The Ancient Library

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On this page: Pluteus – Pluto – Plutus – Plynteria – Pnyx



of Trajan, but completed and published late in life at Chaeronea. The biographies are divided into connected pairs, each pair placing a Greek and a Roman in juxtaposi­tion, and generally ending with a compara­tive view of the two; of these we still possess forty-six: Theseus and Romulus, Lycurgus and Numa, SOlon and Valerius Publicola, ThSmistScUs and Camillus, Peri­cles and Fdbius Maxlmus, AlcUAades and Cirlolanus, Tlmnleon and ^Emllius Paulus, Pildpidas and Marcellus, Aristldes and the elder Cato, PhUSpaemln and Fla-mlnlnus, Pyrrhus and Mdrius, Lysander and Sulla, Cimon and Lucullus, Nidus and Crassus, Eumenf,s and Sertorius, Agesllaus and Pompilus, Alexander and Ccesar, Phdcldn and the younger Cato, Agis and CledmUnes and the two Gracchi, Demosthenes and Cicero, Demetrius PSKorcetes and AntO-nius, DlOn and Brutus. To these are added the four specially elaborated lives of Arta-xerxes Mnlmon, Aratus, Galba, and Othn ; a number of other biographies are lost.

Plutarch's object was, not to write history, but out of more or less important single traits to form distinct sketches of character. The sketches show indeed a certain uni­formity, inasmuch as Plutarch has a pro­pensity to pourtray the persons represented either as models of virtue in general, or as slaves of some passion in particular; but the lives are throughout attractive, owing to the liveliness and warmth of the portraiture, the moral earnestness with which they are penetrated, and the enthusiasm which they display for everything noble and great. For these reasons they have always had a wide circle of readers. More than this, their historical value is not to be meanly estimated, in spite of the lack of criticism in the use of the authorities and the manifold inaccuracies and mistakes, which, in the Roman lives, were in part the result of a defective knowledge of the Latin language. There are a large number of valuable pieces of information in which they fill up numerous gaps in the histori­cal narratives that have been handed down to us. Besides this work, eighty-three writings of various kinds (some of them only fragments and epitomes of larger treatises) are preserved under the name of Plutarch. These are improperly classed together under the title Moralia (ethical writings); for this designation is only applicable to a part of them. The form of these works is as diverse as their tenour and scope: some are treatises and reports

of discourses; a large number is com­posed in the form of Platonic or Aristotelian dialogues ; others again are learned collec­tions and notices put together without any special plan of arrangement. A consider­able portion of them are of disputable authenticity or have been proved to be spurious. About half are of philosophical and ethical tenour, and have for the most part a popular and practical tendency, some of them being of great value for the history of philosophy, such as the work on the opinions of the philosophers (De Placltls Phtl&sdph&i'um) in five books. Others be­long to the domain of religion and worship, such as the works on Isis and Osiris, on the Oracles of the Pythian Priestess, and on the Decay of the Oracles ; others to that of the natural sciences, while others again are treatises on history and antiquities, or on the history of literature, such as the Greek and Roman Questions, and the Lives of the Ten Orators. [This last is undoubtedly spurious.] One of most instructive and entertaining of all his works is the Table-talk (Quifstlones Convlvlales)'m nine books, which deal inter alia with a series of ques­tions of history, archaeology, mythology, and physics. But even with these works his literary productiveness was not exhausted; for, besides these, twenty-four lost writings are known to us by their titles and by frag­ments. In his language he aims at attain­ing the pure Attic style, without, however. being able altogether to avoid the deviations from that standard which were generally prevalent in his time.

Plutfius. (1) A pent-house or mantlet used by the Romans in sieges. (For more see siege.) [(2) The backboard of a bed, or the raised end of a couch. (3) A dwarf wall or parapet. (4) A bookshelf, bookcase, or desk.]

Pluto (Gr. Pluton). In Greek mytho­logy, the prince of the underworld = Hades (<?.«.).

Plutus. The Greek personification of riches; born in Crete as the son of Demeter and her beloved lasion or lasius, whom Zeus out of jealousy killed with lightning. He was supposed to have been blinded by Zeus, because he distributes his gifts with­out choice. In Thebes and Athens he was represented as a child on the arm of Tyche and of Eirene (q.v., with cut).

Plynterla. A festival at Athens in honour of Athene, goddess of the city. (For more see callynteria.)

Pnyx. A place at Athens (no longer to

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