Aug 05, 13
Read in May, 2007
Plutarch's work is a set of short paired biographies of Greek and Roman leaders, with essays comparing the two. If you want to know who Themistocles and Solon were, or how they were remembered, this is the key source.
Plutarch is rich with anecdotes, many of which have shaped our views of the leaders he discusses. Many of the stories are too good to be true, and Plutarch will often give three versions, and cite his sources for each, and discuss which are most plausible.
Dover here is reprinting a mid-19th century update of a 17th century translation. As a result, the prose is reasonably modern, and the main barrier to modern readers is Plutarch's habit of throwing around names that meant something to his readers, and not to us. It's initially jarring, but once you adapt to it, the narrative flows smoothly.