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A collection of quotes by Plutarch on mentoring, curiosity, education, philosophy, republic, poverty, friendship, wisdom, praise, mistakes, vegetarianism, music, silence, history, character and state-of-mind.

58 Insightful Quotes By Plutarch, The Renowned Greek Biographer

Famous As: Philosopher, Historian, Biographer, Essayist, & Middle Platonist
Born On: 45 AD
Died On: 120 AD
Born In: Chaeronea
Died At Age: 75
Plutarch was an ancient Greek philosopher, essayist and biographer. It was under the guidance of philosopher Ammonius that he studied Mathematics and Philosophy. He studied a variety of subjects in philosophy, but his main focus revolved around ‘Ethics’. He maintained citizenship of Athens and lived as a priest in Delphi. Plutarch played an eminent role in writing references. His writings, thoughts, sayings and work are legendary and are quoted extensivel. His very first work titled, ‘Lives of the Roman emperors’, is considered to be his most popular work besides ‘Parallel Lives’, a series of biographies of famous Greek and Roman personalities. He wrote the ‘Life of Alexander’, ‘Life of Caesar’ and ‘Life of Pyrrhus’, documenting the history of their life and regime. He also authored a set of essays and documented speeches, which happen to be his surviving work called ‘Moralia’. ‘On the Malice of Herodotus’, is one of his works where he criticizes historian Herodotus. By his works, essays, thoughts, sayings, quotations and writings he not only earned himself a spot in history, but also bridged the gap of knowledge across eras. Following is a collection thoughts and quotes on education, friendship, life and philosophy by him.

The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.

Plutarch

I don't need a friend who changes when I change and who nods when I nod; my shadow does that much better.

Plutarch

What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.

Plutarch

An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.

Plutarch

To find fault is easy; to do better may be difficult.

Plutarch

Know how to listen, and you will profit even from those who talk badly.

Plutarch

The poor go to war, to fight and die for the delights, riches, and superfluities of others.

Plutarch

Adversity is the only balance to weigh friends.

Plutarch

To make no mistakes is not in the power of man; but from their errors and mistakes the wise and good learn wisdom for the future.

Plutarch

The whole of life is but a moment of time. It is our duty, therefore to use it, not to misuse it.

Plutarch

Books delight to the very marrow of one's bones. They speak to us, consult with us, and join with us in a living and intense intimacy.

Plutarch

It is certainly desirable to be well descended, but the glory belongs to our ancestors.

Plutarch

Neither blame or praise yourself.

Plutarch

Of all the disorders in the soul, envy is the only one no one confesses to.

Plutarch

When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more worlds to conquer. (Technically a misquote, but I like the misquote better)

Plutarch

To be ignorant of the lives of the most celebrated men of antiquity is to continue in a state of childhood all our days

Plutarch

Music, to create harmony, must investigate discord.

Plutarch

Do not speak of your happiness to one less fortunate than yourself.

Plutarch

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.

Plutarch

Silence at the proper season is wisdom, and better than any speech.

Plutarch

Courage stands halfway between cowardice and rashness, one of which is a lack, the other an excess of courage.

Plutarch

It does not follow, that because a particular work of art succeeds in charming us, its creator also deserves our admiration.

Plutarch

It is a thing of no great difficulty to raise objections against another man's oration, it is a very easy matter; but to produce a better in it's place is a work extremely troublesome.

Plutarch

It is part of a good man to do great and noble deeds, though he risk everything.

Plutarch

Painting is silent poetry.

Plutarch

Evidence of trust begets trust, and love is reciprocated by love.

Plutarch

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.

Plutarch

In words are seen the state of mind and character and disposition of the speaker.

Plutarch

Many things which cannot be overcome when they are together yield themselves up when taken little by little.

Plutarch

Prosperity is no just scale; adversity is the only balance to weigh friends.

Plutarch

...To the Dolphin alone, beyond all other, nature has granted what the best philosophers seek: friendship for no advantage

Plutarch

Vultures are the most righteous of birds: they do not attack even the smallest living creature.

Plutarch

Courage consists not in hazarding without fear; but being resolutely minded in a just cause.

Plutarch

For there is no virtue, the honor and credit for which procures a man more odium than that of justice; and this, because more than any other, it acquires a man power and authority among the common people.

Plutarch

A few vices are sufficient to darken many virtues.

Plutarch

The Spartans do not ask how many are the enemy but where are they.

Plutarch

In a certain faraway land the cold is so intense that words freeze as soon as they are uttered, and after some time then thaw and become audible so that words spoken in winter go unheard until the next summer.

Plutarch

Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting that speaks.

Plutarch

But the Lacedaemonians, who make it their first principle of action to serve their country's interest, know not any thing to be just or unjust by any measure but that.

Plutarch

The process may seem strange and yet it is very true. I did not so much gain the knowledge of things by the words, as words by the experience I had of things.

Plutarch

In Springtime, O Dionysos, To thy holy temple come, To Elis with thy Graces, Rushing with thy bull-foot, come, Noble Bull, Noble Bull

Plutarch

He who least likes courting favour, ought also least to think of resenting neglect; to feel wounded at being refused a distinction can only arise from an overweening appetite to have it.

Plutarch

I am all that hath been, and is, and shall be; and my veil no mortal has hitherto raised.

Plutarch

[It was] better to set up a monarchy themselves than to suffer a sedition to continue that must certainly end in one.

Plutarch

It’s a thing of no great difficulty to raise objections against another man’s oration, it is a very easy matter; but to produce a better in its place is a work extremely troublesome.

Plutarch

A mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be lighted.

Plutarch

Rather I fear on the contrary that while we banish painful thoughts we may banish memory as well.

Plutarch

Come and take them

Plutarch

The superstitious man wishes he did not believe in gods, as the atheist does not, but fears to disbelieve in them.

Plutarch

When asked by a woman from Attica:'Why are you Spartan women the only ones who can rule men?', she said: 'Because we are the only ones who give birth to men.

Plutarch

So long as he was personally present, [Alcibiades] had the perfect mastery of his political adversaries; calumny only succeeded in his absence.

Plutarch

They insist upon the shaving of the moustache, I think, in order that they may accustom the young men to obedience in the most trifling matters.

Plutarch

It is a true proverb, that if you live with a lame man, you will learn to limp.

Plutarch

The whole like of a man is but a point of time; let us enjoy it.

Plutarch

For though all persons are equally subject to the caprice of fortune, yet all good men have one advantage she cannot deny, which is this, to act reasonably under misfortunes.

Plutarch

I don't need a friend who change when I change, who nod when I nod. This is something than my own shadow can do.

Plutarch

The fact is that men who know nothing of decency in their own lives are only too ready to launch foul slanders against their betters and to offer them up as victims to the evil deity of popular envy.

Plutarch