Plutarch was born into a leading Greek family in the first days of the Roman Empire. Plutarch gained a liberal schooling and spent his early life as a civic leader and teacher. Plutarch’s Parallel Lives and Moralia affected the writers and intellectuals of Byzantium, Western Europe and America. Best known for his biographical writings about well-known Greek and Roman figures, Plutarch paradoxically had no principal biographer of his own. What’s known of Plutarch is reconstructed from private references in his written works. Plutarch was born in around 46 A.D. to a dominant and wealthy Greek family in Chaeronea, a hamlet about 20 miles east of Delphi. The names of his parents will not be clear; some historians consider his dad’s name was Autobulus, although some say Nicarchus. From Plutarch’s writings we understand he’d two brothers, Timon and Lamprais.
Plutarch married Timoxena and had maybe four sons, two of whom survived childhood. His only known daughter, also named Timoxena, expired when she was youthful, causing despair to both parents. In his early maturity, Plutarch traveled through Greece and several elements of the Roman Empire. Plutarch also ran a school of doctrine and kept close connections with all the Academy of Athens.
Of his about 227 known works, the most well-known are Moralia, also called Ethica, and Parallel Lives. Moralia is a collection of 60 or more essays composed in dialogues or diatribes on ethics, faith as well as the politics of modern Greek society. Their literary worth is improved by the regular quotes from Greek poems and plays, particularly poetry of Euripides as well as other dramatists.
Plutarch’s Parallel Lives was composed in the past two decades before his departure in 125 A.D. Lives was designed to support reciprocal respect for Greek and Roman culture, it’s a chain of biographies ordered in pairs, emphasizing the subjects’ common virtues and vices. Plutarch was more concerned with composing biography than history, focusing on the meritorious activities of his themes as instances of commendable conduct and not much on the times where they dwelt.
His writings brought the interest of the Byzantines, who revealed no bias for his or her pagan sources. Plutarch’s writings were introduced to the 16th century humanists and Renaissance dramatists, including William Shakespeare, who incorporated parts of his work in their works. Although Plutarch was respected by American philosopher, poet and essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson, his popularity and influence started to decrease in the 19th century, partially because of the Romantic Movement’s focus on investigating the limits of human fire as opposed to rigorous virtuous conduct, and partially due to 19th century scholars’ putting high value on historical truth, which had not been highlighted in Plutarch’s writings. In more modern times, Plutarch’s writings serve as a benchmark for popular notions on Greek and Roman history.