Plutarch Study Guides

Anne White's study guides represent a great deal of research, thought and work. We offer them to be used freely, and hope they will be a blessing to many students and parents. However, out of respect for Anne's work, please honor our long-standing terms of use, and do not repost this or any of the AO curriculum anywhere else, in any form. This copyrighted material is free to use, not free to repost or republish. Please be conscientious in your desire to share AO, and link instead of copying.

Introduction to the Plutarch Study Guides

Prepared for AmblesideOnline by Anne White

These notes, and the accompanying text, are based on Thomas North's 1579 translation of Plutarch's Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans, with some substitutions from John Dryden's 1683 translation [in brackets]. I have updated spelling, and occasionally punctuation. There are also a number of omissions, either for length or for suitability, which are not always noted. I have tried to be respectful to Plutarch's text, but have amplified and clarified where it seemed helpful for students and parents/teachers.

The format of the study notes is fairly simple. Each Life is divided into twelve lessons (as the AmblesideOnline terms are divided into twelve weeks). I have included vocabulary words and narration/study questions, but there is no requirement that you use them in a traditional classroom style. In fact, it's probably better if you don't. The vocabulary words are there only to save time on having to look things up, or to explain puzzles like the word "let," which can mean either "allow" or "prevent." Charlotte Mason mentions teaching a few necessary words before beginning a story, such as unfamiliar types of buildings or weapons (with pictures if necessary). Some, such as The Life of Pyrrhus, include a bonus Word Study feature.

Those following Charlotte Mason's educational methods will want to include oral or written narration (telling back in the student's own words), and oral narration can take place more than once during a lesson. Sometimes I have suggested a "creative narration," such as an interview or a writing assignment.

Each study includes suggestions for end-of-term examinations. Some questions were drawn from original P.N.E.U. programmes, and others were written specifically for these study guides.

Using the Study Guides

Each study contains explanatory material before the first lesson. A little at the beginning may be useful to stir interest in the study, but it is not meant to be given all in one dose!

Some of the lessons are divided into two or three sections. These can be read all at once, or used throughout the week.

I encourage you to make the lessons your own. Use the discussion questions that are the most meaningful to you, and skip the rest. It's better if the students ask the questions, at least some of the time. And remember that Charlotte Mason was satisfied with "Proper names are written on the blackboard, and then the children narrate what they have listened to."

Finally, you may notice that some of the questions come from a specifically Christian worldview. I do not apologize for that, but I do think it's fair to mention it. Those with other beliefs may find similar references within their own faith traditions.

About the Author

Anne E. White ( has shared her knowledge of Charlotte Mason's methods through magazine columns, online writing, and conference workshops. She is an Advisory member of AmblesideOnline and the author of Minds More Awake: The Vision of Charlotte Mason, as well as other books in The Plutarch Project series.


Plutarch's Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans. Englished by Sir Thomas North. With an introduction by George Wyndham. Second Volume. London: Dent, 1894.

Plutarch's Lives: The Dryden Plutarch. Revised by Arthur Hugh Clough, Volume 1. London: J.M. Dent, 1910.

AmblesideOnline Plutarch Readings:

AmblesideOnline's free Charlotte Mason homeschool curriculum prepares children for a life of rich relationships with God, humanity, and the natural world.
Share AO with your group or homeschool fair! Download our printable brochure