Plutarch's Lives

Plutarch's best-known work is the Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans, commonly called Parallel Lives or Plutarch's Lives, a series of 48 biographies of famous men, arranged in pairs to illuminate their common moral virtues or failings, probably written at the beginning of the second century AD. Some consider these to be more of an insight into human nature than a pure historical account. The surviving Parallel Lives (Greek: Β?οι Παρ?λληλοι, Bíoi Parálleloi) comprises 23 pairs of biographies, each pair consisting of one Greek and one Roman of similar destiny, such as Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar, or Demosthenes and Cicero, as well as four unpaired single lives. It is a work of considerable importance, not only as a source of information about the individuals described, but also about the times in which they lived.

As is explained in the opening paragraph of his Life of Alexander, Plutarch was not concerned with history so much as the influence of character, good or bad, on the lives and destinies of men. Whereas sometimes he barely touched on epoch-making events, he devoted much space to charming anecdote and incidental triviality, reasoning that this often said far more for his subjects than even their most famous accomplishments. He sought to provide rounded portraits, likening his craft to that of a painter; indeed, he went to tremendous lengths (often leading to tenuous comparisons) to draw parallels between physical appearance and moral character. In many ways, he must be counted amongst the earliest moral philosophers.

Some of the Lives, such as those of HeraclesPhilip II of MacedonEpaminondasScipio AfricanusScipio Aemilianus and possibly Quintus Caecilius Metellus Numidicus no longer exist; many of the remaining Lives are truncated, contain obvious lacunae or have been tampered with by later writers. Extant Lives include those on SolonThemistoclesAristidesAgesilaus IIPericlesAlcibiadesNiciasDemosthenesPelopidasPhilopoemenTimoleonDion of SyracuseEumenesAlexander the GreatPyrrhus of EpirusRomulusNuma PompiliusCoriolanusTheseusAemilius PaullusTiberius GracchusGaius GracchusGaius MariusSullaSertoriusLucullusPompeyJulius CaesarCiceroCato the ElderMark Antony, and Marcus Junius Brutus.

 

English translations

Plutarch's Lives were translated into English, from Amyot's version, by Sir Thomas North in 1579. The complete Moralia was first translated into English from the original Greek by Philemon Holland in 1603.

In 1683, John Dryden began a life of Plutarch and oversaw a translation of the Lives by several hands and based on the original Greek. This translation has been reworked and revised several times, most recently in the 19th century by the English poet and classicist Arthur Hugh Clough (first published in 1859). One contemporary publisher of this version is Modern Library. Another is Encyclopædia Britannica in association with the University of Chicago, ISBN 0-85229-163-9, 1952, LCCN 55-10323.

In 1770, English brothers John and William Langhorne published "Plutarch's Lives from the original Greek, with notes critical and historical, and a new life of Plutarch" in 6 volumes and dedicated to Lord Folkestone. Their translation was re-edited by Archdeacon Wrangham in the year 1819.

From 1901 to 1912, an American classicist, Bernadotte Perrin,[54] produced a new translation of the Lives for the Loeb Classical Library. The Moralia is also included in the Loeb series, translated by various authors.

Penguin Classics began a series of translations by various scholars in 1958 with The Fall of the Roman Republic, which contained six Lives and was translated by Rex Warner.[55] Penguin continues to revise the volumes.

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23 Items found Print
Children's Plutarch: Tales of the Greeks
by F. J. Gould
from Yesterday's Classics
Greek History Reference for 4th-8th grade
in Classics Retold (Location: FIC-RET)
$9.95
Children's Plutarch: Tales of the Romans
by F. J. Gould, Reteller
from Yesterday's Classics
for 4th-8th grade
in Classics Retold (Location: FIC-RET)
$9.95
Fall of the Roman Republic
by Plutarch, translated by Rex Warner, introduction and notes by Robin Seager
Revised from Penguin Classics
for 10th-Adult
in Ancient Literature (Location: LIT1-ANC)
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Greek Lives
by Plutarch, translated by Robin Waterfield
1st Reissue from Oxford University
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in Ancient Literature (Location: LIT1-ANC)
$13.95
Lawgivers
by Plutarch, Translated by C. Scot Hicks and David V. Hicks, Foreword by Karen Glass
from Circe Institute
for 10th-Adult
in Ancient Literature (Location: LIT1-ANC)
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Plutarch Project Volume 1
by Anne E. White
Revised from Anne E. White
for 9th-Adult
in Ancient Literature (Location: LIT1-ANC)
Plutarch Project Volume 10
by Anne E. White
1st edition from Anne E. White
for 9th-Adult
in Ancient Literature (Location: LIT1-ANC)
Plutarch Project Volume 2
by Anne E. White
Revised from Anne E. White
for 9th-Adult
in Ancient Literature (Location: LIT1-ANC)
Plutarch Project Volume 3
by Anne E. White
Revised from Anne E. White
for 9th-Adult
in Ancient Literature (Location: LIT1-ANC)
Plutarch Project Volume 4
by Anne E. White
1st edition from Anne E. White
for 9th-Adult
in Ancient Literature (Location: LIT1-ANC)
Plutarch Project Volume 5
by Anne E. White
1st edition from Anne E. White
for 9th-Adult
in Ancient Literature (Location: LIT1-ANC)
Plutarch Project Volume 6
by Anne E. White
1st edition from Anne E. White
for 9th-Adult
in Ancient Literature (Location: LIT1-ANC)
Plutarch Project Volume 7
by Anne E. White
1st edition from Anne E. White
for 9th-Adult
in Ancient Literature (Location: LIT1-ANC)
Plutarch Project Volume 8
by Anne E. White
1st edition from Anne E. White
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Plutarch Project Volume 9
by Anne E. White
1st edition from Anne E. White
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Plutarch's Lives
by Plutarch
from Biblo and Tannen
for Adult
in Ancient Literature (Location: LIT1-ANC)
$24.00 (1 in stock)
Plutarch's Lives Volume I
by Plutarch, translated by John Dryden
from Modern Library
Biography for 9th-Adult
in Ancient Literature (Location: LIT1-ANC)
$19.00
Plutarch's Lives Volume I
by Plutarch, translated by John Dryden
from Modern Library
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in Ancient Literature (Location: LIT1-ANC)
$20.00 $15.00 (1 in stock)
Plutarch's Lives Volume II
by Plutarch, translated by John Dryden
from Modern Library
Biography for 11th-Adult
in Ancient Literature (Location: LIT1-ANC)
$18.00
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by Anne E. White
1st edition from Anne E. White
for 9th-Adult
in Ancient Literature (Location: LIT1-ANC)
Rise and Fall of Athens
by Plutarch, translated by Ian Scott-Kilvert
from Penguin Classics
for 10th-Adult
in Ancient Literature (Location: LIT1-ANC)
$17.00
Roman Lives
by Plutarch, translated by Robin Waterfield
Reissue from Oxford University
Biography for 9th-Adult
in Ancient Literature (Location: LIT1-ANC)
Selected Lives of Plutarch
by Plutarch, translated by John Dryden, 1676 illustrations
from Franklin Library
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in Leather Bound Collectible Books (Location: VIN-LEA)
$15.00 (1 in stock)