Category Archives: Plutarch

A Habit of Silence

“And over and above all else we must keep at hand… the saying of Simonides, that he had often repented of speaking, but never of holding his tongue.”—Plutarch The idea of talking (or writing) about silence is admittedly ripe with … Continue reading

Posted in Philosophy, Plutarch

Curing the Irascible Soul

The Greek writer Plutarch is best known for his biographical studies, but he was also an important moralist. I am reading his commentary “On the Control of Anger,” found in volume VI of the Loeb edition. In it he explains … Continue reading

Posted in Philosophy, Plutarch

Plutarch’s Thanksgiving

The ancient biographer Plutarch has an interesting commentary on the nature of gratitude. In his life of Gaius Marius he describes the Roman leader as a man consumed with vanity who ended his days grasping for more honor and power … Continue reading

Posted in History, Philosophy, Plutarch

The Patient General: Fabius Maximus

Roman consul and general Fabius Maximus (280 – 203 B.C.) is exemplary in terms of his patience, endurance and self-sacrifice.  He reminds one in many ways of George Washington. Both men lost battles, but in the long run their steady … Continue reading

Posted in History, Plutarch

Plutarch on Solon

Plutarch’s biographical essays on ancient Greeks and Romans were the studies that Shakespeare relied on for his historical plays. They also nurtured the thought of the Founding Fathers. Along with the Bible, Plutarch’s chronicles were one of most read works of … Continue reading

Posted in History, Plutarch, Politics

Caesar’s Virtues

Many people have admired Julius Caesar as a “great man” of history. Opinion is divided. To most traditionalists he is little more than a populist demagogue.  But measured against the tyrants of history – in the classic sense of that … Continue reading

Posted in History, Plutarch

The Life of Plutarch

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 … Continue reading

Posted in Plutarch

Plutarch’s Romans

I want to comment on the lives of some of the early Romans in Plutarch (see Penguin’s The Makers of Rome). First is Fabius Maximus (c. 280-203 BC), the general who opposed Hannibal’s invasion through his famous delaying tactics which … Continue reading

Posted in History, Plutarch

On Superstition

The ancient writer Plutarch (c. 46-127) warned against two excesses in man’s relationship with the divine—“atheism is reason deceived; superstition a passion arising out of false reasoning.” Superstition is actually far removed from worship or devotion. As in occultism, the … Continue reading

Posted in Plutarch, Religion

Plutarch, Diogenes and the Moral Imagination

[W]e are all prompted by the same motives, all deceived by the same fallacies, all animated by hope, obstructed by danger, entangled by desire, and seduced by pleasure. —Johnson, Rambler (No. 60) In his varied writings, Plutarch (c. 45 – … Continue reading

Posted in History, Literature, Philosophy, Plutarch