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$18.01
1. Plutarch's Morals (Volume 3)
$22.81
2. Plutarch's Lives, Volume 2
$15.95
3. The Boys' and Girls' Plutarch;
$5.98
4. Selected Lives (Wordsworth Classics
$7.43
5. The Makers of Rome: Nine Lives
$7.00
6. Greek Lives (Oxford World's Classics)
$8.85
7. The Fall of the Roman Republic
$4.95
8. The Life of Alexander the Great
$8.55
9. The Rise and Fall of Athens: Nine
$39.44
10. Plutarch's Moralia
$19.20
11. Plutarch: Moralia, Volume XI,
$9.08
12. Roman Lives: A Selection of Eight
$8.44
13. On Sparta (Penguin Classics)
$14.39
14. Plutarch's Lives (Volume 1 of
$9.85
15. Plutarch's Lives Volume Two (Barnes
$7.27
16. The Age of Alexander: Nine Greek
$24.77
17. Plutarch's Morals: ethical essays
 
$17.90
18. The Children's Plutarch: Tales
$85.98
19. Plutarch: Lives of Noble Grecians
$8.02
20. Alexander The Great: Selections

1. Plutarch's Morals (Volume 3)
by Plutarch
Paperback: 276 Pages (2010-10-14)
list price: US$18.01 -- used & new: US$18.01
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Asin: 1458843068
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Editorial Review

Product Description
This is an OCR edition without illustrations or index. It may have numerous typos or missing text. However, purchasers can download a free scanned copy of the original rare book from GeneralBooksClub.com. You can also preview excerpts from the book there. Purchasers are also entitled to a free trial membership in the General Books Club where they can select from more than a million books without charge. Volume: 3; Original Published by: Little, Brown, and company in 1870 in 545 pages; Subjects: Biography & Autobiography / General; ... Read more


2. Plutarch's Lives, Volume 2
by William Watson Goodwin, Plutarch
Paperback: 540 Pages (2010-03-15)
list price: US$40.75 -- used & new: US$22.81
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1147270317
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
This is an EXACT reproduction of a book published before 1923. This IS NOT an OCR'd book with strange characters, introduced typographical errors, and jumbled words.This book may have occasional imperfections such as missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc. that were either part of the original artifact, or were introduced by the scanning process. We believe this work is culturally important, and despite the imperfections, have elected to bring it back into print as part of our continuing commitment to the preservation of printed works worldwide. We appreciate your understanding of the imperfections in the preservation process, and hope you enjoy this valuable book. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (9)

4-0 out of 5 stars good book
Please see my review for the volume I to know my opinion about this book. Thank you.

5-0 out of 5 stars Good read
Very good book. If your into that era in history, you can't go wrong on this. Hey, it's Plutarch!

4-0 out of 5 stars ITEM IN PERFECT CONDITIONS
I'm happy with the book and the conditions it got to me
Everything perfect!!

5-0 out of 5 stars For the ages' tooth
Twain's pejorative definition of `classic' need not apply.I define classic as that (text) which speaks to the heart over an extended duration - perhaps for several generations, as in `classic rock', or several millennia, as in Plutarch's "Lives".I probably never would have read Plutarch, were it not for a glorious discovery of Montaigne in mid-life. Having acquired enough distaste for the copious demands required to master classical languages after five years of Latin in secondary school, I made an arbitrary and direly misguided vow to eschew all Classics courses at the university level.And thus again is revealed the fateful difference between post-modern (post-1945), and the modern (c. 1500 - August 5, 1945) pedagogy, of which I unwittingly, if serendipitously, caught the tail end.The modern cannon required thorough immersion in the classics, and, for many years, Plutarch was required reading in the best schools, and should be even now.The author of the Shakespearian plays came to Plutarch by way of Montaigne (and likely read the Amyot translation, and only later the North, if at all), and the English schools came to Plutarch by way of Shakespeare.We might say that the revival of Plutarch was one of the most far reaching achievements of the Northern Renaissance.
At one point in his celebrated chronicle of the self, Montaigne (as a shaper and bona fide member of that cannon, guardian of some of what is best in our cultural inheritance) amusedly reveals that, when his critics believe they are attacking his work, they are actually attacking Plutarch and/or Seneca, so profound is their presence in his writing, and, in his "Defense of Plutarch and Seneca", he declares that . . . "my book [is] built up purely from their spoils".

And what a book it is! But Plutarch's magnum (see the 14 volumes of the Loeb Classical Library for his other works), is the greater.Montaigne is one of the great students of the self.Plutarch is the first (and may yet still be the definitive) historian of virtue.Montaigne, in scrutiny of his own nature, seeks to recognize the limitations and potentials of the self, and thereby sketch our general spiritual contours.Plutarch, in an unparalleled series of real life, historically and culturally pivotal, examples, shows us what they are.

The book records in the most remarkably intimate style (Plutarch has few peers as a master of narrative and an uncanny ability to ferret out of detail the significance of individual actions as a unified whole), the major events in the lives of the most impacting figures of the ancient world.Therefore, like the best novels, the book forms a world in itself, a lost world, the world of our ancestors, through a landscape drawn of actions and consequences.The structure of the book is such that an account of the seminal moments in the life of a noble Greek and then of a noble Roman are brought forth in pairs, followed by a comparison.In some sections of the work these comparisons are absent.They appear at some point in antiquity to have either been lost to or removed from the text, which would seem to explain why, for instance, there is no comparison of Alexander and Caesar. But the comparisons are brilliant, and eminently instructive.

Of course, from the details alone, we may draw our own inferences.Alexander, as a mere teen, leading his troops in hand-to-hand combat, won his first battle fighting uphill at night.Caesar, a heavy drinker, was wont to ride horseback at full tilt with his hands clenched behind his back.He had a life-long passion for Cato's sister and it is said that from their relationship, which continued through their respective marriages, Brutus was born.Et tu?Of course, one cannot fail to mention, even in this briefest review of the abundantly rich description in the nearly 1,300 pages which comprise the book, the death of Cato the Younger - one of the most exquisitely drawn figures in the book.Hunted down with the remnants of his troops into the wastelands of Carthage by the army of Octavius Ceasar in an effort to snuff out the last vestiges of republican resistance andopposition to Empire, realizing that the last realistic hope for freedom is lost, Cato attempts ritual suicide (a Stoic custom common to Roman nobility) by disembowelment.As Plutarch describes the scene, ". . . he did not immediately die of the wound; but struggling, fell off the bed, and throwing down a little mathematical table that stood by, made such a noise that the servants, hearingit, cried out. And immediately his son and all his friends came into the chamber, where, seeing him lie weltering in his own blood, great part of his bowels out of his body, but himself still alive and able to look at them, they all stood in horror.The physician went to him, and would have put in his bowels, which were not pierced, and sewed up the wound; but Cato, recovering himself, and understanding the intention, thrust away the physician, plucked out his own bowels, and tearing open the wound, immediately expired."In Seneca's words: "For Cato could not outlive freedom, nor would freedom outlive Cato."

However, the life most appropriate for the contemporary reader, I feel (and wish that every member of the shadowy corporate/military junta that seems to be ruling us these days would read and take to heart) is the life of Crassus.Crassus was the most successful businessman in the history of the Roman Empire.Plutarch relates that at one time he owned virtually one-third of the real estate in Rome.However, such mind-boggling success was not enough for him.His yen, and later, obsession, was to be revered as a great military leader, a world conqueror, expand the domain of the already burgeoning Empire, and the object of his fantasies was the area of the world at that time known as Mesopotamia and Persia, today as Iraq and Iran.We follow as he makes extensive preparations, investing his own fortune and a great deal of the nation's wealth into outfitting an army for the venture.And at first, the invasion of Mesopotamia seems to go well.But the centers of population are spread out over great stretches of desert, and the occupation never really succeeds, because a central authority cannot be solidly established.Crassus, however, remains undaunted, even though the troops are becoming mutinous as supplies begin to run thin.Led on by treacherous advisors, he enters Parthia (somewhere in the vicinity of modern day Syria).Plutarch describes the grueling denouement with his usual detachment, aplomb, and gifted eye for pertinent detail.Having lost the greatest fortune in the world, he proceeds to lose his troops, then his sons, and finally his life.These lessons are never too late for the learning, and my apologies to Twain, but a classic is a text which retains its urgency to be read, and read now.

I read the Dryden/Clough translation.Dryden was never my favorite writer of his period, the late 17th century - hardly a match for Burton or Milton, in my opinion, but he was poet laureate, and this work I love - his English is fine, and resonates with classic dignity.Clough, the mid-nineteenth century British scholar who revised the translation, befriended Emerson when he traveled to England, and became a sort of mentor to the New England Transcendentalists in general. We can be grateful for such a wonderful rendering for one of the very greatest and edifying masterpieces.

5-0 out of 5 stars A must read for lovers of ancient History
A most concise volume of all the most important people of the Roman Empire. ... Read more


3. The Boys' and Girls' Plutarch; being parts of the "Lives" of Plutarch, edited for boys and girls
by Plutarch
Paperback: 256 Pages (2006-11-03)
list price: US$15.95 -- used & new: US$15.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1406924083
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The book has no illustrations or index. Purchasers are entitled to a free trial membership in the General Books Club where they can select from more than a million books without charge. Subjects: Literature; United States; Language Arts ... Read more


4. Selected Lives (Wordsworth Classics of World Literature)
by Plutarch
Paperback: 896 Pages (1999-12-05)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$5.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1853267945
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

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Plutarch of Chaeronea is one of the great storytellers of antiquity, a writer whose ability to create unforgettable scenes matches the grandeur of his subject matter. The heroes of his Lives were the great men of antiquity, often greatly flawed, but with tragic depth and epic stature. Thomas North's translation, one of the most splendid works of sixteenth-century English prose, presents a vigorous and passionate version of the Lives whose qualities so attracted Shakespeare that he used North as his major source for Julius Caesar, Coriolanus and Antony & Cleopatra. This collection includes all the Lives which Shakespeare used and a selection of others which aim to show the variety and range of Plutarch's writing. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Timeless Classic By One Of The Best Biographers In History
Plutarch in his "Lives Of The Noble Grecians And Romans" written around 100 C.E., sheds new light on Greek and Roman history from their Bronze Age beginnings, shrouded in myth, down through Alexander and late Republican Rome.Plutarch is the lens that we use today to view the Greco-Roman past; his work has shaped our perceptions of that world for 2,000 years.Plutarch writes of the rise of Roman Empire while Gibbon uses his scholarship to advance the story to write about its decline.He was a proud Greek that was equally effected by Roman culture, a Delphic priest, a leading Platonist, a moralist, educator and philosopher with a deep commitment as a first rate writer.Being a Roman citizen, Plutarch was afforded the opportunity to become an intimate friend to prominent Roman citizens and a member of the literary elite in the court of Emperor Trajan.

Plutarch's influence and enormous popularity during and after the Renaissance is legendary among classicist. Plutarch's "Lives", served as the sourcebook for Shakespeare's Roman Plays "Julius Caesar", "Antony and Cleopatra" and "Coriolanus".By the way Plutarch is even the only contemporary source of all the biographical information on Cleopatra, whom he writes about in his biographies of Julius Caesar, Mark Antony and Octavian. Thomas Jefferson wrote to his nephew that there were three books every gentleman had to have familiarity with; Plutarch's "Lives", Livy's "History of Rome" and Virgil's Aeneid.In fact all the founding fathers of note had read Plutarch and learned much from his fifty biographies of noble men of Greece and Rome.When Hamilton, Jay and Madison write "The Federalist Papers" they use many examples of good and bad leadership traits that they read in Plutarch's work.His biographies are a great study in human character and what motivates leaders to decide and act the way they do, this masterpiece has proven to be still prescient today.

If you are truly interested in a classical education, put this book on the top of your list! I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in political philosophy, and history.
... Read more


5. The Makers of Rome: Nine Lives (Penguin Classics)
by Plutarch
Paperback: 368 Pages (1965-10-30)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$7.43
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140441581
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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These nine biographies illuminate the careers, personalities and military campaigns of some of Rome's greatest statesmen, whose lives span the earliest days of the Republic to the establishment of the Empire. Selected from Plutarch's "Roman Lives", they include prominent figures who achieved fame for their pivotal roles in Roman history, such as soldierly Marcellus, eloquent Cato and cautious Fabius. Here too are vivid portraits of ambitious, hot-tempered Coriolanus; objective, principled Brutus and open-hearted Mark Anthony, who would later be brought to life by Shakespeare. In recounting the lives of these great leaders, Plutarch also explores the problems of statecraft and power and illustrates the Roman people's genius for political compromise, which led to their mastery of the ancient world. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (12)

5-0 out of 5 stars Important work
Few ancient biographers and historians have had the impact on our understanding of the ancient world that Plutarch has had.The scope and breadth of his work was astounding.His works spanned almost all of Classical history and provide a great deal of what we know about both ancient Greece and Rome.

This book is a collection of biographies of important figures in Roman history, such as Julius Caesar, Mark Anthony, and the like. The work provides a great deal of insight into the general structure of Roman society and politics, as well as a number of other cultural matters.Furthermore I found the translation to be readable and accessible, though not exactly lively.

Compared to some of his works on Greek history, however, this work provides a lot less insight into the sort of resources Plutarch had at his disposal as a biographer and historian.

This book should be read by anyone studying Roman history.

3-0 out of 5 stars Plutarch
Plutarch is able to create a Roman collective past through her great heroes of the past. this book is less history than it is favorable moral making through reliving the "glory days" but this work is important and one of the best sources we have for early Rome.

5-0 out of 5 stars Blood trafficking
Plutarch's biographies of 9 important political and military leaders give the reader an in depth insight into the workings of the Roman Empire. It is a gloomy picture of a world dominated by the wealthy patricians at home and by Roman generals and their foot folk at large.

Rome's democratic system consisted of two parties: the patricians (the wealthy aristocrats and landowners) represented by the consuls and the plebeians represented by the tribunes. However, the tribunes had to be unanimous. If one defected to the other party, the patricians controlled completely the political scene.

`Coriolanus' was a staunch defender of the ancient aristocratic laws.
`Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus' were tribunes of the plebs. The former proposed agrarian (land distribution) and the latter political (shunting the aristocratic Senate) reforms. The former was clubbed to death and the latter decapitated by the patricians.
A dictatorship, assuming all (life and death) powers, was heavily opposed by `Brutus'.
A very important and stabilizing factor in Roman life was religion (`Fabius Maximus': `fix people's thoughts upon religious matters to strengthen their confidence'). The augurs occupied a cardinal function, being sometimes pressed to pronounce inauspicious omens (`Marcellus'). One respected oracular instruction imposed the burying alive of a Greek and a Gaul man and woman. For the author this was absolutely not superstition. Plutarch was in no way a Lucretius.
Another important civil servant was the censor (`Cato the Elder"), who had the right to inquire into the lives and manners of all citizens.

At large, Rome was first on the defensive during the Punic wars (`Fabius Maximus' and `Marcellus'). But later, it went on an offensive spree, conquering the whole Mediterranean world. The vanquished cities and their inhabitants were partly offered as salary to their soldiers. The generals, like `Sertorius', pocketed enormous wealth in land, precious metals and slaves. With their big armies, they plotted and fought among themselves to grab as much power as possible within the empire.
A most appalling new low was reached with the agreement between the triumvirate `Mark Antony' - Lepidus - Octavius to put to death 300 senators and 2000 equites in order to seize their possessions and fill the war coffers of the triumvirs: `I can conceive of nothing more savage or vindictive than their trafficking in blood.'

Plutarch's dramatic presentation of the creation and barbarous functioning of the first world empire is an essential read for all those interested in the history of mankind.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Best Roman Lives from Plutarch in One Volume
This collection from Plutarch's Lives covers the rise of the republic and the begining of its disintegration.Some of the best of his Roman biographies are included here including Fabius Maximus, Marcellus, and Mark Antony.The struggle with Hannibal created some of the most memorable moments in Roman history and the lives of Fabius and Marcellus are our only sources for some of the details of that period.These men were great human beings whose example has served Western Civilization for two thousand years thanks to Plutrach's memorialization.For those interested in ancient history this modern translation is indespensible, but I would recommend this volume in particular to high school students as a door to undertanding character in the development of Western civilization.Besides the military heroes, we have in this volume the lives of great statesmen who deeply inspired the founding fathers of the American colonies (the Grachi) and we also have an example in Mark Antony of how power mongers can erode the fabric of a republic.This is a great volume and a great translation.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Timeless Classic By One Of The Best Biographers In History
Plutarch in his "Lives Of The Noble Grecians And Romans" written around 100 C.E., sheds new light on Greek and Roman history from their Bronze Age beginnings, shrouded in myth, down through Alexander and late Republican Rome.Plutarch is the lens that we use today to view the Greco-Roman past; his work has shaped our perceptions of that world for 2,000 years.Plutarch writes of the rise of Roman Empire while Gibbon uses his scholarship to advance the story to write about its decline.He was a proud Greek that was equally effected by Roman culture, a Delphic priest, a leading Platonist, a moralist, educator and philosopher with a deep commitment as a first rate writer.Being a Roman citizen, Plutarch was afforded the opportunity to become an intimate friend to prominent Roman citizens and a member of the literary elite in the court of Emperor Trajan.

Plutarch's influence and enormous popularity during and after the Renaissance is legendary among classicist. Plutarch's "Lives", served as the sourcebook for Shakespeare's Roman Plays "Julius Caesar", "Antony and Cleopatra" and "Coriolanus".By the way Plutarch is even the only contemporary source of all the biographical information on Cleopatra, whom he writes about in his biographies of Julius Caesar, Mark Antony and Octavian. Thomas Jefferson wrote to his nephew that there were three books every gentleman had to have familiarity with; Plutarch's "Lives", Livy's "History of Rome" and Virgil's Aeneid.In fact all the founding fathers of note had read Plutarch and learned much from his fifty biographies of noble men of Greece and Rome.When Hamilton, Jay and Madison write "The Federalist Papers" they use many examples of good and bad leadership traits that they read in Plutarch's work.His biographies are a great study in human character and what motivates leaders to decide and act the way they do, this masterpiece has proven to be still prescient today.

If you are truly interested in a classical education, put this book on the top of your list! I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in political philosophy, and history.
... Read more


6. Greek Lives (Oxford World's Classics)
by Plutarch
Paperback: 483 Pages (2009-04-01)
list price: US$13.95 -- used & new: US$7.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0199540055
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Here, Plutarch introduces the major figures and periods of classical Greece, detailing the lives of nine personages, including Lycurgus, Solon, Themistocles, Cimon, Alexander, Pericles, Nicias, Alcibiades, and Agesilaus. Oxford presents the most comprehensive selection available, superbly translated and accompanied by a lucid introduction, explanatory notes, bibliographies, maps, and indexes. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

3-0 out of 5 stars Greek Lives
Interesting bios of Greek historical figures.Enjoyed learning more about Alexander, Lycurgus and Alcibiates.Others were not as exciting.Would have helped to have a bit more background on Greek history before listening to this book.

4-0 out of 5 stars good translation, introductory notes, and footnotes
Without a doubt, it is fascinating to read biographies based on ancient sources that no longer exist. Plutarch's Lives draws from multiple such primary sources as well as scholarly works from ancient Greece.There's no denying this.Further, much of the information on the ancient Greeks Plutarch writes about is not today available from other sources.

The biographies themselves were very popular when they were written, which explains why they were preserved and we can read them today.Reading only the Greek bios without the Roman ones against which almost all of them were paired up with has shortcomings, but it depends what you want to get out of the collection, though the introductions do a nice job of filling this information in.

This edition itself has very nice 4-page introductions to each biography as well as a very nice, longer introduction to the biographies as an entirety.The footnotes are very helpful.I wanted to read all of them, but because they were listed separately in the back of the volume, it was extremely disruptive constantly flipping back and forth.I'd gladly pay double for an edition with footnotes included in the text, or at least at the bottom of each page.The translation was fine, no complaints here.

On the down side, the biographies themselves tend to be more about the persons themselves than about factual/solid historical information.It's like reading about how George Washington never told a lie, threw a silver dollar across the Potomac, and had ill-fitting dentures, as opposed to how Washington helped create a new nation.Frequently, the footnotes point out that other sources portray the subject differently.I was never sure when Plutarch was bending the facts to fit the theme he was trying to get across.

I, personally, was most interested in the Alexander bio, but was somewhat let down because of the above reason.The Themistocles and Pericles bios had some interesting information and the Lycurgus bio provided many insights into Sparta.

5-0 out of 5 stars Biography, not history
I hate Plutarch, if only because he is indispensable. His numerous Lives are all that is left of large sections of Greek and Roman history, or are essential corroboration for other, scarce sources.

To modern readers, Plutarch can easily sound annoying. His portraits are invariably red-cheeked and gleaming-eyed. Vice and virtue are his main measures of men (and the few women). `His skin used to emit a delightful odour and... his mouth and whole body used to be bathed in a fragrance which filled his clothes,' he says of Alexander. And later: `his self-restraint was apparent in his stubborn disregard for physical pleasures. He also had less penchant for wine than is generally thought. He gained his reputation because he dragged out the time he took over each cup, but it was time spent talking rather than drinking...' Yeah, right. Yet this is excellent, colourful, and entertaining biography. The characters jump out of the page. The times are evoked magnificently. Some people like to see in Plutarch timeless lessons on human psychology and behaviour; without going so far, his Lives certainly provide unmatched insights into the thoughts and beliefs of the ancients.

As to history, one needs to be aware how this came to us. In antiquity, works were copied in schools, especially of rhetoric. Thus what ensured they were reproduced in large numbers, and had a chance of survival in the ensuing Dark Age, was style, not content. Likewise, medieval copyists, all monks, were interested in the moral lessons of the works they preserved. (There are exceptions to this: invaluable papyri were found intact in the Egyptian desert; but these are rare.)Plutarch passed both the stylistic and moral tests. But he lacks the structure of a Thucydides or a Polybius. His works are not graspable without context - a context which the introductions contained in this edition don't quite supply, even if they help. So the history enthusiast needs to be warned: this is great biography, but to the historian it is only supplementary, if essential, material.

This edition contains only nine of Plutarch's Greek Lives: Lycurgus, Solon, Themistocles, Cimon, Pericles, Nicias, Alcibiades, Agesilaus, and Alexander. A number of the less prominent characters treated by Plutarch need to be looked for in other editions (Theseus, Pelopidas, Pyrrhus, Lysander...).

5-0 out of 5 stars The truth shines but the world doesn't listen.
Unfortunately, nowadays, we have many people and countries claiming that Alexander the Great and Macedonia weren't part of the Hellenic Period and that Alexander spoke a Slavic Language and not a Hellenic dialect.
Although there is a distortion and Falsifycation of the Hellenic history in regards to Ancient Macedonia by many authors, this book, by Plutarch, proves that both King Philip 'the Philhellen' and Alexander the Great of Makedonia were part of the Hellenic civilization and considered Hellenes and not barbarians as some authors claim.
In general, this book was enlightning with sources and is directed to the intellectual society. No where does it state that Macedonians were Slavic.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Timeless Classic By One Of The Best Biographers In History
Plutarch in his "Lives Of The Noble Grecians And Romans" written around 100 C.E., sheds new light on Greek and Roman history from their Bronze Age beginnings, shrouded in myth, down through Alexander and late Republican Rome.Plutarch is the lens that we use today to view the Greco-Roman past; his work has shaped our perceptions of that world for 2,000 years.Plutarch writes of the rise of Roman Empire while Gibbon uses his scholarship to advance the story to write about its decline.He was a proud Greek that was equally effected by Roman culture, a Delphic priest, a leading Platonist, a moralist, educator and philosopher with a deep commitment as a first rate writer.Being a Roman citizen, Plutarch was afforded the opportunity to become an intimate friend to prominent Roman citizens and a member of the literary elite in the court of Emperor Trajan.

Plutarch's influence and enormous popularity during and after the Renaissance is legendary among classicist. Plutarch's "Lives", served as the sourcebook for Shakespeare's Roman Plays "Julius Caesar", "Antony and Cleopatra" and "Coriolanus".By the way Plutarch is even the only contemporary source of all the biographical information on Cleopatra, whom he writes about in his biographies of Julius Caesar, Mark Antony and Octavian. Thomas Jefferson wrote to his nephew that there were three books every gentleman had to have familiarity with; Plutarch's "Lives", Livy's "History of Rome" and Virgil's Aeneid.In fact all the founding fathers of note had read Plutarch and learned much from his fifty biographies of noble men of Greece and Rome.When Hamilton, Jay and Madison write "The Federalist Papers" they use many examples of good and bad leadership traits that they read in Plutarch's work.His biographies are a great study in human character and what motivates leaders to decide and act the way they do, this masterpiece has proven to be still prescient today.

If you are truly interested in a classical education, put this book on the top of your list! I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in political philosophy, and history.
... Read more


7. The Fall of the Roman Republic (Penguin Classics)
by Plutarch
Paperback: 464 Pages (2006-04-25)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$8.85
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140449345
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Rome’s famed historian illuminates the twilight of the old Roman Republic from 157 to 43 BC in succinct accounts of the greatest politicians and statesmen of the classical period. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (16)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Fascinating Lives of the Nefarious
In the twilight of the Roman republic, brilliant and majestic yet ultimately vain and flawed men fight for supremacy.The Greek dramatist Plutarch writing in hindsight watches the unfolding of the tragic events that would lead to the collapse of the Roman empire and human liberty with regret and remorse -- there was enough wealth in Rome and her territorities for the egos of Sulla and Marius, Pompey and Caesar to divide amongst themselves.What Plutarch missed was that the ultimate problem wasn't the ego and vanity of men -- the problem was wealth itself.

Writing in his "Histories," Herodotus wrote how the Spartans, after driving the invading Persians from Greece and finding Xerxes' tent filled with nothing but gold, laughed and remarked how a nation of wealth had invaded Greece to capture its poverty.Herodotus remarked that it was wealth and luxury had made the Persians weak decadents while poverty and privation had made the Greeks tough warriors.

Plutarch is a dramatist, and is fully invested in his characters, who are all fascinating and majestic in themselves.Plutarch puts the blame in human agency, and comments that it's not the rivalry between Caesar and Pompey that caused the fall of the republic, but rather their friendship -- because together they destroyed the power and influence of the nobility.He pays no intention to the socio-economic forces that were simultaneously expanding while destabilizing Rome.He does not at all make the connection between the great martial victories of Pompey and Caesar abroad and the nefarious conspiracies in Rome itself.As Pompey and Caesar conquer foreign lands and send wealth back to home, this wealth corrupts Rome so that the struggle for power can only reach a furious frenzied pitch, as during the Catiline conspiracy (when one member of the patrician class proposed to destroy the entire patrician class).

Of course, one does not read Plutarch for his analytical abilities, but rather his literary merit.Plutarch's rendering of the struggles and triumphs of Marius, Pompey, and Caesar (all despicable characters in themselves) elevate each man into divine status.Caesar himself stands out as a man who combined the courage and military genius of Alexander the Great (which many felt Pompey had) with the political genius of Machiavelli (which many felt Crassus and lesser, more nefarious individuals had), making Caesar an unstoppable force of nature.

These men who were ultimately albeit unwittingly responsible for the destruction of the Roman republic -- Marius, Sulla, Pompey, Crassus, Caesar, and Cicero -- all were in their own way a testament to the genius of the Roman republic.They worked hard to crave distinction, they were deeply loyal to Rome, and they were Gods.The socio-historical forces in place meant that the Roman republic was bound to become the Roman empire, but who ultimately would triumph in this transition also depended a lot of human agency, and there was no doubt in people's mind that Julius Caesar was the natural candidate for the kingship, and that's why he became so hated among the Romans.

Julius Caesar is truly an amazing paradox.He won the admiration and loyalty of his troops with his military genius, Spartan lifestyle, and courageous leadership.He also worked endlessly to corrupt the Roman republic through bribery, marriage alliances, and intrigue.He also did the unthinkable, crossed the Rubicon, and invaded Rome itself.As a God, he would cause the death of other Gods, Pompey and Cato the most famous.But he would also hunt down Pompey's assassins, and at the height of his power, when no one could challenge his power, he was lenient to his enemies, and refused to surround himself with a bodyguard.He put his complete faith and trust in Brutus, and when Brutus delivered his blow in the Senate Caesar merely accepted his fate and died.Of all the great men in Plutarch's collection, Julius Caesar proved himself the greatest, and that's why Caesar continues to live on in people's imaginations today.

5-0 out of 5 stars Important work, good translation
Plutarch was a classical Greek historian during the Roman period who was well rounded and provides us with important insights into the classical world through his writings.Most important among these writings are the extensive biographies he wrote of important individuals from Greece and Rome. Some of his sources are now lost to us, but the tales live on.

This particular collection is a set of six biographies of individuals set in the late Republic:Gaius Marius (who instituted various military reforms which probably doomed the Republic), Sulla (the first to enforce a dictatorship over the republic through civil war), Crassus, Pompey, Caesar, and Cicero.Through these writings we are introduced to religious customs, stories of prophecies, and tangential tales that have in some ways eclipsed the subject of the biography.

For example, in the biography of Crassus, we are introduced to a fairly full account of the Spartacus War and the appeal of that story during McCarthy-era America among those who were dissenting from McCarthy's rhetoric is obvious.

For all of this, the line that stands out in my memory is the popular description of Sulla being that his face was a "mulberry with oatmeal sprinkled on it."

Definitely recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars Reading History, one man at a time...
Plutarch is the opposite of Isaaic Asimov. Foundation portrays history only in terms of massive predictable, quantifiable and eminently understandable trends. There is little accounting for individual personalities; only stochastic movements of people, information, money, and resources. On the other hand, Plutarch writes history in the form of biographic essays, showing us one unique, sometimes inconsistent, often inscrutable man at a time.
Six Lives was written 150 years after the fall of the Roman Republic, and gives the reader a feel for six top leaders of the Republic. I think they help show that while the Empire was sexier than the Republic, the Republic may have more to teach us... It's history is the cautionary tale of a prosperous, learned society with codified rights (for some), and elements of representative governance, which proceeded down a path to dictatorship. Some understanding of how this happened may be gleaned from the six lives Plutarch examines:

GAIUS MARIUS parlays success as a General into a legendary political career, becoming the first man to be elected Consul seven times. He is responsible for the slaughter on the Capitoline Hill, demonstrating an arrogance and ruthlessness which makes him plenty of enemies and few friends. He spends his last few unhealthy years fleeing political rivals and seeking sanctuary wherever he can find it, much as Mohammad Reza Pahlavi "the Shah of Iran" did in 1979. I'm not sure why Gaius was included on this list; he seems the less impressive than the others.

SULLA is a little Roman Joseph Stalin. Turning on the public who elected him Consul, he maneuvers himself into a position of Dictator, and then proceeded to butcher over 12,000 citizens, political opponents, personal enemies and their families for the slightest real or perceived transgressions. Through sheer dumb luck, Sulla was asked to receive the surrender of notorious outlaw Jogurtha on behalf of Rome. Sulla hadn't contributed anything to Jogurtha's defeat and capture, but that didn't stop him from commissioning statues in Rome depicting him standing triumphally over the humbled outlaw. His peers were particularly miffed by a giant gold ring he had custom made, bearing the surrender scene. I guess he wore it under their noses, like bad bad LeRoy Brown. That must have been some outrageous piece of jewelry, to get mention Plutarch`s book, written 150 years later! I wish somebody who saw it would have drawn a picture! Sulla died, incidentally, of a gruesome intestinal worm infestation. (Ascaris??)

CRASSUS (Triumvir #1) is best known as the General who defeated Spartacus, and in his day: the richest man in Rome. His for-profit fire company used to show up at burning homes to negotiate a bargain sale of the house. If the owner refused, the firemen turned around and went home! He comes across as the weakest of the Triumvirs, with no realistic shot at coming out on top over Pompey or Caesar. Brutal ending for Crassus: a beheading when his military adventures in Parthia go bad.

POMPEY (Triumvir #2) is the military strategy whiz-kid, who becomes General at twenty-two, and gets his own Triumph (victory parade) without the normally required rank of Praetor. His career as statesman is less impressive. When Crassus's death ends the Triumvirate, the Republic descends into civil war. Pompey snatches defeat from the jaws of victory, and loses to Caesar. Shortly after, he seeks asylum in Egypt, and is murdered by King Ptolmey's agents, in an example of cold-blooded Machiavellian politics which Plutarch explains well on page 239. Side note: while reading this section, I couldn't help feeling Pompey's nemesis, the renegade king Mithridates, was a much more intriguing personality.

CAESAR (Triumvir #3) is the best known of these men, so I won't elaborate. No matter; there is so much overlap of events in the personal histories of Crassus, Pompey, and Caesar, that reading them in succession starts to feel a bit like Rashomon. If you have read Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, and the preceeding chapters on Crassus and Pompey, this section has little new to offer.

CICERO is the lone intellectual of the group. It's nice to know that political power wasn't completely limited to generals, but Cicero wasn't nearly as powerful as the others on this list. I like him better in his own work: On the Good Life Penguin Classics. Plutarch thinks Cicero is a too-clever-by-half smartass, but does grudgingly admit his brilliant oratory skills, and his impressive legal career. Sadly, Cicero's life illustrates that being right or just or smart was not enough to ensure the public's goodwill during the Republic. Without question, military might ruled the day.

Parting Advice
1) Get a good Atlas of the Roman World for reference when you read this. There are plenty of places mentioned in this book, and no maps. This is a setup for much confusion: what the Romans called "Albania" is in present-day Georgia, while what we now call "Albania", the Romans called Dyrrhachium; what the Romans called "Iberia" is in present-day Armenia... etc.
2) If you go to Rome, be sure to seek out some of the ruins of the Republic: Temple of Hercules Victor, and the Temple of Portunus.

4-0 out of 5 stars Five Stars for Entertainment; Minus One for Lack of Index
If one merely wants to read an awfully good biography of some of the makers of history during the last generation of the Roman Republic, one cannot go wrong with Rex Warner's translation of Plutarch's Lives of Marius, Sulla, Pompey, Crassus, Caesar and Cicero. Each "Life" is full to the brim of goodies (Even the skimpy life of Marius has its magnificent moments, such as the Cimbri women strangling their children and stabbing themselves rather than surrender to the Romans; or Marius with his Bardyae goons, who laugh when he laughs and kill when he doesn't laugh [Godfather material!], and my favorite bit in the life of Marius is when he is tryihg to make a deal with the angry Senate at the front door of his house and his tribune Saturninus at the back door--running back and forth between the two, excusing himself each time, pretending that he has diarrhea. ["Terribly sorry, the sardines I ate at lunch must have been off!"; the subtext, not Warner]).

This book is full of wonderful anecdotes that render the story of ancient Rome so entertaining.

As with the Penquin edition of "The Age of Alexander," however, the editors have skimped and not provided an index (which I notice Oxford has done) and therefore have made the book a pain to use in undergraduate classes. Again, the cover has been tarted up, but no effort has been made to facilitate students in looking up the multifarious characters in each of the lives.

Well, I'm cross with Penguin, but not with Rex Warner's splendidly readable translation!

5-0 out of 5 stars Therapy and inspiration
In a recent interview, Bob Dylan cites a number of ancient historians and philosophers as his favored reading, and makes a special mention of Plutarch's Roman lives as a book to which he returns over and over again. It is easy to see why. In an age of murkiness and mediocrity, cheap sensationalism and formula, an existence that is electric but at the same time sickly and often vacuous, it is an almost therapeutic experience to spend time with the ambitious, able, brave, visionary, and healthy-spirited generals. The facts and figures, the sequence of events depicted, are far less important than the experience itself, the pleasure of being in the company of soldiers who prize wisdom, moderation, efficiency, and honor over all. These were self-made men, entrepreneurs in the modern sense. The empire was no accident, and this books is a reminder of what we once were, and could still one day be. ... Read more


8. The Life of Alexander the Great (Modern Library Classics)
by Plutarch
Paperback: 96 Pages (2004-04-13)
list price: US$9.95 -- used & new: US$4.95
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Asin: 0812971337
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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In 336 b.c. Philip of Macedonia was assassinated and his twenty-year-old son, Alexander, inherited his kingdom. Immediately quelling rebellion, Alexander extended his father’s empire through-out the Middle East and into parts of Asia, fulfilling the soothsayer Aristander’s prediction that the new king “should perform acts so important and glorious as would make the poets and musicians of future ages labour and sweat to describe and celebrate him.”

The Life of Alexander the Great is one of the first surviving attempts to memorialize the achievements of this legendary king, remembered today as the greatest military genius of all time. This exclusive Modern Library edition, excerpted from Plutarch’s Lives, is a riveting tale of honor, power, scandal, and bravery written by the most eminent biographer of the ancient world. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Important source on Alexander the Great
Obvioulsy if you're looking at this book you are researching Alexander the Great.Without a doubt Plutarch, Arrian and Curtius Rufus are very important sources on this topic. Don't waste your time reading modern historians' versions of Alexander's life - go straight to these authors. I haven't read any other translations of Plutarch's 'Life of Alexander' but this one is quite easy to read and obviously full of great information.Plutarch is not as critical of Alexander as Curtius Rufus yet doesn't seem to be as much of a flatterer as Arrian.He's a bit in between.Overall, a very fun read although if you didn't want to read all three (Arrian, Curtius Rufus & Plutarch) I'd say that you could skip this one - although it's a fun read and a credible source.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Very Good Read
I was impressed with this translation of Plutarch's Life of Alexander the Great.The prose was very clear and readable, and I finished the book very quickly.You shouldn't expect a detailed treatment of military or historical topics; the book is less than 100 pages in length, and such was not Plutarch's object anyway.Plutarch's Lives are really discussions of morality and character as evidenced in the lives of great men, and the history surrounding these men is really only a backdrop against which these things are portrayed.Use this book to begin to get a picture of Alexander the man; use other books to flesh out your understanding of Alexander the soldier, the king, and the politician. ... Read more


9. The Rise and Fall of Athens: Nine Greek Lives
by Plutarch, Ian Scott-Kilvert
Paperback: 320 Pages (1960-09-30)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$8.55
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Asin: 0140441026
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Nine Greek biographies illustrate the rise and fall of Athens, from the legendary days of Theseus, the city's founder, through Solon, Themistocles, Aristides, Cimon, Pericles, Nicias, and Alcibiades, to the razing of its walls by Lysander. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars Greece fought all battles mainly to enslave herself
Through 9 Greek Lives (Theseus, the democracy builder; Aristides, the `Spartan' Athenian; Themistocles, the arrogant but victorious supreme commander; Solon, the legislator; Cimon, the alcoholic but conquering oligarch; Pericles, the noble and unselfish democrat; the richissime Niceas, exploiter of silver mines; Alcibiades, the debauched double-dealing chameleon; and Lysander, the killer of Athens and its democrats), Plutarch sketches eminently the main political and social issues of ancient Greece and of Athens in particular.
In Athens, the vicious battle between the few and the many, the haves and have-nots, equality and liberty was fought through two political parties: the aristocrats (oligarchs) supported by Sparta, Socrates, Plato and the priests (`the power of the ruler as the image of the god') on the one hand, and on the other hand, the democrats.
The Greek cities were evidently united against their common enemy, Persia, whose policies aimed at defeating the Greek outright or at inciting them to destroy one another. But the cities fought one another even in foreign countries (e.g. for the gold mines in Thrace). It all ended with Niceas's disastrous expedition in Sicily and Lysander's bloody victory over Athens.

Plutarch's book is still very actual indeed. He shows us Pericles as the first Keynesian, organizing huge public works and `transforming the whole people into wage-earners', or the anti-scientific stance of religion (`natural philosophers belittled the power of the gods by explaining it away as nothing more than the operation of irrational causes').
Plutarch is an excellent psychologist: `people as so often happens at moments of crisis, were ready to find salvation in the miraculous rather than in a rational course of action'.
Market manipulation with foreknowledge is of all times: `Solon confided to his most intimate friends that he did not intend to touch land, but had decided to abolish debts. They promptly took advantage by borrowing large sums ...'
But Plutarch times were still extremely barbarous: a decree ... that all prisoners of war should have their right thumb cut off to prevent holding a spear, although they could still handle an oar.'

This book is a must read for all those interested in the history of mankind.

4-0 out of 5 stars GREEK PREJUDICE REIGNS
I like Plutarch because the guy really knows how to call a spade a spade. He had the guts to admit when the record was less than straight, provided alternative views, sources and dialogues, and let the reader decide when the facts and interpretations got fuzzy. He was no ideologue. In that sense a lot of writers in our present century could learn from him.

There are many versions of Plutarch's "Lives" and the traditional versions (maybe the original?) render one Roman life in comparison with one Greek life evincing similar traits or historical characteristics. In this Penguin Series the tendency has been to divide the Greek and Roman lives into seperate works.

I loved his Roman lives unequivocally and I love this one as well, but Plutarch makes a better writer the more he moves from myth to factual lives. In this sense his early lives like Thesseus and Solon are less interesting than those of Nicias, Alcabiades, Lysander and Themistocoles. Plutarch is best when he is working with solid sources, not mythology.

But, to his credit, his early mythical lives reflects a very sceptical note, one as befits the subject matter. Later when he is citing Xenophon, and Plato, his lives are exciting in the extreme (I shall always remember the utter destruction of Nicias and his expeditionary force to Syracuse, by Gyllipus and his Syracusian allies). The corruption of Lysander by money, and the general message perhaps in this tome -- the danger of overextended wars in far flung lands not supported or understood by the people.

All in all this book puts the "C" in Classic.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Timeless Classic By One Of The Best Biographers In History
Plutarch in his "Lives Of The Noble Grecians And Romans" written around 100 C.E., sheds new light on Greek and Roman history from their Bronze Age beginnings, shrouded in myth, down through Alexander and late Republican Rome.Plutarch is the lens that we use today to view the Greco-Roman past; his work has shaped our perceptions of that world for 2,000 years.Plutarch writes of the rise of Roman Empire while Gibbon uses his scholarship to advance the story to write about its decline.He was a proud Greek that was equally effected by Roman culture, a Delphic priest, a leading Platonist, a moralist, educator and philosopher with a deep commitment as a first rate writer.Being a Roman citizen, Plutarch was afforded the opportunity to become an intimate friend to prominent Roman citizens and a member of the literary elite in the court of Emperor Trajan.

Plutarch's influence and enormous popularity during and after the Renaissance is legendary among classicist. Plutarch's "Lives", served as the sourcebook for Shakespeare's Roman Plays "Julius Caesar", "Antony and Cleopatra" and "Coriolanus".By the way Plutarch is even the only contemporary source of all the biographical information on Cleopatra, whom he writes about in his biographies of Julius Caesar, Mark Antony and Octavian. Thomas Jefferson wrote to his nephew that there were three books every gentleman had to have familiarity with; Plutarch's "Lives", Livy's "History of Rome" and Virgil's Aeneid.In fact all the founding fathers of note had read Plutarch and learned much from his fifty biographies of noble men of Greece and Rome.When Hamilton, Jay and Madison write "The Federalist Papers" they use many examples of good and bad leadership traits that they read in Plutarch's work.His biographies are a great study in human character and what motivates leaders to decide and act the way they do, this masterpiece has proven to be still prescient today.

If you are truly interested in a classical education, put this book on the top of your list! I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in political philosophy, and history.

5-0 out of 5 stars Plutarch on Athens
While categorized as more of a biographer than a historian, Plutarch is nevertheless one of the most often-cited scholars of antiquity.In Plutarch we gaze at history through the lens of the great avatars of history.This is actually preferable in many ways to Plutarch's original organization.As Plutarch's method was to teach on ethics via the lives of great men, he would write parallel lives of famous Greeks & Romans.Many times the similarities would be stretched and occasionally merely artifical.

Penguin Classics has broken up Plutarch's LIVES into several different books, each focused on a particular historical genre.The current one places its emphasis on Athens.The book covers 7 Athenians (Solon, Themistocles, Aristides, Cimon, Pericles, Nicias, Alcibiades), 1 mythological figure (Theseus) and 1 Spartan (Lysander).

The inclusion of Lysander is due to the fact that Lysander was the primary instrument by which the Spartans conquered the Athenians in 404BCE. Athens would never again be a major player on the world stage, so the section on Lysander's life is one of transitions.

All of the essays in this book are the standard by which contemporary historians write on the world of ancient Greece.That makes this book a must for persons who are even remotely interested in classical history. Even if you were to only read one book on the Greeks, this one might be the one to grab. The book is THAT influential.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good translation weak commentary
Penguin Classics have gone up in price I see with this new copy -- ah, well, such is publishing it seems.Plutarch was writing in the Roman world so his view of the lives of nine important Athenians is a bit different than their comtempories.The lives examined inclue Theseus (perhaps more legend than history), Solon (also a tad more legend than history), Themistocles, Aristides, Cimon, Pericles, Nicias, Alcibiades, and Lysander.There are two descent maps -- one of the Aegean and one of mainland Greece.The book could really use an index and better footnotes or commentary frankly to be of great use to anyone not just reading it for a introductory level course dealing with Athens or the Archaic and Classical Greek world. ... Read more


10. Plutarch's Moralia
by Plutarch
Paperback: 318 Pages (2009-12-31)
list price: US$39.44 -- used & new: US$39.44
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Asin: 1151786748
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Publisher: London : Dent ; New York : DuttonPublication date: 1911Notes: This is an OCR reprint. There may be typos or missing text. There are no illustrations or indexes.When you buy the General Books edition of this book you get free trial access to Million-Books.com where you can select from more than a million books for free. You can also preview the book there. ... Read more


11. Plutarch: Moralia, Volume XI, On the Malice of Herodotus, Causes of Natural Phenomena. (Loeb Classical Library No. 426)
by Plutarch
Hardcover: 256 Pages (1965-01-01)
list price: US$24.00 -- used & new: US$19.20
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Asin: 0674994698
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Plutarch (Plutarchus), ca. 45–120 CE, was born at Chaeronea in Boeotia in central Greece, studied philosophy at Athens, and, after coming to Rome as a teacher in philosophy, was given consular rank by the emperor Trajan and a procuratorship in Greece by Hadrian. He was married and the father of one daughter and four sons. He appears as a man of kindly character and independent thought, studious and learned.

Plutarch wrote on many subjects. Most popular have always been the 46 Parallel Lives, biographies planned to be ethical examples in pairs (in each pair, one Greek figure and one similar Roman), though the last four lives are single. All are invaluable sources of our knowledge of the lives and characters of Greek and Roman statesmen, soldiers and orators. Plutarch's many other varied extant works, about 60 in number, are known as Moralia or Moral Essays. They are of high literary value, besides being of great use to people interested in philosophy, ethics and religion.

The Loeb Classical Library edition of the Moralia is in fifteen volumes, volume XIII having two parts.

... Read more

12. Roman Lives: A Selection of Eight Lives (Oxford World's Classics)
by Plutarch
Paperback: 608 Pages (2009-03-15)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$9.08
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Asin: 0199537380
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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'I treat the narrative of the Lives as a kind of mirror...The experience is like nothing so much as spending time in their company and living with them: I receive and welcome each of them in turn as my guest.'
In the eight lives of this collection Plutarch introduces the reader to the major figures and periods of classical Rome.He portrays virtues to be emulated and vices to be avoided, but his purpose is also implicitly to educate and warn those in his own day whowielded power.In prose that is rich, elegant and sprinkled with learned references, he explores with an extraordinary degree of insight the interplay of character and political action. While drawing chiefly on historical sources, he brings to biography a natural story-teller's ear for a good anecdote. Throughout the ages Plutarch's Lives have been valued for their historical value and their charm.This new translation will introduce new generations to his urbane erudition. The most comprehensive selection available, it is accompanied by a lucid introduction, explanatory notes, bibliographies, maps and indexes. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars Biography, not history
I hate Plutarch, if only because he is indispensable. His numerous Lives are all that is left of large sections of Greek and Roman history, or are essential corroboration for other, scarce sources.

To modern readers, Plutarch can easily sound annoying. His portraits are invariably red-cheeked and gleaming-eyed. Vice and virtue are his main measures of men (and the few women). `These two young men were remarkably similar in terms of their courage and self-restraint - and also their generosity, eloquence, and high principles,' he begins on the Gracchi. `The younger Marius revealed the extent of his savagery and brutality in the continued slaughter of the best and most distinguished men of Rome,' is how he concludes on Marius. Politics are first and foremost personal, and portents and dreams are invariably full of meaning. Yet this is excellent, colourful, and entertaining biography. The characters jump out of the page. The times are evoked magnificently. Some people like to see in Plutarch timeless lessons on human psychology and behaviour; without going so far, his Lives certainly provide unmatched insights into the thoughts and beliefs of the ancients.

As to history, one needs to be aware how this came to us. In antiquity, works were copied in schools, especially of rhetoric. Thus what ensured they were reproduced in large numbers, and had a chance of survival in the ensuing Dark Age, was style, not content. Likewise, medieval copyists, all monks, were interested in the moral lessons of the works they preserved. (There are exceptions to this: invaluable papyri were found intact in the Egyptian desert; but these are rare.)Plutarch passed both the stylistic and moral tests. But he lacks the structure of a Thucydides or a Polybius. His works are not graspable without context - a context which the introductions contained in this edition don't quite supply, even if they help. So the history enthusiast needs to be warned: this is great biography, but to the historian it is only supplementary, if essential, material.

This edition contains only eight of Plutarch's Roman Lives: Cato the Elder, Aemilius Paullus, Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus, Marius, Sulla, Pompey, and Caesar. A number of the less prominent characters treated by Plutarch need to be looked for in other editions (Numa, Cato the Younger, Marcellus, Crassus, Galba...).

2-0 out of 5 stars Roman Lives Review
The book itself was in okay condition when it arrived. When it was selling online, the person put it down as "good" condition. The edges of the book were worn and there was writing in the book. Overall the book was a good biography for the eight important men of Rome.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Timeless Classic By One Of The Best Biographers In History
Plutarch in his "Lives Of The Noble Grecians And Romans" written around 100 C.E., sheds new light on Greek and Roman history from their Bronze Age beginnings, shrouded in myth, down through Alexander and late Republican Rome.Plutarch is the lens that we use today to view the Greco-Roman past; his work has shaped our perceptions of that world for 2,000 years.Plutarch writes of the rise of Roman Empire while Gibbon uses his scholarship to advance the story to write about its decline.He was a proud Greek that was equally effected by Roman culture, a Delphic priest, a leading Platonist, a moralist, educator and philosopher with a deep commitment as a first rate writer.Being a Roman citizen, Plutarch was afforded the opportunity to become an intimate friend to prominent Roman citizens and a member of the literary elite in the court of Emperor Trajan.

Plutarch's influence and enormous popularity during and after the Renaissance is legendary among classicist. Plutarch's "Lives", served as the sourcebook for Shakespeare's Roman Plays "Julius Caesar", "Antony and Cleopatra" and "Coriolanus".By the way Plutarch is even the only contemporary source of all the biographical information on Cleopatra, whom he writes about in his biographies of Julius Caesar, Mark Antony and Octavian. Thomas Jefferson wrote to his nephew that there were three books every gentleman had to have familiarity with; Plutarch's "Lives", Livy's "History of Rome" and Virgil's Aeneid.In fact all the founding fathers of note had read Plutarch and learned much from his fifty biographies of noble men of Greece and Rome.When Hamilton, Jay and Madison write "The Federalist Papers" they use many examples of good and bad leadership traits that they read in Plutarch's work.His biographies are a great study in human character and what motivates leaders to decide and act the way they do, this masterpiece has proven to be still prescient today.

If you are truly interested in a classical education, put this book on the top of your list! I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in political philosophy, and history.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good but not definitive anthology
This fine, well-edited translation would be THE translation to get for Plutarch's best Roman lives ... IF they had included the Life of Cicero.(Soldiers outweigh orators in the Oxford hierarchy.)As it is, the Penguin "Fall of the Roman Republic" anthology remains useful.

That said, Oxford has been kicking Penguin tail with its scholarly, up-to-date translations of classical texts.Penguin has been sprucing up its backlist some, but I always look for an Oxford first, if there is one.

5-0 out of 5 stars please read this book
This is an excellent translation of a timeless classic.The notes are well done and thorough and the introduction is very helpful whether you are a scholarly type or an interested lay reader.The only qualm I have isthat it was often hard to know when the action of each life took place. This is a minor glich, however, and does not hinder from the overallenjoyment of the work.The lives are biography, history, psychology,comedy, tragedy and farce all in one.Plutarch's narrative is brisk andnever dull; he mixes anecdotes and interpretation deftly, but never forcesthe reader one way or the other.He is a masterful essayist and biographerand these works can be read repeatedly with enjoyment each time.Highlyrecommended. ... Read more


13. On Sparta (Penguin Classics)
by Plutarch
Paperback: 304 Pages (2005-12-27)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$8.44
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Asin: 0140449434
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Plutarch’s vivid and engaging portraits of the Spartans and their customs are a major source of our knowledge about the rise and fall of their remarkable Greek city-state between the sixth and third centuries BC. Through his Lives of Sparta’s leaders and his recording of memorable Spartan Sayings, he depicts a people who lived frugally and mastered their emotions in all aspects of life, who disposed of unhealthy babies in a deep chasm, introduced a gruelling regimen of military training for boys, and treated their serfs brutally. Rich in anecdote and detail, Plutarch’s writing brings to life the personalities and achievements of Sparta with unparalleled flair and humanity. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (12)

3-0 out of 5 stars Penguin invented this book
Plutarch, of course, never wrote such a book:"On Sparta."Instead he wrote a bunch of lives of prominent Greeks and Romans.This Penguin edition is simply an anthology of four of those lives, four Spartans (Lycurgus, Agesilaus, Agis, and Cleomenes).

So be aware of what you're getting.There's more to the book, though.There's a massive introduction that might help you, and about 50 pages of Spartan "sayings" culled from Plutarch's other lives.There is also an excerpt from Xenophon on Spartan society.

As well as a bunch of maps and stuff.

4-0 out of 5 stars Interesting and thought-provoking read
This book is a collection of some lives and excerpts from lives (or biographies) by Plutarch about Spartan kings.It provides a great deal of food for thought and I would recommend it.

The book consists of roughly three parts:The first is a collection of biographies of Spartan kings (Lycurgas, etc).The Life of Lysander has been omitted because it is included in another Penguin edition.The second part consists of excerpts of Putarch's writings consisting of sayings which provide insight into Spartan life and culture.The third part is an appendix which includes some of Xenophon's notes about Sparta.

The book allows us to ask a number of questions which may provide fruitful, such as the specific relationship between Spartan culture and Plato's ideas in "Republic."In general a lot of things in Republic that seem particularly contrary to the Athenian state are found in Sparta in this book.Perhaps this is why Plutarch places Lycurgus above Plato, saying that the latter wrote books on political theory but the former had invented them and put them in practice.These include descriptions of everything from female public nudity being equivalent to male public nudity to the idea that children should all be wards of the state and not the wards of their fathers.A great number of small details seem to be taken directly from Spartan life in Plato's work and this suggests that Plato, like Xenophon, was fundamentally more sympathetic to Sparta than to Athens.

On the negative side, I agree that it would be good to have a more complete reference of Plutarch's references to Sparta in one volume.

On the whole, this is an interesting book.4 stars

4-0 out of 5 stars Good Read
Gives a good read over Plutarch's Lives. Its was a quick read. I would have liked more of a commentary as well as factual information.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good, but could be better
Probably very readable for those already closely acquianted with historical and mythological references.I prefer footnotes mixed with the text as I have seen in most other translations of the ancients.It is still a very interesting read and I am encouraged to try some other 'Lives'.

5-0 out of 5 stars Spartan lives through the eyes of a nearer historian
Amidst all the contemporary historical deconstructionist prattling over the Spartans, the views and words of the more proximate historians among the ancients shine out like stars in a dark firmament.

Plato and Aristotle had much to say of the Spartan constitution.Likewise did Plutarch, who was a later Greek historian living from 46-120 AD during the period of Roman Imperial ascendacy.

In this book there is much instructive and readable biographical information on prominent Spartan lives, as well as explantions of culture and customs surrounding the "Laws of Lycurgus."

There are Spartan tales and aphorisms as well and the inclusion of the tragic stories of the later reformers are invaluable inclusions taken from the perspective of time.They are archetypal stories of heroic-tragic figures who strive greatly to resurrect a noble but dying people and their way of life.I enjoy to ponder parallels between late Spartan reformer-Kings and the Roman Emperor Julian Apostate.

Plutarch's book is required reading for students of Sparta.This edition is a good editing and compilation and the first version of Plutarch's writings on Sparta that I would recommend readers select.



... Read more


14. Plutarch's Lives (Volume 1 of 2)
by Plutarch
Paperback: 560 Pages (2009-01-01)
list price: US$15.99 -- used & new: US$14.39
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Asin: 1420933515
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"Lives" is a series of biographies of famous Greeks and Romans by the ancient Greek historian Plutarch who lived during the first and second century AD. "Lives" consists of twenty-three paired biographies, one Greek and one Roman, and four unpaired, which explore the influence of character on the lives and destinies of the subjects. Rather than providing strictly historical accounts, Plutarch was most concerned with capturing this issue of character. This volume, volume 1 of 2, contains the first half of this classic history in which you will find the biographies of the following persons: Theseus, Romulus, Lycurgus, Numa Pompilius, Solon, Poplicola, Themistocles, Camillus, Pericles, Fabius, Alcibiades, Coriolanus, Timoleon, Æmilius Paulus, Pelopidas, Marcellus, Aristides, Marcus Cato, Philopœmen, Flamininus, Pyrrhus, Caius Marius, Lysander, Sylla, Cimon, Lucullus, Nicias, and Crassus. ... Read more


15. Plutarch's Lives Volume Two (Barnes & Noble Library of Essential Reading) (B&N Library of Essential Reading)
by Plutarch
Paperback: 765 Pages (2006-08-17)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$9.85
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Asin: 0760780935
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Plutarch defined for all ages the character of Greek and Roman moral identity. He studied what constitutes the best in a human being, and which, in turn, determines a person’s role in the world. Blending history and biography, Plutarch evokes the characters of great leaders in history. He systematically pairs a Greek with a Roman, comparing characters and lives with similar careers so as to serve his particular goal of moral instruction. In vivid prose, he describes the awesome spectacle of the actions of men of enormous desires and ambitions responding to impossible situations.
... Read more

16. The Age of Alexander: Nine Greek Lives (Penguin Classics, L286)
by Plutarch
Paperback: 448 Pages (1973-09-30)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$7.27
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Asin: 0140442863
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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This title includes textual and historical notes that supplement a segment of Plutarch's "Lives" which covers the rise of Macedonia. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Age of Alexander and the Life of Dion
"The Age of Alexander" is a collection of some of Plutarch's biographies of famous ancient statesmen. The centrepiece of the book is a biography of Alexander the Great. It also contains the lives of Agesilaus, Pelopidas, Dion, Timoleon, Demosthenes, Phocion, Demetrius and Pyrrhus. In other words, the book is somewhat misnamed, since some of these people lived before the actual age of Alexander.

The most interesting work included in this volume is the Life of Dion, a Syracusan disciple of the philosopher Plato. While Plutarch sympathizes with Dion, it's nevertheless obvious that Dion's regime in Syracuse was oligarchic and anti-democratic. To some extent, it was a military regime based on support from foreign mercenaries. Indeed, Dion even fought a civil war of sorts against the local democrats. Plato's friendship with Dion shows that Plato was no democrat (in case anybody doubted this). That Plato educated Dion and attempted to educate the future tyrant of Syracuse, Dionysius the Younger, clearly shows the aristocratic and oligarchic leanings of this most famous of Western philosophers. Plato may have wrestled with real problems in his political dialogues, but he eventually solved them in all the wrong directions! I found it fascinating to read about Dion's exploits, precisely because this man was the only associate of Plato to take political power and hence the closest thing the Platonists ever came to a "philosopher-king" in real life. It's not a very pretty story.

The rest of the book is, of course, equally interesting.

4-0 out of 5 stars An Open Letter to Penguin Classics:
This is a wonderful book. The translations by Prof. Scott-Kilvert are lively and interesting, especially for undergraduates. But the book is a pain in the neck to use because the editors have not thought it necessary to include an index. I have had to do one myself on the life of Alexander for my students who are using the book in tandem with Arrian's Campaigns of Alexander and Quintus Curtius (both of which are your books, Penguin, and both of which have indexes!).

Penguin, you have tarted up all your other books with new covers, and you have jacked up the prices accordingly, so when you get around to Alexander, who, after all, is the selling point of this eponymous tome, please include an index so that the book will become useful as well as entertaining.

Thank you.

5-0 out of 5 stars Tyranny and democracy
The biographies of nine Greek statesmen in this book are perfectly representative for the eternal battle between tyranny (oligarchy) and democracy, between oppression and freedom, between the few and the many, between the haves and the have-nots. The fighting took place within the Greek city States, but also among themselves and in foreign countries, because the oligarchs (tyrants) tried to export their political system. To make things worse, the tyrants fought among themselves, for `greed is the congenital disease of dynasties'.
This relentless fighting was a disaster for Greece and its population: `Alas, for Greece, how many brave men have you killed with your own hands.'
After all those suicidal wars, at the end of the book, Pyrrhus, king of Epirus, is confronted with a new and formidable imperial power, Rome.

This book contains some astonishing historical corrections. E.g., not all Spartans were killing machines: `those who had shown cowardice in the battle ... had become so numerous that it was feared they might stir up a revolution.' (!)
It shows us Plutarch as a severe critic of the few (`kings set an example of bad faith and treachery ... and believe that the man who shows the least regard for justice will always reap the greatest advantage'), on the side of the many (` (`it s wrong both in human and political terms to try to raise the standard in one section of society by demoralizing another') and as a `dove' (`expansion is superfluous to the well-being of a city').
All in all, it was a period of extreme barbarism. `Dynasties are full of men who murdered their sons, their mothers and their wives, while the murder of brothers had come to be regarded as a recognized precaution to be taken by all rulers to ensure their safety.'
The mother of Alexander the Great, Olympias, took revenge on another widow of his father by roasting her and her infant son.

This book is a must read for all those interested in the history of mankind.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Timeless Classic By One Of The Best Biographers In History
Plutarch in his "Lives Of The Noble Grecians And Romans" written around 100 C.E., sheds new light on Greek and Roman history from their Bronze Age beginnings, shrouded in myth, down through Alexander and late Republican Rome.Plutarch is the lens that we use today to view the Greco-Roman past; his work has shaped our perceptions of that world for 2,000 years.Plutarch writes of the rise of Roman Empire while Gibbon uses his scholarship to advance the story to write about its decline.He was a proud Greek that was equally effected by Roman culture, a Delphic priest, a leading Platonist, a moralist, educator and philosopher with a deep commitment as a first rate writer.Being a Roman citizen, Plutarch was afforded the opportunity to become an intimate friend to prominent Roman citizens and a member of the literary elite in the court of Emperor Trajan.

Plutarch's influence and enormous popularity during and after the Renaissance is legendary among classicist. Plutarch's "Lives", served as the sourcebook for Shakespeare's Roman Plays "Julius Caesar", "Antony and Cleopatra" and "Coriolanus".By the way Plutarch is even the only contemporary source of all the biographical information on Cleopatra, whom he writes about in his biographies of Julius Caesar, Mark Antony and Octavian. Thomas Jefferson wrote to his nephew that there were three books every gentleman had to have familiarity with; Plutarch's "Lives", Livy's "History of Rome" and Virgil's Aeneid.In fact all the founding fathers of note had read Plutarch and learned much from his fifty biographies of noble men of Greece and Rome.When Hamilton, Jay and Madison write "The Federalist Papers" they use many examples of good and bad leadership traits that they read in Plutarch's work.His biographies are a great study in human character and what motivates leaders to decide and act the way they do, this masterpiece has proven to be still prescient today.

If you are truly interested in a classical education, put this book on the top of your list! I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in political philosophy, and history.

5-0 out of 5 stars Some "Lively" Greek Biogs By Plutarch
Plutarch was a Greek scholar living in the Roman Empire. He was not a historian, per se, but rather a biographer who used the lives of famous Greeks and Romans to illustrate strengths and weaknesses of character, how they impacted events, and how events impacted them. He wrote his biographies in pairs, matching a Greek and Roman whose lives, in his view, exemplified common traits or themes. His pairings being generally rather superficial, Penguin has chosen to publish the individual "Lives" in chronological groupings. The nine presented in "The Age Of Alexander" include Plutarch's biography of Alexander the Great along with those of eight famous Greeks from the same period.

Writing during the reigns of Trajan and Hadrian, Plutarch was already dealing with people from hundreds of years in his past. Fortunately for us, as his writing shows, he still had a lot of evidence to draw on. Frequently mentioned are contemporary accounts and, in the case of Alexander, letters written by Alexander himself, which apparently still existed in Plututarch's time. Sometimes he cites more than one source in cases where accounts disagree. The richness of Plutarch's sources is valuable because so much of that ancient source material is now lost.

Plutarch is at his best in describing dramatic events and when commenting on the strengths and weaknesses of his subjects. As reading material, this book could hardly be called a "page-turner" in the contemporary sense of that term, but you don't have to be a student of history to appreciate the dramatic, and often violent, nature of the times and of the lives of the men covered in this collection. Only one of them died in bed. Life was often violent and short, and the violence was gratuitous. A man whose deeds were out of favor might well be treated to the sight of his family being executed before being dispatched himself.

Personally, I'm more a fan of Roman history than the Greeks (although Alexander is certainly a fascinating character), and the Greeks covered in this book are generally much less familiar to me than those of the Romans contained in other volumes. Nevertheless, this is classic literature of a high order. Plutarch is a great storyteller, and his insightful and anecdotal style is never dull. Further, his work is one of those rare examples of ancient writing and scholarship that have survived, and in that sense alone his "Lives" are a treasure. "The Age Of Alexander" isn't the easiest reading you'll find, but it is both interesting and rewarding. It's probably not everyone's cup of tea, but give it a try. You may just find it as enjoyable as I do. ... Read more


17. Plutarch's Morals: ethical essays
by Plutarch Plutarch, A R. 1848-1894 Shilleto
Paperback: 446 Pages (2010-08-17)
list price: US$36.75 -- used & new: US$24.77
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Asin: 1177349930
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This is an EXACT reproduction of a book published before 1923. This IS NOT an OCR'd book with strange characters, introduced typographical errors, and jumbled words.This book may have occasional imperfections such as missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc. that were either part of the original artifact, or were introduced by the scanning process. We believe this work is culturally important, and despite the imperfections, have elected to bring it back into print as part of our continuing commitment to the preservation of printed works worldwide. We appreciate your understanding of the imperfections in the preservation process, and hope you enjoy this valuable book. ... Read more


18. The Children's Plutarch: Tales Of The Greeks (1910)
by F. J. Gould
 Paperback: 190 Pages (2010-09-10)
list price: US$18.36 -- used & new: US$17.90
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Asin: 1164088424
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This scarce antiquarian book is a selection from Kessinger Publishing's Legacy Reprint Series. Due to its age, it may contain imperfections such as marks, notations, marginalia and flawed pages. Because we believe this work is culturally important, we have made it available as part of our commitment to protecting, preserving, and promoting the world's literature. Kessinger Publishing is the place to find hundreds of thousands of rare and hard-to-find books with something of interest for everyone! ... Read more


19. Plutarch: Lives of Noble Grecians and Romans (Modern Library Series, Vol. 1)
by Plutarch
Hardcover: 800 Pages (1992-09-05)
list price: US$24.95 -- used & new: US$85.98
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Asin: 0679600086
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Plutarch's Lives, written at the beginning of the second century A.D., is a brilliant social history of the ancient world by one of the greatest biographers and moralists of all time. In what is by far his most famous and influential work, Plutarch reveals the character and personality of his subjects and how they led ultimately to tragedy or victory. Richly anecdotal and full of detail, Volume I contains profiles and comparisons of Romulus and Theseus, Numa and Lycurgus, Fabius and Pericles, and many more powerful figures of ancient Greece and Rome.

The present translation, originally published in 1683 in conjunction with a life of Plutarch by John Dryden, was revised in 1864 by the poet and scholar Arthur Hugh Clough, whose notes and preface are also included in this edition.


From the Trade Paperback edition. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (13)

4-0 out of 5 stars The "Dryden Translation" that Dryden did not translate...
I have provided a more indepth review of this edition for the Modern Library paperback, but I thought it might be worth repeating one or two comments from that review here.

First, this is called the "Dryden Translation" -- the quotations marks are intentional, because Dryden is not actually the translator.He may have provided some oversight for the translating activity, but the text of the lives were originally translated by others, primarily academics from Oxford and Cambridge.Dryden's one direct contribution is a life of Plutarch which survives here as a few paragraphs at the end of Clough's introduction.The publisher, Jacob Tonson, appears to have used Dryden's name, Dryden was one of his star writers, to gain extra sales.

Secondly, Clough's editiorial work has long been regarded as an improvement on the original, but Clough himself, after having started on the revision, decided he really wanted to start from scratch with a whole new translation.His nineteenth century publishers would not let him do so.As it was, it took him six years to revise the seventeenth century translations of Dryden's academic peers.The result is, nonetheless, quite readable and has been the standard ever since.

Today the Loeb translation is generally regarded as superior (I have not made the comparison myself, but I have seen a review in an academic journal that was written at the time that the Loeb translation first appeared; the side-by-side comparisons in that review were pretty compelling). However, the Loeb is much more expensive and the casual reader should, no doubt, be more than satisfied with this translation.

I felt I needed to add these comments to counter some of the reviews that suggest that Dryden's writing or Clough's editing were superior or inferior based upon what amounts to a reader's casual critique -- a fine thing in its way, but in this case not at all supported by the facts.Hopefully, with this review we may set aside any notions that this is "Clough's trainwreck" or an example of Dryden's fine prose.It is neither.

None of this changes the quality of the work itself.This is still a readable and very good (if not the best) translation of a piece of writing that has its own inherent interests, details of which one may find in other reviews posted here.

5-0 out of 5 stars For the ages' tooth . . .
Twain's pejorative definition of `classic' need not apply.I define classic as that (text) which speaks to the heart over an extended duration - perhaps for several generations, as in `classic rock', or several millennia, as in Plutarch's "Lives".I probably never would have read Plutarch, were it not for a glorious discovery of Montaigne in mid-life. Having acquired enough distaste for the copious demands required to master classical languages after five years of Latin in secondary school, I made an arbitrary and direly misguided vow to eschew all Classics courses at the university level.And thus again is revealed the fateful difference between post-modern (post-1945), and the modern (c. 1500 - August 5, 1945) pedagogy, of which I unwittingly, if serendipitously, caught the tail end.The modern cannon required thorough immersion in the classics, and, for many years, Plutarch was required reading in the best schools, and should be even now.The author of the Shakespearian plays came to Plutarch by way of Montaigne (and likely read the Amyot translation, and only later the North, if at all), and the English schools came to Plutarch by way of Shakespeare.We might say that the revival of Plutarch was one of the most far reaching achievements of the Northern Renaissance.
At one point in his celebrated chronicle of the self, Montaigne (as a shaper and bona fide member of that cannon, guardian of some of what is best in our cultural inheritance) amusedly reveals that, when his critics believe they are attacking his work, they are actually attacking Plutarch and/or Seneca, so profound is their presence in his writing, and, in his "Defense of Plutarch and Seneca", he declares that . . . "my book [is] built up purely from their spoils".

And what a book it is! But Plutarch's magnum (see the 14 volumes of the Loeb Classical Library for his other works), is the greater.Montaigne is one of the great students of the self.Plutarch is the first (and may yet still be the definitive) historian of virtue.Montaigne, in scrutiny of his own nature, seeks to recognize the limitations and potentials of the self, and thereby sketch our general spiritual contours.Plutarch, in an unparalleled series of real life, historically and culturally pivotal, examples, shows us what they are.

The book records in the most remarkably intimate style (Plutarch has few peers as a master of narrative and an uncanny ability to ferret out of detail the significance of individual actions as a unified whole), the major events in the lives of the most impacting figures of the ancient world.Therefore, like the best novels, the book forms a world in itself, a lost world, the world of our ancestors, through a landscape drawn of actions and consequences.The structure of the book is such that an account of the seminal moments in the life of a noble Greek and then of a noble Roman are brought forth in pairs, followed by a comparison.In some sections of the work these comparisons are absent.They appear at some point in antiquity to have either been lost to or removed from the text, which would seem to explain why, for instance, there is no comparison of Alexander and Caesar. But the comparisons are brilliant, and eminently instructive.

Of course, from the details alone, we may draw our own inferences.Alexander, as a mere teen, leading his troops in hand-to-hand combat, won his first battle fighting uphill at night.Caesar, a heavy drinker, was wont to ride horseback at full tilt with his hands clenched behind his back.He had a life-long passion for Cato's sister and it is said that from their relationship, which continued through their respective marriages, Brutus was born.Et tu?Of course, one cannot fail to mention, even in this briefest review of the abundantly rich description in the nearly 1,300 pages which comprise the book, the death of Cato the Younger - one of the most exquisitely drawn figures in the book.Hunted down with the remnants of his troops into the wastelands of Carthage by the army of Octavius Ceasar in an effort to snuff out the last vestiges of republican resistance andopposition to Empire, realizing that the last realistic hope for freedom is lost, Cato attempts ritual suicide (a Stoic custom common to Roman nobility) by disembowelment.As Plutarch describes the scene, ". . . he did not immediately die of the wound; but struggling, fell off the bed, and throwing down a little mathematical table that stood by, made such a noise that the servants, hearingit, cried out. And immediately his son and all his friends came into the chamber, where, seeing him lie weltering in his own blood, great part of his bowels out of his body, but himself still alive and able to look at them, they all stood in horror.The physician went to him, and would have put in his bowels, which were not pierced, and sewed up the wound; but Cato, recovering himself, and understanding the intention, thrust away the physician, plucked out his own bowels, and tearing open the wound, immediately expired."In Seneca's words: "For Cato could not outlive freedom, nor would freedom outlive Cato."

However, the life most appropriate for the contemporary reader, I feel (and wish that every member of the shadowy corporate/military junta that seems to be ruling us these days would read and take to heart) is the life of Crassus.Crassus was the most successful businessman in the history of the Roman Empire.Plutarch relates that at one time he owned virtually one-third of the real estate in Rome.However, such mind-boggling success was not enough for him.His yen, and later, obsession, was to be revered as a great military leader, a world conqueror, expand the domain of the already burgeoning Empire, and the object of his fantasies was the area of the world at that time known as Mesopotamia and Persia, today as Iraq and Iran.We follow as he makes extensive preparations, investing his own fortune and a great deal of the nation's wealth into outfitting an army for the venture.And at first, the invasion of Mesopotamia seems to go well.But the centers of population are spread out over great stretches of desert, and the occupation never really succeeds, because a central authority cannot be solidly established.Crassus, however, remains undaunted, even though the troops are becoming mutinous as supplies begin to run thin.Led on by treacherous advisors, he enters Parthia (somewhere in the vicinity of modern day Syria).Plutarch describes the grueling denouement with his usual detachment, aplomb, and gifted eye for pertinent detail.Having lost the greatest fortune in the world, he proceeds to lose his troops, then his sons, and finally his life.These lessons are never too late for the learning, and my apologies to Twain, but a classic is a text which retains its urgency to be read, and read now.

I read the Dryden/Clough translation.Dryden was never my favorite writer of his period, the late 17th century - hardly a match for Burton or Milton, in my opinion, but he was poet laureate, and this work I love - his English is fine, and resonates with classic dignity.Clough, the mid-nineteenth century British scholar who revised the translation, befriended Emerson when he traveled to England, and became a sort of mentor to the New England Transcendentalists in general. We can be grateful for such a wonderful rendering for one of the very greatest and most edifying masterpieces.

5-0 out of 5 stars Plutarch's "Lives" Lives!
This is an astonishing volume. Who would have expected a "page turner" out of a tome written in the 2nd century A.D.? So much for cultural and temporal hubris--this is magnificent reading.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Timeless Classic By One Of The Best Biographers In History
Plutarch in his "Lives Of The Noble Grecians And Romans" written around 100 C.E., sheds new light on Greek and Roman history from their Bronze Age beginnings, shrouded in myth, down through Alexander and late Republican Rome.Plutarch is the lens that we use today to view the Greco-Roman past; his work has shaped our perceptions of that world for 2,000 years.Plutarch writes of the rise of Roman Empire while Gibbon uses his scholarship to advance the story to write about its decline.He was a proud Greek that was equally effected by Roman culture, a Delphic priest, a leading Platonist, a moralist, educator and philosopher with a deep commitment as a first rate writer.Being a Roman citizen, Plutarch was afforded the opportunity to become an intimate friend to prominent Roman citizens and a member of the literary elite in the court of Emperor Trajan.

Plutarch's influence and enormous popularity during and after the Renaissance is legendary among classicist. Plutarch's "Lives", served as the sourcebook for Shakespeare's Roman Plays "Julius Caesar", "Antony and Cleopatra" and "Coriolanus".By the way Plutarch is even the only contemporary source of all the biographical information on Cleopatra, whom he writes about in his biographies of Julius Caesar, Mark Antony and Octavian. Thomas Jefferson wrote to his nephew that there were three books every gentleman had to have familiarity with; Plutarch's "Lives", Livy's "History of Rome" and Virgil's Aeneid.In fact all the founding fathers of note had read Plutarch and learned much from his fifty biographies of noble men of Greece and Rome.When Hamilton, Jay and Madison write "The Federalist Papers" they use many examples of good and bad leadership traits that they read in Plutarch's work.His biographies are a great study in human character and what motivates leaders to decide and act the way they do, this masterpiece has proven to be still prescient today.

If you are truly interested in a classical education, put this book on the top of your list! I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in political philosophy, and history.

2-0 out of 5 stars Out of date translation of a timeless classic
It is a shame that such an interesting, and historicaly valuable work such as Plutarch's lives is so difficult for modern readers.Though many others have commented on how difficult this English is for the modern reader, consider the following quote taken at random, from the first two sentences of the life of the Roman Camillus:

Among the many remarkable things that are related of Furius Camillus, it seems singular and strange above all, that he, who continually was in the highest commands, and obtained the greatest successes, was five times chosen dictator, triumphed four times, and was styled a second founder of Rome, yet never was so much as once consul. The reason of which was the state and temper of the commonwealth at that time; for the people, being at dissension with the senate, refused to return consuls, but in their stead elected other magistrates, called military tribunes, who acted, indeed, with full consular power, but were thought to exercise a less obnoxious amount of authority, because it was divided among a larger number; for to have the management of affairs entrusted in the hands of six persons rather than two was some satisfaction to the opponents of oligarchy.

Ugh.And on it goes.The North translation is even worse, to my ear.The best translation that I've found is the Loeb Classical Library.However, they are spread across eleven volumes, making for a very expensive acquisition. ... Read more


20. Alexander The Great: Selections From Arrian, Diodorus, Plutarch, And Quintus Curtius
by Arrian, Diodorus Siculus, Plutarch, Quintus Curtius Rufus
Paperback: 193 Pages (2005-04-15)
list price: US$10.95 -- used & new: US$8.02
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Asin: 0872207277
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Comprised of relevant selections from the writings of four ancient historians, this volume provides a complete narrative of the important events in the life of Alexander the Great. The Introduction sets these works in historical context, from the conclusion of the Peloponnesian War through AlexanderÂ’s conquest of Asia, and provides an assessment of AlexanderÂ’s historical importance, as well as a survey of the central controversies surrounding his personality, aims and intentions. Includes a timeline, maps, bibliography, glossary, and index. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Quite a good primary source document
This compelation of exerpts from all the major ancient sources that realte to Alexander the Great is a good source if you require a compact straight forward document on Alexander's highlights. Although it doesn't replace the full editions of the books it quotes from, it is a very handy - and inexpensive - source book that can be very handy if you don't want to wade through reams of pages of evidence. It can also give you an idea of a starting point to look at in the full editions.

5-0 out of 5 stars The "GREATEST" OF THE "GREAT"
Alexander the Great, was born on or around July 20, 356 B.C.E., and is my favorite personality to read about in history. To me he is the whole package general, statesman, conqueror, and philosopher. The smartest man who ever lived, Aristotle, tutored him. Alexander conquered more of the known world than any other figure in history, accomplishing all this before he dies at the ripe old age of 33. Some people called him conqueror and violent overlord. Some other called him civilizer and even God! All of them yet, called him "The Great". He was the first man in modern history that took this name, "The Great"! Even as a young boy, he shows great promise.

Diodorus a Greek historian who lived from 80-20 BCE wrote 40 books of world history. He is an uncritical compiler who used good sources and produced them faithfully. His work is one of the oldest works available and is based on eyewitness accounts. He does a better job than most in explaining the battle scenes, and seems to be more balanced in his admiration and criticism of Alexander then any of the other early biographers. I love his Bucephalus Story, and I recount it here so you get a flavor of the promise this young Alexander shows.

The legend begins with Philoneicus, a Thessalian, bringing a wild horse to Philip for him to buy. None of the hands was able to handle it, and Philip grew upset at Philoneicus for bringing such an unstable horse to him. Alexander, however, publicly defied his father and claimed that he could handle the horse. The bet between Philip and Alexander was that if Alexander could ride the horse, Philip would buy it, if not, Alexander would have to pay the price of the horse, which was 13 talents, an enormous sum for a boy of Alexander's age to have.

Alexander apparently noticed that the horse had been shying away from its own shadow, and so he led it gently into the sun, so that its shadow was behind it, all the while stroking it gently and whispering into its ear, (Alexander seems to be the original horse whisperer). Eventually the horse let Alexander mount him, and Alexander was able to show his equestrian skill to his father and all who were watching. The incident so impressed Alexander's father, King Philip that he told the boy "Look thee out a kingdom equal to and worthy of you, for Macedonia is too little for thee". He named the horse Bucephalus, which means Ox head, and rode it across Asia, founding a city in its honor in India after its death. This story gives you an inkling about the man.

This book is a necessary read for students of Alexander, I also recommend Plutarch's and Arrian's work, and from contemporary writers, J. F. C. Fuller and Tarn. Most of Alexander's greatest military traits are in the area of military logistics and to understand his genius in this area I highly recommend reading, "Alexander the Great and the Logistics of the Macedonian Army," by Donald W. Engels.

As a retired U. S. Army Major, I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in ancient warfare, and history.


4-0 out of 5 stars Abbreviated Journey w/ the Ancient Chroniclers
In what can only be described as historic irony, the short and tumultuous career of Alexander I of Macedonia marked the start of the slow decline of direct Greek participation within the scope of ancient-world politics; but it also ushered in the period of that civilization's most profound cultural influence. In just a dozen years, the Mediterranean world had changed forever, the political landscape reshuffled and its known boundaries expanded. But just as pioneers in any field are beholden to those who came before, the world's first great conqueror displayed many values of the ancient society from which he sprang and paid homage to several ideals that pervaded the culture of ancient Greece from its prehistory to his own time. This work is an annotated journey through Alexander's life as recounted by the ancient chroniclers Arrian, Diodorus, Plutarch, and Quitus Curtius. It is not modernized, or summarized. It is a true historian's read, not a popular manifestation of Alexander's story. Like reading Herodotus or Thucydides, it is history written by historians who are, themselves, a part of history. That being said, everything we know (or think we know) about Alexander was recorded by these chroniclers. This is the historical basis of the popular image of Alexander.

And what about that image? Ironically, the very act of bridging the gap between civilizations and exposing the world to more and more scrutiny that, in the end, is Alexander's most important legacy, was the very mechanism that insured that he would never become a god in the ancient tradition. Alexander was a transitional figure in history - both a destroyer of old values and the creator of new ones. Like the great Colossus of Rhodes, Alexander's life bestrides the strait dividing the ancient world from its next incarnation, the Hellenistic Age, the era that - thanks to Alexander and no other - introduced the enduring values of ancient Greece to the known world and beyond. ... Read more


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