Plutarch

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Mistakes are the usual bridge between inexperience and wisdom.
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Mestrius Plutarchos (ca. 46 - 127) was a Greek historian, biographer, and essayist.

Sourced

  • The abuse of buying and selling votes crept in and money began to play an important part in determining elections.
    • The Roman Republic
  • Pompey had fought brilliantly and in the end routed Caesar's whole force... but either he was unable to or else he feared to push on. Caesar [said] to his friends: 'Today the enemy would have won, if they had had a commander who was a winner.'
    • The Life of Pompey

Parallel Lives

  • A Roman divorced from his wife, being highly blamed by his friends, who demanded, "Was she not chaste? Was she not fair? Was she not fruitful?" holding out his shoe, asked them whether it was not new and well made. "Yet," added he, "none of you can tell where it pinches me."
    • Aemilius Paulus, sec. 29
  • And it is said that when he took his seat for the first time under the golden canopy on the royal throne, Demaratus the Corinthian, a well-meaning man and a friend of Alexander's, as he had been of Alexander's father, burst into tears, as old men will, and declared that those Hellenes were deprived of great pleasure who had died before seeing Alexander seated on the throne of Dareius.
    • Alexander, 37, 7 (Loeb)
  • Moral habits, induced by public practices, are far quicker in making their way into men's private lives, than the failings and faults of individuals are in infecting the city at large.
    • Lysander, sec. 17
  • Perseverance is more prevailing than violence; and many things which cannot be overcome when they are together, yield themselves up when taken little by little.
    • Sertorius, sec. 16
  • Good fortune will elevate even petty minds, and give them the appearance of a certain greatness and stateliness, as from their high place they look down upon the world; but the truly noble and resolved spirit raises itself, and becomes more conspicuous in times of disaster and ill fortune.
    • Eumenes, sec. 9
  • Authority and place demonstrate and try the tempers of men, by moving every passion and discovering every frailty.
    • Demosthenes and Cicero, sec. 3
  • Medicine, to produce health, has to examine disease; and music, to create harmony, must investigate discord.
    • Demetrius, sec. 1

Moralia

  • It is a desirable thing to be well descended, but the glory belongs to our ancestors.
    • On the Training of Children, 8
  • It is a true proverb, that if you live with a lame man, you will learn a limp.
    • Of the Training of Children
  • Rest gives relish to labour.
    • ἡ ἀνάπαυσις τῶν πόνων ἐστὶν ἄρτυμα
    • Of the Training of Children, 13
  • The very spring and root of honesty and virtue lie in good education.
    • Of the Training of Children
  • It is wise to be silent when occasion requires, and better than to speak, though never so well.
    • Of the Training of Children
  • He is a fool who leaves things close at hand to follow what is out of reach.
    • Of Garrulity
  • All men whilst they are awake are in one common world; but each of them, when he is asleep, is in a world of his own.
    • Of Superstition
  • Antiphanes said merrily that in a certain city the cold was so intense that words were congealed as soon as spoken, but that after some time they thawed and became audible; so that the words spoken in winter articulated next summer.
    • Of Man's Progress in Virtue
  • When the candles are out all women are fair.
    • Conjugal Precepts
  • For to err in opinion, though it be not the part of wise men, is at least human.
    • Against Colotes
  • I for my part do much wonder in what humor, with what soul or reason, the first man with his mouth touched slaughter, and reached to his lips the flesh of a dead animal, and having set before people courses of ghastly corpses and ghosts, could give those parts the names of meat and victuals, that but a little before lowed, cried, moved, and saw; how his sight could endure the blood of slaughtered, flayed, and mangled bodies; how his smell could bear their scent; and how the very nastiness happened not to offend the taste, while it chewed the sores of others, and participated of the saps and juices of deadly wounds.
    • On the Eating of Flesh
  • But for the sake of some little mouthful of flesh, we deprive a soul of the sun and light and of that proportion of life and time it had been born into the world to enjoy.
    • On the Eating of Flesh
  • The correct analogy for the mind is not a vessel that needs filling, but wood that needs igniting — no more — and then it motivates one towards originality and instills the desire for truth. Suppose someone were to go and ask his neighbors for fire and find a substantial blaze there, and just stay there continually warming himself: that is no different from someone who goes to someone else to get to some of his rationality, and fails to realize that he ought to ignite his own flame, his own intellect, but is happy to sit entranced by the lecture, and the words trigger only associative thinking and bring, as it were, only a flush to his cheeks and a glow to his limbs; but he has not dispelled or dispersed, in the warm light of philosophy, the internal dank gloom of his mind.
    • On Listening to Lectures
  • By these criteria let Alexander also be judged! For from his words, from his deeds, and from the instruction' which he imparted, it will be seen that he was indeed a philosopher.
    • On the Fortune Of Alexander, I, 4, 328B Loeb, F.C. Babbitt
  • Yet through Alexander (the Great) Bactria and the Caucasus learned to revere the gods of the Greeks ... Alexander established more than seventy cities among savage tribes, and sowed all Asia with Greek magistracies ... Egypt would not have its Alexandria, nor Mesopotamia its Seleucia, nor Sogdiana its Prophthasia, nor India its Bucephalia, nor the Caucasus a Greek city, for by the founding of cities in these places savagery was extinguished and the worse element, gaining familiarity with the better, changed under its influence.
    • On the Fortune of Alexander, I, 328D, 329A Loeb, F.C. Babbitt
  • If it were not my purpose to combine foreign things with things Greek, to traverse and civilize every continent, to search out the uttermost parts of land and sea, to push the bounds of Macedonia to the farthest Ocean, and to disseminate and shower the blessings of Greek justice and peace over every nation, I should not content to sit quietly in the luxury of idle power, but I should emulate the frugality of Diogenes. But as things are, forgive me Diogenes, that I imitate Herakles, and emulate Perseus, and follow in the footsteps of Dionysos, the divine author and progenitor of my family, and desire that victorious Greeks should dance again in India and revive the memory of the Bacchic revels among the savage mountain tribes beyond the Kaukasos…
    • On the Fortune of Alexander, I, 332A Loeb, F.C Babbitt
  • What spectator... would not exclaim... that through Fortune the foreign host was prevailing beyond its deserts, but through Virtue the Hellenes were holding out beyond their ability? And if the ones (i.e., the enemy) gains the upper hand, this will be the work of Fortune or of some jealous deity or of divine retribution; but if the others (i.e., the Greeks) prevail, it will be Virtue and daring, friendship and fidelity, that will win the guerdon of victory? These were, in fact, the only support that Alexander had with him at this time, since Fortune had put a barrier between him and the rest of his forces and equipment, fleets, horse, and camp. Finally, the Macedonians routed the barbarians, and, when they had fallen, pulled down their city on their heads.
    • On the Fortune of Alexander, II, 344 e-f, Loeb

Unsourced

  • An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.
  • And when Alexander saw the breadth of his domain he wept, for there were no more lands to conquer.
  • Prosperity is no just scale; adversity is the only balance to weigh friends.
  • Wickedness frames the engines of her own torment. She is a wonderful artisan of a miserable life.

External links

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