Plutarch (/ˈpluːtɑːrk/; Greek: Πλούταρχος, Ploútarkhos, Koine Greek: [ˈplutarkʰos]; c. AD 46 – AD 120), later named, upon becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus, (Λούκιος Μέστριος Πλούταρχος)[a] was a Greek biographer and essayist, known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia. He is classified as a Middle Platonist. Plutarch's surviving works were written in Greek, but intended for both Greek and Roman readers.
Plutarch's bust at Chaeronea, his home town
|Born||c. AD 46|
|Died||c. AD 120 (aged 73–74)|
|Occupation||Biographer, essayist, philosopher, priest, ambassador, magistrate|
|Literary movement||Middle Platonism,|
Plutarch was born to a prominent family in the small town of Chaeronea, about 80 kilometres (50 mi) east of Delphi, in the Greek region of Boeotia. His family was wealthy. The name of Plutarch's father has not been preserved, but based on the common Greek custom of repeating a name in alternate generations, it was probably Nikarchus (Nίκαρχoς). The name of Plutarch's grandfather was Lamprias, as he attested in Moralia and in his Life of Antony.
His brothers, Timon and Lamprias, are frequently mentioned in his essays and dialogues, which speak of Timon in particular in the most affectionate terms. Rualdus, in his 1624 work Life of Plutarchus, recovered the name of Plutarch's wife, Timoxena, from internal evidence afforded by his writings. A letter is still extant, addressed by Plutarch to his wife, bidding her not to grieve too much at the death of their two-year-old daughter, who was named Timoxena after her mother. He hinted at a belief in reincarnation in that letter of consolation.
The exact number of his sons is not certain, although two of them, Autobulus and the second Plutarch, are often mentioned. Plutarch's treatise De animae procreatione in Timaeo is dedicated to them, and the marriage of his son Autobulus is the occasion of one of the dinner parties recorded in the "Table Talk". Another person, Soklarus, is spoken of in terms which seem to imply that he was Plutarch's son, but this is nowhere definitely stated. His treatise on marriage questions, addressed to Eurydice and Pollianus, seems to speak of the latter as having been recently an inmate of his house, but without any clear evidence on whether she was his daughter or not.
At some point, Plutarch received Roman citizenship. As evidenced by his new name, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus, his sponsor for citizenship was Lucius Mestrius Florus, a Roman of consular status whom Plutarch also used as a historical source for his Life of Otho.
He lived most of his life at Chaeronea, and was initiated into the mysteries of the Greek god Apollo. For many years Plutarch served as one of the two priests at the temple of Apollo at Delphi, the site of the famous Delphic Oracle, twenty miles from his home. By his writings and lectures Plutarch became a celebrity in the Roman Empire, yet he continued to reside where he was born, and actively participated in local affairs, even serving as mayor. At his country estate, guests from all over the empire congregated for serious conversation, presided over by Plutarch in his marble chair. Many of these dialogues were recorded and published, and the 78 essays and other works which have survived are now known collectively as the Moralia. 
In addition to his duties as a priest of the Delphic temple, Plutarch was also a magistrate at Chaeronea and he represented his home town on various missions to foreign countries during his early adult years. Plutarch held the office of archon in his native municipality, probably only an annual one which he likely served more than once. He busied himself with all the little matters of the town and undertook the humblest of duties.
The Suda, a medieval Greek encyclopedia, states that Emperor Trajan made Plutarch procurator of Illyria. However, most historians consider this unlikely, since Illyria was not a procuratorial province, and Plutarch probably did not speak Illyrian.
According to the 8th/9th-century historian George Syncellus, late in Plutarch's life, Emperor Hadrian appointed him nominal procurator of Achaea – which entitled him to wear the vestments and ornaments of a consul.
Plutarch spent the last thirty years of his life serving as a priest in Delphi. He thus connected part of his literary work with the sanctuary of Apollo, the processes of oracle-giving and the personalities who lived or traveled there. One of his most important works is the "Why Pythia does not give oracles in verse" (Moralia 11) ( "Περὶ τοῦ μὴ χρᾶν ἔμμετρα νῦν τὴν Πυθίαν"). Even more important is the dialogue "On the E in Delphi" ("Περὶ τοῦ Εἶ τοῦ ἐν Δελφοῖς"), which features Ammonius, a Platonic philosopher and teacher of Plutarch, and Lambrias, Plutarch's brother. According to Ammonius, the letter E written on the temple of Apollo in Delphi originated from the following fact: the wise men of antiquity, whose maxims were also written on the walls of the vestibule of the temple, were not seven but actually five: Chilon, Solon, Thales, Bias and Pittakos. However, the tyrants Cleobulos and Periandros used their political power in order to be incorporated in the list. Thus, the E, which corresponds to number 5, constituted an acknowledgment that the Delphic maxims actually originated from the five real wise men. The portrait of a philosopher exhibited at the exit of the Archaeological Museum of Delphi, dating to the 2nd century AD, had been in the past identified with Plutarch. The man, although bearded, is depicted at a relatively young age. His hair and beard are rendered in coarse volumes and thin incisions. The gaze is deep, due to the heavy eyelids and the incised pupils. The portrait is no longer thought to represent Plutarch. But a fragmentary hermaic stele next to the portrait probably did once bear a portrait of Plutarch, since it is inscribed, "The Delphians along with the Chaeroneans dedicated this to Plutarch, following the precepts of the Amphictyony" ("Δελφοὶ Χαιρωνεῦσιν ὁμοῦ Πλούταρχον ἔθηκαν | τοῖς Ἀμφικτυόνων δόγμασι πειθόμενοι" Syll.3 843=CID 4, no. 151).
Plutarch's first biographical works were the Lives of the Roman Emperors from Augustus to Vitellius. Of these, only the Lives of Galba and Otho survive. The Lives of Tiberius and Nero are extant only as fragments, provided by Damascius (Life of Tiberius, cf. his Life of Isidore) and Plutarch himself (Life of Nero, cf. Galba 2.1), respectively. These early emperors’ biographies were probably published under the Flavian dynasty or during the reign of Nerva (AD 96–98).
There is reason to believe that the two Lives still extant, those of Galba and Otho, "ought to be considered as a single work." Therefore, they do not form a part of the Plutarchian canon of single biographies – as represented by the Life of Aratus of Sicyon and the Life of Artaxerxes II (the biographies of Hesiod, Pindar, Crates and Daiphantus were lost). Unlike in these biographies, in Galba-Otho the individual characters of the persons portrayed are not depicted for their own sake but instead serve as an illustration of an abstract principle; namely the adherence or non-adherence to Plutarch’s morally founded ideal of governing as a Princeps (cf. Galba 1.3; Moralia 328D–E).
Arguing from the perspective of Platonic political philosophy (cf. Republic 375E, 410D-E, 411E-412A, 442B-C), in Galba-Otho Plutarch reveals the constitutional principles of the Principate in the time of the civil war after Nero's death. While morally questioning the behavior of the autocrats, he also gives an impression of their tragic destinies, ruthlessly competing for the throne and finally destroying each other. "The Caesars' house in Rome, the Palatium, received in a shorter space of time no less than four Emperors", Plutarch writes, "passing, as it were, across the stage, and one making room for another to enter" (Galba 1).
Galba-Otho was handed down through different channels. It can be found in the appendix to Plutarch's Parallel Lives as well as in various Moralia manuscripts, most prominently in Maximus Planudes' edition where Galba and Otho appear as Opera XXV and XXVI. Thus it seems reasonable to maintain that Galba-Otho was from early on considered as an illustration of a moral-ethical approach, possibly even by Plutarch himself.
Plutarch's best-known work is the Parallel Lives, a series of biographies of famous Greeks and Romans, arranged in pairs to illuminate their common moral virtues and vices. The surviving Lives contain 23 pairs, each with one Greek Life and one Roman Life, as well as four unpaired single Lives.
As is explained in the opening paragraph of his Life of Alexander, Plutarch was not concerned with history so much as the influence of character, good or bad, on the lives and destinies of men. Whereas sometimes he barely touched on epoch-making events, he devoted much space to charming anecdote and incidental triviality, reasoning that this often said far more for his subjects than even their most famous accomplishments. He sought to provide rounded portraits, likening his craft to that of a painter; indeed, he went to tremendous lengths (often leading to tenuous comparisons) to draw parallels between physical appearance and moral character. In many ways, he must be counted amongst the earliest moral philosophers.
Some of the Lives, such as those of Heracles, Philip II of Macedon, Epaminondas and Scipio Africanus, no longer exist; many of the remaining Lives are truncated, contain obvious lacunae or have been tampered with by later writers. Extant Lives include those on Solon, Themistocles, Aristides, Agesilaus II, Pericles, Alcibiades, Nicias, Demosthenes, Pelopidas, Philopoemen, Timoleon, Dion of Syracuse, Eumenes, Alexander the Great, Pyrrhus of Epirus, Romulus, Numa Pompilius, Coriolanus, Theseus, Aemilius Paullus, Tiberius Gracchus, Gaius Gracchus, Gaius Marius, Sulla, Sertorius, Lucullus, Pompey, Julius Caesar, Cicero, Cato the Elder, Mark Antony, and Marcus Junius Brutus.
Since Spartans wrote no history prior to the Hellenistic period their only extant literature is fragments of 7th-century lyrics, Plutarch's five Spartan lives and Sayings of Spartans and Sayings of Spartan Women, rooted in sources that have since disappeared, are one of the richest sources for historians of Lacedaemonia. But while they are important, they are also controversial. Plutarch lived centuries after the Sparta he writes about (and a full millennium separates him from the earliest events he records) and even though he visited Sparta, many of the ancient customs he reports had been long abandoned, so he never actually saw what he wrote. Plutarch's sources themselves can be problematic. As the historians Sarah Pomeroy, Stanley Burstein, Walter Donlan, and Jennifer Tolbert Roberts have written, "Plutarch was influenced by histories written after the decline of Sparta and marked by nostalgia for a happier past, real or imagined." Turning to Plutarch himself, they write, "the admiration writers like Plutarch and Xenophon felt for Spartan society led them to exaggerate its monolithic nature, minimizing departures from ideals of equality and obscuring patterns of historical change." Thus the Spartan egalitarianism and superhuman immunity to pain that have seized the popular imagination are likely myths, and their main architect is Plutarch. While flawed, Plutarch is nonetheless indispensable as one of the only ancient sources of information on Spartan life. Pomeroy et al. conclude that Plutarch's works on Sparta, while they must be treated with skepticism, remain valuable for their "large quantities of information" and these historians concede that "Plutarch's writings on Sparta, more than those of any other ancient author, have shaped later views of Sparta", despite their potential to misinform.
Plutarch's Life of Alexander, written as a parallel to that of Julius Caesar, is one of only five extant tertiary sources on the Macedonian conqueror Alexander the Great. It includes anecdotes and descriptions of events that appear in no other source, just as Plutarch's portrait of Numa Pompilius, the putative second king of Rome, holds much that is unique on the early Roman calendar.
Plutarch devotes a great deal of space to Alexander's drive and desire, and strives to determine how much of it was presaged in his youth. He also draws extensively on the work of Lysippus, Alexander's favourite sculptor, to provide what is probably the fullest and most accurate description of the conqueror's physical appearance. When it comes to his character, Plutarch emphasizes his unusual degree of self-control and scorn for luxury: "He desired not pleasure or wealth, but only excellence and glory." As the narrative progresses, however, the subject incurs less admiration from his biographer and the deeds that it recounts become less savoury. The murder of Cleitus the Black, which Alexander instantly and deeply regretted, is commonly cited to this end.
Together with Suetonius's The Twelve Caesars, and Caesar's own works de Bello Gallico and de Bello Civili, this Life is the main account of Julius Caesar's feats by ancient historians. Plutarch starts by telling the audacity of Caesar and his refusal to dismiss Cinna's daughter, Cornelia. Other important parts are these containing his military deeds, accounts of battles and Caesar's capacity of inspiring the soldiers.
His soldiers showed such good will and zeal in his service that those who in their previous campaigns had been in no way superior to others were invincible and irresistible in confronting every danger to enhance Caesar's fame. Such a man, for instance, was Acilius, who, in the sea-fight at Massalia, boarded a hostile ship and had his right hand cut off with a sword, but clung with the other hand to his shield, and dashing it into the faces of his foes, routed them all and got possession of the vessel. Such a man, again, was Cassius Scaeva, who, in the battle at Dyrrhachium, had his eye struck out with an arrow, his shoulder transfixed with one javelin and his thigh with another, and received on his shield the blows of one hundred and thirty missiles. In this plight, he called the enemy to him as though he would surrender. Two of them, accordingly, coming up, he lopped off the shoulder of one with his sword, smote the other in the face and put him to flight, and came off safely himself with the aid of his comrades. Again, in Britain, when the enemy had fallen upon the foremost centurions, who had plunged into a watery marsh, a soldier, while Caesar in person was watching the battle, dashed into the midst of the fight, displayed many conspicuous deeds of daring, and rescued the centurions, after the Barbarians had been routed. Then he himself, making his way with difficulty after all the rest, plunged into the muddy current, and at last, without his shield, partly swimming and partly wading, got across. Caesar and his company were amazed and came to meet the soldier with cries of joy; but he, in great dejection, and with a burst of tears, cast himself at Caesar's feet, begging pardon for the loss of his shield. Again, in Africa, Scipio captured a ship of Caesar's in which Granius Petro, who had been appointed quaestor, was sailing. Of the rest of the passengers Scipio made booty, but told the quaestor that he offered him his life. Granius, however, remarking that it was the custom with Caesar's soldiers not to receive but to offer mercy, killed himself with a blow of his sword.— Life of Caesar, XVI
However, this Life shows few differences between Suetonius' work and Caesar's own works (see De Bello Gallico and De Bello Civili). Sometimes, Plutarch quotes directly from the De Bello Gallico and even tells us of the moments when Caesar was dictating his works.
In the final part of this Life, Plutarch counts Caesar's assassination, and several details. The book ends on telling the destiny of his murderers, and says that Caesar's "great guardian-genius" avenged him after life.
|"It is not histories I am writing, but lives; and in the most glorious deeds there is not always an indication of virtue or vice, indeed a small thing like a phrase or a jest often makes a greater revelation of a character than battles where thousands die."|
|Plutarch (Life of Alexander/Life of Julius Caesar, Parallel Lives, [tr. E.L. Bowie])|
Plutarch stretches and occasionally fabricates the similarities between famous Greeks and Romans in order to be able to write their biographies as parallel. The lives of Nicias and Crassus, for example, have little in common except that "both were rich and both suffered great military defeats at the ends of their lives".
In his Life of Pompey, Plutarch praises Pompey's trustworthy character and tactful behaviour in order to conjure a moral judgement that opposes most historical accounts. Plutarch delivers anecdotes with moral points, rather than in-depth comparative analyses of the causes of the fall of the Achaemenid Empire and the Roman Republic, and tends on occasion to fit facts to hypotheses.
On the other hand, he generally sets out his moral anecdotes in chronological order (unlike, say, his Roman contemporary Suetonius) and is rarely narrow-minded and unrealistic, almost always prepared to acknowledge the complexity of the human condition where moralising cannot explain it.
The remainder of Plutarch's surviving work is collected under the title of the Moralia (loosely translated as Customs and Mores). It is an eclectic collection of seventy-eight essays and transcribed speeches, including On Fraternal Affection—a discourse on honour and affection of siblings toward each other, On the Fortune or the Virtue of Alexander the Great—an important adjunct to his Life of the great king, On the Worship of Isis and Osiris (a crucial source of information on Egyptian religious rites), along with more philosophical treatises, such as On the Decline of the Oracles, On the Delays of the Divine Vengeance, On Peace of Mind and lighter fare, such as Odysseus and Gryllus, a humorous dialogue between Homer's Odysseus and one of Circe's enchanted pigs. The Moralia was composed first, while writing the Lives occupied much of the last two decades of Plutarch's own life.
Book IV of the Moralia contains the Roman and Greek Questions (Αἰτίαι Ῥωμαϊκαί and Αἰτίαι Ἑλλήνων). The customs of Romans and Greeks are illuminated in little essays that pose questions such as 'Why were patricians not permitted to live on the Capitoline?' (no. 91) and then suggests answers to them.
In On the Malice of Herodotus Plutarch criticizes the historian Herodotus for all manner of prejudice and misrepresentation. It has been called the "first instance in literature of the slashing review." The 19th-century English historian George Grote considered this essay a serious attack upon the works of Herodotus, and speaks of the "honourable frankness which Plutarch calls his malignity." Plutarch makes some palpable hits, catching Herodotus out in various errors, but it is also probable that it was merely a rhetorical exercise, in which Plutarch plays devil's advocate to see what could be said against so favourite and well-known a writer. According to Plutarch scholar R. H. Barrow, Herodotus’ real failing in Plutarch’s eyes was to advance any criticism at all of those states that saved Greece from Persia. “Plutarch”, he concluded, “is fanatically biased in favor of the Greek cities; they can do no wrong.”
Symposiacs (Συμποσιακά); Convivium Septem Sapientium.
The Romans loved the Lives, and enough copies were written out over the centuries so that a copy of most of the lives has survived to the present day. An ancient list of works attributed to Plutarch, the 'Catalogue of Lamprias' contains 227 works, of which 78 have come down to us. The lost works of Plutarch are determined by references in his own texts to them and from other authors' references over time. There are traces of twelve more Lives that are now lost.
Plutarch's general procedure for the Lives was to write the life of a prominent Greek, then cast about for a suitable Roman parallel, and end with a brief comparison of the Greek and Roman lives. Currently, only 19 of the parallel lives end with a comparison, while possibly they all did at one time. Also missing are many of his Lives which appear in a list of his writings, those of Hercules, the first pair of Parallel Lives, Scipio Africanus and Epaminondas, and the companions to the four solo biographies. Even the lives of such important figures as Augustus, Claudius and Nero have not been found and may be lost forever.
Other lost works include "Whether One Who Suspends Judgment on Everything Is Condemned to Inaction", "On Pyrrho’s Ten Modes", and "On the Difference between the Pyrrhonians and the Academics".
|"The soul, being eternal, after death is like a caged bird that has been released. If it has been a long time in the body, and has become tame by many affairs and long habit, the soul will immediately take another body and once again become involved in the troubles of the world. The worst thing about old age is that the soul's memory of the other world grows dim, while at the same time its attachment to things of this world becomes so strong that the soul tends to retain the form that it had in the body. But that soul which remains only a short time within a body, until liberated by the higher powers, quickly recovers its fire and goes on to higher things."|
|Plutarch (The Consolation, Moralia)|
Plutarch was a Platonist, but was open to the influence of the Peripatetics, and in some details even to Stoicism despite his criticism of their principles. He rejected only Epicureanism absolutely. He attached little importance to theoretical questions and doubted the possibility of ever solving them. He was more interested in moral and religious questions.
In opposition to Stoic materialism and Epicurean atheism he cherished a pure idea of God that was more in accordance with Plato. He adopted a second principle (Dyad) in order to explain the phenomenal world. This principle he sought, however, not in any indeterminate matter but in the evil world-soul which has from the beginning been bound up with matter, but in the creation was filled with reason and arranged by it. Thus it was transformed into the divine soul of the world, but continued to operate as the source of all evil. He elevated God above the finite world, and thus daemons became for him agents of God's influence on the world. He strongly defends freedom of the will, and the immortality of the soul.
Platonic-Peripatetic ethics were upheld by Plutarch against the opposing theories of the Stoics and Epicureans. The most characteristic feature of Plutarch's ethics is, however, its close connection with religion. However pure Plutarch's idea of God is, and however vivid his description of the vice and corruption which superstition causes, his warm religious feelings and his distrust of human powers of knowledge led him to believe that God comes to our aid by direct revelations, which we perceive the more clearly the more completely that we refrain in "enthusiasm" from all action; this made it possible for him to justify popular belief in divination in the way which had long been usual among the Stoics.
His attitude to popular religion was similar. The gods of different peoples are merely different names for one and the same divine Being and the powers that serve it. The myths contain philosophical truths which can be interpreted allegorically. Thus Plutarch sought to combine the philosophical and religious conception of things and to remain as close as possible to tradition.
|Shakespeare: Metamorphosis - Plutarch’s “Lives” (1579), Senate House Library|
Plutarch's writings had an enormous influence on English and French literature. Shakespeare paraphrased parts of Thomas North's translation of selected Lives in his plays, and occasionally quoted from them verbatim.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau quotes from Plutarch in the 1762 Emile, or On Education, a treatise on the education of the whole person for citizenship. Rousseau introduces a passage from Plutarch in support of his position against eating meat: "'You ask me,' said Plutarch, 'why Pythagoras abstained from eating the flesh of beasts...'"
Ralph Waldo Emerson and the Transcendentalists were greatly influenced by the Moralia and in his glowing introduction to the five-volume, 19th-century edition, he called the Lives "a bible for heroes". He also opined that it was impossible to "read Plutarch without a tingling of the blood; and I accept the saying of the Chinese Mencius: 'A sage is the instructor of a hundred ages. When the manners of Loo are heard of, the stupid become intelligent, and the wavering, determined.'"
Montaigne's Essays draw extensively on Plutarch's Moralia and are consciously modelled on the Greek's easygoing and discursive inquiries into science, manners, customs and beliefs. Essays contains more than 400 references to Plutarch and his works.
James Boswell quoted Plutarch on writing lives, rather than biographies, in the introduction to his own Life of Samuel Johnson. Other admirers included Ben Jonson, John Dryden, Alexander Hamilton, John Milton, Louis L'amour, and Francis Bacon, as well as such disparate figures as Cotton Mather and Robert Browning.
Plutarch's influence declined in the 19th and 20th centuries, but it remains embedded in the popular ideas of Greek and Roman history. One of his most famous quotes was one that he included in one of his earliest works. "The world of man is best captured through the lives of the men who created history."
“One advantage to a modern reader who is not well acquainted with Greek is, that being but a moderate stylist, Plutarch is almost as good in a translation as in the original.”
Jacques Amyot's translations brought Plutarch's works to Western Europe. He went to Italy and studied the Vatican text of Plutarch, from which he published a French translation of the Lives in 1559 and Moralia in 1572, which were widely read by educated Europe. Amyot's translations had as deep an impression in England as France, because Thomas North later published his English translation of the Lives in 1579 based on Amyot’s French translation instead of the original Greek.
Plutarch's Lives were translated into English, from Amyot's version, by Sir Thomas North in 1579. The complete Moralia was first translated into English from the original Greek by Philemon Holland in 1603.
In 1683, John Dryden began a life of Plutarch and oversaw a translation of the Lives by several hands and based on the original Greek. This translation has been reworked and revised several times, most recently in the 19th century by the English poet and classicist Arthur Hugh Clough (first published in 1859). One contemporary publisher of this version is Modern Library. Another is Encyclopædia Britannica in association with the University of Chicago, ISBN 0-85229-163-9, copyright 1952, Library of Congress catalogue card number 55-10323.
In 1770, English brothers John and William Langhorne published "Plutarch's Lives from the original Greek, with notes critical and historical, and a new life of Plutarch" in 6 volumes and dedicated to Lord Folkestone. Their translation was re-edited by Archdeacon Wrangham in the year 1819.
From 1901 to 1912, an American classicist, Bernadotte Perrin, produced a new translation of the Lives for the Loeb Classical Library. The Moralia is also included in the Loeb series, translated by various authors.
Penguin Classics began a series of translations by various scholars in 1958 with The Fall of the Roman Republic, which contained six Lives and was translated by Rex Warner. Penguin continues to revise the volumes.
Note: just main translations from the second half of 15th century.
There are multiple translations of Parallel Lives into Latin, most notably the one titled "Pour le Dauphin" (French for "for the Prince") written by a scribe in the court of Louis XV of France and a 1470 Ulrich Han translation.
In 1519, Hieronymus Emser translated De capienda ex inimicis utilitate (wie ym eyner seinen veyndt nutz machen kan, Leipzig).
The biographies were translated by Gottlob Benedict von Schirach (1743–1804) and printed in Vienna by Franz Haas, 1776–80.
Plutarch's Lives and Moralia were translated into German by Johann Friedrich Salomon Kaltwasser:
Following some Hebrew translations of selections from Plutarch's Parallel Lives published in the 1920s and the 1940s, a complete translation was published in three volumes by the Bialik Institute in 1954, 1971 and 1973. The first volume, Roman Lives, first published in 1954, presents the translations of Joseph G. Liebes to the biographies of Coriolanus, Fabius Maximus, Tiberius Gracchus and Gaius Gracchus, Cato the Elder and Cato the Younger, Gaius Marius, Sulla, Sertorius, Lucullus, Pompey, Crassus, Cicero, Julius Caesar, Brutus and Mark Anthony.
The second volume, Greek Lives, first published in 1971 presents A. A. Halevy's translations of the biographies of Lycurgus, Aristides, Cimon, Pericles, Nicias, Lysander, Agesilaus, Pelopidas, Dion, Timoleon, Demosthenes, Alexander the Great, Eumenes and Phocion. Three more biographies presented in this volume, those of Solon, Themistocles and Alcibiades were translated by M. H. Ben-Shamai.
The third volume, Greek and Roman Lives, published in 1973, presented the remaining biographies and parallels as translated by Halevy. Included are the biographies of Demetrius, Pyrrhus, Agis and Cleomenes, Aratus and Artaxerxes, Philopoemen, Camillus, Marcellus, Flamininus, Aemilius Paulus, Galba and Otho, Theseus, Romulus, Numa Pompilius and Poplicola. It completes the translation of the known remaining biographies. In the introduction to the third volume Halevy explains that originally the Bialik Institute intended to publish only a selection of biographies, leaving out mythological figures and biographies that had no parallels. Thus, to match the first volume in scope the second volume followed the same path and the third volume was required.
Some editions of the Moralia include several works now known to have been falsely attributed to Plutarch. Among these are the Lives of the Ten Orators, a series of biographies of the Attic orators based on Caecilius of Calacte; On the Opinions of the Philosophers, On Fate, and On Music. These works are all attributed to a single, unknown author, referred to as "Pseudo-Plutarch". Pseudo-Plutarch lived sometime between the third and fourth centuries A.D. Despite being falsely attributed, the works are still considered to possess historical value.
Although Plutarch wrote in Greek and with a Greek point of view, [...] he was thinking of a Roman as well as a Greek audience.
Alcibiades, son of Cleinias (c. 450–404 BC), from the deme of Scambonidae, was a prominent Athenian statesman, orator, and general. He was the last famous member of his mother's aristocratic family, the Alcmaeonidae, which fell from prominence after the Peloponnesian War. He played a major role in the second half of that conflict as a strategic advisor, military commander, and politician.
During the course of the Peloponnesian War, Alcibiades changed his political allegiance several times. In his native Athens in the early 410s BC, he advocated an aggressive foreign policy and was a prominent proponent of the Sicilian Expedition, but he fled to Sparta after his political enemies brought charges of sacrilege against him. In Sparta, he served as a strategic adviser, proposing or supervising several major campaigns against Athens. In Sparta too, however, Alcibiades soon made powerful enemies and felt forced to defect to Persia. There he served as an adviser to the satrap Tissaphernes until his Athenian political allies brought about his recall. He then served as an Athenian general (Strategos) for several years, but his enemies eventually succeeded in exiling him a second time.
Scholars have argued that had the Sicilian expedition been under Alcibiades's command instead of that of Nicias, the expedition might not have met its eventual disastrous fate. In the years when he served Sparta, Alcibiades played a significant role in Athens's undoing; the capture of Decelea and the revolts of several critical Athenian subjects occurred either at his suggestion or under his supervision. Once restored to his native city, however, he played a crucial role in a string of Athenian victories that eventually brought Sparta to seek a peace with Athens. He favored unconventional tactics, frequently winning cities over by treachery or negotiation rather than by siege. Alcibiades's military and political talents frequently proved valuable to whichever state currently held his allegiance, but his propensity for making powerful enemies ensured that he never remained in one place for long; and by the end of the war that he had helped to rekindle in the early 410s, his days of political relevance were a bygone memory.Alexander the Great
Alexander III of Macedon (Greek: Αλέξανδρος Γ΄ ὁ Μακεδών; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great (Ancient Greek: Ἀλέξανδρος ὁ Μέγας, translit. Aléxandros ho Mégas), was a king (basileus) of the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedon and a member of the Argead dynasty. He was born in Pella in 356 BC and succeeded his father Philip II to the throne at the age of 20. He spent most of his ruling years on an unprecedented military campaign through Asia and northeast Africa, and by the age of thirty he had created one of the largest empires of the ancient world, stretching from Greece to northwestern India. He was undefeated in battle and is widely considered one of history's most successful military commanders.During his youth, Alexander was tutored by Aristotle until age 16. After Philip's assassination in 336 BC, he succeeded his father to the throne and inherited a strong kingdom and an experienced army. Alexander was awarded the generalship of Greece and used this authority to launch his father's pan-Hellenic project to lead the Greeks in the conquest of Persia. In 334 BC, he invaded the Achaemenid Empire (Persian Empire) and began a series of campaigns that lasted 10 years. Following the conquest of Anatolia, Alexander broke the power of Persia in a series of decisive battles, most notably the battles of Issus and Gaugamela. He subsequently overthrew Persian King Darius III and conquered the Achaemenid Empire in its entirety. At that point, his empire stretched from the Adriatic Sea to the Indus River.
He endeavored to reach the "ends of the world and the Great Outer Sea" and invaded India in 326 BC, winning an important victory over the Pauravas at the Battle of the Hydaspes. He eventually turned back at the demand of his homesick troops. Alexander died in Babylon in 323 BC, the city that he planned to establish as his capital, without executing a series of planned campaigns that would have begun with an invasion of Arabia. In the years following his death, a series of civil wars tore his empire apart, resulting in the establishment of several states ruled by the Diadochi, Alexander's surviving generals and heirs.
Alexander's legacy includes the cultural diffusion and syncretism which his conquests engendered, such as Greco-Buddhism. He founded some twenty cities that bore his name, most notably Alexandria in Egypt. Alexander's settlement of Greek colonists and the resulting spread of Greek culture in the east resulted in a new Hellenistic civilization, aspects of which were still evident in the traditions of the Byzantine Empire in the mid-15th century AD and the presence of Greek speakers in central and far eastern Anatolia until the 1920s. Alexander became legendary as a classical hero in the mold of Achilles, and he features prominently in the history and mythic traditions of both Greek and non-Greek cultures. He became the measure against which military leaders compared themselves, and military academies throughout the world still teach his tactics. He is often ranked among the most influential people in history.Alpha
Alpha (uppercase Α, lowercase α; Ancient Greek: ἄλφα, álpha, modern pronunciation álfa) is the first letter of the Greek alphabet. In the system of Greek numerals, it has a value of 1.
It was derived from the Phoenician and Hebrew letter aleph - an ox or leader.Letters that arose from alpha include the Latin A and the Cyrillic letter А.
In English, the noun "alpha" is used as a synonym for "beginning", or "first" (in a series), reflecting its Greek roots.Brutus the Younger
Marcus Junius Brutus (the Younger) (; 85 BC – 23 October 42 BC), often referred to as Brutus, was a politician of the late Roman Republic. After being adopted by his uncle he used the name Quintus Servilius Caepio Brutus, but eventually returned to using his original name. He took a leading role in the assassination of Julius Caesar.Brutus was close to General Julius Caesar, the leader of the Populares faction. However, Caesar's attempts to assume greater power for himself put him at greater odds with the Roman elite and members of the Senate. Brutus eventually came to oppose Caesar and fought on the side of the Optimates faction, led by Pompey the Great, against Caesar's forces in Caesar's Civil War. Pompey was defeated at the Battle of Pharsalus in 48 BC, after which Brutus surrendered to Caesar, who granted him amnesty.
However, the underlying political tensions that led to the war had not been resolved. Due to Caesar's increasingly monarchical behavior, several senators, calling themselves "Liberators", plotted to assassinate him. They recruited Brutus, who took a leading role in the assassination, which was carried out successfully on March 15, 44 BC. The Senate, at the request of the Consul Mark Antony, granted amnesty to the assassins. However, a populist uprising forced Brutus and his brother-in-law, fellow assassin Gaius Cassius Longinus, to leave the City of Rome. In 43 BC, Caesar's grandnephew, Consul Octavian, by then also formally known as Gaius Julius Caesar, immediately after taking office passed a resolution declaring the conspirators, including Brutus, murderers. This led to the Liberators' civil war, pitting the erstwhile supporters of Caesar, under the Second Triumvirate, wishing both to gain power for themselves and avenge his death, against those who opposed him. Octavian combined his troops with those of Antony, and together they decisively defeated the outnumbered armies of Brutus and Cassius at the Battle of Philippi in October 42 BC. After the battle, Brutus committed suicide.Gerousia
The Gerousia (γερουσία) was the Spartan council of elders, which was made up of men over the age of sixty. It was created by the Spartan lawgiver Lycurgus in the seventh century BC, in his Great Rhetra ("Great Pronouncement"). According to Lycurgus' biographer Plutarch, the creation of the Gerousia was the first significant constitutional innovation instituted by Lycurgus.Julius Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar (; Latin pronunciation: [ˈɡaː.i.ʊs ˈjuː.li.ʊs ˈkae̯.sar]; 12 or 13 July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC), known by his nomen and cognomen Julius Caesar, was a Roman politician, military general, and historian who played a critical role in the events that led to the demise of the Roman Republic and the rise of the Roman Empire. He also wrote Latin prose.
In 60 BC, Caesar, Crassus and Pompey formed the First Triumvirate, a political alliance that dominated Roman politics for several years. Their attempts to amass power as Populares were opposed by the Optimates within the Roman Senate, among them Cato the Younger with the frequent support of Cicero. Caesar rose to become one of the most powerful politicians in the Roman Republic through a number of his accomplishments, notably his victories in the Gallic Wars, completed by 51 BC. During this time, Caesar became the first Roman general to cross both the English Channel and the Rhine River, when he built a bridge across the Rhine and crossed the Channel to invade Britain. Caesar's wars extended Rome's territory to Britain and past Gaul. These achievements granted him unmatched military power and threatened to eclipse the standing of Pompey, who had realigned himself with the Senate after the death of Crassus in 53 BC. With the Gallic Wars concluded, the Senate ordered Caesar to step down from his military command and return to Rome. Leaving his command in Gaul meant losing his immunity from being charged as a criminal for waging unsanctioned wars. As a result, Caesar found himself with no other options but to cross the Rubicon with the 13th Legion, leaving his province and illegally entering Roman Italy under arms. This began Caesar's civil war, and his victory in the war put him in an unrivaled position of power and influence.
After assuming control of government, Caesar began a program of social and governmental reforms, including the creation of the Julian calendar. He gave citizenship to many residents of far regions of the Roman Empire. He initiated land reform and support for veterans. He centralized the bureaucracy of the Republic and was eventually proclaimed "dictator for life" (Latin: "dictator perpetuo"), giving him additional authority. His populist and authoritarian reforms angered the elites, who began to conspire against him. On the Ides of March (15 March), 44 BC, Caesar was assassinated by a group of rebellious senators led by Gaius Cassius Longinus, Marcus Junius Brutus and Decimus Junius Brutus, who stabbed him to death. A new series of civil wars broke out and the constitutional government of the Republic was never fully restored. Caesar's adopted heir Octavian, later known as Augustus, rose to sole power after defeating his opponents in the civil war. Octavian set about solidifying his power, and the era of the Roman Empire began.
Much of Caesar's life is known from his own accounts of his military campaigns and from other contemporary sources, mainly the letters and speeches of Cicero and the historical writings of Sallust. The later biographies of Caesar by Suetonius and Plutarch are also major sources. Caesar is considered by many historians to be one of the greatest military commanders in history. His cognomen was subsequently adopted as a synonym for "Emperor"; the title "Caesar" was used throughout the Roman Empire, giving rise to modern cognates such as Kaiser or Tsar. He has frequently appeared in literary and artistic works, and his political philosophy, known as Caesarism, inspired politicians into the modern era.Lycurgus of Sparta
Lycurgus (; Greek: Λυκοῦργος, Lykoûrgos, Ancient Greek: [lykôrɡos]; fl. c. 820 BC) was the quasi-legendary lawgiver of Sparta who established the military-oriented reformation of Spartan society in accordance with the Oracle of Apollo at Delphi. All his reforms promoted the three Spartan virtues: equality (among citizens), military fitness, and austerity.He is referred to by ancient historians and philosophers Herodotus, Xenophon, Plato, Polybius, Plutarch, and Epictetus. It is not clear if Lycurgus was an actual historical figure; however, many ancient historians believed that he instituted the communalistic and militaristic reforms - most notably the Great Rhetra - which transformed Spartan society.Marcus Licinius Crassus
Marcus Licinius Crassus (; c. 115 BC or 112 BC – 6 May 53 BC) was a Roman general and politician who played a key role in the transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire. He is often called "The richest man in Rome". Crassus began his public career as a military commander under Lucius Cornelius Sulla during his civil war. Following Sulla's assumption of the dictatorship, Crassus amassed an enormous fortune through real estate speculation. Crassus rose to political prominence following his victory over the slave revolt led by Spartacus, sharing the consulship with his rival Pompey the Great.
A political and financial patron of Julius Caesar, Crassus joined Caesar and Pompey in the unofficial political alliance known as the First Triumvirate. Together the three men dominated the Roman political system. The alliance did not last long, due to the ambitions, egos, and jealousies of the three men. While Caesar and Crassus were lifelong allies, Crassus and Pompey disliked each other and Pompey grew increasingly envious of Caesar's spectacular successes in the Gallic Wars. The alliance was re-stabilized at the Lucca Conference in 56 BC, after which Crassus and Pompey again served jointly as consuls. Following his second consulship, Crassus was appointed as the Governor of Roman Syria. Crassus used Syria as the launchpad for a military campaign against the Parthian Empire, Rome's long-time Eastern enemy. Crassus' campaign was a disastrous failure, ending in his defeat and death at the Battle of Carrhae.
Crassus' death permanently unraveled the alliance between Caesar and Pompey. His political influence and wealth had been a counterbalance to the two greater militarists. Within four years of Crassus' death, Caesar would cross the Rubicon and begin a civil war against Pompey and the Optimates.Moralia
The Moralia (Ancient Greek: Ἠθικά Ethika; loosely translated as "Morals" or "Matters relating to customs and mores") of the 1st-century Greek scholar Plutarch of Chaeronea is an eclectic collection of 78 essays and transcribed speeches. They provide insights into Roman and Greek life, but often are also timeless observations in their own right. Many generations of Europeans have read or imitated them, including Michel de Montaigne and the Renaissance Humanists and Enlightenment philosophers.Numa Pompilius
Numa Pompilius (; 753–673 BC; reigned 715–673 BC) was the legendary second king of Rome, succeeding Romulus. He was of Sabine origin, and many of Rome's most important religious and political institutions are attributed to him.Parallel Lives
Plutarch's Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans, commonly called Parallel Lives or Plutarch's Lives, is a series of biographies of famous men, arranged in tandem to illuminate their common moral virtues or failings, probably written at the beginning of the second century AD. The surviving Parallel Lives (Greek: Βίοι Παράλληλοι, Bíoi Parállēloi) comprises 23 pairs of biographies, each pair consisting of one Greek and one Roman, as well as four unpaired, single lives. It is a work of considerable importance, not only as a source of information about the individuals described, but also about the times in which they lived.Pericles
Pericles (; Greek: Περικλῆς Periklēs, pronounced [pe.ri.klɛ̂ːs] in Classical Attic; c. 495 – 429 BC) was a prominent and influential Greek statesman, orator and general of Athens during its golden age – specifically the time between the Persian and Peloponnesian wars. He was descended, through his mother, from the powerful and historically influential Alcmaeonid family. Pericles had such a profound influence on Athenian society that Thucydides, a contemporary historian, acclaimed him as "the first citizen of Athens". Pericles turned the Delian League into an Athenian empire, and led his countrymen during the first two years of the Peloponnesian War. The period during which he led Athens, roughly from 461 to 429 BC, is sometimes known as the "Age of Pericles", though the period thus denoted can include times as early as the Persian Wars, or as late as the next century.
Pericles promoted the arts and literature; it is principally through his efforts that Athens acquired the reputation of being the educational and cultural center of the ancient Greek world. He started an ambitious project that generated most of the surviving structures on the Acropolis (including the Parthenon). This project beautified and protected the city, exhibited its glory, and gave work to the people. Pericles also fostered Athenian democracy to such an extent that critics call him a populist. He, along with several members of his family, succumbed to the Plague of Athens in 429 BC, which weakened the city-state during a protracted conflict with Sparta.Plutarch of Byzantium
Plutarch (Greek: Πλούταρχος), (? – 105) served as Bishop of Byzantium for sixteen years (89 – 105 AD) in succession to Polycarp. When he died, he was buried in the church of Argyroupolis, as were his predecessors.
The persecution of Christians by Emperor Trajan took place in 98, during the bishopric of Plutarch.Pompey
Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (Classical Latin: [ˈgnae̯.ʊs pɔmˈpɛj.jʊs ˈmaŋ.nʊs]; 29 September 106 BC – 28 September 48 BC), usually known in English as Pompey or Pompey the Great, was a military and political leader of the late Roman Republic. He came from a wealthy Italian provincial background, and his father had been the first to establish the family among the Roman nobility. Pompey's immense success as a general while still very young enabled him to advance directly to his first consulship without meeting the normal requirements for office. His success as a military commander in Sulla's second civil war resulted in Sulla bestowing the nickname Magnus, "the Great", upon him. His Roman adversaries insulted him as adulescentulus carnifex, "the teenage butcher", after his Sicilian campaign. He was consul three times (twice with Crassus and once a consul without a partner) and celebrated three triumphs.
In mid-60 BC, Pompey joined Marcus Licinius Crassus and Gaius Julius Caesar in the unofficial military-political alliance known as the First Triumvirate, which Pompey's marriage to Caesar's daughter Julia helped secure. After the deaths of Julia and Crassus, Pompey sided with the optimates, the conservative faction of the Roman Senate. Pompey and Caesar then contended for the leadership of the Roman state, leading to a civil war. When Pompey was defeated at the Battle of Pharsalus in 48 BC, he sought refuge in Egypt, where he was assassinated. His career and defeat are significant in Rome's subsequent transformation from Republic to Empire.Pseudo-Plutarch
Pseudo-Plutarch is the conventional name given to the actual, but unknown, authors of a number of pseudepigrapha (falsely attributed works) attributed to Plutarch but now known to have not been written by him.
Some of these works were included in some editions of Plutarch's Moralia. Among these are:
the Lives of the Ten Orators (Latin: Vitae Decem Oratorum, biographies of the Ten Orators of ancient Athens, based on Caecilius of Calacte), possibly deriving from a common source with the Lives of Photius
The Doctrines of the Philosophers (Greek: Περὶ τῶν ἀρεσκόντων φιλοσόφοις φυσικῶν δογμάτων; Latin: Placita Philosophorum)
De Musica (On Music)
Parallela Minora (Minor Parallels)
Pro Nobilitate (Noble Lineage)
De Fluviorum et Montium Nominibus (About the Names of Rivers and Mountains/On Rivers; Greek: Περὶ ποταμῶν καὶ ὄρων ἐπωνυμίας)
De Homero (On Homer)
De Unius in Re Publica Dominatione (On the Rule of One in the Republic)
Consolatio ad Apollonium (Consolation to Apollonius)These works date to slightly later than Plutarch, but almost all of them date to Late Antiquity (3rd to 4th century AD). D. Blank has recently shown that Pro Nobilitate was written by Arnoul Le Ferron (Arnoldus Ferronus) and first published in 1556.One pseudepigraphal philosophical work, De Fato (On Fate; included in editions of Plutarch's Moralia), is thought to be a 2nd-century Middle Platonic work.
Stromateis (Στρωματεῖς, "Patchwork"), an important source for Pre-Socratic Philosophy, is also falsely ascribed to Plutarch.Some works ascribed to Plutarch are likely of medieval origin, such as the "Letter to Trajan."Solon
Solon (Greek: Σόλων Sólōn [só.lɔːn]; c. 630 – c. 560 BC) was an Athenian statesman, lawmaker and poet. He is remembered particularly for his efforts to legislate against political, economic and moral decline in archaic Athens. His reforms failed in the short term, yet he is often credited with having laid the foundations for Athenian democracy. He wrote poetry for pleasure, as patriotic propaganda, and in defence of his constitutional reforms.
Modern knowledge of Solon is limited by the fact that his works only survive in fragments and appear to feature interpolations by later authors and by the general paucity of documentary and archaeological evidence covering Athens in the early 6th century BC. Ancient authors such as Herodotus and Plutarch are the main source of information, yet they wrote about Solon long after his death, at a time when history was by no means an academic discipline. 4th-century orators, such as Aeschines, tended to attribute to Solon all the laws of their own, much later times.Spartacus
Spartacus (Greek: Σπάρτακος Spártakos; Latin: Spartacus; c. 111–71 BC) was a Thracian gladiator who, along with the Gauls Crixus, Gannicus, Castus, and Oenomaus, was one of the escaped slave leaders in the Third Servile War, a major slave uprising against the Roman Republic. Little is known about Spartacus beyond the events of the war, and surviving historical accounts are sometimes contradictory and may not always be reliable. However, all sources agree that he was a former gladiator and an accomplished military leader.
This rebellion, interpreted by some as an example of oppressed people fighting for their freedom against a slave-owning oligarchy, has provided inspiration for many political thinkers, and has been featured in literature, television, and film. Although this interpretation is not specifically contradicted by classical historians, no historical account mentions that the goal was to end slavery in the Republic.Themistocles
Themistocles (; Greek: Θεμιστοκλῆς Greek pronunciation: [tʰemistoklɛ̂ːs] Themistoklẽs; "Glory of the Law"; c. 524–459 BC) was an Athenian politician and general. He was one of a new breed of non-aristocratic politicians who rose to prominence in the early years of the Athenian democracy. As a politician, Themistocles was a populist, having the support of lower-class Athenians, and generally being at odds with the Athenian nobility. Elected archon in 493 BC, he convinced the polis to increase the naval power of Athens, a recurring theme in his political career. During the first Persian invasion of Greece he fought at the Battle of Marathon (490 BC) and was possibly one of the ten Athenian strategoi (generals) in that battle.In the years after Marathon, and in the run-up to the second Persian invasion of 480–479 BC, Themistocles became the most prominent politician in Athens. He continued to advocate for a strong Athenian Navy, and in 483 BC he persuaded the Athenians to build a fleet of 200 triremes; these proved crucial in the forthcoming conflict with Persia. During the second invasion, he effectively commanded the Greek allied navy at the battles of Artemisium and Salamis in 480 BC. Due to his subterfuge, the Allies successfully lured the Persian fleet into the Straits of Salamis, and the decisive Greek victory there was the turning point of the war. The invasion was conclusively repulsed the following year after the Persian defeat at the land Battle of Plataea.
After the conflict ended, Themistocles continued his pre-eminence among Athenian politicians. However, he aroused the hostility of Sparta by ordering the re-fortification of Athens, and his perceived arrogance began to alienate him from the Athenians. In 472 or 471 BC, he was ostracised, and went into exile in Argos. The Spartans now saw an opportunity to destroy Themistocles, and implicated him in the alleged treasonous plot of 478 BC of their own general Pausanias. Themistocles thus fled from Greece. Alexander I of Macedon (reigned 498–454 BC) temporarily gave him sanctuary at Pydna before he traveled to Asia Minor, where he entered the service of the Persian king Artaxerxes I (reigned 465–424 BC). He was made governor of Magnesia, and lived there for the rest of his life.
Themistocles died in 459 BC, probably of natural causes. His reputation was posthumously rehabilitated, and he was re-established as a hero of the Athenian (and indeed Greek) cause. Themistocles can still reasonably be thought of as "the man most instrumental in achieving the salvation of Greece" from the Persian threat, as Plutarch describes him. His naval policies would have a lasting impact on Athens as well, since maritime power became the cornerstone of the Athenian Empire and golden age. Thucydides assessed Themistocles as "a man who exhibited the most indubitable signs of genius; indeed, in this particular he has a claim on our admiration quite extraordinary and unparalleled".Third Servile War
The Third Servile War, also called by Plutarch the Gladiator War and The War of Spartacus, was the last in a series of slave rebellions against the Roman Republic, known collectively as the Servile Wars. The Third was the only one directly to threaten the Roman heartland of Italia. It was particularly alarming to Rome because its military seemed powerless to suppress it.
The revolt began in 73 BC, with the escape of around 70 slave-gladiators from a gladiator school in Capua; they easily defeated the small Roman force sent to recapture them. Within two years, they had been joined by some 120,000 men, women and children; the able-bodied adults of this band were a surprisingly effective armed force that repeatedly showed they could withstand or defeat the Roman military, from the local Campanian patrols, to the Roman militia, and to trained Roman legions under consular command. The slaves wandered throughout Italia, raiding estates and towns with relative impunity, sometimes dividing their forces into separate but allied bands under the guidance of several leaders, including the famous gladiator-general Spartacus.
The Roman Senate grew increasingly alarmed at the slave-army's depredations and continued military successes. Eventually Rome fielded an army of eight legions under the harsh but effective leadership of Marcus Licinius Crassus. The war ended in 71 BC when, after a long and bitter fighting retreat before the legions of Crassus, and the realization that the legions of Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus and Marcus Terentius Varro Lucullus were moving in to entrap them, the armies of Spartacus launched their full strength against Crassus' legions and were utterly defeated. Of the survivors, some 6,000 were crucified along the Appian Way.
Plutarch's account of the revolt suggests that the slaves simply wished to escape to freedom, and leave Roman territory by way of Cisalpine Gaul. Appian and Florus describe the revolt as a civil war, in which the slaves intended to capture the city of Rome itself. The Third Servile War had significant and far-reaching effects on Rome's broader history. Pompey and Crassus exploited their successes to further their political careers, using their public acclaim and the implied threat of their legions to sway the consular elections of 70 BC in their favor. Their subsequent actions as Consuls greatly furthered the subversion of Roman political institutions and contributed to the eventual transition of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire.
The works of Plutarch
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