Biography of Plutarch

Biography of Plutarch

Biography Plutarch is very scarce and can be studied mainly on the
basis of the works of the same Plutarch, in which he often shares with the
reader memories from his life.
First of all, the years of his life are absolutely completely unknown, and the
idea of ​​them can only be obtained from indirect data. According to these
indirect data, it can be stated with full confidence that Plutarch
was born in the late 40s of the 1st century AD and died between 120-125, that
is, he lived for about 75 years. His father was undoubtedly a well-to-do man, but he was
not an aristocrat. This gave Plutarch the opportunity to start
school early and at a young age to become highly educated
man. The hometown of Plutarch is Heronen, in the Greek region of Boeotia.
All members of his family are necessarily educated and cultured, necessarily
high in spirit and characterized by impeccable behavior. About his wife Timoxene
Plutarch often speaks in his writings, and always speaks in the highest
tone. She was not only a loving wife, but she was overcome by various female weaknesses,
like dresses. She was loved for her simplicity of character, for the naturalness of her behavior, for her
moderation and attentiveness.
Plutarch had four sons and one daughter, who, like one of the sons, died
in infancy. Plutarch loved his family so much that he dedicated to
his members

even his own works, and on the occasion of the death of his daughter a tender and
a sublime comforting message to his own wife.
It is known about many travels of Plutarch. He visited Alexandria, the center
of education at that time, was educated in Athens, visited Sparta,
Platea, Corinth at Thermopia, Rome and other historical places in Italy, and
also in Sardis (Asia Minor).
There is information about the philosophical-moral
school he founded in Chironey.
Creative activity.
Even if we exclude the false and doubtful works of Plutarch, yet the
list of quite reliable and, moreover, extant writings is, in
comparison with other writers, immense. We have reached, first, the works
historical and philosophical character: 2 works on Plato, 6 – against Stoics and
Epicureans. In addition, there are works devoted to the problems of
cosmology and astronomy, psychology, ethics, politics, family life,
pedagogy, antiquarian history. Plutarch wrote several tracts of
religious and religious-mythical content. Especially it is necessary to single out
his works of moralistic content, where he analyzes such,
for example, human passions as avarice, rage, curiosity. To
very difficult in its subject can include feast and banquet
conversations, which can be said to be a special literary genre, as well as
collections of sayings. All these works are one common section,
usually bearing the obscure name of Moralia. In this section, moral
writings, however, are represented very widely, and without this morality, Plutarch does not
dispense almost any treatise.
A special section of the works of Plutarch, and also huge, also very popular in
all ages, and perhaps even more popular than Moralia, is
“Comparative biographies.” Here you can find strictly historical
data, and moralistics, and passion for the art of portrait, and philosophy, and
fiction.
Plutarch and ancient literature.
Ancient worldview and ancient artistic practice are based on the
intuition of a living, animated and intelligent cosmos, always visible and
audible, always sensually perceived, quite material space
with a fixed earth in the middle and with the sky as a region of eternal and correct
movement of the firmament. All this, of course, is predetermined by the
nature of the socio-historical development of the ancient world. While the
subsequent cultures first came from a person, absolute or
relative, as well as from society, and only then came to nature and the cosmos, the
ancient idea on the contrary came from the visual data of the sensory –
material cosmos and only then made conclusions from this for the theory of
personality and society. This forever determined the
materially emphasized, that is, the architectural and sculptural imagery of the ancient
art constructions, which we certainly find in Plutarch. So,
sensual-material cosmology is the starting point
of Plutarch’s worldview and creativity.
Plutarch and the classical period of ancient
literature.
Since ancient literature existed for more than a millennium, it
passed many different periods of its development. The cosmology of the classical period,
namely the high classics, is the doctrine of the universe in the Platonic “Timaeus.”
Here is given a clear and distinct picture of the living and material-sensory
cosmos with all the details of the material sphere of the cosmos. Therefore
Plutarch is primarily Platonist.
Plutarch found in classical Platonism primarily the doctrine of
deity, but not in the form of a naive dogma, but in the form of a thoughtful requirement of
being, and moreover of a single being, which is the limit and the possibility for
every partial being and for every multiplicity. Plutarch is deeply
convinced that if there is being partial, changeable and unfinished,
it means that there is being one and whole, unchanging and
all-perfect. “After all, the divine is not a plurality, as each of
us, representing a diverse collection of thousands of different particles that
are in change and artificially mixed, but it is necessary that the
essence be one, since there is only one.
(“About E” in Delphi, 20)
“It is always unchanging and pure to be one and unmixed” (ibid.)
“As far as it is possible to find a correspondence between a changeable sensation and an
intelligible and unchanging idea, so this reflection gives
somehow an illusory idea of ​​divine mercy and happiness ”
(ibid., 21.) This reflection of divine perfection is primarily
cosmos, as already mentioned in the treatise (21) cited here:” Everything,
that is inherent in one way or another to the cosmos, b ostvo unites in its essence and
retains a weak bodily substance from destruction. “

writing his own comments on the Platonic “Timaeus.” In the treatise On the
Origin of the Soul in the Time of Plato, Plutarch develops, in a purely
platonic spirit, the doctrine of idea and matter, the eternal but erratic
existence of matter, the transformation by the divine Demiurge of this matter into
beauty, the order and order of the now existing cosmos, the eternal and
unchanging movement of the firmament by means of the orderly
activity of the world soul and the eternal beauty of the living, animated and
intelligent cosmos. Indeed, Plato himself in his construction of an ideally
beautiful cosmos, as we find in his dialogue “Timaeus,” was at the height of
the classical idea of ​​the cosmos.
representation is a dream and Plutarch, in every way praising the beauty of a
perfect, though completely sensual-material cosmos.
But even here, at the height of his theoretical world view, Plutarch begins
to exhibit some sort of instability and even the ambiguity of his
philosophical position. When Plato built his cosmos, it never
occurred to him to contrast good and evil. It was enough for him
that the eternal divine Mind, with his eternal ideas, formalized once and
for all the formless and disordered matter, from which also appeared an
eternal and forever beautiful cosmos. A completely new shade brings
Plutarch into this classic optimism. In this treatise on the origin
of the soul according to Timaeus, he suddenly starts to argue that not all the
messy matter was put in order by the Demiurge, that
its significant areas remain disorderly until now, and that this
disorderly matter (being, obviously, also eternal), and now and will always be the
beginning of all disorder, all catastrophes in both nature and society, that is,
simply speaking, the evil soul of the world. In this sense, Plutarch interprets all the
main old philosophers – Heraclitus, Parmenides, Democritus, even
Plato and even Aristotle.
Plutarch and Hellenism.
For the classics of the VI-IV centuries. BC was followed by a reworking of the classics,
which is usually referred to not as a period of Hellenism, but as a period of Hellenism.
The essence of Hellenism lies in the subjective reconstruction of the classical
ideal, in its logical construction and emotional-intimate
experience and grasp. Since Plutarch acted in the Hellenistic era,
his world view and artistic practice are not based on pure
Platonism, but on his subjective and immanent-subjective
interpretation. Plutarch is a subjective-minded interpreter of
Platonism in the conditions of preserving cosmological objectivism as a whole.
Plutarch and the initial period of Hellenism.
Plutarch lived not in the age of initial Hellenism (III-I centuries BC), but
immediately after it. And yet the seal of this initial Hellenism
decisively proved to be characteristic of the entire Plutarch. This
initial period of Hellenism did not affect Plutarch with its three
philosophical schools – Stoicism, Epicureanism and skepticism. These schools
arose as a protective measure for individualism and
subjectivism that appeared at that time. It was necessary to educate a strict and harsh subject and guard
his inner peace before the growing mass of Hellenistic
Roman empires. Plutarch was alien to the rigorous rigorism of the Stoics, and the
carefree delights of the Epicureans, and the total rejection of any
logical construction by the skeptics.
Of all the aspects of the growing subjectivism, Plutarch was closer
a small, modest and simple human person with her daily
attachments, with her love for the family and for her native places and with her soft,
heartfelt patriotism.
The initial period of Hellenism with its three philosophical schools – Stoicism,
Epicureanism and skepticism – was for Plutarch too harsh
philosophical position. As a philosopher of Hellenism, Plutarch, of course, also
highlighted the human personality and also wanted to give a personally
thought-out and intimately experienced picture of objective cosmology. But
these three basic schools of elementary Hellenism were clearly
too harsh and demanding for him, too abstract and uncompromising. Higher
it has already been said that the intimate human subject that appeared at that time
was not as harsh as the Stoics, not as principled as the Epicureans, and not as
hopelessly anarchic as the skeptics. The human subject has shown himself
here in a very peculiar way, starting from his daily routine and
ending with various forms of sentimentalism, romanticism and any
psychological whims. There were two such tendencies of early Hellenism,
which not only had a positive effect on Plutarch, but often even
exceeded other forms of subjective human orientation in Plutarch.
The first such tendency in Plutarch is a common-law and quite philistine
personal orientation. This Bytovism filled all the
moods of Plutarch decisively and reached full ease, to everyday
limitations, to meaningless verbosity and, it is possible to say directly, to
chatter. But from Menander to Plutarch, after all, several centuries passed, and
purely everyday analyzes in the days of Plutarch are already outdated. What was, then
, the meaning of tens and hundreds of pages of idle chatter on the topics of
everyday life and random anecdotes? And for Plutarch there was a very
great meaning. On the basis of such a continuous everyday life, the psychology of a
small man appeared, the tendency was to protect oneself from grandiose and
too harsh problems. Or rather, severe problems were not
removed here, but a psychological opportunity was created to experience them not very
painfully and not very tragically. Menander is not a Platonist, but an artist of everyday life.
But Plutarch is Platonist, and together with Platonism, a long
series of deep, often tragic and often intolerable problems loomed for him. He managed
to endure and endure these big problems, often significant and
even solemn for him, but always demanding and responsible. Byzotism of a
small man just helped Plutarch keep the peace of mind and not
prostrate before the insoluble and impossible. That is why even in their own
“Comparative biographies” Plutarch, portraying great people, not only
does not avoid any household details, but often even gives them a deep
meaning.
Bytovism of the initial period of Hellenism was of great importance for the
world outlook, and for the literary manner of Plutarch. But in this initial
Hellenism there was one more, also new and remarkable and also huge in its
strength, a tendency perceived by Plutarch deeply, once and for all. This tendency,
or rather, this spiritual element, was what we now have to call
moralism.
This was unquestionable news for Greek philosophy and literature,
because all the classical and, even more so, all the pre-classical never knew
no special moralism. The fact is that the whole classics live
heroism, and heroism could not be learned, heroism was given only by
nature itself, that is, only by gods. All the ancient heroes were either direct or
indirect descendants of only the gods themselves. It was possible to accomplish heroic deeds
, of course, only after passing preliminary heroic
training. But it was impossible to become a hero. It was possible to be born a hero and
improve in heroism. But the ancient Greek classical heroism is a
field not pedagogical, not educational, and therefore not moralistic.
Heroism in those days was a natural-human phenomenon or, something,
divine. But the classic was over, and then, during the Hellenistic period, the
most ordinary person, not the descendant of the gods, was not a hero by nature, but simply a
man. For his daily affairs, such a person should have been specially
educated, specially trained and trained, always consulting with the
elders and the most experienced. And that’s where the moralism originated, which
was unknown to the classical hero. To become a decent and worthy
person, it was necessary to know thousands of personal, public and, generally speaking,
moral rules.
Plutarch is a moralist. And not just a moralist. Moralistics is his true
element, the selfless tendency of his whole creation, never fading away
love and some kind of pedagogical pleasure. Only to teach, if only to
instruct, if only to clarify difficult questions, just to put your
reader on the path of eternal self-analysis, eternal self-correction and constant
self-improvement.
In short, from this initial period of Hellenism, Plutarch was replaced by
everyday life and good-natured moralism. In other words, Plutarch was a benign
Platonist, for whom the narrative –
moralistic forms were much closer than the grandiose and majestic forms of
classical Platonism and with the interpretation of it in the spirit of a
genuinely sincere and sincere minded writer and moralist.
Finally, in addition to direct criticism of the three philosophical schools of initial Hellenism and
except for the everyday man’s moralism of a small man, Plutarch inherited from
early Hellenism the boldness of progressing subjectivism,
which required seriously taking into account evil in nature, person and society
in spite of undivided cosmological optimism. It was the modest and
philistine Plutarch who demanded the recognition not only of the good, but also of the
evil soul of the world. In this sense, he dared to criticize even
Plato himself. So, the subjective-minded interpreter of Plato, Plutarch
used this interpretation for the protection of a small and humble person, for
permanent everydayism and moralism and for recognition for evil (and not just for
one good) of colossal cosmic power.
Plutarch and the Hellenic Revival of the 2nd c. ad.
Plutarch, who lived at the turn of the I-II centuries. of our era unwittingly turned out not only under the
influence of early Hellenism, but also under the influence of the later Hellenism,
which in ancient science was called the age of the Hellenic revival.
It is necessary to give a strict account of what this Hellenic
revival is, in what Plutarch resembles and sharply distinguishes with it.
If we take the Hellenic revival as a principle, then this could not be a literal
restoration several centuries ago of an obsolete classics. This was a
transformation of the classics not into literal, that is not literally vital, but
only in aesthetic objectivity, in a self-contained and completely isolated
contemplation of long-past beauty. Such a pure aesthetics Plutarch was never
, and such an isolated, self-contained aesthetic objectivity was
always alien to him. He was not capable of a fine-sensual
Impressionism of the Philostratus, a choking with interesting philological
trifles of Athenaeus, a dry and methodical description of the mythographers or the
shameless humor of the mythological sketches of Lucian.
Perhaps, some remote result of the Hellenic revival,
which is also commonly referred to as the second sophistry, was
Plutarch’s frequent verbiage, which sometimes reached him before some idle time
chatter. It was not just mumbo jumbo, but again a protective measure
for protecting the rights of ordinary people to their existence, to their own
small, but purely human needs and moods.
The true significance of the Hellenic revival for Plutarch.
This true significance must be ascertained in the manner
in which Plutarch uses his propensity for a revival methodology. It is
evident that this contemplative self-contained and aesthetically isolated
objectivity has never been used by Plutarch literally, never was
for him a “pure” art, has never been an art for art. In this
aesthetically isolated self-control, with a completely selfless view and in no way
than Plutarch, who was not vitally interested, always drew strength for
life. Such aesthetic self-control has always revitalized it, strengthened it,
freed it from vanity and trivialities, always transformingly acted on the psyche,
on society, facilitating the struggle, enlightening vanity and comprehending worldly
adversity and tragic desperation. That is why
Plutarch ‘s everyday life and moralism are always peppered with mythological and literary examples,
legends, fables and arbitrarily contrived situations, anecdotes and
sharp words, at first glance seemingly disrupting an evenly current
presentation and seemingly pointlessly leading to the side. All this mythology and
literature, all these anecdotes and witty situations have never and nowhere
for Plutarch independent value, and in this sense they were
not attracted for the purposes of isolated self-admiration. All this was introduced into the
life practice of a real person, all this exposed the
low and incompetent nature of vicious human passions, and all this facilitated,
refreshed, uplifted and managed the most ordinary little man.
Thus, the Renaissance-Hellenic theory of art for art, without
depriving a person of his rights to everyday life, immediately and at the same time
proved to be aesthetically self-sufficient and exalting morally,
strengthening spiritually. Platonism in this sense underwent a new
transformation in Plutarch, and classical cosmology, without losing its sublime beauty,
became an excuse for the domestic man.
Antinomico-synthetic character of Plutarch’s world outlook and creativity.
As a result of our examination of Plutarch’s vast literary heritage,
it must be said that at the present time it is a genuine
fallacy for the philologist to reduce Plutarch’s work to a single
abstract principle. True, its socio-historical basis,
chronologically very precise, imperatively demands that it be regarded as a
transition from the initial Hellenism, namely, to the Hellenic revival of the second century. of our
era. But this is too general a principle. The closest consideration of his
worldview and creative results shows that
Plutarch is an extremely complicated Platonist who could not rise to
platonic monism, but he used his numerous
ideological nuances, often contradictory, and made this Platonism
unrecognizable. In a rough enumeration, in this form, it would be possible to
imagine all the antinomical
features of Plutarch with its synthetism, if not always philosophical, always
clear and simple, complacent and good-natured, naive and wise. It was
Plutarch who combined universalism and individualism, cosmologism and everyday life,
monumentality and everyday life, necessity and freedom, heroism and
moralism, solemnity and everyday prose, ideological unity and
an incredible diversity of images, self-contained contemplation and
practical fact, monism and dualism, the desire of matter to
perfection. All the art of the historian of ancient literature and philosophy in
relation to Plutarch is to uncover and socially
historically justify this antinomiko-synthetic character of his
world outlook and creativity. For such art requires the involvement of
huge materials, and now this can only be remotely approximated.
Plutarch and the end of Hellenism.
Plutarch was strongly influenced by the Hellenic revival, although
he used it to justify the rights of the everyday person. But from what
Plutarch certainly was far from the grandiose completion of
Hellenism in the last four centuries of antiquity, when the
philosophical school of the Neoplatonists was born, flourished, and decayed. These Neo-Platonists also
could not recognize the theory of self-sufficient
contemplation as the final. They brought this purely poetic self-pressure to completion,
thinking it up to that logical end, when the poetic and purely
mental image instead of metaphor became living reality,
living thing and independently acting substance. But the poetic image,
given as an independent material substance, is already a myth; and
Neoplatonism III-IV centuries. AD was precisely the dialectic of myth. Have
Plutarch’s attitude to myths was positive, but not in the sense of recognizing in
them the primary substances of being itself. Myths for him, after all, also
remained at the level of metaphorical moralism, although, of course, still
going into cosmological depths


Biography of Plutarch