CHERONIA (Ancient city) VIOTIA
A. Gabinius, fought at Chaeroneia in the army of Sulla as military tribune, and in the beginning of B. C. 81, was despatched by Sulla to Asia with instructions to Murena to end the war with Mithridates. He was a moderate and honourable man. (Plut. Sull. 16, 17; Appian, Mithr. 66; Cic. pro Leg. Manil. 3.)
L. Hortensius, legate of Sulla in the first Mithridatic war. He distinguished himself at Chaeroneia in the year B. C. 86 (Memnon, Fr. 32, 34, Orelli; Plut. Sull. 15, 17, 19; Dion Cass. Fr. 125.)
Diogenes, a son of Archelaus, the general of Mithridates, who fell in the battle of Chaeroneia, which his father lost against Sulla. (Appian, Mithrid. 49.)
Plutarchus, (Ploutarchos). A Greek writer of biographies and
miscellaneous works, who was born at Chaeronea, in Boeotia, about A.D. 50. He
came of a distinguished and wealthy family, and enjoyed a careful education. His
philosophical training he received at Athens, especially in the school of the
Peripatetic Ammonius (of Lamptrae in Attica), who is identified with Ammonius
the Egyptian. After this he made several journeys, and stayed a considerable time
in Rome, where he gave public lectures on philosophy, was in friendly intercourse
with persons of distinction, and conducted the education of the future emperor
Hadrian. From Trajan he received consular rank, and by Hadrian he was in his old
age named procurator of Greece. He died about 120 in his native town, in which
he held the office of archon and of priest of the Pythian Apollo.
His fame as an author is founded principally upon his Parallel Lives (Bioi Paralleloi). These he probably prepared in Rome under the reign of Trajan, but completed and published late in life at Chaeronea. The biographies are divided into connected pairs, each pair (which makes a biblion) placing a Greek and a Roman in juxtaposition, and generally ending with a comparative view of the two; of these we still possess forty-six: Theseus and Romulus; Lycurgus and Numa; Solon and Valerius Publicola; Themistocles and Camillus; Pericles and Fabius Maximus; Alcibiades and Coriolanus; Timoleon and Aemilius Paulus; Pelopidas and Marcellus; Aristides and the elder Cato; Philopoemen and Flamininus; Pyrrhus and Marius; Lysander and Sulla; Cimon and Lucullus; Nicias and Crassus; Eumenes and Sertorius; Agesilaus and Pompeius; Alexander and Caesar; Phocion and the younger Cato; Agis and Cleomenes and the two Gracchi; Demosthenes and Cicero; Demetrius Poliorcetes and Antonius; Dion and Brutus. To these are added the four specially elaborated lives of Artaxerxes Mnemon, Aratus, Galba, and Otho; a number of other biographies are lost. The sequels which follow most of the lives give a sort of balanced judgment (sunkrisis) of the two men compared.
Plutarch's object was not to write history, but out of more or less important single traits to form distinct sketches of character. The sketches show, indeed, a certain uniformity, inasmuch as Plutarch has a propensity to portray the persons represented either as models of virtue in general, or as slaves of some passion in particular; but the lives are throughout attractive, owing to the liveliness and warmth of the portraiture, the moral earnestness with which they are penetrated, and the enthusiasm which they display for everything noble and great. For these reasons they have always had a wide circle of readers. More than this, their historical value is not to be meanly estimated, in spite of the lack of criticism in the use of the authorities and the manifold inaccuracies and mistakes, which, in the Roman lives, were in part the result of a defective knowledge of the Latin language. There are a large number of valuable pieces of information in which they fill up numerous gaps in the historical narratives that have been handed down to us. Besides this work eightythree writings of various kinds (some of them only fragments and epitomes of larger treatises) are preserved under the name of Plutarch. These are improperly classed together under the title Moralia (ethical writings); for this designation is only applicable to a part of them. The form of these works is as diverse as their tenor and scope: some are treatises and reports of discourses; a large number is composed in the form of Platonic or Aristotelian dialogues; others again are learned collections and notices put together without any special plan of arrangement. A considerable portion of them are of disputable authenticity or have been proved to be spurious. About half are of philosophical and ethical tenor, and have for the most part a popular and practical tendency, some of them being of great value for the history of philosophy, such as the work on the opinions of the philosophers (De Placitis Philosophorum) in five books. Others belong to the domain of religion and worship, such as the works On Isis and Osiris, On the Oracles of the Pythian Priestess, and On the Decay of the Oracles; others to that of the natural sciences, while others again are treatises on history and antiquities, or on the history of literature, such as the Greek and Roman Questions and the Lives of the Ten Orators. This last is undoubtedly spurious. One of the most instructive and entertaining of all his works is the Table-talk (Quaestiones Conviviales) in nine books, which deal inter alia with a series of questions of history, archaeology, mythology, and physics. But even with these works his literary productiveness was not exhausted; for, besides these, twenty-four lost writings are known to us by their titles and by fragments. In his language he aims at attaining the pure Attic style, without, however, being able altogether to avoid the deviations from that standard which were generally prevalent in his time.
This text is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Cited Nov 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
Plutarch of Chaeronea : influential Greek philosopher and author, well
known for his biographies and his moral treatises.
It is not overstated to say that, together with Augustine of Hippo and Aristotle of Stagira, Plutarch of Chaeronea is the most influential ancient philosopher. He may lack the the profundity of Augustine, the most influential philosopher in the early Middle Ages, and the acumen of Aristotle, considered the master of all intellectuals of the late Middle Ages, but the Sage of Chaeronea is an excellent writer and from the Renaissance to the present day, his moral treatises have found a larger audience than any other ancient philosopher. In his own age, he was immensely popular because he was able to explain philosophical discussions to non-philosophical readers, Greek and Roman alike. The fact that he was priest in Delphi will no doubt have improved his popularity.
Plutarch was probably born in 46 in the Boeotian town Chaeronea. His parents were wealthy people, and after 67, their son was able to study philosophy, rhetorics, and mathematics at the platonic Academy of Athens. However, Plutarch never became a platonic puritan, but always remained open to influences from other philosophical schools, such as the Stoa and the school of Aristotle. It is likely that the young man was present when the emperor Nero, who visited Greece at this time, declared the Greek towns to be free and autonomous.
Because Plutarch was a rich man, he became one of the leading citizens of Chaeronea and he is known to have represented his town on several occasions. For example, he visited the governor of Achaea, and traveled to Alexandria and Rome (several times). Again, this proves that he was a rich man.
Among his friends was Lucius Mestrius Florus, a consul during the reign of Vespasian, and Plutarch's guide during his visit to Bedriacum, where two important battles had been fought in 69, the year of the four emperors. Mestrius also secured the Roman citizenship for Plutarch, whose official name now became Mestrius Plutarchus. At the end of his life, he was honored with the procuratorship of Achaea, an important office that he probably held only in name. His involvement in the Roman world, although from a carefully maintained distance, explains why he shows so much interest in the history of Rome.
In the 90's, Plutarch, who had seen much of the world, settled in his home town. When asked to explain his return to the province, he said that Chaeronea was in decline and that it would be even smaller if he did not settle there. For some time, he was mayor.
In his treatise Should Old Men Take Part in Politics?, Plutarch tells us that he occupied an office in the holy city Delphi, and he is known to have become one of the two permanent priests, responsible for the interpretation of the inspired utterances of the Pythia, the prophetess of Delphi. In these years, a library was built near the sanctuary, and it is tempting to assume that Plutarch was behind this initiative.
In the two first decades of the second century, he studied and wrote many books. According to an incomplete third-century catalogue, there were between 200 and 300 titles. These books brought him international fame, and the home of the famous author became a private school for young philosophers. He was often visited by Greeks and Romans, although not necessarily to study philosophy. The emperor Trajan may have been one of the visitors (winter 113/114?), and it may have been on this occasion that Trajan honored Plutarch with the ornaments of a consul, an important award. From now on, Plutarch was allowed to wear a golden ring and a white toga with a border made of purple.
Plutarch died after his procuratorship, which was in 119, and before 125. The year 122 is just guesswork. The Delphians and Chaeroneans ordered statues to be erected for their famous citizen.
In the Consolation to his wife, Plutarch mentions four sons and we know that at least two survived childhood. It has often been remarked that in his many publications, Plutarch shows that he was devoted to his parents, grandfather, brothers, his wife Timoxena, and to their children, but this is of course an impression that every author wants to convey.
Plutarch's oeuvre can be divided into two parts: the biographies (below) and the remainder, which is usually called the Moralia or Moral Writings. This second group is a varied collection of literary criticism, declamations, ethical essays, advice, polemics, political writing, conversation and consolation. Although there is much variation among these treatises, it is clear that its author aimed at the moral education of his readers (e.g. in works with titles like Checking Anger, The Art of Listening, How to Know Whether One Progresses to Virtue).
Plutarch's central theme seems to have been his idea that there was a dualistic opposition between the good an evil principles in the world. Later philosophers of the neoplatonistic school disagreed with this idea, and this explains why several of Plutarch's more serious philosophical publications are now lost. What we have left, is generally lighter work, together with his attacks on the Stoa and Epicurism.
They are interesting texts, because they show a very pragmatic philosopher, whose aim it is to make people more virtuous and therefore happier. In fact, several works have a striking resemblance to modern "do it yourself"-books of social psychology. Treatises like the Advice to Bride and Groom may strike us as conservative and anti-feminist, but in Antiquity, the advises may indeed have been helpful.
Plutarch's biographies are in fact moral treatises too. He describes the careers of a Greek and a Roman, and compares them. For example, in the Life of Theseus/Life of Romulus, he describes the lives of the founders of Athens and Rome, and in a brief epilogue penetrates into their respective characters. Another example is the comparison of Themistocles and Camillus, an Athenian and a Roman who were both sent into exile. The result is not only an entertaining biography, but also a better understanding of a morally exemplary person, which the reader can use for his own moral improvement.
A good example of Plutarch's method is his Life of Alexander/Life of Julius Caesar, in which he gives a very short summary of his biographical ideal.
"It is not histories I am writing, but lives; and in the most glorious deeds there is not always an indication of virtue of vice, indeed a small thing like a phrase or a jest often makes a greater revelation of a character than battles where thousands die."
[tr. E.L. Bowie]
This is a good description of what Plutarch has to offer. He will not give an in-depth comparative analysis of the causes of the fall of the Achaemenid empire and the Roman Republic, but offers anecdotes with a moral pointe. We should read his Life of Alexander as a collection of short stories, in which virtues and vices are shown. The most important theme (one might say: Plutarch's vision on Alexander's significance in world history) is that he brought civilization to the barbarians and made them human; Alexander is, so to speak, a practical philosopher, who improves mankind in a rather unusual but effective way. This theme is more explicitly worked out in a writing called The Fortune and Virtue of Alexander.
Because Plutarch's moral judgment is more important than his historical judgment, he sometimes makes odd errors (e.g., praising Pompey's trustworthy character and tactful behavior), but he is not a bad historian. To return to Alexander: most authors of books on the Macedonian king took their material from either the so-called 'vulgate' tradition (which follows a biographer called Cleitarchus) or from the 'good' tradition (which follows Ptolemy, one of Alexander's generals). Plutarch, on the other hand, tells his own, moral story and takes elements from both traditions.
If the reader of this article has the impression that Plutarch is a boring moralist, he is mistaken. His sincere interest in his subjects as human beings makes the Lives very readable and explains why they have found so many readers - both ancient and modern. The ultimate compliment to Plutarch was paid by a twelfth-century official of the Byzantine church, John Mauropos, who prayed that on the Day of Judgment, when all non-Christians would be sent to hell, God would save the soul of the Sage of Chaeronea.
Jona Lendering, ed.
This text is cited July 2003 from the Livius Ancient History Website URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks.
The Website of the International Plutarch Society
The e-texts of the works by Plutarch are found in Greece (ancient country) under the category Ancient Greek Writings.
Plutarch, historian, around A.D. 46-120, born at Chaeronea, Boeotia,
in Greece during the Roman
Empire. Plutarch travelled widely in the Mediterranean world until he returned
to Boeotia, becoming a priest
at the temple of Apollo at Delphi.
His most important historical work is the Parallel Lives, in which he arranges 46 biographies of leading Greeks and leading Romans in tandem to illuminate their shared moral virtues or failings. This moralizing approach to history makes it difficult to rely on Plutarch for certain kinds of details, though his dates are not usually troublesome.
After having been trained in philosophy at Athens he travelled and stayed some time at Rome, where he lectured on philosophy and undertook the education of Hadrian. Trajan bestowed consular rank upon him, and Hadrian appointed him procurator of Greece. He died in his native town, where he was archon and priest of the Pythian Apollo. In the Consolation to his Wife on the loss of his young daughter, he tells us that they had brought up four sons besides, one of whom was called by the name of Plutarch's brother, Lamprias. We learn incidentally from this treatise that the writer had been initiated in the secret mysteries of Dionysus, which held that the soul was imperishable.
He seems to have been an independent thinker rather than an adherent of any particular school of philosophy. His vast acquaintance with the literature of his time is everywhere apparent. The celebrity of Plutarch, or at least his popularity, is mainly founded on his forty-six Parallel Lives. He is thought to have written this work in his later years after his return to Chaeronea. His knowledge of Latin and of Roman history he must have partly derived from some years' residence in Rome, and parts of Italy, though he says he was too much engaged in lecturing (doubtless in Greek, on philosophy) to turn his attention much to Roman literature during that period.
Plutarch's design in writing the Parallel Lives appears to have been the publication, in successive books, of authentic biographies in pairs, taking together a Greek and a Roman. It may therefore fairly be inferred that Plutarch's original idea was simply to set a Greek warrior, statesman, orator or legislator side by side with some noted Roman celebrated for the same qualities, or working under similar conditions. Nearly all the lives are in pairs. The Lives are works of great learning and research, long lists of authorities are given, and they must for this very reason, as well as from their considerable length, have taken many years in compilation. It is true that many of the lives, especially of Romans, do not show such an extent of research. But Plutarch must have had access to a great store of books, and his diligence as an historian cannot be questioned, if his accuracy is in some points impeached. From the historian's point of view the weakness of the biographies is that their interest is primarily ethical. The author's sympathy with Doric characters and institutions is very evident; he delights to record the exploits, the maxims and virtues of Spartan kings and generals. This feeling is the key to his apparently unfair and virulent attack on Herodotus, who, as an Ionian, seemed to him to have exaggerated the prowess and the foresight of the Athenian leaders.
The voluminous and varied writings of Plutarch exclusive of the Lives are known under the common term Opera moralia. These consist of above sixty essays, some of them long and many of them rather difficult, some too of very doubtful genuineness. Their literary value is greatly enhanced by the large number of citations from lost Greek poems, especially verses of the dramatists, among whom Euripides holds by far the first place.
This extract is cited July 2003 from the Malaspina Great Books URL below, which contains image.
Receive our daily Newsletter with all the latest updates on the Greek Travel industry.Subscribe now!