Skip to main content


  • Reference work entry
  • 80 Accesses

BornChaironeia, Bœotia, (Greece), circa 45

Diedcirca 125

Though most famous for his biographies, Plutarch also wrote a dialog on the Moon, in which the participants discuss the Moon's appearance and possible habitability, and how it is able to remain in orbit. Plutarch is best known as a biographer, but none of his contemporaries seems to have written a biography about him – nearly all that we know about Plutarch comes from clues in his own writings. Plutarch lived in a time of peace and contemplation, and seems to have spent most of his life in or near his beloved hometown. He did, though, manage to travel widely: He studied at Athens under the Peripatetic philosopher Ammonius of Lamptrae. He served his town as building commissioner and archon, and participated in a diplomatic mission to the Roman proconsul. Plutarch's travels took him throughout Greece, and he ventured as far as Alexandria, Asia Minor, north Italy, and Rome. In Rome, Plutarch spent about 15 years attending to...

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Selected References

  • Adler, Ada (ed.) (1928–1938). Suidae lexicon. 5 Vols. Stuttgart: B. G. Teubner. (Reprint, 1967–1971.) (This 10th‐century Byzantine encyclopedia provides the closest that we have to a substantial biography of Plutarch. Under his own entry, Lamprias is described as Plutarch's son who compiled the incomplete catalog of 227 of Plutarch's works, known as the Lamprias Catalogue. Plutarch, in his own writings, mentions four sons, but none is called Lamprias.)

    Google Scholar 

  • Cherniss, Harold (1951). “Notes on Plutarch's De facie in orbe lunae.” Classical Philology 46: 137–158. (Commentary prepared while translating De facie for the Loeb edition of 1957, discussing translation and textual difficulties as well as astronomical aspects of the work.)

    Google Scholar 

  • Irby‐ Massie, Georgia L. and Paul T. Keyser (2002). Greek Science of the Hellenistic Era: A Sourcebook. London: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mossman, Judith (ed.) (1997). Plutarch and His Intellectual World. London: Duckworth.

    Google Scholar 

  • Plutarch (1957). Concerning the Face Which Appears in the Orb of the Moon (De facie in orbe lunae apparet), translated by Harold Cherniss. In Vol. 12 of Plutarch's Moralia. Loeb Classical Library, no. 406. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. (The beginning of the dialog is lost, though this seems to be only a small part. Also of interest are Vol. 1 [no. 197], which contains general details about Plutarch and the sources for his works, and Vol. 15 [no. 429] which contains the Lamprias Catalogue of Plutarch's works and many fragments, including some from Plutarch's Explanations of Aratus' Phænomena and Commentary on Hesiod's Works and Days.)

    Google Scholar 

Download references


Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2007 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.

About this entry

Cite this entry

Kwan, A. (2007). Plutarch. In: , et al. The Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers. Springer, New York, NY.

Download citation