The introductory chapters of the Plutarchan Lives of Demosthenes and Cicero are much relied on for personal information about the author. It is here that Plutarch tells us that he wrote the Parallel Lives while residing in his home town of Chaeronea, and that he had been to Italy; his knowledge of Latin was, however, limited. As a matter of course, numerous scholars have paid attention to these statements, often with far-reaching interpretive implications. If the passage is accepted at face value, Plutarch comes across as a placid yet honourable man of letters, not a social climber but a morally upstanding gent who was loyal to his clan as well as one who disliked, could not afford, or was apprehensive about living in a big city. Alternatively, one might mistrust Plutarch and unscramble his voice as plea by a wily loser in the literary and political competition of his day. Donald Russell sensed that Plutarch was left on the fringe because his career somehow did not take off. Russell's intuition is filled out by Glen Bowersock's robust conjecture that Plutarch's (relative) seclusion in Chaeronea during Trajan's reign was not quite voluntary: having compromised himself in the 90s with his pro-Flavian biographies of the Caesars, Plutarch laboured to clinch a comeback by means of the Parallel Lives and essays.