Black and white image of Greek biographer and writer Plutarch.


(46 - c. 120)

Born in Boeotia, educated in Athens, and made a priest at Delphi, Plutarch wrote, according to an index supposedly compiled by one of his sons, 227 works, among them Parallel Lives—a source for a few of William Shakespeare’s plays—and the Morals, which includes the essays “On Exile” and “How to Distinguish a Flatterer from a Friend.”

All Writing


“Why was it the custom for those canvassing for office to do so wearing the toga without the tunic underneath?” the second-century writer Plutarch asks in his Roman Questions, referring to the custom in the Roman republic of candidates campaigning in a state of relative undress. “Was it in order that they might not carry money in the folds of their tunic and give bribes?…Or were they trying to commend themselves to popular favor by thus humiliating themselves by their scanty attire, even as they do by hand shaking, personal appeals, and fawning behavior?”

Voices In Time

324 BC | Athens

Mixed Motives

Plutarch on the dangers of a public career.More


Misfortune can cause a person unhappiness only when vice has already corrupted them, argued first-century Greek essayist Plutarch. “As a thread saws through the bone that has been soaked in ashes and vinegar, and as men bend and fashion ivory when it has been made soft and pliable by beer,” he wrote in a short piece collected in his Moralia, “so fortune, falling upon that which is of itself ill-affected and soft as the result of vice, gouges it out and injures it.”

To outwit an enemy is not only just and glorious but profitable and sweet.

—Plutarch, c. 100


Plutarch related that news of the Athenians’ brutal defeat at Syracuse during the Peloponnesian Wars first came from a stranger who told the story at a barbershop “as if the Athenians already knew all about it.” When the barber spread the news, city leaders branded him a liar and an agitator. He was “fastened to the wheel and racked a long time.” Official messengers later came with the “actual facts of the whole disaster,” and the barber was released.


Ancient Greeks and Romans expanded the concept of philanthropy—love for mankind— to include animals’ love for humans. Plutarch called the fawn “tame and philanthropos.” Aristotle referred to the snipe and jackal as philanthropoi. “It is necessary that they not only love humans,” wrote Xenophon of horses, “but that they long for them.”

Voices In Time

c. 700 BC | Sparta

Title Nine

The athletic, educated, and outspoken women of Sparta.More

Voices In Time

c. 445 BC | Athens

Public Works

The architecture of Periclean Athens.More

Voices In Time

c. 625 BC | Sparta

Mess Hall

Sparta removes the thirst for wealth.More

Voices In Time

c. 365 BC | Athens

Tone of Voice

Demosthenes’ road to oratorical greatness.More

Voices In Time

344 BC | Macedonia

Dark Horse

Alexander the Great chooses his steed.More

Voices In Time

c. 625 BC | Sparta

Trials of Strength

If the child was weakly and deformed, they ordered it to be thrown into a deep cavern.More

Issues Contributed