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The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans, Vol 1

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  64 ratings  ·  12 reviews
Plutarch's 'Parallel Lives, ' written at the beginning of the second century A.D., form a brilliant social history of the ancient world. They were originally presented in a series of books that gave an account ofone Greek and one Roman life, followed by a comparison of the two: Theseus and Romulus, Alcibiades and Coriolanus, Demosthenes and Cicero, Demetrius and Antony. Pl ...more
ebook, 800 pages
Published November 1st 2000 by Modern Library
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Plutarch examines the lives of a famous Greek and famous Roman then compares the two. Alright, it sounds dry, but Plutarch just isn't a good biographer, he's also an astute student of human behavior with a keen eye for seeing and understanding of societies with a good mix of psychology.

He focuses on events that highlights his subjects character, whether for good or ill, so I don't recommend him for an in depth study of history. That said, his examination of the subject's life does provide a good
It is a shame that such an interesting, and historically 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 us, 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 gr
Juka Pakatsoshvili
Lycurgus is just brilliant. and after all of this we think that our world is on the peak of development? Jesus, they were genius. Sparta had a potential, but governing system was so strict that it was impossible people to obey everything. I like the way they get married and their laconic speeches. and the end is even more fascinating, Lycurgus died just for his rules (it kind of remindes me Socrates). his death made them active for a long time. but still there are things that are too strict, for ...more
I'm just reading bits and pieces of this, mostly the parts that were the sources for Shakespeare's plays. Don't know if I'll ever go through it systematically, but there's some juicy stuff in here, in the vein of, "Mark Antony spent his teen years drinking and whoring in the streets of Rome, then had to run off to Greece because he had $2 million in gambling debts." Modern politicians and generals don't really have those kinds of biographies.
Plutarch's Lives is a great opportunity to learn more about Greek and Roman personalities, as well as some of the eccentricities of those eras. Plutarch was a major source for Shakespeare's Greek/Roman-based plays, and Lycurgus is very commonly cited/alluded as a wise lawgiver or for a utopian state (e.g., in Gulliver's Travels). The profiles can be tedious at times, but it's worthy reading. Volume 2 has more of the well known figures.
Faith Bradham
Plutarch's Lives is completely awesome.
You don't really like thinking of Julius Caesar as such a perverted guy, but there you go. It's also very nice to see that Caligula and Nero were perverted, b/c they were so gross. Hmm, that doesn't make sense. O well, welcome to my nonsensical head. :)
James Violand
Jul 03, 2014 James Violand rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone.
Shelves: own
In my opinion, the best book of the ancient world. Biographies of the greatest of the Greeks juxtaposed with the greatest of the Romans to teach that virtue is a noble pursuit. Very entertaining. One of my favorite books of all time.
Jan 14, 2009 X is currently reading it
While far from a reliable historical source, it is a book which gives color to history and its figures, providing both hilarious and inspiration anecdotes. Even though much of the book may not be true, it is a great work even as a work of fiction.
The lives read more like literature than history. Overall, easy reading with a lot of material regarding society.
Not much to say but have read 3x and mostly for papers, I know I will be reading it again
Max Magbee
A somewhat laborious read, but fascinating nonetheless.
Not bad, for a translation.
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Plutarch (Greek: Πλούταρχος) later named, on his becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus (Greek: Λούκιος Μέστριος Πλούταρχος) c. AD 46 - 120, was a Greek biographer, essayist, priest, ambassador, magistrate, and Middle Platonist. Plutarch was born to a prominent family in Chaeronea, Boeotia, a town about twenty miles east of Delphi. His oeuvre consists of the Parallel Lives and the Mo ...more
More about Plutarch...
Plutarch's Lives, Volume 1 The Fall of the Roman Republic: Six Lives Plutarch's Lives, Volume 2 Makers of Rome: Nine Lives The Age of Alexander: Nine Greek Lives

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“He who least likes courting favour, ought also least to think of resenting neglect; to feel wounded at being refused a distinction can only arise from an overweening appetite to have it.” 3 likes
“Antipater, in a letter written upon the death of Aristotle, the philosopher, observes, "Amongst his other gifts he had that of persuasiveness"; and the absence of this in the character of Marcius made all his great actions and noble qualities unacceptable to those whom they benifited: pride, and self-will, the consort, as Plato calls it, of solitude, made him insufferable. With the skill which Alcibiades, on the contrary, possessed to treat every one in the way most agreeable to him, we cannot wonder that all his successes were attended with the most exuberant favour and honour; his very errors, at time, being accompanied by something of grace and felicity. And so in spite of great and frequent hurt that he had done the city, he was repeatedly appointed to office and command; while Coriolanus stood in vain for a place which his great services had made his due. The one, in spite of the harm he occasioned, could not make himself hated, nor the other, with all the admiration he attracted, succeed in being beloved by his countrymen.” 2 likes
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