Plutarch, 45CE - 120CE

It is not Histories that I am writing, but Lives; and in the most illustrious deeds there is not always a manifestation of virtue or vice, nay, a slight thing like a phrase or a jest often makes a greater revelation of character than battles when thousands fall, or the greatest armaments, or sieges of cities.



Plutarch of Chaeronea is best known as the author of the Parallel Lives, a collection of 46 short biographies arranged in pairs of Greeks and Romans. He also wrote more than 70 treatises, dialogues, and speeches that have come down to us as the Moralia. A catalogue of Plutarch’s works compiled a century or so after his death records another 100 works, now lost. A corpus so unwieldy inevitably touches on a variety of themes, but the source of Plutarch’s enduring influence has been his insight into human excellence in political life. [Read More]


Plutarch’s writing comes down to us in two voluminous collections: the Moralia and the Lives. Both testify to Plutarch’s philosophical interest in human excellence, and both have won admiration from illustrious figures like Montaigne, Shakespeare, Rousseau, and the American founders. The two collections differ significantly, however, in form and content. [Read More]

Chief Works

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Hugh Liebert of West Point offers an introduction to Plutarch’s politics at the Program on Constitutional Government at Harvard.

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