Related Links in the GSR:
Related Links in the Library:
Born in A.D. 46 in the city of Chaeronea into the family of the prominent historian
and philosopher Aristobulus, Plutarch had the best education available to the
elite of Greco-Roman society. He was sent by his father to Athens to study with
the philosopher and mathematician Ammonius from 66 to 67. Plutarch was active
in politics and traveled to Rome several times as a public servant. In Rome,
he was a popular philosopher and public figure and traveled in circles that
included the emperors Trajan and Hadrian. He died sometime after 119.
Plutarch is known to have written 227 works of various sorts. Of these, Parallel
Lives and Morals have been the most influential for later generations.
Lives is a collection of biographies about Greek and Roman figures that
are paired because of similarities in their characters and history. This work
examines the morals of each person in depth and is the first biographical work
in the modern sense. Morals is a collection of works on ethical, political,
religious, and literary topics. Both works were largely lost from the Latin
tradition until the fifteenth century, when Plutarch was reintroduced to Italy
by Byzantine scholars. From that point on he exerted a noticeable influence
(mostly through Lives) on writers of biography and history. Such writers
as Bacon, Montaigne, Goethe, Schiller, Rabelais, and Shakespeare were all influenced
either by Plutarch's literary style or by his thought. Shakespeare used Parallel
Lives as his primary source for historical information in his Roman historical
works and seems to have taken his notion of the tragic hero from Plutarch's
examples. Montaigne owes both his style of revealing character through historical
anecdote and the idea of ancient virtue to Plutarch.
Works by the Author
Plutarch of Chaeronea. The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans.
Translated by John Dryden. Revised by Arthur H. Clough. New York: Modern Library,
Plutarch of Chaeronea. The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans compared
together by that Grave, Learned Philosopher and Historiographer Plutarch.
8 vols. Translated by James Amyot and Thomas North. New York: The Limited Editions
Plutarch of Chaeronea. Plutarch's Lives. 10 vols. Translated by Bernadotte
Perrin. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons.
Plutarch of Chaeronea. Plutarch's Lives. Translated by John Dryden.
Revised by Arthur H. Clough. Philadelphia: The Nottingham Society.
Plutarch of Chaeronea. Lives. 11 vols. Translated by Bernadotte Perrin.
Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1914-26.
Plutarch of Chaeronea. Moralia. Vols. 1-6, 10. Translated by Frank
Cole Babbitt. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1927-39.
Plutarch of Chaeronea. Plutarch's Lives. Translated by John Langhorne
and Wm. Langhorne. London: 1843.
The biographical material about the author originally appeared on The
Goodrich Room: Interactive Tour website.