Plutarch was a Greek historian, biographer, priest, and essayist. For nearly two millennia his writings have influenced some of the world’s greatest literary figures, including Shakespeare, Emerson, Montaigne, and others. The ethical discussions contained in Plutarch’s writings gave the American founding fathers the tools to formulate their own ideas about freedom and government. During his lifetime, his writings and lectures made him a celebrity on top of his role as priest of Apollo and mayor of the town of Chaeronea. Throughout the centuries, Plutarch has been referenced so frequently and in so many ways that some scholars estimate only a third or half of his works actually survive today.
Included in Plutarch’s Lives (22 vols.) are the 11 surviving biographical texts which Ralph Waldo Emerson called “a Bible of heroes.” These biographies pair famous Greeks with famous Romans to highlight their similarities. He was more concerned with character than history, which may be a reason Emerson also said, “we cannot read Plutarch without a tingling of the blood.”
This collection contains the complete texts in their Loeb Classical Library editions, translated by Bernadotte Perrin. Each text includes the original Greek and the English translation for easy side-by-side comparison. Logos’ language tools allow you to go deeper into the Greek text and explore Plutarch’s elegant language. Use the dictionary lookup tool to examine difficult English words used by the translator or challenging Greek words used by Plutarch. Students of literature, history, and philosophy will enjoy these works and appreciate their significance.
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Plutarch (AD 46–120), renamed Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus when he became a Roman citizen, held several significant social and cultural roles throughout his lifetime, including priest, magistrate, mayor, and according to some early historians, a procurator. Over the last two millennia his writings have been translated into English, Italian, French, Latin, German, and Hebrew. His most significant contributions are the biographies of Parallel Lives, also known simply as Lives, and the collection of essays entitled Moralia.
Bernadotte Perrin (1847–1920) graduated from Yale in 1869, and taught there as a tutor and professor of Greek. For a time, he was a professor at Western University and the assistant principal at Hartford High School. According to The New York Times, Perrin “is regarded as a high authority on classical philology, philosophy, and the ancient languages.”