Classic Leadership Wisdom from Plutarch

Plutarch, the first-century Greek historian and philosopher, is best known for his Lives: biographies of about two dozen Greek and Roman statesmen and generals. They’re excellent reading for leaders. But he also wrote a set of essays called the Moralia, which are equally good and a lot pithier.They offer advice on a wide range of topics, including education, friendship, flatterers, shyness, envy, and love. This passage is from an essay called “On Education”:

And those who can unite political ability with philosophy I regard as perfect men, for I take them to attain two of the greatest blessings: serving the state in a public capacity, and living the calm and tranquil life of philosophy. For, as there are three kinds of life, the practical, the contemplative,and the life of enjoyment, and of these three the one devoted to enjoyment is a paltry and animal life, and the practical without philosophy an unlovely and harsh life, and the contemplative without the practical a useless life, so we must endeavor with all our power to combine public life with philosophy as far as circumstances will permit.

–Plutarch, Moralia

About Jocelyn R Davis

Jocelyn Davis is Principal of Seven Learning, a leadership development firm that creates a lasting lift in leaders' effectiveness using classic books, films, and stories.
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