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Plutarch's Lives, Vol 1 (Plutarch's Lives #1)

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4.06  ·  Rating Details ·  4,106 Ratings  ·  104 Reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 766 pages
Published April 10th 2001 by Modern Library (first published 100)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Darwin8u
Jan 12, 2016 Darwin8u rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
"...beyond this there is nothing but prodigies and fictions, the only inhabitants are the poets and inventors of fables" Plutarch, The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans, Vol 1.

description

Plutarch, one of the great early biographers summarizes the lives of Greek and Roman military and political leaders and compares them to illuminate the virtues and failings of their leadership. Vol 1., includes the following micro-biographies and comparisons:

Theseus v. Romulus
Lycurgus v. Numa Pompilius
Solon v. Poplico
...more
Mahdi
وقتى روميان شهر "گزانتوس" را تصرف كردند، اهالى شهر شبانه حمله كرده دژكوبهاى رومى را آتش زدند. آتش سرايت كرد و خانههاى مجاور را در بر گرفت. "ماركوس بروتوس" فرمانده روم، كه مى ترسيد تمام شهر طعمه حريق شود، فرمان داد سربازانش به كمك شهر بشتابند، اما ناگاه چنان خشم و جنونى بر اهالى شهر غلبه كرد كه قابل بيان نيست. بزرگ و كوچك از همه سو، از بالاى بامها، بر سر سربازان رومى كه در صدد نجات شهر بودند، سنگ و آجر مىزدند، و نه فقط همين، بلكه تا مىتوانستند چوب و هيزم در آتش مىريختند تا لهيب آن تمام شهر را فرا ...more
Stupac
Feb 04, 2009 Stupac rated it really liked it
Plutarch's lives are an excellent place to start for a cursory study of the classical world. Plutarch of Chaeronia (in Greece) in the days of the Roman Empire was not contemporary with many of the figures he biographizes, but draws heavily from primary sources and oral traditions no longer extant. Don't forget also that he was a priest at the temple of Apollo at Delphi, so the predictions (and overriding theme of fate and the occasional miracle) of the famous oracle there play a heavy role in ma ...more
Robert Sheppard
WHAT EVERY EDUCATED CITIZEN OF THE WORLD NEEDS TO KNOW IN THE 21ST CENTURY: THE GREAT HISTORIANS OF WORLD HISTORY--HERODOTUS, THUCYDIDES, SIMA QIAN, IBN KHALDUN, THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE MONGOLS, JULIUS CAESAR, PLUTARCH, LIVY, POLYBIUS, TACITUS, GIBBON, MARX, SPENGLER & TOYNBEE----FROM THE WORLD LITERATURE FORUM RECOMMENDED CLASSICS AND MASTERPIECES SERIES VIA GOODREADS—-ROBERT SHEPPARD, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF




"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." is an apt admonition to
...more
Yann
Ce n'est pas assez que le temps mutile les ouvrages: certains éditeurs font profession de trafiquer des abrégés qui ne s'annoncent pas comme tels. Heureusement, ce n'est pas le cas de ce livre, qui rend au lecteur la plus grande partie de l'œuvre majeur de Plutarque. Pourquoi écarter Lycurgue, Numa, Solon, Thémistocle ou Périclès au profit de César, d'Alexandre, d'Alcibiade ou de Coriolan ? C'est mon livre préféré. Les vies des personnages les plus marquants de l'antiquité, sur une période couvr ...more
Greg
Jan 26, 2009 Greg rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
James
Mar 23, 2009 James rated it really liked it
Plutarch, of course, was one of the most influential authors of all time. His biographies of famous Greeks and Romans and his comparisons of their lives, were read with enthusiasm by classical scholars from the time they were written near the end of his life early in the second century A.D. He was likely the most important classical author read in Europe during the Middle Ages, and undoubtedly influenced Chaucer and Shakespeare as well as many other great literary figures. He was, to a large deg ...more
Steve Hemmeke
Mar 08, 2014 Steve Hemmeke rated it liked it
I only read the first six or so lives, not the whole thing.

Plutarch, a Greek living in Roman times, compares famous Greeks and Romans. His focus is political and military. How does one shape the state best? Where lies wisdom and prosperity as a city-state?

We find a mixture of virtue and vice upheld as worthy of pursuit. By gods grace granted even to pagan unbelievers, Plutarch extols moderation and courage and self-restraint.

- "Neither ships nor riches and ornaments nor boasting shouts, nor barb
...more
Rob
(too old to rate) If Thucydides and Heterodotus are credited with establishing the Western conception of history, Plutarch is the founder of the form of biography. From a contemporary perspective Plutarch's biographies aren't all that successful -- beyond whatever factual inaccuracies there must be, from a literary perspective they tend to become either morality plays pitting a heroic leader against the envious people he rules over or slogs through repetitive accounts of battles and omens. Still ...more
Steven Peterson
Oct 13, 2009 Steven Peterson rated it really liked it
One of the devices of Plutarch is to draw comparisons between the famous Greeks and later Romans. For instance, the first sketch in this version features the Athenian Theseus. Plutarch equates him to a Roman founder, Romulus.

There is the story of Themistocles, whose talents helped to defeat the Persian fleet at Salamis and whose strategizing was a key part of the Greeks' overall victory. There is also the tale of the unhappiness that he faced afterwards, including the ironic flight from Athens.
...more
Sylvia
My percentage of reading is based on the selection I wanted to read as part of the first year of reading of Great Books of the Western World.

Plutarch compares the lawgiving ways of Lycurgus and Numa Pompilius, after he has told their seperate lives. Lycurgus was a king who left the crown to his nephew and spend his whole life to reorganize the laws of Sparta and make his inhabitants a fierce tribe, who defended their country. Numa Pompilius was asked to take the crown and reformed the city of Ro
...more
Victoria
May 03, 2012 Victoria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: st-john-s-reads
My favorite section in this book, and one of my favorite reads of the curriculum this year, was that of Lycurgus and the society he built in Sparta. The culture of minimal legislation, common possessions, few words, and more leisure is such a foreign lifestyle, and I still think about it often. I'm still left pondering how it is necessary to have community in order to have happiness and whether it is necessary to isolate ourselves in order to have the best community.

Another fun topic of discuss
...more
Keeko
Jul 10, 2012 Keeko rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You can see why this book is still being read 2,000 years, give or take a few. I would give it 10 stars if I could. Cover to cover adventure, passion, betrayal, heart, and humor. You can tell how much he loved the characters because he brings them to life. I teared up a bit when I finished it because I didn't want to leave them. And as a side note, every time now when I hear a politician or political strategist praised for a brilliant tactic or for "remaking the political landscape," I'll be thi ...more
Chris Wolfington
Feb 23, 2015 Chris Wolfington rated it it was amazing
This review is for the whole series of Plutarch's lives.

It is not for beginners on classical history, as the names of people and places will be unfamiliar to newbies, and the Lives are often written in the context of greater historical events.

Other than that, this book is one of the best works to come down from antiquity. Plutarch writes biographies on some of the most prominent ancient Greeks, Macedonians, and Romans, and there's a life of a Persian king thrown in for good measure. He is not a
...more
Dayla
Plutarch's Lives turns out to be nothing about Plutarch's life. Instead he summarizes and compares Greeks with Romans. It was not with excitement that I read this book, even his comparisons start with one story legend vs. another story legend. In all, it was quite tedious to get through--that is until one gets to the part about slave girls wearing only a toga that covered their behinds and their breasts. Men would take as they pleased as often as they pleased.

And I say, what part of this behavio
...more
umberto
Jan 15, 2011 umberto rated it liked it
In fact I read only one on Cicero (in Lives 2) since I'm interested in his life as described and analyzed by Plutarch. I found it a bit tough due to Dryden's style of translation, that is, his Victorian-style lengthy sentences.

In this Lives 2, I'm going to read on Pericles whose famous funeral speech at Athens as recorded in History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides has long impressed me.
Siddhartha
Mar 05, 2015 Siddhartha rated it it was amazing
Maravilloso libro, sin dudas la idea de Plutarco de hacer un estudio comparado de los caracteres de los grandes hombres de la antigüedad así como de los comportamientos viciosos de otros, ha sido, es y sera un manual de ética para los seres humanos de todos los tiempos(no en vano Napoleón, Benjamín Franklin, Rousseau, Montesquieu entre otros recibieron un influjo tan grande de este magnifico libro)

Wonderful book, undoubtedly the idea of Plutarch to make a comparative study of the characters of t
...more
John
Aug 22, 2016 John marked it as to-read
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jim
Jan 12, 2015 Jim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Plutarch, an author writing in the 1st and 2nd century CE, has written a set of mini-biographies, 23 in all, covering some of the most interesting characters in ancient history. His is one of the most common names that appear as a reference for classical history. There are four volumes to these parallel lives series (comparing and contrasting famous Greek and Roman people) in which the deeds and morals of these men are described and critically examined. Fourteen of these biographies are discusse ...more
Sharon
Feb 13, 2015 Sharon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I like this translation of Plutarch so much that I've started to read it again. Along with stories of famous and/or infamous Greek generals and legendary figures, Plutarch mentions several playwrights, poets, philosophers, and other historians throughout the text. I recommend reading some of the tragedians and philosophers of Ancient Greece and alternating between them and this history. It adds interest to know about the people that get frequent albeit multiple brief mentions.

Of particular fa
...more
Þróndr
"Now himselfe confesseth in some place, that when he began this worke, at the first it was but to profit others; but that afterwards it was to profit himselfe, looking upon those histories, as if he had looked in a glasse, and seeking to reform his life in some sort, and to forme it in the mould of the vertues of these great men; taking this fashion of searching their manners, and writing the Lives of these noble men, to be a familiar haunting and frequenting of them. Also he thought, [said he h ...more
Matt
Nov 14, 2010 Matt rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Dense. And not a lot of fun.

Plutarch, a Greek in the first century A.D. who later became a Roman citizen, drafted his Lives as a moral inquiry. He selected from history a well-known Greek and a well-known Roman and wrote briefly on each. He then concludes with a couple pages comparing their lives in terms of who can be thought of as a better man- in terms of generalship, politics or whichever other quality he feels is most comparable between them. Today, these comparisons have been collected int
...more
Patrick
Jul 10, 2011 Patrick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazon Review:

This book was the principal source for Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, Coriolanus, and Antony and Cleopatra. It was also one of two books Mary Shelley chose for the blind hermit to use for Frankenstein's monster's education, with the other being the Bible.

Plutarch's Lives remains one of the world's most profoundly influential literary works. Written at the beginning of the second century, it forms a brilliant social history of the ancient world. His "parallel lives" were originally pr
...more
Nicholas Spies
Mar 25, 2013 Nicholas Spies rated it it was amazing
Plutarch is one of the chief sources of our knowledge of the personalities that peopled the classical world. What makes this book of paramount importance to read is not that it presents the lives of people who would otherwise not be known to us: It is important because from each portrait--many written hundreds of years after their subject had walked the Earth--he derives a distillation of what it means to have a worthy character, worthy enough to have been remembered already for hundreds of year ...more
Russell
Dec 23, 2013 Russell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Kenneth
Jun 30, 2007 Kenneth rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone
Plutarch is one of the more interesting philosophers of Antiquity. He's a moralist, that is a philosopher late enough into the tradition that instead of arguing beliefs about the universe he's focused more on what the individual should do with himself in light of these various traditions, especially Middle Platonism. The other half of his work are the essays of the Moralia, which are intended to explain how to live a good life. The Lives are built more on the idea of teaching by example, by tell ...more
Cassandra Kay Silva
Volume one has a vast collection of hero's of ancient Greece and Rome from Theseus to Pericles and Romulus himself. You get a good feel for the lives of many of the statesmen and consuls of Rome as well as a number of rulers of various at various points in Early Roman history. You also get to hear something of the Spartan states in the tales of Lycurgus and others. I think the layout was a bit unexpected. Instead of taking you through the typical historical linear course he chooses two men and f ...more
Bernard Norcott-mahany
Though Plutarch's Lives are chock full of information (not all of it reliable) and so are a great source about ancient Greek and Roman history, reading Plutarch feels a lot like sitting in a lecture hall listening to some old guy gas on about history. There are some great moments in the work, but the work as a whole feels like some guy droning on and on and on...
The translation I read, which was overseen by Dryden (the translation is sometimes credited to Dryden, but he did not do all the work,
...more
Stan
Nov 12, 2015 Stan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a good initiation to the ancient Greek and Roman societies. It is by no means an exhaustive review, but it is a good starting place. Very eye opening for me; one who has studied very little of these ancient societies. I only read selected lives: Solon, Poplicola, Fabius, Aristides, Marcus Cato, Lysander, Cato the Younger, Tiberius Gracchus, and Caius Gracchus. You could spend much time here and it would not be wasted.
Megan
Jun 20, 2014 Megan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
These are fun, short biographies. As stories, they are easy to read, and the breezy comparison sections give an enlightening insight into the sort of person Plutarch was as well. As history, they are a little tricky for the casual reader. There are no dates, so I have literally NO idea when anything happened. Even when talking about a person I've learned about before, I was at a loss as to where this person falls in context of everyone else. Also, there are a lot of long Latin names and longer G ...more
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  • A History of My Times
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Plutarch, later named, upon becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus; (AD 46 – AD 120) was a Greek historian, biographer, and essayist, known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia. He is classified as a Middle Platonist. Plutarch's surviving works were written in Greek, but intended for both Greek and Roman readers.


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Plutarch's Lives (2 books)
  • Plutarch's Lives, Vol 2

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“[Theseus] soon found himself involved in factions and troubles; those who long had hated him had now added to their hatred contempt; and the minds of the people were so generally corrupted, that, instead of obeying commands with silence, they expected to be flattered into their duty.” 4 likes
“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
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