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25 Works of Plutarch

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On Fortune

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Sec. I. “Fortune, not wisdom, rules the affairs of mortals.”[946] And does not justice, and fairness, and sobriety, and decorum rule the affairs of mortals? Was it of fortune or owing to fortune that Aristides persevered in his poverty, when he might have been lord of much wealth? And that Scipio after taking Carthage neither […]

On Exile

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Sec. I. They say those discourses, like friends, are best and surest that come to our refuge and aid in adversity, and are useful. For many who come forward do more harm than good in the remarks they make to the unfortunate, as people unable to swim trying to rescue the drowning get entangled with […]

Sec. I. He who uttered this precept[895] certainly did not wish to live unknown, for he uttered it to let all the world know he was a superior thinker, and to get to himself unjust glory by exhorting others to shun glory. “I hate the wise man for himself not wise.”[896] They say that Philoxenus […]

Sec. I. Plato in his Laws[881] does not permit neighbours to use one another’s water, unless they have first dug for themselves as far as the clay, and reached ground that is unsuitable for a well. For clay, having a rich and compact nature, absorbs the water it receives, and does not let it pass […]

A discussion between Patrocleas, Plutarch, Timon, and Olympicus. Sec. I. When Epicurus had made these remarks, Quintus, and before any of us who were at the end of the porch[806] could reply, he went off abruptly. And we, marvelling somewhat at his rudeness, stood still silently but looked at one another, and then turned and […]

Sec. I. To speak to other people about one’s own importance or ability, Herculanus, is universally declared to be tiresome and illiberal, but in fact not many even of those who censure it avoid its unpleasantness. Thus Euripides, though he says, “If words had to be bought by human beings,No one would wish to trumpet […]

Sec. I. Outwardly there seems no difference between hatred and envy, but they seem identical. For generally speaking, as vice has many hooks, and is swayed hither and thither by the passions that hang on it, there are many points of contact and entanglement between them, for as in the case of illnesses there is […]

On Contentedness of Mind.[711] PLUTARCH SENDS GREETING TO PACCIUS. Sec. I. It was late when I received your letter, asking me to write to you something on contentedness of mind, and on those things in the Timaeus that require an accurate explanation. And it so fell out that at that very time our friend Eros […]

A DIALOGUE BETWEEN SYLLA AND FUNDANUS. Sec. I. Sylla. Those painters, Fundanus, seem to me to do well who, before giving the finishing touches to their paintings, lay them by for a time and then revise them; because by taking their eyes off them for a time they gain by frequent inspection a new insight, […]

On Shyness

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On Shyness.[636] Sec. I. Some of the things that grow on the earth are in their nature wild and barren and injurious to the growth of seeds and plants, yet those who till the ground consider them indications not of a bad soil but of a rich and fat one;[637] so also there are passions […]

On Curiosity

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On Curiosity.[608] Sec. I. If a house is dark, or has little air, is in an exposed position, or unhealthy, the best thing will probably be to leave it; but if one is attached to it from long residence in it, one can improve it and make it more light and airy and healthy by […]

On Talkativeness.[541] Sec. I. Philosophy finds talkativeness a disease very difficult and hard to cure. For its remedy, conversation, requires hearers: but talkative people hear nobody, for they are ever prating. And the first evil this inability to keep silence produces is an inability to listen. It is a self-chosen deafness of people who, I […]

Sec. I. I am well aware, Cornelius Pulcher, that you prefer the mildest manners in public life, by which you can be at once most useful to the community, and most agreeable in private life to those who have any dealings with you. But since it is difficult to find any region without wild beasts, […]

Sec. I. Plato says,[348] Antiochus Philopappus, that all men pardon the man who acknowledges that he is excessively fond of himself, but that there is among many other defects this very grave one in self-love, that by it a man becomes incapable of being a just and impartial judge about himself, for love is blind […]

Sec. I. Menon the Thessalian, who thought he was a perfect adept in discourse, and, to borrow the language of Empedocles, “had attained the heights of wisdom,” was asked by Socrates, what virtue was, and upon his answering quickly and glibly, that virtue was a different thing in boy and old man, and in man […]

Sec. I. Homer, looking at the mortality of all living creatures, and comparing them with one another in their lives and habits, gave vent to his thoughts in the words, “Of all the things that on the earth do breathe,Or creep, man is by far the wretchedest;”[312] assigning to man an unhappy pre-eminence in extreme […]

[1] Sec. I. … He who gets a dowry with his wife sells himself for it, as Euripides says,[2] but his gains are few and uncertain; but he who does not go all on fire through many a funeral pile, but through a regal pyre, full of panting and fear and sweat got from travelling […]

Sec. I. What amount of argument, Sossius Senecio, will make a man know that he is improving in respect to virtue, if his advances in it do not bring about some diminution in folly, but vice, weighing equally with all his good intentions, “acts like the lead that makes the net go down?”[249] For neither […]

On Moral Virtue

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Sec. I. I propose to discuss what is called and appears to be moral virtue (which differs mainly from contemplative virtue in that it has emotion for its matter, and reason for its form), what its nature is, and how it subsists, and whether that part of the soul which takes it in is furnished […]

Sec. I. Clothes seem to warm a man, not by throwing out heat themselves (for in itself every garment is cold, whence in great heat or in fevers people frequently change and shift them), but the heat which a man throws out from his own body is retained and wrapped in by a dress fitting […]

Sec. I. As to virtue we deliberate and dispute whether good sense, and justice, and rectitude can be taught: and then we are not surprised that, while the works of orators, and pilots, and musicians, and house-builders, and farmers, are innumerable, good men are only a name and expression, like Centaurs and Giants and Cyclopes, […]

Sec. I. Plutarch to his wife sends greeting. The messenger that you sent to me to announce the death of our little girl seems to have missed his way en route for Athens; but when I got to Tanagra I heard the news from my niece. I suppose the funeral has already taken place, and […]

PLUTARCH SENDS GREETING TO POLLIANUS AND EURYDICE. After the customary marriage rites, by which, the Priestess of Demeter has united you together, I think that to make an appropriate discourse, and one that will chime in with the occasion, will be useful to you and agreeable to the law. For in music one of the […]

Sec. I. Appeals to foreign law-courts were first devised among the Greeks through mistrust of one another’s justice, for they looked on justice as a necessity not indigenous among them. Is it not on much the same principle that the philosophers, in regard to some of their questions, owing to their variety of opinion, have […]

On Education

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Sec. I. Come let us consider what one might say on the education of free children, and by what training they would become good citizens. Sec. II. It is perhaps best to begin with birth: I would therefore warn those who desire to be fathers of notable sons, not to form connections with any kind […]