For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

Plutarch's Moralia, Volume X

by Plutarch (1936)

Key Passage

(That a Philosopher Ought to Converse Especially with Men in Power) In clasping Sorcanus to your bosom, in prizing, pursuing, welcoming, and cultivating his friendship—a friendship which will prove useful and fruitful to many in private and to many in public life—you are acting like a man who loves what is noble, who is public-spirited and is a friend of mankind, not, as some people say, like one who is merely ambitious for himself. No, on the contrary, the man who is ambitious for himself and afraid of every whisper is just the one who avoids and fears being called a persistent and servile attendant on those in power. For what does a man say who is an attendant upon philosophy and stands in need of it? “Let me change from Pericles or Cato and become Simo the cobbler or Dionysius the schoolmaster, in order that the philosopher may converse with me and sit beside me as Socrates did with Pericles.” And while it is true that Ariston of Chios, when the sophists spoke ill of him for talking with all who wished it, said, “I wish even the beasts could understand words which incite to virtue,” yet as for us, shall we avoid becoming intimate with powerful men and rulers, as if they were wild and savage?   (p.29)

Keywords

Plutarch, Morality, Ethics, Virtue, Friendship, Power

Themes

Plutarch, Work in Ancient Greece

Links to Reference

Translator

Fowler, H. N.

Citation


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