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Plutarch

Plutarch

 

Plutarch was a Greek historian, who later became a Roman citizen, a biographer and essayist. He was born 46 -120 AD into a prominent family in Chaeronea, Boeotia, a town about twenty miles east of Delphi.

He married Timoxena and had four sons. Plutarch was educated at Athens and there studied Mathematics, physics, medicine, natural science, Greek and Latin literatures and rhetoric. He travelled extensively in Greece and Asia Minor and visited Alexandria and Rome.

His literacy accomplishments were enormous, but he was most known for his biographical studies of Greek and Latin Statesmen and philosophers, entitled Parallel Lives, consisting of 46 biographies planned to be ethical examples in pairs, one Greek figure and one similar Roman, though the last four lives are single.

He also authored a number of treatises on matters of ethics, on topics such as education, marriage, religious observances and reason in non-human animals and the practice of ethical vegetarianism. This collection of about 60 in fifteen volumes is Known as the Moralia or moral essays.

Of particular note is Plutarch's essay On the Eating of Animal Flesh, in Volume 12 of the Moralia, in which he challenges the idea that man is naturally carnivorous, and maintains the argument that animals deserve ethical consideration because they possess the attributes of intelligence and sentience.

 

I rather wonder both by what accident and in what state of soul or mind the first man touched his mouth to gore and brought his lips to the flesh of a dead creature, he who set forth tables of dead, stale bodies and ventured to call food and nourishment the parts that had a little before bellowed and cried, moved and lived. How could his eyes endure the slaughter when throats were slit and hides flayed and limbs torn from limb? How could his nose endure the stench?
Plutarch