Written around the year 100, Plutarch’s Lives have shaped perceptions of the accomplishments of the ancient Greeks and Romans for nearly two thousand years. This engaging biography introduces Plutarch’s own life and work. Robert Lamberton sketches the cultural context in which Plutarch worked—Greece under Roman rule—and discusses his family relationships, background, education, and political career.
There are two sides to Plutarch: the most widely read source on Greek and Roman history and the educator whose philosophical and pedagogical concerns are preserved in the vast collection of essays and dialogues known as the Moralia. Lamberton analyzes these neglected writings, arguing that we must look here for Plutarch’s deepest commitment as a writer and for the heart of his accomplishment. Lamberton also explores the connection between biography and historiography and shows how Plutarch’s parallel biographies served the continuing process of cultural accommodation between Greeks and Romans in the Roman Empire. He concludes by discussing Plutarch’s influence and reputation through the ages.