Women in antiquity through the eyes of Plutarch

Main Article Content

Zacharoula Antoniou


This article deals with the writings of Plutarch and some of his radical views regarding women. Excerpts from Plutarch’s texts referring to female nature are studied and presented. The main issue that occupied Plutarch and many other authors of his era was the question of virtue, a purely philosophical concept deeply rooted in the ancient Greek culture. For this reason, some of Plutarch’s writings focus on the place of virtue in women’s society. Plutarch tries to prove that virtue exists equally in women, that women are dynamic, lawful wives who have the power to take matters into their own hands and who can perceive also the ultimate matter of friendship. This paper, therefore, seeks to show the other side of the coin regarding the position of women in antiquity, among Plutarch’s ethical essays, the Moralia.


Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

How to Cite
Antoniou, Z. (2020). Women in antiquity through the eyes of Plutarch. Journal of Gender and Power, 13(1), 59-69. https://doi.org/10.2478/jgp-2020-0003


  1. BALTZLY, D. & ELIOPOULOS, N. (2012) The Classical Ideals of Friendship. 1-64. [Online] Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/290887522_The_classical_ideals_of_friendship. [Accessed: 15 May 2020].
  2. BENEKER, J. (2008) Plutarch on the Role of Eros in a Marriage. In: Nikolaidis, A. G. (ed.) The Unity of Plutarch’s Work: Moralia Themes in the Lives, Features of the Lives in the Moralia. s. l. De Gruyter, pp. 689–699.
  3. BREEBAART, A. B. (1967) Reviewed Work: Plutarch’s Historical Methods. An Analysis of the Mulierum Virtutes by P. A. Stadter. Gnomon. Vol. 39, no. 1. Pp. 33–36.
  4. BRENK, F. E. (1988) Plutarch’s “Erotikos”: The Drag Down Pulled Up. Illinois Classical Studies. [Online] 13 (2). Pp. 457–471. Available from: www.jstor.org/stable/23064254. [Accessed: 16 May 2020].
  5. CARTWRIGHT, M. (2016) Women in Ancient Greece. Ancient History Encyclopedia. [Online] Available from: https://www.ancient.eu/article/927/women-in-ancientgreece/. [Accessed: 1 May 2020].
  6. COLLETTE, A. (2018) Women and Misogyny in Ancient Greek Philosophy. [Online] Available from: https://womeninantiquity.wordpress.com/2018/11/27/women-and-misogyny-in-ancient-greek-philosophy/. [Accessed: 28 April 2020].
  7. DUFF, T. E. (2002) Plutarch’s Lives: Exploring Virtue and Vice. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  8. JAZDZEWSKA, K. (2015) Like a Married Woman: The Kingfisher in Plutarch’s “De Sollertia Animalium” and in the Ps.-Platonic “Halcyon”. Brill, Mnemosyne. Fourth Series. Vol. 68. Fasc. 3. Pp. 424–436.
  9. MONACO, C. M. A. (2019) Tyrannical Men and Virtuous Women in Plutarch’s Mulierum Virtutes. Illinois Classical Studies. Volume 44 (Number 1). Pp. 194–208.
  10. NEWMYER, S. T. (1996) Plutarch on the Treatment of Animals: The Argument from Marginal Cases. Between the Species. Vol. 12. Iss. 1 (Article 8). Pp. 40–46.
  11. PARRY, R. (2014) “Ancient Ethical Theory”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. [Online] Available from: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ethics-ancient/. [Accessed: 9 May 2020].
  12. PLUTARCH (1931) Moralia, Volume III 172A-263C: Sayings of Kings and Commanders. Sayings of Romans. Sayings of Spartans. The Ancient Customs of the Spartans. Sayings of Spartan Women. Bravery of Women. Translated by F. Cole Babbitt ed. Cambridge, Massachusetts—Harvard University Press, London—William Heinemann LTD, Trinity College, Hartford, Conn.: Loeb Classical Library 245.
  13. PLUTARCH (1957) Moralia, Volume XII 920A-999B: Concerning the Face Which Appears in the Orb of the Moon. On the Principle of Cold. Whether Fire or Water Is More Useful. Whether Land or Sea Animals Are Cleverer. Beasts Are Rational. On the Eating of Flesh. Translated by H. Cherniss, W. C. Helmbold ed. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press: Loeb Classical Library 406.
  14. PLUTARCH (1961) Moralia, Volume IX 697C-771E: Table Talk VII–IX. The Dialogue on Love. Translated by Edwin L. Minar, F. H. Sandbach, W. C. Helmbold ed. Cambridge, Massachusetts—Harvard University Press, London—William Heinemann LTD: Loeb Classical Library 425.
  15. PLUTARCH (1968) The Parallel Lives, Volume II: Themistocles and Camillus. Aristides and Cato Major. Cimon and Lucullus. Translated by B. Perrin ed. Cambridge, Massachusetts—Harvard University Press, London—William Heinemann LTD: Loeb Classical Library.
  16. POMEROY, S. B. (1995) Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves: Women in Classical Antiquity. [New edition] / with a new preface by the author ed. New York: Schocken Books.
  17. STADTER, P. A. (1999) Philosophos kai Philandros: Plutarch’s View of Women in the Moralia and Lives. In: Pomeroy, S. B. (ed.) Plutarch’s Advice to the Bride and Groom and A Consolation to His Wife: English Translations, Commentary, Interpretive Essays, and Bibliography. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 1 edition. Pp. 173–182.
  18. TSOUVALA, G. (2014) 13. Love and Marriage. In: Beck, M. (ed.) A Companion to Plutarch. UK: Blackwell Publishing Limited. Pp. 191–206.
  19. WARREN, L. (2018) Reading Plutarch’s Women: Moral Judgement in the Moralia and some Lives. Ploutarchos. Vol. 15. Pp. 75–96.
  20. ΚΑΚΡΙΔΗΣ, Φ. (2012) Αρχαιογνωσία και Αρχαιογλωσσία στη Μέση Εκπαίδευση—Αρχαία Ελληνική Γραμματολογία, “5.5.B. Πλούταρχος”, Η Πύλη για την ελληνική γλώσσα. [Online] Available from: http://www.greek-language.gr/digitalResources/ancient_greek/history/grammatologia/page_081.html. [Accessed: 28 April 2020].