Plutarch's Morals

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by Plutarch

Plutarch (ca. 45–120) was a Greek writer and public servant who frequented Rome as an ambassador. While there, he traveled among both commoners and emperors. A renowned philosopher, his greatest works include Parallel Lives, a series of Greek biographies, but perhaps more notably Moralia (Morals and Customs), a collection of works on religion, politics, and philosophy.[1] Containing seventy-eight separate texts on a wide range of subjects, Moralia displays Plutarch's adherence to Platonic ideals and philosophy, displayed by his attacks on Stoic and Epicurean philosophy, both of which were notable detractors from Platonism in its varied forms. While these works are praised for their literary craft, they are criticized for their unfair representation of the arguments which Plutarch sets out to defeat.[2]

Plutarch's greatest known contribution in Moralia is the sense in which he is able to portray a complex analysis of his subjects by shifting his lens between areas of humanities and social science. When describing the subjects of his work, he makes clear the personality traits that define them and explores in depth the anatomy of these traits, specifically the tendency for traits to have both positive and negative functionality.[3] Drawing again on his roots in Platonism, this descriptive force extends to his philosophical discussion, in which he uses analogies, metaphors, and mythology in order to weave together the psychological, logical, and ethical considerations of his subject matters.[4]

Bibliographic Information

Author: Plutarch.

Title: Plutarch's Morals.

Publication Info: London: Printed by Tho. Braddyll, and are to be sold by most Booksellers in London and Westminister, 1694.

Edition: Third edition, corrected and amended; 5 volumes.

Evidence for Inclusion in Wythe's Library

Description of the Wolf Law Library's copy

Late 17th century octavo, uniformly bound in calf with five raised bands and original spine labels. Purchased from Marc J. Bartolucci.

See this book in William & Mary's online catalog.


  1. Online Library of Liberty. "Plutarch: About the Author." Accessed September 28, 2013.
  2. George Karamanolis, "Plutarch", in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Stanford University, 1997- ), accessed September 28, 2013.
  3. Laurel Fulkerson, "Plutarch on the Statesman Stability, Change, and Regret," Illinois Classical Studies 37 (2012): 51-74.
  4. George Karamanolis, "Plutarch."