Mestrius Plutarchus (Greek Μεστρίος Πλούταρχος), usually known in English as Plutarch, was a Greek historian, biographer and essayist, born in Chaironeia, Boeotia in the mid-1st century AD. He is known for his Moralia, a collection of essays on ethical and cultural subjects, and his Parallel Lives, biographies of forty-six prominent Greeks and Romans arranged in pairs, usually followed by a short comparison. The Lives were intended as moral lessons rather than as history, but are nonetheless valuable as historical accounts. Of the Moralia, the 113 Quaestiones Romanae (Roman questions) are particularly valuable as a record of Roman religious practices, marriage and other customs.
Most of what is known of Plutarch comes from his own work. He was a young man in the time of Nero. His father's name is not known, but his grandfather was called Lamprias, and his great grandfather Nicarchus. He spent some time in Italy, including in Rome where he taught philosophy, but did not master Latin until late in life, when he began to study it seriously. He tells us in the Moralia that he was a priest at Delphi, a fact confirmed by an inscription on the base of a statue of Hadrian there. The inscription also provides his Roman nomen, Mestrius, indicating he was a Roman citizen, probably enfranchised by the consul Lucius Mestrius Florus. According to the Suda he was himself raised to the consulship by Trajan (emperor 98-117), and had a son called Lamprias who wrote a catalogue of his works. The date of his death is not known.
- Chaironeia: Plutarch's Home on the Web
- The Parallel Lives and selections from the Moralia at Lacus Curtius