Black and white image of Greek biographer and writer Plutarch.

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

Miscellany

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.

Miscellany

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.”

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