37 Facts About Plutarch


Plutarch was a Greek Middle Platonist philosopher, historian, biographer, essayist, and priest at the Temple of Apollo in Delphi.


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


Plutarch was born to a prominent family in the small town of Chaeronea, about 30 kilometres east of Delphi, in the Greek region of Boeotia.


Plutarch's family was long established in the town; his father was named Autobulus and his grandfather was named Lamprias.


Plutarch hinted at a belief in reincarnation in that letter of consolation.


Plutarch attended the games of Delphi where the emperor Nero competed and possibly met prominent Romans, including future emperor Vespasian.


Traditionally the surviving catalog of Plutarch's works is ascribed to another son, named Lamprias after Plutarch's grandfather.


Plutarch's family remained in Greece down to at least the fourth century, producing a number of philosophers and authors.


Plutarch was a vegetarian, though how long and how strictly he adhered to this diet is unclear.


Plutarch wrote about the ethics of meat-eating in two discourses in Moralia.


Plutarch was on familiar terms with a number of Roman nobles, particularly the consulars Quintus Sosius Senecio, Titus Avidius Quietus, and Arulenus Rusticus, all of whom appear in his works.


Plutarch lived most of his life at Chaeronea, and was initiated into the mysteries of the Greek god Apollo.


Plutarch held the office of archon in his native municipality, probably only an annual one which he likely served more than once.


Plutarch was epimeletes of the Amphictyonic League for at least five terms, from 107 to 127, in which role he was responsible for organising the Pythian Games.


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


Plutarch sought to provide rounded portraits, likening his craft to that of a painter; indeed, he went to tremendous lengths to draw parallels between physical appearance and moral character.


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.


Plutarch starts by telling of the audacity of Caesar and his refusal to dismiss Cinna's daughter, Cornelia.


Plutarch's 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.


The remainder of Plutarch's surviving work is collected under the title of the Moralia.


Plutarch lived centuries after the Sparta he writes about 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.


In On the Malice of Herodotus, Plutarch criticizes the historian Herodotus for all manner of prejudice and misrepresentation.


Plutarch makes some palpable hits, catching Herodotus out in various errors, but it is 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.


The lost works of Plutarch are determined by references in his own texts to them and from other authors' references over time.


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.


Plutarch attached little importance to theoretical questions and doubted the possibility of ever solving them.


Plutarch adopted a second principle in order to explain the phenomenal world.


Plutarch elevated God above the finite world, and thus daemons became for him agents of God's influence on the world.


Plutarch strongly defends freedom of the will, and the immortality of the soul.


The most characteristic feature of Plutarch's ethics is its close connection with religion.


Plutarch's writings had an enormous influence on English and French literature.


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


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


Plutarch 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.


Plutarch's Lives were translated into English, from Amyot's version, by Sir Thomas North in 1579.


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.


Pseudo-Plutarch lived sometime between the third and fourth centuries AD.