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Plutarch ( ancient Greek Πλούταρχος Plútarchos , Latinized Plutarchus; * around 45 in Chaironeia ; † around 125) was an ancient Greek writer. He wrote numerous biographical and philosophical writings that show his extensive education and erudition. In Greek literary history, Plutarch is considered one of the most important representatives of atticism . His best-known work, the parallel biographies, compares the biographies of a Greek and a Roman.

Sometimes Plutarch is counted among the historians, but although his biographies often contain valuable historical material, he was not interested in researching the past for its own sake, rather he was interested in character studies and moral exemplary behavior. He described well-known historical personalities in whom he saw character role models - sometimes also of a deterring kind. Through the comparisons, Plutarch tried to work out what was common and universally valid and to make the reader aware of the equality of the historical achievements of Greeks and Romans. Plutarch's parallel biographies represent a high point in ancient biographies. As a philosopher, he committed to the tradition of Platonism .


Historical context

Plutarch lived at the time the Roman Empire was at the height of its expansion. He received his training under the rule of Nero , whom he also met personally in 66. A large part of his life fell during the reign of the Flavians (69 to 96), his parallel biographies were written after 96. He must have died during the reign of Hadrian . After his death, the residents of Delphi, together with those of his hometown Chaironeia, erected a bust with his portrait.

In Plutarch's time there were no threatening external opponents for Rome; the only remaining competing great power, the Parthian Empire , usually behaved defensively. The Greek city-states had already in the 2nd century BC. BC lost their freedom and were incorporated into the Roman Empire. Although they retained limited autonomy, they were under the authority of Roman governors. The Greek culture, however, experienced a new bloom in the first two centuries AD; Classical works were considered exemplary, while those of Hellenism were less valued. The emperors Tiberius , Nero and Hadrian tried to revive communal life and promote Greek culture so that the Greeks could consider the Roman Empire as their home. However, the upturn was largely limited to the cities, while many rural regions, including fertile ones, became impoverished and deserted due to the migration of their inhabitants to the cities. Latin was also the official language in the east, but Greek remained the standard and cultural language in the entire eastern Mediterranean and thus beyond the borders of the originally Greek language area. It was almost a matter of course for the elites of Rome to also master Greek. Many distinguished Romans studied in Athens or Rhodes, and many emperors turned to Greek treasures. A Romanization of the Greek population did not take place.

Family and education

Plutarch came from Chaironeia in Boeotia , where he grew up with two brothers, Lamprias and Timon. His family had lived in Chaironeia for at least three generations. She belonged to the long-established local upper class and attached great importance to education. However, the family tradition is only passed on in Plutarch's works to his great-grandfather Nikarchus. Plutarch is particularly positive about his grandfather Lamprias, who often appears as a dialogue partner in his moralia . His father Autobulos, on the other hand, is presented more soberly, since he was less versed in philosophy. His mother does not mention Plutarch, which suggests her early death. The wealth of his family allowed him to travel extensively and to study in Athens , the ancient center of philosophical education, with the Platonist Ammonius , who shaped his further intellectual life. He also became acquainted with various other Athenian schools of philosophy , especially the Stoa . He wrote longer pamphlets against Epicureans and Stoics, which are important sources for the history of these two schools. After his training in Athens he returned to Chaironeia.

Life in Chaironeia

Ruins of the Temple of Apollo in Delphi, where Plutarch worked as a priest from 95 AD

Plutarch lived with his wife Timoxena on their paternal estate and had a happy marriage with her. The sources do not reveal the time of the marriage. It is likely that Plutarch married at a young age in accordance with normal practice, probably before the age of 25. He and his wife had five children, four sons and, as the youngest, a daughter whom the mother had especially wanted and who was therefore named Timoxena after her. However, the daughter died at the age of two. The eldest son Soklaros must have died shortly after the age of 12 because he is no longer mentioned in Plutarch's writings later. Only two of the sons, Autobulos and Plutarchus, named after the grandfather, survived the father.

After completing his studies in Athens, Plutarch took over numerous political offices, especially in his hometown Chaironeia and at times in the province of Achaia . Among other things, he was the head of the building police and public works in Chaironeia, where he also held numerous priestly offices. From about 95 he held a priesthood at the Temple of Apollo in Delphi . He also ran a private school in his hometown. Members of his own family as well as friends and their relatives participated in it, and later also families from outside who had their sons taught there. A large circle of friends and acquaintances was formed. In Plutarch's school philosophy lessons were given, on the one hand through lectures, on the other hand in dialogue form. The works of Plato played an important role in this. The focus was on ethics. In addition, topics from politics, mathematics, music and astronomy were discussed.

to travel

Plutarch spent most of his life in Chaeronea. He felt close to his hometown, but made numerous trips on which he visited Greece, Asia Minor ( Sardis or Ephesus ), the Egyptian Alexandria and several times Rome.

In Rome he gave philosophical lectures in Greek to a large audience. There he made numerous friendly contacts with prominent Romans. From his friend Mestrius Florus , a friend of the emperor Vespasian , he took the Roman gentile name Mestrius. His Roman name is therefore Mestrius Plutarchus. However, it is not known when this happened and whether the Roman citizenship , attested in writing, took place during one of his stays in Rome or before. Plutarch himself does not mention his Roman name or his Roman citizenship in his surviving writings. Maybe he felt too Greek for that. However, he reported one undertaken jointly with Mestrius Florus travel to the scenes of the civil wars of the Four Emperors year 69th

There was a close friendship with Quintus Sosius Senecio , to whom he dedicated the parallel biographies. Through the influence of this friend, who was a confidante of the Emperor Trajan , Plutarch is said to have received consular privileges ( ornamenta consularia ) ; Whether this is the case is uncertain in research. The award is first mentioned in Eusebius and later in the Byzantine Suda . In the Middle Ages, this tradition gave rise to forgery of written documents about an alleged correspondence between Plutarch and Trajan. There he appears as the emperor's tutor.


Plutarch's works are all written in Greek. They are usually divided into two main groups, the biographical and the philosophical writings. A list from the 3rd or 4th century shows the works individually. It is known as the "Lamprias catalog". This catalog is incomplete, but contains the titles of numerous works that have been lost today.


Imperial biographies

Plutarch's biographical work began with the imperial servants, biographies of the Roman emperors from Augustus to Vitellius . Only the biographies of Galba and Otho and fragments of the lives of Tiberius and Nero have survived ; Plutarch himself gives a fragment of the nerobiography. A fragment of the Tiberius biography has come down to us from the late antique philosopher Damascius . The Kaiserviten were probably published under the Flavians or under Nerva (96–98).

There are many indications that the biographies of Galba and Otho were conceived as one work. Thus they do not belong to the surviving individual biographies (Aratos of Sikyon and Artaxerxes II; the individual biographies about Hesiod, Pindar, Krates, Daiphantos have been lost). It fits that in Galba-Otho, unlike in biographical works, the character does not stand for itself. Rather, Galba-Otho works as an illustration of adherence or non-compliance with the morally justified leadership style of a princeps propagated by Plutarch . In describing the civil war episode after Nero's death, Plutarch shows the reader aspects of the principate form of government from the perspective of Platonic state thought . Based on the behavior of the emperors, he wants to illustrate the problems of the principate and at the same time give an impression of the tragedy of the protagonists who vied for the throne "as if on stage" and destroyed one another.

Galba-Otho has come down to us in different ways: as an appendix to the parallel biographies, in the Moralia edition of Maximus Planudes and in other manuscripts of the Moralia . This suggests that Galba-Otho was seen very early, possibly by Plutarch himself, as an illustration of a moral-ethical approach.

Parallel biographies

The life of Romulus in the parallel biographies. Handwriting Oxford, Bodleian Library , MS. Canonici Greek 93, fol. 13r, written in 1362

This was followed by the Bíoi parálleloi ( οἱ βίοι παράλληλοι , Vitae parallelae , "parallel life descriptions"), which Plutarch dedicated to his friend Quintus Sosius Senecio. They were made from 96 onwards. In each of these pairs of vites, an outstanding Greek is compared with a Roman. Plutarch deals with famous, partly mythical statesmen of the past from Theseus to Marcus Antonius . Each pair of biographies puts together a Greek and a Roman whose lives have similarities. For example, Alexander the Great stands next to Caesar , Demosthenes next to Cicero . 23 pairs of biographies have been completed, 22 of which have been preserved; More were probably planned. Plutarch describes his characters with characteristics that he assesses differently. Some personalities, in which serious character deficiencies are emphasized, should serve as deterrent examples, such as Demetrios Poliorketes . In most cases the assessment is relatively balanced. The 22 pairs received are:

Alexander - Caesar, Dion - Brutus , Demetrios - Antonius , Agesilaos - Pompeius , Nikias - Crassus , Theseus - Romulus , Lykurgos - Numa , Solon - Poplicola , Aristeides - Cato Maior , Themistocles - Camillus , Kimon - Lucullus , Perikles - Fabius Maximus , Alkibiades - Coriolanus , Lysandros - Sulla , Pelopidas - Marcellus , Timoleon - Aemilius Paullus , Demosthenes - Cicero , Phokion - Cato Minor , Eumenes - Sertorius , Pyrrhos - Marius , Philopoimen - Flamininus , Agis / Kleomenes - Gracchen .

The order in which the Bíoi paralleloi were written is only partially known. The lost pair of Epameinondas and Scipio formed the beginning of the series. It is uncertain whether Scipio was the Hannibal winner or Aemilianus . Plutarch provides information on the sequence in three pairs of vitae through self-quotations and cross-references. Demosthenes - Cicero is said to be the fifth couple, Pericles - Fabius Maximus the tenth and Dion - Brutus the twelfth couple.

Individual biographies

Plutarch also wrote individual biographies that stand outside the parallel vitae, but are similar in scope and structure. Only the biography of Aratos of Sikyon , which is addressed to Polycrates of Sicyon and his sons, and that of the Persian great king Artaxerxes II have survived.

The goals of biographical writing

Plutarch saw himself as a biographer, by no means a historian , and clearly delimited his biographical work from historiography. For example, he wrote in the introduction to his double biography on Alexander and Caesar:

“Because I am not a historian, but a biographer, and it is by no means always the great heroic deeds in which efficiency or depravity is revealed. Often an insignificant incident, a saying or a joke says more about a person's character than the bloodiest battles, the greatest army contingents and the sieges of cities. "

Above all, it was important to Plutarch to make the character of the people, their virtues and mistakes clear. As a biographer, he had specific intentions: he wanted to entertain the reading public, clarify the moral quality of the person portrayed and at the same time convey the culture of the other people to the Romans and Greeks. The claim to chronological and geographical accuracy took a back seat. Plutarch chose his material from the point of view of creating a profiled personality. His interest was therefore also in the families and private life of the protagonists, but the historically essential should not be neglected. Plutarch discussed the major events that were important in each case; Here too, his intention was to clarify the character of the protagonist, for example in the biography of Nikias:

"The events reported by Thucydides and Philistus, which would be inadmissible because they contain in the highest degree the character and the state of mind of the man [Nicias] clouded by many great blows of fate, I have briefly and only hurried through as far as it is necessary. In order not to appear careless and sluggish, which was occasionally recorded by others or found on old votive gifts and popular resolutions and which is unknown to most, I have tried to collect this, not to burden history with it, but as an addition to the knowledge of Character and morals. "

- Plutarch, Nikias 1,5

Plutarch did not want to emulate well-known historians such as Thucydides or Philistus ; he also assumed that her works were known to his readers. Nevertheless, he felt it necessary to at least briefly mention the main events. He also added remote source material to the known facts. This means that the biographies of Plutarch, which are mostly based on lost, partly named historical works, are the most detailed source for some topics today.

Plutarch clarifies the priority of moral goal setting with the words:

“The fact that I started to write biographies is based on suggestions that were brought to me by others, that I stuck to it and soon found pleasure in it, happened of my own accord, since I used the story as a mirror, as it were, of my life and tried to match the virtues of those men. "

- Plutarch, Aemilius Paullus 1,1

Thus the virtues of statesmen should also serve as an incentive for the biographer himself in their exemplary nature.

The relationship with the sources

Plutarch read the authors cited by him (such as, for example, Ktesias of Knidos , Dinon of Colophon , Herakleides of Kyme , Timagenes of Alexandria , Theophanes of Mytilene and Gaius Asinius Pollio ) in the original, but the quotations are rarely literal. He often quoted from memory, so some quotations are inaccurate or incorrect. In addition, as was customary in antiquity, he took over some quotes from third parties without noting this. However, he was also able to deal with his sources critically, especially when dealing with recognizable legendary personalities such as the Greek hero Theseus , the mythical founder of Rome Romulus or the legendary lawgiver Sparta, Lycurgus.

“... it seemed to me the given to contrast and compare the founder of the wonderful, much-sung Athens with the father of the invincible, glorious Rome. So let me be allowed to use intellectual criticism to eliminate the legendary and to grasp the historical core by listening; but where the legend overgrows the believable too self-gloriously and no longer allows the use of the critical method, I will of course need mildly-minded readers who willingly accept the story of the old days. "

- Plutarch, Theseus 1,3

Plutarch was well aware of the difficulties associated with interpreting the sources. In view of the contradicting news he had about Pericles , he lamented:

“Establishing the truth in the past is indeed a difficult and arduous endeavor, as the length of time that has passed stands in the way of later historians in examining events, while contemporaries' accounts of a person's life and deeds often either pass through Envy and enmity or be distorted and twisted by benevolence and flattery. "

- Plutarch, Pericles 13.12

During his stays in Italy, Plutarch said he had not had time to practice the Latin language. Only at an advanced age did he catch up and began to read Latin scripts. His knowledge of Latin, as he himself admitted and as can be seen from errors in his texts, was not perfect, but it enabled him to use Latin sources. However, he also preferred Greek-speaking authors when dealing with Roman affairs.

He showed little interest in geographic conditions. His portrayal does not convey a clear and vivid picture of places that are well known to him, such as his hometown Chaironeia. In his statements on Alexandria, he did not evaluate his own observations.

When selecting and presenting the material, Plutarch used to proceed conscientiously and, if possible, to check the credibility of his sources. However, in some cases it can be seen that he was influenced by personal beliefs and preferences. Sometimes he withheld facts, presumably because they did not seem to fit the character image of a statesman he had drawn. For example, in Pompey's biography he did not mention the Roman-Parthian treaties over the Euphrates border , probably to avoid showing the triumvirs in an unfavorable light. In his descriptions of campaigns, the great fluctuation in detail is striking. Sometimes a moral application or the opportunity for literary effect apparently seduced him into adopting statements of obviously dubious credibility.

The moralia

Of the nearly 260 writings that were considered Plutarch's works in antiquity, well over half deal with philosophical topics. A collection known under the modern name Moralia contains 78 fonts, some of them spurious. Most of them are treatises on ethical issues . There are also writings on natural philosophy , logic and epistemology , rhetoric and the teachings of individual thinkers and schools of philosophy.

Among the religious-philosophical writings, the investigation of the Osiris theme from Egyptian mythology in the text About Isis and Osiris is of particular importance. This writing was one of the main sources for the Egyptian religion until the hieroglyphs were deciphered . It offers an overall representation of the myth of Isis and Osiris, which has not been replaced by the Egyptian evidence. Plutarch also wrote fundamental works on questions of oracles and Delphic theology: About the E in Delphi , About the extinct oracles , About the oracles of Pythia , which are no longer metrically bound . He complained about the dwindling oracles.

Plutarch was benevolent towards other religions because he believed that every people worshiped God in its own way. He fought against the unbelief and the widespread superstition of his time.

Of the eleven political writings that Plutarch is said to have written, only five have survived. These include About monarchy, democracy and oligarchy , To an uneducated ruler , Should an old man be politically active? and rules of statecraft . In the rules of statecraft , the politician is exhorted to urge his city to unity and restraint and thereby avoid interference by the Roman administration. In addition, in his works, Plutarch advises the rules of statecraft and Should an old man be politically active? An acquaintance from Sardis not to seek a municipal office unduly, but to accept offers. Furthermore, in his work On Calmness , he judges the career opportunities of young Greeks in public life in Rome rather coolly and distantly.

Another topic in the Moralia are educational texts ( About raising children , About listening ). The collection also contains writings with very personal content, such as the consolation to the wife , which Plutarch wrote after the death of his daughter. In it he takes a position on the role of women, following the Platonic tradition in favor of an upbringing similar to that of men. The partnership should be based on a spiritual and moral community and not only produce offspring and serve to satisfy sexual desire.

The Moralia show Plutarch's special admiration for Plato, whom he describes as the "divine". Plutarch followed him in almost all of the teachings and partly also in formal terms: the moralia are partly structured in the form of Platonic dialogues . Although Plutarch was a Platonist, he also took up the ideas of Peripatos and the Stoa . However, he also strongly criticized the Stoa. He completely rejected the teaching of Epicurus .

One of the rhetorical writings is, above all, the work About Talkativeness . Although many of Plutarch's rhetorical writings are lost today, his relationship to rhetoric becomes clear from the works that have survived.

In his natural philosophical oeuvre, Plutarch dealt intensively with the animal world, for example in the treatise Which animals are more sensible, the aquatic or the land animals? He committed himself to the Platonic theory of the migration of souls . He put forward numerous arguments with which he wanted to show the intelligence of animals. For him, this had consequences for the relationship between humans and the animal world. With his appreciation of animals, he opposed the peripatetics and stoics, who denied the existence of a legal relationship between humans and the animal world.

Plutarch also wrote some explanatory works on Homer , Hesiod , Empedocles, and Plato. Another issue with which he worked, was the fate (fatum) . About this he wrote the surviving book About Doom . He also dealt with the life and teachings of the Seven Wise Men ( Symposiaka ton hepta sophon , " The Banquet of the Seven Wise Men "). In the writings About the Primarily Cold and About the Moon Face , he commented on scientific problems, combining natural history research with religious and mythical speculations.

The moralia are also an important source on some aspects of ancient everyday life. This is how Plutarch describes the ideal seating arrangement in the dining room, the triclinium , different drinking habits and parts of the entertainment at the table, including topics for conversation, music and dance.

Plutarch, De virtute et vitio 100B – 101B in a manuscript prepared for Cardinal Bessarion in 1455. Venice, Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana , Gr. 248, fol. 5r
Exquisite Moral Writings of Plutarch , title page. Füeßlin, Zurich 1768


Since Plutarch was already famous during his lifetime, writings under his name were forged shortly after his death. His works have been reworked many times over the course of history and famous authors have studied them, largely because Plutarch is one of the most important sources for the lives of numerous prominent Greeks and Romans. The literary material was always reprocessed.

The texts that were available to Byzantine scholars in the 9th century have largely been preserved. For example, Photios owned the second volume of a two-volume edition of the biographies. There was also a slightly differently organized edition in three volumes. The other writings were mostly in circulation individually or in smaller groups. It was not until 1296 that they were put together into a collection by the Byzantine scholar Maximos Planudes .

In the West, Plutarch's works were not accessible in the Middle Ages. It was not until 1471 that they were distributed in Latin translations. This made Plutarch one of the most widely read authors in world literature.

The parallel biographies were translated into German, Italian and Spanish in the 16th century. In 1559 Jacques Amyot translated it into French as Les vies des hommes illustres grecs et romains, comparées l'une avec l'autre par Plutarque . The very freely translated text apparently met the taste of French readers and immediately became a great success. While Amyot was still alive, numerous reprints and four new editions revised by him appeared. The Plutarque was reprinted again and again over the next centuries. It was compulsory reading for all educated people and an important source of material for authors of French classical music in the 17th century. In 1572 Amyot also translated the Moralia , which influenced the genre of moral studies , which was important in France .

In 1579 Thomas North Plutarch translated from French into English, which suited the hero veneration of the Elizabethans . During this time, William Shakespeare based his dramas Julius Caesar , Coriolanus and Antonius and Cleopatra to a large extent on Plutarch's representations. In 1603, Philemon Holland made the first complete translation of the Moralia into English. In the 16th century, the Moralia exerted a great influence on the French writer Michel de Montaigne , for whose essays Plutarch's works served as a model in the French translation.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, Plutarch's parallel biographies were the most widely read script from ancient times. For example, Friedrich Schiller dealt with it. In the second scene of the first act of the drama Die Räuber , he had Karl Moor say: “I am disgusted by this ink-splattering sacrum when I read about great people in my Plutarch.” The German classical philologist Johann Friedrich Salomon Kaltwasser (1752-1813) translated this entire preserved work of Plutarch for the first time into German Friedrich Nietzsche was also gripped by enthusiasm for Plutarch . In the Untimely Reflections , he urges his readers: "Satisfy your souls in Plutarch and dare to believe in yourself by believing in his heroes."

In 1991 the English historian Alan Bullock submitted a double biography on Hitler and Stalin with the subtitle Parallel Lives . Plutarch had suggested the subtitle.

The lunar crater Plutarch and the asteroid (6615) Plutarchos are named after the writer.


  • Plutarchi vitae parallelae . Teubner, (Stuttgart) / Leipzig
    • Volume 1 Fasc. 1, ed. Konrat Ziegler , 3rd edition, 1960 (contains: Theseus, Romulus, Solon, Publicola, Themistocles, Camillus, Aristides, Cato the Elder, Kimon, Lucullus)
    • Volume 1 Fasc. 2, ed. Konrat Ziegler, Hans Gärtner , 1994, ISBN 3-8154-1671-X (contains: Perikles, Fabius Maximus, Nikias, Crassus, Coriolanus, Alkibiades, Demosthenes, Cicero)
    • Volume 2 Fasc. 1, ed. Konrat Ziegler, 1964 (contains: Phokion, Cato the Younger, Dion, Brutus, Timoleon, Aemilius Paullus, Eumenes, Sertorius)
    • Volume 2 Fasc. 2, ed. Konrat Ziegler, Hans Gärtner, 1994, ISBN 3-8154-1674-4 (contains: Philopoimen, Titus, Pelopidas, Marcellus, Alexander the Great, Caesar)
    • Volume 3 Fasc. 1, ed. Konrat Ziegler, Hans Gärtner, 1996, ISBN 3-8154-1675-2 (contains: Demetrios, Antonius, Pyrrhos, Marius, Aratos, Artaxerxes, Agis and Kleomenes, Ti. And C. Gracchus)
    • Volume 3 Fasc. 2, ed. Konrat Ziegler, Hans Gärtner, 2nd edition, 1973 (contains: Lykurg, Numa, Lysandros, Sulla, Agesilaos, Pompeius, Galba, Otho)
    • Volume 4: Indices , ed. Konrat Ziegler, Hans Gärtner, 2nd edition, 1980
  • Plutarque: œuvres morales . Les Belles Lettres, Paris (critical edition with French translation)
    • Volume 1 Part 1, ed. Jean Sirinelli, André Philippon, 1987, ISBN 2-251-00368-1 (contains: Introduction générale , De liberis educandis , De audiendis poetis )
    • Volume 1 Part 2, ed. Robert Klaerr, André Philippon, Jean Sirinelli, 1989, ISBN 2-251-00370-3 (contains: De audiendo , De adulatore , De profectibus in virtute , De capienda ex inimicis utilitate , De amicorum multitudine , De fortuna , De virtute et vitio )
    • Volume 2, ed. Jean Defradas, Jean Hani, Robert Klaerr, 1985, ISBN 2-251-00372-X (contains: Consolatio ad Apollonium , De tuenda sanitate praecepta , Coniugalia praecepta , Septem sapientium convivium , De superstitione )
    • Volume 3, ed. François Fuhrmann, 1988, ISBN 2-251-00399-1 (contains: Regum et imperatorum apophthegmata , Apophthegmata Laconica )
    • Volume 4, ed. Jacques Boulogne, 2002, ISBN 2-251-00499-8 (contains: Mulierum virtutes , Quaestiones Romanae , Quaestiones Graecae , Parallela Graeca et Romana )
    • Volume 5 Part 1, ed. Françoise Frazier, Christian Froidefond, 1990, ISBN 2-251-00359-2 (contains: De Romanorum fortuna , De Alexandri fortuna aut virtute , De gloria Atheniensium )
    • Volume 5 Part 2, ed. Christian Froidefond, 1988, ISBN 2-251-00400-9 (contains: De Iside et Osiride )
    • Volume 6, ed. Robert Flacelière, 1974 (contains: De E Delphico , De Pythiae oraculis , De defectu oraculorum )
    • Volume 7 Part 1, ed. Jean Dumortier, Jean Defradas, 1975 (contains ten small fonts)
    • Volume 7 Part 2, ed. Robert Klaerr, Yvonne Vernière, 1974 (contains: De cupiditate divitiarum , De vitioso pudore , De invidia et odio , De se ipsum citra invidiam laudando , De sera numinis vindicta )
    • Volume 8, ed. Jean Hani, 1980, ISBN 2-251-10268-X (contains: De fato , De genio Socratis , De exilio , Consolatio ad uxorem )
    • Volume 9 Part 1, ed. François Fuhrmann, 1972 (contains: table discussions , books 1–3)
    • Volume 9 Part 2, ed. François Fuhrmann, 1978 (contains: table discussions , books 4–6)
    • Volume 9 Part 3, ed. Françoise Frazier, Jean Sirinelli, 1996, ISBN 2-251-00449-1 (contains: table talks , books 7–9)
    • Volume 10, ed. Robert Flacelière, Marcel Cuvigny, 1980, ISBN 2-251-10271-X (contains: Amatorius , Amatoriae narrationes )
    • Volume 11 Part 1, ed. Marcel Cuvigny, 1984, ISBN 2-251-00360-6 (contains: Maxime cum principibus philosopho esse disserendum , Ad principem ineruditum , An seni sit gerenda respublica )
    • Volume 11 Part 2, ed. Jean-Claude Carrière, Marcel Cuvigny, 1984, ISBN 2-251-00377-0 (contains: Praecepta gerendae reipublicae , De unius in republica dominatione, populari statu et paucorum imperio )
    • Volume 12 Part 1, ed. Marcel Cuvigny, Guy Lachenaud, 1981, ISBN 2-251-10354-6 (contains: De vitando aere alieno , Vitae decem oratorum , Aristophanis et Menandri comparatio , De malignitate Herodoti )
    • Volume 12 Part 2, ed. Guy Lachenaud, 2nd edition, 2003, ISBN 2-251-00433-5 (contains: De placitis philosophorum )
    • Volume 14 Part 1, ed. Jean Bouffartigue , 2012, ISBN 978-2-251-00572-0 (contains: De sollertia animalium )
    • Volume 15 Part 1, ed. Michel Casevitz, Daniel Babut , 2004, ISBN 2-251-00522-6 (contains: De stoicorum repugnantiis , Synopsis )
    • Volume 15 Part 2, ed. Michel Casevitz, Daniel Babut, 2002, ISBN 2-251-00507-2 (contains: De communibus notitiis )

Further editions below in the sections Comments on Individual Non-Biographical Works and Comments on Individual Biographies



  • Konrat Ziegler (ed.): Plutarch: Great Greeks and Romans . 6 volumes, Artemis, Zurich 1954–1965 (translation with brief explanations; numerous reprints)

Non-biographical works

  • Otto Apelt (Ed.): Plutarch: Moralische Schriften . Meiner, Leipzig 1926–1927
    • Volume 1: Polemics against the Epicureans , 1926
    • Volume 2: Parallel writings to Seneca's dialogues , 1926 (contains: On the taming of anger , On calm , consolation to Apollonius , consolation to his wife , On chance , On doom )
    • Volume 3: Political Writings , 1927 (contains: The philosopher and the regents , To an uninformed prince , Whether an old man should still do state business , Political teachings , On monarchy, democracy and oligarchy , The banquet of the seven wise men )
  • Marion Giebel (ed.): Plutarch: The art of living . Insel, Frankfurt am Main 2000, ISBN 3-458-34303-2 (contains: About peace of mind , About talkativeness , health rules , advice for marriage , consolation letter to the wife , About raising children , The Banquet of the Seven Wise Men )
  • Herwig Görgemanns (Hrsg.): Plutarch: Three religious-philosophical writings: About superstition, About the late punishment of the deity, About Isis and Osiris . Artemis, Düsseldorf 2003, ISBN 3-7608-1728-9
  • Herwig Görgemanns (Ed.): Plutarch: Das Mondgesicht (De facie in orbe lunae) . Artemis, Zurich 1968
  • Johann Friedrich Salomon Kaltwasser (Ed.): Plutarch's moral treatises. 9 volumes, Johann Christian Hermann, Frankfurt am Main 1783–1800 ( digitized version )
  • Hans-Josef Klauck (Ed.): Plutarch von Chaironeia: Moralphilosophische Schriften . Reclam, Stuttgart 1997, ISBN 3-15-002976-7 (contains: About the progress in virtue , From the multitude of friends , About virtue and vice , About superstition , About brotherly love , Whether mental or physical ailments are worse , Consolation to the wife , From the banquet conversations , About the soul )
  • Alessandra Lukinovich, Madeleine Rousset (ed.): Plutarch: How to distinguish the flatterer from the friend. Translated by Joh (ann) Friedr (I) Sal (omon) Kaltwasser. Gachnang & Springer, Bern 1988, ISBN 3-906127-17-6 (translation from 1783 with introduction and comments by the editors)
  • Rudolf Schottlaender (Ed.): Plutarch. Wisdom and character. From the moralia . Dieterich, Leipzig 1979
  • Bruno Snell (ed.): Plutarch: From the rest of the mind and other philosophical writings . Artemis, Zurich 1948
  • Konrat Ziegler (ed.): Plutarch: About God and Providence, Demons and Prophecy . Artemis, Zurich 1952

Further translations below in the section on comments on individual non-biographical works


Overview representations

  • Françoise Frazier: Plutarque de Chéronée. In: Richard Goulet (ed.): Dictionnaire des philosophes antiques. Volume 5, Part 2 (= V b), CNRS Éditions, Paris 2012, ISBN 978-2-271-07399-0 , pp. 1096–1185 (good, clear overview with special consideration of reception and very extensive bibliographical references).
  • Christopher BR Pelling among others: Plutarchos. In: The New Pauly (DNP). Volume 9, Metzler, Stuttgart 2000, ISBN 3-476-01479-7 , Sp. 1159-1175.
  • Konrat Ziegler: Plutarchus of Chaironeia. In: Paulys Realencyclopadie der classischen Antiquity Science (RE). Volume XXI, 1, Stuttgart 1951, Sp. 636–962 (also separately in Druckermüller, Stuttgart 1949; 2nd edition, supplemented by supplements, 1964).

General presentations, studies and collections of articles

  • Mark Beck (Ed.): A Companion to Plutarch. Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester 2014, ISBN 978-1-4051-9431-0 .
  • Lukas de Blois et al. (Ed.): The Statesman in Plutarch's Works. Brill, Leiden 2004-2005, ISBN 90-04-13873-0 (numerous articles).
    • Volume 1: Plutarch's Statesman and his Aftermath: Political, Philosophical, and Literary Aspects , 2004, ISBN 90-04-13795-5 .
    • Volume 2: The Statesman in Plutarch's Greek and Roman Lives , 2005, ISBN 90-04-13808-0 .
  • Christopher P. Jones : Plutarch and Rome. Clarendon Press, Oxford 1971.
  • Judith Mossman (Ed.): Plutarch and his Intellectual World. Essays on Plutarch. Duckworth, London 1997, ISBN 0-7156-2778-3 .
  • Anastasios G. Nikolaidis (Ed.): The Unity of Plutarch's Work. De Gruyter, Berlin 2008, ISBN 978-3-11-020249-6 (contains numerous essays on many aspects of Plutarch's works; review ).
  • Hans Weber: The political and legal theory of Plutarch from Chaironeia (= writings on legal theory and politics , vol. 16). Bouvier, Bonn 1959.


  • Timothy E. Duff: Plutarch's Lives. Exploring Virtue and Vice. Oxford University Press, Oxford 1999, ISBN 0-19-925274-2 .
  • Susan G. Jacobs: Plutarch's Pragmatic Biographies. Lessons for Statesmen and Generals in the Parallel Lives (= Columbia Studies in the Classical Tradition. Volume 43). Brill, Leiden / Boston 2018, ISBN 978-90-04-27660-4 .
  • Christopher Pelling: Plutarch and History. Eighteen Studies. Classical Press of Wales, London 2002, ISBN 0-7156-3128-4 .
  • Barbara Scardigli: Plutarch's Roman biographies. Beck, Munich 1979, ISBN 3-406-07400-6 .

Comments on individual biographies

  • Carsten Binder: Plutarch's Vita des Artaxerxes. A historical comment. De Gruyter, Berlin 2008, ISBN 978-3-11-020269-4 ( review ).
  • Alec Blamire (Ed.): Plutarch: Life of Kimon. Institute of Classical Studies, London 1989 (Greek text, translation and commentary).
  • Frank J. Frost: Plutarch's Themistocles. A Historical Commentary. Princeton University Press, Princeton 1980, ISBN 0-691-05300-6 .
  • Aristoula Georgiadou: Plutarch's Pelopidas. A Historical and Philological Commentary (= contributions to antiquity. Vol. 105). Teubner, Stuttgart 1997, ISBN 3-519-07654-3 .
  • James Robertson Hamilton: Plutarch: Alexander. A Commentary. Clarendon Press, Oxford 1969.
  • Herbert Heftner : Plutarch and the rise of Pompey. A historical commentary on Plutarch's Life of Pompey, Part I: Chap. 1-45. Lang, Frankfurt am Main 1995, ISBN 3-631-47735-X .
  • Christoph F. Konrad: Plutarch's Sertorius. A Historical Commentary. The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill 1994, ISBN 0-8078-2139-X (introduction, Ziegler's critical edition of the Greek text, detailed commentary).
  • Andrew Lintott : Plutarch: Demosthenes and Cicero. Oxford University Press, Oxford 2013, ISBN 978-0-19-969972-8 (introduction, translation, commentary).
  • Douglas Little, Christopher Ehrhardt (Eds.): Plutarch: Lives of Galba and Otho. A companion. Bristol Classical Press, London 1994, ISBN 1-85399-429-4 (translation and commentary).
  • John L. Marr (Ed.): Plutarch: Life of Themistocles. Aris & Phillips, Warminster 1998, ISBN 0-85668-677-8 (uncritical Greek text, translation, commentary).
  • Christopher Pelling (Ed.): Plutarch: Life of Antony. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1988, ISBN 0-521-28418-X (introduction, uncritical Greek text, commentary).
  • Christopher Pelling (Ed.): Plutarch: Caesar. Translated with Introduction and Commentary. Oxford University Press, Oxford 2011, ISBN 978-0-19-960835-5 ( review ).
  • Donald R. Shipley: A Commentary on Plutarch's Life of Agesilaos. Response to Sources in the Presentation of Character. Clarendon Press, Oxford 1997, ISBN 0-19-815073-3 .
  • Philip A. Stadter: A Commentary on Plutarch's Pericles. The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill 1989, ISBN 0-8078-1861-5 (introduction, Ziegler's critical edition of the Greek text, detailed commentary).

Comments on individual non-biographical works

  • Daniel Babut (ed.): Plutarque: De la vertu éthique. Les Belles Lettres, Paris 1969 (critical edition of De virtute morali with extensive introduction, French translation and commentary. Review by Gerard James Patrick O'Daly in: The Classical Review 23, 1973, pp. 156-158).
  • Ulrich Berner et al. (Ed.): Plutarch: Εἰ καλῶς εἴρηται τὸ Λάθε βιώσας / Is “Live in secret” a good rule of thumb? 2nd Edition. Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 2001, ISBN 3-534-14944-0 (non-critical Greek text, translation, commentary, essays).
  • Herwig Görgemanns et al. (Ed.): Plutarch: Dialogue about love. Amatorius. 2nd, corrected and enlarged edition. Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 2011, ISBN 978-3-8252-3501-7 (non-critical Greek text, translation, commentary, essays).
  • Brian P. Hillyard (Ed.): Plutarch: De audiendo. A Text and Commentary. Arno Press, New York 1981, ISBN 0-405-14040-1 (Greek text and detailed commentary).
  • Richard Hunter , Donald Russell (eds.): Plutarch: How to study poetry (De audiendis poetis). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2011, ISBN 978-0-521-17360-5 (introduction, Greek text, detailed commentary; online ). Reviews: David Sansone in: Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2011 ( online ); Casper C. de Jonge in: Mnemosyne 66, 2013, pp. 501-503 ( online ); Diotima Papadi in: The Classical Review 63, 2013, pp. 84-85 ( online ).
  • Hendrik Obsieger (Ed.): Plutarch: De E apud Delphos. About the epsilon at the Temple of Apollo in Delphi. Introduction, output and commentary. Franz Steiner, Stuttgart 2013, ISBN 978-3-515-10606-1 (critical edition, detailed commentary).
  • Geert Roskam: A Commentary on Plutarch's De latenter vivendo. Leuven University Press, Leuven 2007, ISBN 978-90-5867-603-0 (contains a detailed introduction to the history of philosophy).
  • Geert Roskam: Plutarch's Maxime cum principibus philosopho esse disserendum. An Interpretation with Commentary. Leuven University Press, Leuven 2009, ISBN 978-90-5867-736-5 .
  • John Scheid (ed.): Plutarch: Roman questions. A virtual walk in the heart of ancient Rome (= texts on research. Vol. 103). Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 2012, ISBN 978-3-534-21312-2 (Greek reading text, translation, commentary and investigation).
  • Stephan Schröder (Ed.): Plutarch's work De Pythiae oraculis. Text, introduction and comment. Teubner, Stuttgart 1990, ISBN 3-519-07457-5 (very detailed commentary).
  • Sven-Tage Teodorsson: A Commentary on Plutarch's Table Talks. 3 volumes, Acta Universitatis Gothoburgensis, Göteborg 1989–1996, ISBN 91-7346-219-5 (vol. 1), ISBN 91-7346-227-6 (vol. 2), ISBN 91-7346-291-8 (vol . 3)


  • Hans Dieter Betz (Ed.): Plutarch's Ethical Writings and Early Christian Literature. Brill, Leiden 1978, ISBN 90-04-05659-9 .
  • Italo Gallo (Ed.): L'eredità culturale di Plutarco dall'antichità al Rinascimento. Atti del VII Convegno Plutarcheo, Milano-Gargnano, 28-30 maggio 1997. D'Auria, Napoli 1998, ISBN 88-7092-157-3 .
  • Roberto Guerrini (Ed.): Biografia dipinta. Plutarco e l'arte del Rinascimento 1400-1550. Agorà Edizioni, La Spezia 2001, ISBN 88-87218-63-3 .
  • Robert Lamberton : Plutarch. In: Anthony Grafton et al. (Ed.): The Classical Tradition. Harvard University Press, Cambridge (Massachusetts) 2010, ISBN 978-0-674-03572-0 , pp. 747-750 (overview).
  • Marianne Pade: The Reception of Plutarch's Lives in Fifteenth-Century Italy. 2 volumes, Museum Tusculanum Press, Copenhagen 2007, ISBN 978-87-635-0532-1 .
  • Marianne Pade: Plutarch (Plutarchus of Chaironeia). In: Christine Walde (Ed.): The reception of ancient literature. Kulturhistorisches Werklexikon (= Der Neue Pauly . Supplements. Volume 7). Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar 2010, ISBN 978-3-476-02034-5 , Sp. 739-748.
  • Lautaro Roig Lanzillotta, Israel Muñoz Gallarte (Ed.): Plutarch in the Religious and Philosophical Discourse of Late Antiquity (= Ancient Mediterranean and Medieval Texts and Contexts. Vol. 14). Brill, Leiden 2012, ISBN 978-90-04-23474-1 . Reviews: Xavier Brouillette in: Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2013 ( online ); Rainer Hirsch-Luipold in: sehepunkte 14, 2014, No. 1, January 15, 2014 ( online ).


  • Ploutarchus. Scholarly Journal of the International Plutarch Society. Utah State University, Logan (Utah), ISSN  0258-655X (Vol. 1, 1985-19 , 2002/03, subtitled: Journal of the International Plutarch Society ; New Series: Volume 1, 2003/04 ff .; the new series continuously informs about all Plutarch-related publications).

Web links

Wikisource: Plutarch  - Sources and full texts
Wikisource: Plutarch  - Sources and full texts (English)
Wikisource: Plutarch  - Sources and full texts (Greek)
Commons : Plutarch  - collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. Carsten Binder: Plutarch's Vita des Artaxerxes. A historical comment. Berlin 2008, p. 2.
  2. The family relationships are explained in detail and shown with a family tree in Konrat Ziegler: Plutarchos von Chaironeia , 2nd, supplemented edition, Stuttgart 1964, column 6 ff.
  3. ^ Konrat Ziegler: Plutarchos von Chaironeia , 2nd, supplemented edition, Stuttgart 1964, column 12 f.
  4. Carsten Binder: Plutarch's Vita des Artaxerxes. A historical comment. Berlin 2008, p. 3 f.
  5. ^ Konrat Ziegler: Plutarchos von Chaironeia , 2nd, supplemented edition, Stuttgart 1964, Col. 14 ff.
  6. Plutarch, Otho 14.
  7. Sylvia Fein: The Relationship of Emperors Trajan and Hadrian to the litterati , Stuttgart 1994, pp. 167-169.
  8. Suda , keyword Πλούταρχος , Adler number: pi 1793 , Suda-Online .
  9. ^ Konrat Ziegler: Plutarchos von Chaironeia , 2nd, supplemented edition, Stuttgart 1964, column 65.
  10. ^ The Lamprias catalog from Konrat Ziegler: Plutarchos von Chaironeia , 2nd, supplemented edition, Stuttgart 1964, Sp. 61–65.
  11. Plutarch, Galba 2,1.
  12. ^ Konrat Ziegler: Plutarchos von Chaironeia , 2nd, supplemented edition, Stuttgart 1964, Col. 258.
  13. Konrat Ziegler, Große Greeks und Römer , Vol. 1, Zurich 1954, p. 36; Konrat Ziegler: Plutarchos von Chaironeia , 2nd, supplemented edition, Stuttgart 1964, column 258; Friedrich Leo: The Greco-Roman biography according to its literary form , Leipzig 1901, p. 156; Mathis-Christian Holzbach: Plutarch: Galba-Otho and the Acts of the Apostles , Berlin 2006, p. 13.
  14. Plutarch, Galba 1,3; Plutarch, Moralia 328D-E.
  15. Plato, Politeia 375e, 410d-e, 411e-412a, 442b-c.
  16. Plutarch, Galba 1, 3–5.
  17. ^ Mathis-Christian Holzbach: Plutarch: Galba-Otho and the Acts of the Apostles , Berlin 2006, pp. 24, 67-83.
  18. ^ Mathis-Christian Holzbach: Plutarch: Galba-Otho and the Acts of the Apostles , Berlin 2006, p. 24.
  19. On the much discussed question of the relative chronology of biographies see Konrat Ziegler: Plutarchos von Chaironeia . In: Der Kleine Pauly , Vol. 4, Munich 1972, Col. 945–953, here: 950.
  20. Plutarch, Alexander 1, 2–3.
  21. Plutarch, Nicias 1; Kimon 2.2-5.
  22. Plutarch, Galba 2,3.
  23. On Plutarch's knowledge of Latin, see Anika Strobach: Plutarch und die Sprachen , Stuttgart 1997, pp. 33–46.
  24. ^ Konrat Ziegler: Plutarchos von Chaironeia , 2nd, supplemented edition, Stuttgart 1964, Col. 18.
  25. Herbert Heftner: Plutarch and the rise of Pompey. A historical commentary on Plutarch's Life of Pompey, part 1, chap. 1-45 . Frankfurt am Main 1995, p. 14f.
  26. Hans Weber: The political and legal theory of Plutarch von Chaironeia , Bonn 1959, p. 19.
  27. ^ Christopher BR Pelling et al.: Plutarchos . In: Der Neue Pauly (DNP) , Vol. 9, Stuttgart 2000, Col. 1159–1175, here: 1159.
  28. ^ Hans Weber: The political and legal theory of Plutarch von Chaironeia , Bonn 1959, p. 18f.
  29. ^ Konrat Ziegler: Plutarchus of Chaironeia . In: Der Kleine Pauly , Vol. 4, Munich 1972, Col. 945–953, here: 950.
  30. Michel de Montaigne, Essais , based on the edition by Pierre Coste, translated into German by v. Johann Daniel Tietz, Zurich 1996, vol. 1, p. 818.
  31. Holger Sonnabend: History of the ancient biography. From Isocrates to the Historia Augusta. Darmstadt 2003, p. 149.
This version was added to the list of articles worth reading on December 17, 2006 .