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cave where the temple afterwards was built, might work upon the spirits of those who entered the holy place, (as they did on the shepherd Coretas, who first found it out by accident,) and incline them to enthusiasm and prophetic madness that, as the strength of those vapours diminished, (which were generally in caverns, as that of Mopsus, of Trophonius, and this of Delphos,) so the inspiration decreased by the same measures; that they happened to be stronger when they killed the Pythias, who being conscious of this, was so unwilling to enter; that the oracles ceased to be given in verse, when poets ceased to be the priests; and that the genius of Socrates (whom he confessed never to have seen, but only to have heard inwardly, and unperceived by others) was no more than the strength of his imagination; or to speak in the language of a Christian Platonist, his guardian angel.
I pretend not to an exactness of method in this Life, which I am forced to collect by patches from several authors, and therefore without much regard to the connnexion of times, which are so uncertain.
I will in the next place, speak of his marriage. His wife's name, her parentage, and dowry, are nowhere mentioned by him, or any other, nor in what part of his age he married; though it is probable in the flower of it. But Rualdus has ingeniously gathered, from a convincing circumstance, that she was called Timoxena; because Plutarch, in a consolatory letter to her, occasioned by the death of their daughter, in her infancy, uses these words:"Your Timoxena is deprived, by death, of small enjoyments; for the things she knew were of small moment, and she could be delighted only with trifles." Now, it appears by the letter, that the name of this daughter was the same with her mother's; therefore it could be no other than Timoxena. Her knowledge, her conjugal virtues, her abhorrency from the vanities of her sex, and from superstition, her gravity in behaviour, and her constancy in supporting the loss of children, are likewise celebrated by our author. No other wife of Plutarch is found mentioned, and therefore we may conclude he had no more, by the same reason for which we judge that he had no other master than Ammonius; because it is evident he was so grateful in his nature, that he would have preserved their memory.
The number of his children was at least five, so many being mentioned by him. Four of them were sons; of the other sex only Timoxena, who died at two years old, as is manifest from the epistle above mentioned. The French trans
lator, Amiot, from whom our old English translation of the "Lives" was made, supposes him to have had another daughter, where he speaks of his son-in-law, Crato. But the word yaußpòs, which Plutarch there uses, is of a larger signification; for it may as well be expounded fatherin-law, his wife's brother, or his sister's husband, as Budæus notes: this I the rather mention, because the same Amiot is tasked for an infinite number of mistakes by his own countrymen of the present age, which is enough ommend this translation of our author into the English tongue, being not from any copy, but from the Greek original. Two other sons of Plutarch were already deceased before Timoxena; his eldest, Autobulus, mentioned in his Symposiacs, and another, whose name is not recorded. The youngest was called Charon, who also died in his infancy. The two remaining are supposed to have survived him: the name of one was Plutarch, after his own: and that of the other Lamprias, so called in memory of his grandfather. This was he, of all his children, who seems to have inherited his father's philosophy; and to him we owe the Table, or Catalogue, of Plutarch's writings, and perhaps also the Apophthegms. His nephew, but whether by his brother or sister remains uncertain, was Sextus Charoneus, who was much honoured by that learned emperor, Marcus Aurelius, and who taught him the Greek tongue, and the principles of philosophy. This emperor professing Stoicism, (as appears by his writings,) inclines us to believe, that our Sextus Charoneus was of the Stoic sect; and consequently, that the world has generally been mistaken in supposing him to have been the same man with Sextus Empiricus, the Skeptic, whom Suidas plainly tells us to have been an African. Now, Empiricus could not but be a Skeptic, for he opposes all dogmatists, and particularly them. But I heard it first observed by an ingenious and learned old gentleman, lately deceased, that many of Mr. Hobbes his seeming new opinions, are gathered from those which Sextus Empiricus exposed. The book is extant, and I refer the curious to it, not pretending to arraign or to excuse him.
Some think the famous critic, Longinus, was of Plutarch's family, descended from a sister of his; but the proofs are so weak, that I will not insert them: they may both of them rely on their proper merits, and stand not in want of a relation to each other.
It is needless to insist on his behaviour in his family. His love to his wife, his indulgence to his children, his care of their education, are all manifest in that part of his works, which is
called his "Morals." Other parts of his disposition have been touched already; as, that he was courteous and humane to all men, free from inconstancy, anger, and the desire of revenge; which qualities of his, as they have been praised by the authority of other writers, may also be recommended from his own testimony of himself:-" I had rather (says he) be forgotten in the memory of men, and that it should be said, there neither is, nor was, a man called Plutarch, than they should report,-This Plutarch was unconstant, changeable in his temper, prone to anger and revenge on the least occasions."-What he was to his slaves, you may believe from this; that, in general, he accuses those masters of extreme hardness and injustice, who use men like oxen, and sell them in their age when they can drudge no longer. "A man (says he) of a merciful disposition, ought not to retrench the fodder from his cattle, nor the provender from his horses, when they can work no longer, but to cherish them when worn out and old." Yet Plutarch, though he knew how to moderate his anger, was not, on the contrary, subject to an insensibility of wrongs; nor so remiss in exacting duty, or so tame in suffering the disobedience of his servants, that he could not correct, when they deserved it; as is manifest from the following story, which Aulus Gellius had from the mouth of Taurus the philosopher, concerning him: "Plutarch had a certain slave, a saucy, stubborn kind of fellow; in a word, one of those pragmatical servants, who never make a fault, but they give a reason for it. His justifications one time would not serve his turn, but his master commanded him to be stripped, and that the law should be laid on his backside. He no sooner felt the smart, but he muttered that he was unjustly punished, and that he had done nothing to deserve the scourge. At last he began to bawl out louder; and leaving off his groaning, his sighs, and his lamentations, to argue the matter with more show of reason; and, as under such a master he must needs have gained a smatter ing of learning, he cried out, that Plutarch was not the philosopher he pretended himself to be; that he had heard him waging war against the passions, and maintaining, that anger was unbecoming a wise man; nay, that he had written a particular treatise in commendation of clemency: that therefore he contradicted his precepts by his practices, since, abandoning himself over to his choler, he exercised such inhuman cruelty on the body of his fellow-creature. "How is this, Mr. Varlet, (answered Plutarch,) by what signs and tokens can you prove I am in passion? Is it by my countenance, my
voice, the colour of my face, by my words, or by my gestures, that you have discovered this my fury? I am not of opinion that my eyes sparkle, that I foam at mouth, that I gnash my teeth, or that my voice is more vehement, or that my colour is either more pale or more red than at other times; that I either shake or stamp with madness; that I say or do any thing unbecoming a philosopher. These, if you know them not, are the symptoms of a man in rage. In the mean, (turning to the officer who scourged him,) while he and I dispute this matter, mind you your business on his back."
His love to his friends, and his gratitude to his benefactors, are everywhere observable in his dedications of his several works; and the particular treatises he has written to them on several occasions, are all suitable either to the characters of the men, or to their present condition, and the circumstances under which they were. His love to his country is from hence conspicuous, that he professes to have written the life of Lucullus, and to have preserved the memory of his actions, because of the favours he conferred on the city of Charonea; which, though his country received so long before, yet he thought it appertained to him to repay them, and took an interest in their acknowledgment: as also, that he vindicated the Boeotians from the calumnies of Herodotus, the historian, in his book concerning the malignity of that author. In which it is observable, that his zeal to his country transported him too far; for Herodotus had said no more of them than what was generally held to be true in all ages, concerning the grossness of their wits, their voracity, and those other national vices which we have already noted on this account; therefore, Petrarch has accused our author of the same malignity for which he taxed Herodotus. But they may both stand acquitted on different accounts: Herodotus for having given a true character of the Thebans, and Plutarch for endeavouring to palliate the vices of a people from whom he was descended. The rest of his manners, without entering into particulars, were unblamable, if we excuse a little proneness to su perstition, and regulating his actions by his dreams. But how far this will bear an accusation, I determine not; though Tully has endeavoured to show the vanity of dreams in his "Treatise of Divinations," whither I refer the curious.
On what occasion he repaired to Rome, at what time of his age he came thither, how long he dwelt there, how often he was there, and in what year he returned to his own country, are all uncertain. This we know, that when Nero
was in Greece, which was in his eleventh and twelfth years, our author, was at Delphos, under Ammonius, his master, as appears by the disputation then managed, concerning the inscription of the two letters, E, 1. Nero not living long afterwards, it is almost indisputable that he came not to Rome in all his reign. It is improbable that he would undertake the voyage during the troublesome times of Galba, Otho, and Vitellius: and we are not certain that he lived in Rome in the empire of Vespasian. Yet we may guess, that the mildness of this emperor's dominion, his fame, and the virtues of his son Titus, assumed into the empire afterwards by his father, might induce Plutarch, amongst other considerations, to take this journey in his time. It is argued from the following story, related by himself, that he was at Rome either in the joint reign of the two Vespasians, or at least in that of the survivor Titus. He says, then, in his last book concerning Curiosity," Reasoning, or rather reading once at Rome, Arulenus Rusticus, the same man whom afterwards Domitian put to death out of envy to his glory, stood hearkening to me amongst my auditors. It so happened, that a soldier, having letters for him from the emperor, [who was either Titus or his father Vespasian, as Rualdus thinks,] broke through the crowd, to deliver him those letters from the emperor. Observing this, I made a pause in my dissertation, that Rusticus might have the leisure to read the mandate which was sent him; but he absolutely refused to do it, neither would he be entreated to break the seals, till I had wholly made an end of my speech, and dismissed the company." Now I suppose the stress of the argument, to prove that this emperor was not Domitian, lies only in this clause, " whom Domitian afterwards put to death;" but I think it rather leaves it doubtful; for they might be Domitian's letters which he then received; and consequently he might not come to Rome till the reign of that emperor. This Rusticus was not only a learned but a good man. He had been tribune of the people under Nero, was prætor in the time of Vitellius, and sent ambassador to the forces raised under the name of Vespasian, to persuade them to a peace. What offices he bore afterwards, we know not; but the cause of his death, besides the envy of Domitian to his fame, was a certain book, or some Commentaries of his, wherein he had praised too much the sanctity of Thrasea Pætus, whom Nero had murdered; and the praise of a good citizen was insupportable to the tyrant; being, I suppose, exasperated further by some reflections of Rusticus, who could not commend Thrasea, but at
the same time he must inveigh against the oppressor of the Roman liberty.
That Plutarch was married in his own country and that before he came to Rome, is probable. That the fame of him was come before him, by reason of some part of his works already published, is also credible, because he had so great resort of the Roman nobility to hear him read immediately, as we believe, upon his coming: that he was invited thither by the correspondence he had with Sossius Senecio, might be one reason of his undertaking that journey, is almost undeniable.* It likewise appears he was divers times at Rome; and perhaps, before he came to inhabit there, might make acquaintance with this worthy man, Senecio, to whom he dedicated almost all these Lives of Greeks and Romans. I say almost all, because one of them, namely, that of Aratus, is inscribed in most express words to Polycrates, the Sicyonian, the great-grandson of the said Aratus. This worthy patron and friend of Plutarch, Senecio, was four times consul: the first time in the short reign of Cocceius Nerva, a virtuous and a learned emperor; which opinion I rather follow than that of Aurelius Cassiodorus, who puts back his consulship into the last of Domitian, because it is not probable that vicious tyrant should exalt to that dignity a man of virtue. This year falls in with the year of Christ ninety-nine.
But the great inducement of our author to this journey was certainly the desire he had to lay in materials for his Roman Lives: that was the design which he had formed early, and on which he had resolved to build his fame. Accordingly, we have observed that he had travelled over Greece, to peruse the archives of every city, that he might be able to write properly not only the lives of his Grecian worthies, but the laws, the customs, the rites, and ceremonies of every place; which, that he might treat with the same mastery of skill, when he came to draw his PARALLELS of the Romans, he took the invitation of his friends, and particularly of our Sossius Senecio, to visit this mistress of the world, this imperial city of Rome; and, by the favour of many great and learned men then living, to search the records of the capitol, and the libraries, which might furnish him with instruments for so noble an undertaking. But that this may not seem to be my own bare opinion, or that of any modern author whom I follow, Plutarch himself has delivered it as his motive, in the Life of Demosthenes. The
This sentence is ungrammatical, as has been observed by Mr. Malone. Perhaps we ought to read, "that he was invited thither; and that."
words are these: "Whosoever designs to write a history, (which it is impossible to form to any excellency from those materials that are ready at hand, or to take from common report while he sits lazily at home in his own study, but mast of necessity be gathered from foreign observations, and the scattered writings of various authors,) it concerns him take up his habitation in some renowned and populous city, where he may command all sorts of books, and be acquainted also with such particulars as have escaped the pens of writers, and are only extant in the memories of men. Let him inquire diligently, and weigh judiciously what he hears and reads, lest he publish a lame work, and be destitute of those helps which are required to its perfection." It is then most probable, that he passed his days at Rome in reading philosophy of all kinds to the Roman nobility, who frequented his house, and heard him as if there were somewhat more than human in his words; and his nights, which were his only hours of private study, in searching and examining records concerning Rome. Not but that he was intrusted also with the management of public affairs in the empire, during his residence in the metropolis; which may be made out by what Suidas relates of him :-" Plutarch," says he, "lived in the time of Trajan, and also before his reign. That emperor bestowed on him the dignity of consul; [though the Greek, I suppose, will bear, that he made him consul with himself, at least transferred that honour on him :] an edict was also made in favour of him, that the magistrates or officers of Illyria should do nothing in that province without the knowledge and approbation of Plutarch." Now, it is my particular guess, (for I have not read it anywhere,) that Plutarch had the affairs of Illyria, now called Sclavonia, recommended to him, because Trajan, we know, had wars on that side the empire with Decebalus, king of Dacia; after whose defeat and death, the province of Illyria might stand in need of Plutarch's wisdom to compose and civilize it. But this is only hinted as what possibly might be the reason of our philosopher's superintend ency in those quarters, which the French author of his life seems to wonder at, as having no relation either to Charonea or Greece.
When he was first made known to Trajan is like the rest uncertain; or by what means, whether by Senecio, or any other, he was introduced to his acquaintance; but it is most likely that Trajan, then a private man, was one of his auditors, amongst others of the nobility of Rome. It is also thought, this wise emperor made use of him in all his councils; and that the happi
ness which attended him in his undertakings, together with the administration of the government, which in all his reign was just and regular, proceeded from the instructions which were given him by Plutarch. Johannes Sarisberiensis, who lived above six hundred years ago, has transcribed a letter, written, as he sup posed, by our author to that emperor. Whence he had it, is not known, nor the original in Greek to be produced; but it passed for genuine in that age, and if not Plutarch's, is at least worthy of him, and what might well be supposed a man of his character would write; for which reason I have here translated it.
PLUTARCH TO TRAJAN.
"I am satisfied that your modesty sought not the empire, which yet you have always studied to deserve by the excellency of your manners; and by so much the more are you esteemed worthy of this honour, by how much you are free from the ambition of desiring it. I therefore congratulate both your virtue and my own good fortune, if at least your future government shall prove answerable to your former merit; otherwise you have involved yourself in dan
gers, and I shall infallibly be subject to the censures of detracting tongues; because Rome will never support an emperor unworthy of her, and the faults of the scholar will be upbraided to the master. Thus Seneca is reproached, and his fame still suffers, for the vices of Nero. The miscarriages of Quintilian's scholars have been thrown on him; and even Socrates himself is not free from the imputation of remissness on the account of his pupil, Alcibiades. But you will certainly administer all things as becomes you, if you still continue what you are; if you recede not from yourself, if you begin at home, and lay the foundation of government on the command of your own passions; if you make virtue the scope of all your actions, they will all proceed in harmony and order. I have set before you the force of laws and civil constitutions of your predecessors, which if you imitate and obey, Plutarch is then your guide of living; if otherwise, let this present letter be my testimony against you, that you shall not ruin the Roman empire under the pretence of the counsel and authority of Plutarch."*
It may be conjectured, and with some show of probability, from hence, that our author not
The authenticity of this letter has been doubted. Its dictatorial tone certainly rather resembles the forgery of some pedant, assuming the character of quering emperor. a great man, than that of a sage addressing a con
only collected his materials, but also made a rough draft of many of these parallel Lives at Rome; and that he read them to Trajan for his instruction in government: and so much the rather I believe it, because all historians agree that this emperor, though naturally prudent and inclined to virtue, had more of the soldier than the scholar in his education, before he had the happiness to know Plutarch; for which reason the Roman Lives, and the inspection into ancient laws, might be of necessary use to his direction.
And now for the time of our author's abode in the imperial city: if he came so early as Vespasian, and departed not till Trajan's death, as is generally thought, he might continue in Italy near forty years. This is more certain, because gathered from himself,-that his Lives were almost the latest of his works; and therefore we may well conclude, that having modelled but not finished them at Rome, he afterwards resumed the work in his own country; which perfecting in his old age, he dedicated to his friend Senecio, still living, as appears by what he has written in the proem to his Lives.
The desire of visiting his own country, so natural to all men, and the approaches of old age, (for he could not be much less than sixty,) and perhaps also the death of Trajan, prevailed with him at last to leave Italy; or, if you will have it in his own words, "he was not willing his little city should be one the less by his absence." After his return, he was, by the unanimous consent of his citizens, chosen Archon, or chief magistrate of Chæronea, and not long after admitted himself in the number of Apollo's priests; in both which employments he seems to have continued till his death, of which we have no particular account, either as to the manner of it, or the year; only it is evident that he lived to a great old age,* always continuing his studies. That he died a natural death, is only presumed, because any violent accident to so famous a man would have been recorded; and in whatsoever reign he deceased, the days of tyranny were overpassed, and there was then a golden series of emperors, every one emulating his predecessor's virtues.
Thus I have collected from Plutarch himself, and from the best authors, what was most remarkable concerning him; in performing which, I have laboured under so many uncertainties, that I have not been able to satisfy my own curiosity, any more than that of others. It is the life of a philosopher, not varied with acci
dents to divert the reader; more pleasant for himself to live, than for a historian to describe. Those works of his which are irrecoverably lost, are named in the catalogue made by his son, Lamprias, which you will find in the Paris edition, dedicated to King Louis the Thirteenth. But it is small comfort to a merchant to peruse his bill of freight, when he is certain his ship is cast away: moved by the like reason, I have omitted that ungrateful task. Yet that the reader may not be imposed on in those which yet remain, it is but reasonable to let him know, that the Lives of Hannibal and Scipio, though they pass with the ignorant for genuine, are only the forgery of Donato Acciaiolo, a Florentine. He pretends to have translated them from a Greek manuscript, which none of the learned have ever seen, either before or since. But the cheat is more manifest from this reason, which is undeniable; that Plutarch did indeed write the Life of Scipio, but he compared him not with Hannibal, but with Epaminondas; as appears by the catalogue or nomenclature of Plutarch's Lives, drawn up by his son Lamprias, and yet extant. But to make this out more clearly, we find the Florentine, in his Life of Hannibal, thus relating the famous conference betwixt Scipio and him :-"Scipio at that time being sent ambassador from the Romans to King Antiochus, with Publius Villius, it happened then that these two great captains met together at Ephesus; and amongst other discourses, it was demanded of Hannibal by Scipio,-whom he thought to have been the greatest captain? To whom he thus answered-In the first place, Alexander of Macedon; in the second, Pyrrhus of Epirus; and in the third, himself. To which Scipio, smiling, thus replied:-And what would you have thought had it been your fortune to have vanquished me? To whom Hannibal:-I should then have adjudged the first place to myself. Which answer was not a little pleasing to Scipio, because by it he found himself not disesteemed, nor put into comparison with the rest; but by the delicacy and gallantry of a well-turned compliment, set like a man divine above them all,"
• Plutarch is said to have died in the reign of Antoninus Pius, A. D. 140, aged ninety years.