Head of a philosopher and hermaic stele of Plutarch

Hermaic stele of Plutarch
© Ephorate of Antiquities of Phocis, Ministry of Culture and Sports

Plutarch (45-120 A.D.) was born into a local elite family of Boeotian Chaeronea and received excellent education, initially by his grandfather Lamprias and then in philosophy schools of Athens. He rose to local political offices in his hometown; later on, Mestrius Florus became his patron, a prominent Roman who attained, among other offices, the rank of proconsul of Asia, . 

Αfter travelling extensively and rising in the Roman hierarchy of offices, Plutarch returned to Chaeronea and assumed the priesthood in Delphi, where he passed the last thirty years of his life. 

The head of a philosopher dating to the 2nd century A.D. had formerly been identified as a portrait of Plutarch. The man, although bearded, is depicted at a relatively young age. His hair and beard are rendered with bulky parts and fine incisions. The gaze is deep and pensive, due to the heavy eyelids and the incised iris and pupils of his eyes. 
Next to the portrait is preserved a fragmentary hermaic stele which was probably crowned by a portrait of the writer and priest from Chaeronea. The portrait is no longer extant, its inscription, however, runs: Δελφοὶ Χαιρωνεῦσιν ὁμοῦ Πλούταρχον ἔθηκαν | τοῖς Ἀμφικτυόνων δόγμασι πειθόμενοι.  “Delphi dedicated [this] to Plutarch from Chaeronea, abiding to the command of the Amphictyons” (Syll.3 843=CID 4, no. 151).
Apart from his duties as a priest, Plutarch's literary work is also partly related to Delphi and the sacred rites, as the “On the E at Delphi” and other parts of dialogues and treatises. His most renowned work, namely the “Parallel Lives”, was written during the last twenty years of his life, while he lived in Delphi.

Text: Dr. Athanasios Sideris, Archaeologist
Editing: Dr. Aphrodite Kamara, Historian
Translation: Dr. Aphrodite Kamara, Historian