Ambitions and Anger through the Life of Steve JobsEdit


Morality plays a vital role in Plutarch's documentation of the lives of numerous Roman and Greek individuals.However the study of different people’s morality is more complex than just simply right and wrong. In Plutarchian style, he makes sure to make the complexity of the world the person exists in and the effect it has on that person. In this way the audience is allowed insights deeper into the character than they maybe never suspected. Through the various different archetypes there are traits that are parallel and are interwoven with the life of Steve Jobs. In particular, his early life and start to success and fame at a young age are paralleled with the older aged Steve Jobs. These men in ancient times are found in the Selected Lives and shown as specific examples that are used to display how Steve Jobs life would have been told if written by Plutarch. Specifically I will use the early "Life of Demosthenes", the "Life of Alcibiades and Cicero", and the ending "Life of Coriolanus". Plutarch’s insight on the lives of these ancient men have one central trait of society force to understand the strength and weakness of an individual, which are different, yet, intertwined. Society first focuses on the weakness of a character, which they cast out however, accepting the same character back into the community due to their strengths. Plutarch’s style can be applied to all these men due to the events that were chosen in similarity to truly convene the Life of Steve Jobs that was never viewed before.

Tragic Beginnings leads young boy with AmbitionsEdit

The first aspect of Steve’s life, which he would have focused on, would be the moment in which Steve finds out he is adopted and see himself different from the other children who surround him. This moment would be critical since this event is where Steve Jobs psychologically was given his drive and ambition to prove to his real parents that he was a child worth keeping. These two traits in Steve were the value qualities, which made Apple what it is today. An example of this written in the “Life of Demosthenes”, “Howsoever it was, it was true that his father died, leaving him seven years old, and left him reasonable well: for his goods came to little less than the value of fifteen talents. Howbeit his guardians did him great wrong:” (Plutarch 535). The use of the quote is to display how something tragic happens to Demosthenes yet this happen in life to allow him to have goal and persistence to make himself a self made man early on. This Plutarch wrote to depict the ways this considerable man began to gain his strengths. Plutarch would have written about Steve, in a similar style when learned he was adopted. He found out at a young age that he was not normal like the rest of the kids, even though his adopted parents wanted the best for him; Steve wanted more. The tragic style in which I chose this was to give the tragic emotion in which all Steve wanted was the love from his real parents to fill that hole which is adopted parents could not. This psychologically changes Steve for the best but also for the worst because he never had a sense of a real family. The style of Plutarch would have given the reader pity in which they would feel towards the character and allow them to get engaged to see how the character would have proven his society/world wrong. Simply due to the fact that Steve could have remained sorry for himself at that moment however instead he formulated a drive of ambition in which allowed him to be successful.

Plutarch’s two sides of powers and flaws of leadershipEdit

Another aspect in which Plutarch would have emphasized with these qualities that these men had would be the appeal to their communities. These traits (the ability to lead, eloquence, and quickness to help change their society) however, were followed by many faults. This was displayed in Plutarch’s writing: “Yet with all these goodly deeds and fair words of Alcibiades and with this great courage and quickness of understanding, he had many great faults and imperfections”(Plutarch 102). The importance of this passage is that it was written specifically right after Alcibiades was described as a person who made Athens a major power in the seas but also on the lands. This therefore means that Plutarch wanted to make a statement towards the audience that even though Alcibiades did something major for Athens he also had his flaws. Plutarch is able to clearly depict to us the great qualities of Alcibiades but leads us to the end of the quotation by questioning the character of Alcibiades. By writing in this way he allows the reader to get the true qualities, and perhaps the inherent character, of the person. This also showed that the community saw one side of Alcibiades as this valiant general and politician while others thought differently. This was similar to Steve Jobs because the world depicted him as a genius and CEO of Apple by changing modern technology first with the personal computer yet the company originally looked at him as someone anti-productive and unorganized. However Steve Jobs also had his flaws when trying to obtain his successes. Plutarch would have written this passage about Steve Jobs, the first half of his life, with using these ideas of idealism, Steve used his insight and ambition to combine these traits into the first successful personal computer, yet he performed temper tantrums and humiliated many others in his company. Plutarch would specifically have placed this passage right after the first Apple computer was created. The Apple Empire was just gaining about $100 million in revenue*. This would show the positive accomplishments of Steve Jobs but then show his negative qualities that were a result of wanting to obtain perfection and originality. This way it would show the true sides of Steve Jobs that the public truly did not know. Steve Jobs had abilities of wanting a certain product in his mind and refusing the ideas of others in a way to embarrass them. The conflict of his vision was dealing with people to give him the perfect computer. Plutarch always foreshadowed certain traits of power and flaws of a person, which lead to the more important events in a person’s life.

The faults about Alcibiades are that he would flaunt his wealth towards the community. This not only made people envious towards him but also gave reason to have him exiled out of Athens. This envious and submissive hatred towards Alcibiades was portrayed well in this passage. “…the grace of his eloquence, the beauty of his person, the strength and valiantness of his body, joined together with his wisdom and experience in martial affairs, were the very causes that made them to bear with him all things, and that the Athenians did patiently endure all his light parts, and did cover his faults, with the best words and terms they could,”(Plutarch 103). The way Plutarch wrote this part displayed how Athens truly did anything to keep themselves powerful. This was an essential moment where Athens was about to go to war with Sicily. Therefore they needed a great leader with experience to help win the war. But Plutarch clearly shows that the community was forced to say good things about Alcibiades even through they truly did not feel he was completely deserving of these great titles, which Plutarch stated in the beginning of this quotation. This again allows the reader to distinguish on their own how they felt of Alcibiades and how accepting they are of his flaws. If Plutarch had not written this excerpt this way and only described Alcibiades’ great parts the reader would be led on a biased approach of the character. This would lessen the effect on the view of character and does not allow the reader to formulate his or her own emotion towards the person. This event also led to his exile, which was a common characteristic between these great men of ancient times and similar to Steve Jobs being, exiled out of the Apple Empire. Plutarch would have said in a similar form, the ability of his incredible wit, and agility of his mind, with tools and aspirations in which he used to spark goals into others were received by everyone, and his imperfections manifested in submissiveness of his employees were never questioned. The reader has to again make their own decision of how they felt about Alcibiades and Steve Jobs. Juxtaposing the statements is greatly informative, as Plutarch invests emotion towards the character, which we would have never thought about.

Societies views of an important individual through exileEdit

Therefore we should go more into the two parts of Steve Jobs the man before he is banished from his own company and the man led back into Apple. These two distinct figures had to be formed to make the overall company a greater accomplishment. The first figure was of Steve Jobs as a single new revolutionary towards computers who possessed many flaws of running his new company due to early traits of abandonment from his real parents that lingered with him until this point. Jobs really wanted to prove something towards those same people who disowned him, specifically his mother. The “second Steve Jobs” was a visionary and man who saw more to life than just a product. This enlightenment was due to his years of early travel. In India, he learned to appreciate the simplicity of his products. Another trait that Steve possessed at this point was to take a more fatherly role towards his company when he was let back in. Steve Jobs was gaining more wisdom because he was actually a father gaining new traits of wanting the best for the company and providing the best way he could. This trait of simplicity is one of the major things Jobs wanted in his products. When he was kicked out of his company Jobs figured ways of making Apple more than just computers but a way of life. This is what Plutarch would truly focus on: that a great man was ousted out of his own community but had to improve himself so the community would accept him back and become more prosperous than he was in the beginning. One example of this occurring was in the “Life of Cicero”, when Cicero was just exiled out of Rome and his friends, now seeing the guilt in which he was exiled, were depicted when Plutarch said, “Pompey then was very angry with himself that he had so forsaken Cicero, and repented him of it, and by his friends procured all the means he could to call him home again from his banishments” (Plutarch 595). This was essential towards displaying how the friends of Cicero felt when they trusted someone else to lead the government in Rome. They needed someone who was in a stable and flourishing empire. If Plutarch did not write this passage about Cicero the reader would be left with thoughts of Cicero as an unimportant character in the politics of Rome. However, this gives reason that others believed that Cicero was a valued figure in Rome. Cicero always wanted deep down the best for his country. This could also be described in Steve Jobs’ life when his company was under new management and he had to leave so the employees would appreciate his absence and want him back. Apple was very sorrowful for expelling the one true element to their company, Steve Jobs. With all quarrels put aside Apple would call him back into the family. Plutarch would have put a passage about how Steve Jobs was truly missed for his new accomplishments through NeXT and Pixar. This allowed more stability for Apple after they too were suffering loses. This would allow more emotion towards the life of Steve Jobs by showing how valuable he truly was towards the company. But more so would give the reader that the value of his strengths and concepts had changed to invent the new Steve Jobs. Without him the company would have failed and computers and products such as the iPod and iPad would have been developed in a different way if done by someone else, perhaps not a way that was as successful. The importance of these observations are the new ideas in which Steve gained from years out of the company allowed him to broaden his knowledge of technology and fuse the faults and great ideas into all his products.

A similar event when a great man was exiled also occurred in Alcibiades life when Plutarch said “Then were the Athenians sorry, and repented them when they had received so great loss and hurt, for that they had decreed so severely against Alcibiades, who in like manner was very sorrowful, to see them brought to so hard terms, fearing, if the city of Athens came to destruction,”(Plutarch 115-116). This passage, which is very close to the passage of Cicero, is very different due to the words chosen. This passage really shows how Alcibiades as a character really wanted to return to his home of Athens. Plutarch portrays Alcibiades as more humanistic by using words such as “very sorrowful” and “fearing”. This allows the audience to feel sympathetic towards Alcibiades and allows us to see Athens as a community also feeling regret. A lot of exiled men during the classical periods that were either exiled or ostracized displayed desires to go to the enemy to prove to their country that they made a mistake of exiling them. This was true with all the examples of men given here. However, this goes deeper since this was the opportunity for these men to go on a journey to better themselves as individuals. They are able to broaden their intellect by finding new tools, and adopting new ideas and traits to help benefit their communities. This is something that Plutarch depicted by including the character and their community and how it was important that these men were casted out and how they changed their populace with these new things they learned. Alcibiades was able to come back and bring stability towards Athens from possibly being destroyed from surrounding enemies. This therefore explains why Plutarch used these words in the certain way he did in which could be used closely towards Steve Jobs. Apple after years of decline sales in computer were in the possibility closing of business yet Steve Jobs had new tools and ideas for the pervious companies he was working for and offer to share it with Apple. Plutarch would have display a message similar to this for example, Apple left in regret, after finding sales of their computers plummeting, for they treated Steve with resentment prior, he left them remorseful, after seeing his only real family, vulnerable, the possibility of Apple in turmoil of complete ruin. This would be an essential aspect due to the fact it depicts the regret of both parties of Steve Jobs and Apple. The again does not show the one sided approach of portray the character. The importance with this pervious passage of Cicero and Alcibiades was to display the chosen words Plutarch used in both and how he depicts Alcibiades as more important to Athens more so than Cicero was to Rome. Alcibiades gave more stability towards Athens compared to Cicero even though they both shared traits. Steve Jobs would have followed more towards Alcibiades because he never allowed anyone to tell him that it was impossible to do or make anything.

The Dramatic Death of Steve JobsEdit

The death of Steve Jobs would have been depicted quite differently through Plutarch in which it would have showed more honor and value specifically to the end of towards Steve Jobs’ life. This would have been done in the way Plutarch lays the scene of Coriolanus’s death. For example Plutarch said, “And in saying these words, they all fell upon him, and killed him in the market place, none of the people offering to rescue him… for men came out of all parts to honour his body” (Plutarch 178). This use of these words gives the reader a sense that even through Coriolanus was vurnarable through politics he still went out towards the people in an everyday manner. This short and sudden death of Coriolanus would have been the similar in concept but not the same as moments as Steve Jobs. Plutarch would have shown this scene of Steve Jobs’ death at one of his famous presentations of new product. This would clearly give a dramatic ending to the life of Steve Jobs. Simply due to the value in which he believed in giving 100 percent of himself to the company even though he was most vulnerable. Plutarch would not explain why he had a sudden death but more the emotion of the people surrounding him and the impact on the world. For example Plutarch would have said, through mid sentence of his presentation, Steve fell to the floor clutching his chest, the people remain in their seats with complete astonishment, the first row of men gathered his body above their heads and proceed him throughout the crowd. This would give the dramatic ending to the life of Steve Jobs but also portraying the values of honour towards his death by having men carry his body out of the presentation. Plutarch would do this in a way as if you were looking in a portrait of the end of a character’s life.


Jobs later in his life display traits of certainty even when other colleagues did not believe. He was clearly always 10 years ahead of everyone is his mind. The purpose of looking at him through Plutarch’s lens was to see how his life on this planet enlightened and led people to better themselves and what they were doing. It could be argued that if Steve Jobs was not expelled out of his company he would not have reformed some of his emotions, however since he was this allowed for him to see the true importance of his purpose of life and gain wisdom from experiences outside the company. Assessing what Plutarch’s approach would be, this was clearly depicted. The importance of these men was documented in addition to their strength and flaws. More so, their journeys in which they brought more to their community were analyzed. In this case Steve Jobs was thrown out the Apple family as a sibling to the family yet was brought back as the Father of the standing Apple Empire through his visionary goals.


1.)* Goodell, Jeff. "The Steve Jobs Nobody Knew." Rolling Stone 27 Oct. 2011: 36-45. Web.

2.) Plutarch. Selected Lives. Kent: Wordsworth Edition Limited, 1998. Print.