I've been reading his "Parallel Lives" and it's clear part of the goal is to tell how some fundamental characters lived, so people can know their stories, but the other part is to set and reinforce a moral standard of roman days. Discipline, self-devotion, humbleness, courage and so on. It's like he's trying to update Homer and Hesiod myths, but backed by tought research (considering their standards).

What impressed me is that I've been watching documentaries (from the 80's or 90's probably) about those days and they don't differ much from Plutarch's books.

So, can we consider him a historian in the present time?

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    anyone who has done accurate peer reviewed and accepted research on historical topics can be considered a historian.
    – Himarm
    Commented Jan 9, 2015 at 15:02
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    Would you consider Plutarch's lives to be peer reviewed?
    – MCW
    Commented Jan 9, 2015 at 16:00
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    Maybe a better question would be "Would Plutarch be considered a biographer by modern standards?" To which the answer is an obvious yes. Commented Jan 9, 2015 at 16:41
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    Martin, did you mean tough? or thought?
    – CGCampbell
    Commented Jan 9, 2015 at 19:23
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    If historians were banned from the profession if they wrote stuff that were proved wrong later, there'd be no historians at all.
    – Oldcat
    Commented Feb 19, 2015 at 0:45

2 Answers 2


No. Plutarch would not be considered a historian from the modern standard of academic or professional history. Plutarch lacked the equivalent of a modern University's research degree in history. Plutarch did not work in a context of post 19th century historiography. In particular Plutarch's writing of "history" for moral instruction is greatly frowned upon amongst modern historians.

Can we trust Plutarch's opinions and what he writes? No. Can we trust any text? No. Who should we trust most about Plutarch's text, if we are not an expert historian on Plutarch and his era? Modern historians whose opinions have been subject to peer review.

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    Why should we trust modern historians, when, as you say, their writings have been filtered through the set of prejudices that are known as "post 19th century historiography"?
    – jamesqf
    Commented May 15, 2015 at 6:33
  • I would say none of past "developer" could be called a "scientist", maybe except mathematicians like Euclide (as mathematics is very universal), but no cognitive science. The scientific method dates medieval times
    – Voitcus
    Commented May 15, 2015 at 7:10
  • @jamesqf there's a lot of professional credit for historians in detecting attempts to mislead or falsify on the part of other historians. Historiography as a social process of making ideas is quite doubtful of the ideas it produces. Commented May 15, 2015 at 8:26
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    Many excellent historians don't hold Uni degrees in that subject. Not a criteria at all.
    – Oldcat
    Commented May 15, 2015 at 19:07
  • Feel free to provide your own answer. Mine's based on professional practice as I experience it. Commented May 15, 2015 at 23:48

If you believe that the writing of Biographies is inherently historical, then yes, Plutarch could be viewed as a Historian by "Modern standards". However, if you believe that the writing of Biographies is independent and distinct from traditional or conventional historical analysis/historiography, then no, Plutarch is not a Historian by "Modern standards".

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