and essayist, known primarily for his
Parallel Lives and
Moralia. He is classified as a Middle Platonist. Plutarch's
surviving works were written in Greek, but intended for both Greek and
1.1 Early life
1.2 Work as magistrate and ambassador
1.3 Late period:
Priest at Delphi
2.1 Lives of the Roman emperors
2.2 Parallel Lives
2.2.1 Spartan lives and sayings
2.2.2 Life of Alexander
2.2.3 Life of Caesar
2.2.4 Life of Pyrrhus
2.2.5 Criticism of Parallel Lives
2.4 On the Malice of Herodotus
2.5 Other works
2.6 Lost works
5 Translations of Lives and Moralia
5.1 French translations
5.2 English translations
5.3 Italian translations
5.5 German translations
5.5.1 Hieronymus Emser
5.5.2 Gottlob Benedict von Schirach
5.5.3 Johann Friedrich Salomon Kaltwasser
5.5.4 Subsequent German translations
5.6 Hebrew translations
7 See also
11 Further reading
12 External links
Ruins of the Temple of
Apollo at Delphi, where
Plutarch served as one
of the priests responsible for interpreting the predictions of the
Plutarch was born to a prominent family in the small town of
Chaeronea, about 80 km (50 miles) east of Delphi, in the Greek
region of 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
(Nίκαρχoς). The name of Plutarch's grandfather was Lamprias, as
he attested in Moralia 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
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. Interestingly, he hinted at a belief in reincarnation 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,
Eurydice and Pollianus, seems to speak of her[who?] as
having been recently an inmate of his house, but without any clear
evidence on whether she was his daughter or not.
Plutarch studied mathematics and philosophy at the Academy of Athens
under Ammonius from 66 to 67.
At some point,
Plutarch took Roman citizenship. As evidenced by his
new name, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus, his sponsor for citizenship was
Lucius Mestrius Florus, a Roman of consular status whom
used as a historical source for his Life of Otho.
"The soul, being eternal, after death is like a caged bird that has
been released. If it has been a long time in the body, and has become
tame by many affairs and long habit, the soul will immediately take
another body and once again become involved in the troubles of the
world. The worst thing about old age is that the soul's memory of the
other world grows dim, while at the same time its attachment to things
of this world becomes so strong that the soul tends to retain the form
that it had in the body. But that soul which remains only a short time
within a body, until liberated by the higher powers, quickly recovers
its fire and goes on to higher things."
Plutarch (The Consolation, Moralia)
He lived most of his life at Chaeronea, and was initiated into the
mysteries of the Greek god 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. By his writings
Plutarch became a celebrity in the 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.[citation
Work as magistrate and ambassador
In addition to his duties as a priest of the Delphic temple, Plutarch
was also a magistrate at
Chaeronea and he represented his
home[clarification needed] on various missions to foreign countries
during his early adult years.
Plutarch held the office of 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, a medieval Greek encyclopedia, states that Emperor Trajan
Plutarch procurator of Illyria. However, most historians consider
this unlikely, since
Illyria was not a procuratorial province, and
Plutarch probably did not speak Illyrian.
According to the 8th/9th-century historian George Syncellus, late in
Plutarch's life, Emperor
Hadrian appointed him nominal procurator of
Achaea – which entitled him to wear the vestments and ornaments of a
Priest at Delphi
Portrait of a philosopher and Hermaic stele at
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" (
( "Περὶ τοῦ μὴ χρᾶν ἔμμετρα νῦν τὴν
Πυθίαν"). Even more important is the dialogue "On the E in
Delphi" ("Περὶ τοῦ Εἶ τοῦ ἐν Δελφοῖς"),
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
Delphi originated from the
following fact: the wise men of antiquity, 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. However,
the tyrants Cleobulos and
Periandros used their political power in
order to be incorporated in the list. Thus, the E, which corresponds
to number 5, constituted an acknowledgment that the Delphic maxims
actually originated from the five real wise men. The portrait of a
philosopher exhibited at the exit of the Archaeological Museum of
Delphi, dating to the 2nd century AD, had been in the past 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. Next
to this portrait stands a fragmentary hermaic stele, bearing a
portrait probably of the author from
Chaeronea and priest in Delphi.
Its inscription, however, reads: Δελφοὶ Χαιρωνεῦσιν
ὁμοῦ Πλούταρχον ἔθηκαν τοῖς
Ἀμφικτυόνων δόγμασι πειθόμενοι. (Syll.3
843=CID 4, no. 151) The citizens of
Plutarch together, following the precepts of the Amphictyony.
Lives of the Roman emperors
Plutarch's first biographical works were the Lives of the Roman
Augustus to Vitellius. Of these, only the Lives of Galba
Otho survive. The Lives of
Nero are extant only as
fragments, provided by
Damascius (Life of Tiberius, cf. his Life of
Plutarch himself (Life of Nero, cf.
respectively. These early emperors’ biographies were probably
published under the
Flavian dynasty or during the reign of Nerva (AD
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 and the
Life of Artaxerxes II (the biographies of Hesiod, Pindar,
Daiphantus were lost). Unlike in these biographies, in Galba-
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
Arguing from the perspective of Platonic political philosophy (cf.
Republic 375E, 410D-E, 411E-412A, 442B-C), in Galba-
reveals the constitutional principles of the
Principate 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",
"passing, as it were, across the stage, and one making room for
another to enter" (
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' edition
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
A page from the 1470 Ulrich Han printing of Plutarch's Parallel Lives
Main article: Parallel Lives
Plutarch's best-known work is the Parallel Lives, a series of
biographies of famous Greeks and Romans, arranged in pairs to
illuminate their common moral virtues and vices. 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 parallels between
physical appearance and moral character. In many ways, he must be
counted amongst the earliest moral philosophers.
Some of the Lives, such as those of Heracles, Philip II of Macedon,
Epaminondas and Scipio Africanus, 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,
Agesilaus II, Pericles, Alcibiades, Nicias,
Demosthenes, Pelopidas, Philopoemen, Timoleon, Dion of Syracuse,
Eumenes, Alexander the Great, Pyrrhus of Epirus, Romulus, Numa
Pompilius, Coriolanus, Theseus, Aemilius Paullus,
Gaius Gracchus, Gaius Marius, Sulla, Sertorius, Lucullus, Pompey,
Julius Caesar, Cicero, Cato the Elder, Mark Antony, and Marcus Junius
Spartan lives and sayings
Since Spartans wrote no history prior to the Hellenistic period, and
since 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 one
of the richest sources for historians of Lacedaemonia. But while
they are important, they are also controversial.
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 what he wrote. Plutarch's
sources themselves can be problematic. As the historians Sarah
Pomeroy, Stanley Burstein, Walter Donlan, and Jennifer Tolbert Roberts
have written, "
Plutarch was influenced by histories written after the
Sparta and marked by nostalgia for a happier past, real or
imagined." Turning to
Plutarch himself, they write, "the
admiration writers like
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,
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.
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. 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.
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, Alexander's
favourite 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. 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, which Alexander
instantly and deeply regretted, is commonly cited to this end.
Much, too, is made of Alexander's scorn for luxury: "He desired not
pleasure or wealth, but only excellence and glory." This is mostly
true, for Alexander's tastes grew more extravagant as he grew older
only in the last year of his life and only[according to whom?] as a
means of approaching the image of a ruler his Persian subjects were
better accustomed to — thus making it easier for him to succeed in
uniting the Greek and Persian worlds together, according to the plan
he had announced in his famous Speech given in Opis in 324 BC.
Life of Caesar
Together with Suetonius's The Twelve Caesars, and Caesar's own works
de Bello Gallico and de Bello Civili, this Life is the main account of
Julius Caesar's feats by ancient historians.
Plutarch starts by
telling the audacity of Caesar and his refusal to dismiss Cinna's
daughter, Cornelia. Other important parts are these containing his
military deeds, accounts of battles and Caesar's capacity of inspiring
His soldiers showed such good will and zeal in his service that those
who in their previous campaigns had been in no way superior to others
were invincible and irresistible in confronting every danger to
enhance Caesar's fame. Such a man, for instance, was Acilius, who, in
the sea-fight at Massalia, boarded a hostile ship and had his right
hand cut off with a sword, but clung with the other hand to his
shield, and dashing it into the faces of his foes, routed them all and
got possession of the vessel. Such a man, again, was Cassius Scaeva,
who, in the battle at Dyrrhachium, had his eye struck out with an
arrow, his shoulder transfixed with one javelin and his thigh with
another, and received on his shield the blows of one hundred and
thirty missiles. In this plight, he called the enemy to him as though
he would surrender. Two of them, accordingly, coming up, he lopped off
the shoulder of one with his sword, smote the other in the face and
put him to flight, and came off safely himself with the aid of his
comrades. Again, in Britain, when the enemy had fallen upon the
foremost centurions, who had plunged into a watery marsh, a soldier,
while Caesar in person was watching the battle, dashed into the midst
of the fight, displayed many conspicuous deeds of daring, and rescued
the centurions, after the Barbarians had been routed. Then he himself,
making his way with difficulty after all the rest, plunged into the
muddy current, and at last, without his shield, partly swimming and
partly wading, got across. Caesar and his company were amazed and came
to meet the soldier with cries of joy; but he, in great dejection, and
with a burst of tears, cast himself at Caesar's feet, begging pardon
for the loss of his shield. Again, in Africa, Scipio captured a ship
of Caesar's in which Granius Petro, who had been appointed quaestor,
was sailing. Of the rest of the passengers Scipio made booty, but told
the quaestor that he offered him his life. Granius, however, remarking
that it was the custom with Caesar's soldiers not to receive but to
offer mercy, killed himself with a blow of his sword.
— Life of Caesar, XVI
However, this Life shows few differences between Suetonius' work and
Caesar's own works (see
De Bello Gallico
De Bello Gallico and De Bello Civili).
Plutarch quotes directly from the
De Bello Gallico
De Bello Gallico and even
tells us of the moments when Caesar was dictating his works.
In the final part of this Life,
Plutarch counts Caesar's
assassination, and several details. The book ends on telling the
destiny of his murderers, and says that Caesar's "great
guardian-genius" avenged him after life.
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 BC,
for which neither Dionysius nor
Livy have surviving texts.
Criticism of Parallel Lives
"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."
Plutarch (Life of Alexander/Life of Julius Caesar, Parallel Lives,
[tr. E.L. Bowie])
Plutarch stretches and occasionally fabricates the similarities
between famous Greeks and Romans in order to be able to write their
biographies as parallel. The lives of
Nicias and Crassus, for example,
have little in common except that "both were rich and both suffered
great military defeats at the ends of their lives".
In his Life of Pompey,
Plutarch praises Pompey's trustworthy character
and tactful behaviour in order to conjure a moral judgement that
opposes most historical accounts.
Plutarch delivers anecdotes with
moral points, rather than in-depth comparative analyses of the causes
of the fall of the Achaemenid Empire and the Roman Republic, and
tends on occasion to fit facts to hypotheses.
On the other hand, he generally sets out his moral anecdotes in
chronological order (unlike, say, his Roman contemporary
Suetonius) and is rarely narrow-minded and unrealistic, almost
always prepared to acknowledge the complexity of the human condition
where moralising cannot explain it.
Main article: Moralia
The remainder of Plutarch's surviving work is collected under the
title of the
Moralia (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—an important adjunct to his Life of the great
king, On the Worship of
Osiris (a crucial source of
information on 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,
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.
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
A bust of the early Greek historian Herodotus, whom Plutarch
criticized in On the Malice of Herodotus
In On the Malice of
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
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.
Plutarch scholar R. H. Barrow, Herodotus’ real failing
in Plutarch’s eyes was to advance any criticism at all of those
states that saved Greece from Persia. “Plutarch”, he concluded,
“is fanatically biased in favor of the Greek cities; they can do no
Symposiacs (Συμποσιακά); Convivium Septem Sapientium.
The Romans loved the Lives, and enough copies were written out over
the centuries so that a copy of most of the lives has survived to the
present day. An ancient list of works attributed to Plutarch, the
'Catalogue of Lamprias' contains 227 works, of which 78 have come down
to us. The lost works of
Plutarch are determined by references in
his own texts to them and from other authors' references over time.
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
Scipio Africanus and Epaminondas, and the companions
to the four solo biographies. Even the lives of such important figures
Nero have not been found and may be lost
Other lost works 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".
Plutarch was a Platonist, but was open to the influence of the
Peripatetics, and in some details even to
Stoicism despite his
criticism of their principles. He rejected only Epicureanism
absolutely. He attached little importance to theoretical questions
and doubted the possibility of ever solving them. 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) in order to explain
the phenomenal world. This principle he sought, however, not in
any indeterminate matter but in the evil 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 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 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. However pure Plutarch's idea of
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 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.
Shakespeare: Metamorphosis - Plutarch’s “Lives” (1579), Senate
Plutarch's writings had an enormous influence on English and French
literature. Shakespeare paraphrased parts of Thomas North's
translation of selected Lives in his plays, and occasionally quoted
from them verbatim.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson and the Transcendentalists were greatly influenced
Moralia — so much so, in fact, that Emerson called the Lives
"a bible for heroes" in his glowing introduction to the five-volume
19th-century edition. He also opined that it was impossible to
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.'"
Montaigne's 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 Greek, in Latin, English,
French, German, Italian, Polish and Hebrew.
“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.”
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,
Thomas North later published his English translation of the
Lives in 1579 based on Amyot’s French translation instead of the
Plutarch's Lives were translated into English, from Amyot's version,
Thomas North in 1579. The complete
Moralia was first translated
into English from the original Greek by
Philemon Holland in 1603.
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
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,
ISBN 0-85229-163-9, copyright 1952, Library of Congress catalogue
card number 55-10323.
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. 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
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
Note: just main translations from the second half of 15th century.
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...,
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.
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
Louis XV of France and a 1470
Ulrich Han translation.
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, 1776–80.
Johann Friedrich Salomon Kaltwasser
Plutarch's Lives and
Moralia were translated into German by Johann
Friedrich Salomon Kaltwasser:
Vitae parallelae. Vergleichende Lebensbeschreibungen. 10 Bände.
Moralia. Moralische Abhandlungen. 9 Bde. Frankfurt a.M. 1783-1800.
Subsequent German translations
Konrat Ziegler (de) (Hrsg.): Große Griechen und Römer. 6 Bde.
Zürich 1954-1965. (Bibliothek der alten Welt).
Konrat Ziegler (Hrsg.):Plutarch. Über Gott und Vorsehung, Dämonen
und Weissagung, Zürich 1952. (Bibliothek der alten Welt)
Bruno Snell (Hrsg.):Plutarch. Von der Ruhe des Gemüts - und andere
Schriften, Zürich 1948. (Bibliothek der alten Welt)
Hans-Josef Klauck (Hrsg.): Plutarch. Moralphilosophische Schriften,
Stuttgart 1997. (Reclams Universal-Bibliothek)
Herwig Görgemanns (Hrsg.):Plutarch. Drei Religionsphilosophische
Schriften, Düsseldorf 2003. (Tusculum)
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, Fabius Maximus,
Tiberius Gracchus and Gaius Gracchus,
Cato the Elder
Cato the Elder and Cato the Younger, Gaius Marius, Sulla, Sertorius,
Lucullus, Pompey, Crassus, Cicero, Julius Caesar,
Brutus and Mark
The second volume, Greek Lives, first published in 1971 presents A. A.
Halevy's translations of the biographies of Lycurgus, Aristides,
Cimon, Pericles, Nicias, Lysander, Agesilaus, Pelopidas, Dion,
Timoleon, Demosthenes, Alexander the Great,
Eumenes and Phocion. Three
more biographies presented in this volume, those of Solon,
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, Pyrrhus, Agis and
Aratus and Artaxerxes, Philopoemen, Camillus, Marcellus,
Flamininus, Aemilius Paulus,
Galba and Otho, Theseus, Romulus, 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.
Main article: Pseudo-Plutarch
Some editions of the
Moralia include several works now known to have
been 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".
sometime between the third and fourth centuries A.D. Despite being
falsely attributed, the works are still considered to possess
Numenius of Apamea
^ The name Mestrius or Lucius Mestrius was taken by Plutarch, as was
common Roman practice, from his patron for citizenship in the empire;
in this case Lucius Mestrius Florus, a Roman consul.
^ Lamberton, Robert. Plutarch. New Haven: Yale University Press,
^ "Plutarch". Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy.
^ Dillon, John M. Middle Platonists: 80 BC to AD 220. Cornell
University Press, 1996. p.184 ff.
^ Stadter, Philip A. (2015).
Plutarch and His Roman Readers. Oxford
University Press. p. 69. ISBN 9780198718338. Retrieved
Plutarch wrote in Greek and with a Greek point of
view, [...] he was thinking of a Roman as well as a Greek
^ Symposiacs, Book IX, questions II & III
Plutarch • Consolatio ad Uxorem". penelope.uchicago.edu.
Retrieved 17 March 2018.
^ a b Aubrey Stewart, George Long. "Life of Plutarch". Plutarch's
Lives, Volume I (of 4). The Gutenberg Project. Retrieved
Plutarch Bio(46c.-125)". The Online Library of Liberty. Archived
from the original on 2006-12-10. Retrieved 2006-12-06.
^ Clough, Arthur Hugh (1864). "Introduction". Plutarch's Lives.
Liberty Library of Constitutional Classics.
^ Gianakaris, C. J. Plutarch. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1970.
^ Russell, D. A. Plutarch. New York: Scribner, 1973.
^ "Περί του μη χραν έμμετρα νυν την
Πυθίαν (Πλούταρχος) - Βικιθήκη".
el.wikisource.org. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
^ Plutarch, Moralia, On the E at
Delphi (in ancient Greek)
^ Ziegler, Konrad, Plutarchos von Chaironeia (Stuttgart 1964), 258.
Citation translated by the author.
^ Cf. among others, Holzbach, M.-C.(2006). Plutarch: Galba-
die Apostelgeschichte : ein Gattungsvergleich. Religion and
Biography, 14 (ed. by Detlev Dormeyer et al.). Berlin London: LIT,
^ a b Cf. Holzbach, op. cit., 24, 67–83
^ The citation from
Galba was extracted from the Dryden translation as
given at the MIT Internet Classics Archive
^ Cf. Holzbach, op. cit., 24
^ a b c d e Pomeroy, Sarah B, Stanley M. Burstein, Walter Donlan, and
Tolbert Roberts Jennifer. Ancient Greece: A Political, Social, and
Cultural History. New York, New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.
^ 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.
Plutarch (1972). "Translator's Introduction". Fall Of The Roman
Republic: Six Lives by Plutarch. translated by Rex Warner. Penguin
Books. p. 8.
^ a b "
Plutarch of Chaeronea". Livius.Org. Retrieved 2006-12-06.
^ (but which according to Erasmus referred to the
Isis and Osiris". Frank Cole Babbitt
(trans.). Retrieved 2006-12-10.
Plutarch • Roman Questions, 90‑113". uchicago.edu.
^ a b c Kimball, Roger. "
Plutarch & the issue of character". The
New Criterion Online. Retrieved 2006-12-11.
^ Grote, George (2000-10-19) . A History of Greece: From the
Solon to 403 B.C. Routledge. p. 203.
^ Barrow, R.H. (1979) .
Plutarch and His Times.
^ Plutarch: Symposiacs, in The complete works of Plutarch: essays and
miscellanies, New York: Crowell, 1909. Vol.III.
^ Russell, D.A.F.M. (1970) The Oxford Classical Dictionary, Clarendon
Press, Oxford, p.849
^ "Translator's Introduction". The
Parallel Lives (Vol. I ed.). Loeb
Classical Library Edition. 1914.
^ McCutchen, Wilmot H. "
Plutarch - His Life and Legacy". Retrieved
^ Mauro Bonazzi, "
Plutarch on the Differences Between the Pyrrhonists
and Academics", Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, 2012
^ a b Eduard Zeller, Outlines of the History of Greek Philosophy, 13th
edition, page 306
^ a b c d e f g h Eduard Zeller, Outlines of the History of Greek
Philosophy, 13th edition, page 307
^ a b c d e Eduard Zeller, Outlines of the History of Greek
Philosophy, 13th edition, page 308
^ "Shakespeare: Metamorphosis - Plutarch's "Lives" (1579)". Senate
House Library at Vimeo. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
^ Honigmann 1959.
^ Emerson, Ralph Waldo (1870). "Introduction". In William W. Goodwin.
Plutarch's Morals. London: Sampson, Low. p. xxi.
^ Emerson, Ralph Waldo (1850). "Uses of Great Men". Representative
^ H. J. Rose. A Handbook of Greek Literature: From
Homer to the Age of
Lucian.. New York: Dutton, 1960. p. 409 (a Dutton paperback).
^ "Amyot, Jacques (1513-1593)". Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh
Bernadotte Perrin Papers (MS 1018). Manuscripts and Archives, Yale
^ The Age of Alexander, rev. ed. (Penguin, 2012), "Penguin Plutarch".
^ Virgilio Costa, Sulle prime traduzioni italiane a stampa delle opere
di Plutarco (secc. XV-XVI)
^ 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.
^ Marietta, Don E. (1998). Introduction to Ancient Philosophy. M.E.
Sharpe. p. 190. ISBN 9780765602169.
Blackburn, Simon (1994). Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy. Oxford:
Oxford University Press.
Russell, D.A. (2001) . Plutarch. Duckworth Publishing.
Duff, Timothy (2002) . Plutarch's Lives: Exploring Virtue and
Vice. UK: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-925274-9.
Hamilton, Edith (1957). The Echo of Greece. W. W. Norton &
Company. p. 194. ISBN 0-393-00231-4.
Honigmann, E. A. J. "Shakespeare's Plutarch." Shakespeare Quarterly,
Plutarch and History. Eighteen Studies, London
Wardman, Alan (1974). Plutarch's "Lives". Elek. p. 274.
John M. Dillon, The Middle Platonists: 80 B.C. to A.D. 220, Cornell
University Press, 1996 ISBN 978-0801483165
Library resources about
Resources in your library
Resources in other libraries
Resources in your library
Resources in other libraries
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,
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d’Études Classiques 11. Leuven, Belgium: Peeters.
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Ancient World. Malden, MA, and Oxford: Blackwell.
Beneker, Jeffrey. 2012. The passionate statesman: Eros and politics in
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Gill, Christopher. 1983. "The question of character-development:
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Studies in manliness and courage in classical Athens. Edited by Ralph
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Wikiquote has quotations related to: Plutarch
Wikisource has original works written by or about:
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Plutarch.
Plutarch at Project Gutenberg
Works by or about
Plutarch at Internet Archive
LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
Perseus Project: many texts of
Pseudo-Plutarch in Greek
Didot edition of Plutarch's works in Greek, with
(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) (also via BNF)
Collections of works in English translation: at University of
Adelaide, at LacusCurtius, Project Gutenberg, Lives, trans. North
Also in English translation (by John Dryden, 1631-1700): Plutarch,
Parallel Lives, Solon
Free Audiobooks by
Plutarch from Librivox
Karamanolis, George. "Plutarch". In Zalta, Edward N. Stanford
Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Chaeronea by Jona Lendering at Livius.Org
The relevance of Plutarch's book De Defectu Oraculorum for Christian
Theology (Ploutarchos, Journal of the International
The works of Plutarch
Alcibiades and Coriolanus1
Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar
Aratus of Sicyon
Aratus of Sicyon / Artaxerxes and
Galba / Otho2
Aristides and Cato the Elder1
Crassus and Nicias1
Demetrius and Antony1
Demosthenes and Cicero1
Dion and Brutus1
Fabius and Pericles1
Lucullus and Cimon1
Lysander and Sulla1
Numa and Lycurgus1
Pelopidas and Marcellus1
Philopoemen and Flamininus1
Phocion and Cato the Younger
Pompey and Agesilaus1
Poplicola and Solon1
Pyrrhus and Gaius Marius
Romulus and Theseus1
Sertorius and Eumenes1
Agis / Cleomenes1 and
Tiberius Gracchus / Gaius Gracchus
Timoleon and Aemilius Paulus1
Themistocles and Camillus
Translators and editors
Arthur Hugh Clough
1 Comparison extant
2 Four unpaired Lives
Menedemus of Pyrrha
Eudoxus of Cnidus
Philip of Opus
Crates of Athens
Philo of Larissa
Philo of Alexandria
Maximus of Tyre
Numenius of Apamea
Origen the Pagan
Disciples of Plotinus
Maximus of Ephesus
Eusebius of Myndus
Plutarch of Athens
Greek Dark Ages
Ancient Greek colonies
Antigonid Macedonian army
Army of Macedon
Sacred Band of Thebes
List of ancient Greeks
Kings of Argos
Archons of Athens
Kings of Athens
Kings of Commagene
Kings of Lydia
Kings of Macedonia
Kings of Paionia
Attalid kings of Pergamon
Kings of Pontus
Kings of Sparta
Tyrants of Syracuse
Diogenes of Sinope
Alexander the Great
Milo of Croton
Philip of Macedon
Ancient Greek tribes
Funeral and burial practices
Arts and science
Greek Revival architecture
Funeral and burial practices
Theatre of Dionysus
Tunnel of Eupalinos
ISNI: 0000 0001 2145 8828
BNF: cb13197358f (data)