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Title : Vies parallèles, tome 1
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ISBN : 9782221093917
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 896 Pages
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Vies parallèles, tome 1 Reviews

  • Darwin8u
    2018-11-23 18:43

    "...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.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. RomulusLycurgus v. Numa PompiliusSolon v. PoplicolaThemistocles v. CamillusPericles v. Fabius MaximusAlcibiades v. CoriolanusTimoleon v. Aemilius PaulusPelopidas v. MarcellusAristides v. Cato the ElderPhilopoemen v. FlamininusPyrrhus v. Gaius MariusLysander v. SyllaCimon v. LucullusNicias v. CrassusThe first two sets are more myth (Theseus v. Romulus) & folklore (Lycurgus v. Numa) and less biography, but it appears Plutarch realized that all history and biography NEEDS a beginning, even a vague and foggy genesis, and felt he would do a better job at it than another writer, thinker, biographer. Plus, he was teaching morals not history. Most of these characters, leaders, politicians, thinkers in Vol 1 of 'Lives' I've come across in other classical writings, but Plutarch possessed a lot of information that current historians no longer possess, plus his approach is fairly no nonsense and pragmatic. I expect Vol 2 will be even more interesting as it heads into later "Noble" lives that are both more proximate to Plutarch, more well-known, and where more information is available. So far, however, I can see why early readers of the 17th-century translation by Dryden or 16th-century translation by North flocked to Plutarch mainly for his moralizing and less for his biographical skills. I personally need to figure out if I prefer the Dryden translation or the North translation better (I own both). I would also be curious about later translations (Langhorne or Perrin). So, I'll probably pick one of the shorter biographies and read 2 or 3 or 4 different translations to see which I like, if I have the time and energy in a month or so.Anyway, a wide reader can also see Plutarch's influence on Montaigne, Shakespeare, Boswell, Bacon, Hamilton, etc. IF he continues at this level or better this is one of those books I'm sure to travel back to both as a resource and a respite.

  • Foad
    2018-12-12 15:51

    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 گيرد.چون شعله به همه جا سرايت كرد، بروتوس سوار بر اسب در اطراف مى‌گرديد و به اهالى شهر التماس مى‌كرد كه به خود رحم كنند، اما هيچ كس توجه نمى‌كرد. مردان و زنان، زارى‌كنان خود و كودكان خود را به ميان آتش مى‌انداختند. برخى خود را از ارتفاعات پرت مى‌كردند، پدران سر كودكان خود را با خنجر مى‌بريدند، جوانان جامه از تن كنده عريان در مقابل پدران مى‌ايستادند تا هلاكشان سازند.سربازان، پيرزنى را به بروتوس نشان دادند كه كودك مرده خود را به گردن آويخته، با مشعل خانه خود را آتش مى‌زد؛ اما بروتوس نتوانست نگاه كند، و ندبه‌كنان مقرّر كرد كه هر كس يكى از اهالى را نجات دهد جايزه دريافت مى‌كند، ولى با تمام كوششى كه كردند، تنها توانستند پنجاه نفر را نجات دهند.به اين ترتيب، اهالى گزانتوس زیر بار سلطه رومیان نرفتند و خاطره اجدادشان را كه در جنگ با پارسيان خود را سوزانده بودند، دوباره زنده ساختند.پلوتارکحیات مردان نامی

  • Robert Sheppard
    2018-12-02 20:09

    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 us all from George Santayana, who, in his "The Life of Reason," echoed the similar earlier words of the conservative philosopher Edmund Burke. But the great histories and historians of World History bring us far more than events of nations, chronicles of the Rise and Fall of Civilizations, or lessons and precedents from the past; they also constitute a fundamental part of World Literature, bringing us great reading experiences and exciting sagas as in Thucydides' "History of the Peloponesian War," in-depth portraits and readings of the character of great men and shapers of the world as in Plutarch's "Parallel Lives" and China's "Records of the Grand Historian" by Si Ma Chen, and deep philosophical and scientific insights into the workings of human society its environment as revealed in the panoramic visions of great Islamic historian Ibn Khaldun, Karl Marx, Oswald Spengler and Sir Arnold Toynbee. As such, in our modern globalized world of the 21st century, where not only our own history, but also the interrelated histories of all of nations show so clearly that "the past is always present," and therefore every educated citizen of the modern world has an obligation to read the great works of history from all major civilizations to even begin comprehending the living world about us and the ultimate meaning of our own lives.WHAT WAS THE FIRST WORK OF HISTORY IN THE WORLD?If to begin our survey we put the daunting threshold question of what was the firs work of "history" in human experience, like most radical questions we will find that the answer all depends on how we put the question and define its terms. "History" undoubtedly began with the campfire stories of Neolithic man about families, tribes and conflicts far before the invention of writing. Histories were passed down in oral sagas memorized by poets such as Homer's "Iliad and Odyssey," and only centuries later recorded in script. But true history begins with works of systematic analysis and interpretation of human events, and in that light the general consensus is that the first great work of World History was that of the Greek historian Herodotus in the 5th Century BC, "The Histories." HERODOTUS, AUTHOR OF "THE HISTORIES"Herodotus (5th Century BC) is thus often referred to as "The Father of History," a title conferred upon him by Cicero amoung others, but also disparagingly as "The Father of Lies" by some of his critics. He was born in Halicarnassus, a Greek city which had become part of the Persian Empire that enjoyed strong trade relations with Egypt. He travelled widely, spending time in Periclian Athens, Egypt, Persia and Italy and collected histories, tales and historical lore wherever he traveled, noting the customs of the people, the major wars and state events and the religions and lore of the people. He wrote in a "folksy" style and purported to record whatever was told to him, which led to critics deploring some of the "tall tales" or mythical accounts in his work, but which Herodtodus himself said he included without judgment to their ultimate truth to illustrate the historical beliefs of the peoples he encountered. His primary focus was to explain the history and background of the Persian War between the Greeks and the Persian Empire, though he also included cultural observations of other peoples such as the Egyptians. His "Histories" is entertaining and interesting, though somewhat voluminous and scattered for the modern reader unfamiliar with the context. THUCYDIDES, MASTER OF REPORTORIAL AND EYEWITNESS HISTORYThucydides (460-395 BC) is most remembered for his epic "History of the Peloponnesian War" of Greece which recounts the struggle for supremacy and survival between the enlightened commercial empire of Athens and its reactionary opponent Sparta, which ended in the defeat of the Athenians. His approach and goal in writing was completely different from Herodotus, as he was himself a General in the wars he wrote about and set out to provide "the inside story" of eyewitnesses and personal accounts of the major participants in the great events of their history so that their characters, understanding, strategies and actions could be closely judged, especially for the purpose of educating future statesmen and leaders. This approach was later shared by Polybius in his "The Rise of the Roman Empire." As a more contemporary history it is often more exciting to read, and establishes the tradition followed by Livy and others of including the "key speeches" of the leaders in war council, the "inside story" of their schemes and motivations, and rousing tales of the ups and downs of fast-moving battles. It contains such classics such as Pericles "Funeral Speech" for the ballen war heroes reminiscent of Lincoln's Gettysburg address. It is a must for those seeking to understand Classical Greece and a rich and exciting read. SIMA QIAN, AND THE "RECORDS OF THE GRAND HISTORIAN" OF HAN DYNASTY CHINASima Qian (Szu Ma Chien/145-86 BC) is regarded as the greatest historian of China's long and florid history and his personal tragedy is also held up as an example of intellectual martyrdom and integrity in the face of power. He like his father was the chief astrologer/astronomer and historian of the Han Imperial Court under Emperor Wu. His epic history "Records of the Grand Historian" sought to summarize all of Chinese history up to his time when the Han Dynasty Empire was a rival in size and power to that of Imperial Rome. He lived and wrote about the same time as Polybius, author of "The Rise of the Roman Empire," and like him he wrote from the vantage point of a newly united empire having overcome centuries of waring strife to establish a unified and powerful domain. In style, his history has some of the character of Plutarch in his "Lives" in that it often focuses on intimate character portraits of such great men as Qin Shi Huang Di, the unifier and First Emperor of China, and many others. It also contains rich and varied accounts of topic areas such as music, folk arts, literature, economics, calendars, science and others. He was the chief formulator of the primary Chinese theory of the rise and fall of imperial dynasties known as the "Mandate of Heaven." Like the theory of the Divine Right of Kings, its premise was that Emperors and their dynasties were installed on earth by the divine will of heaven and continued so long as the rulers were morally upright and uncorrupted. However, over centuries most dynasties would suffer corruption and decline, finally resulting in Heaven choosing another more virtuous dynasty to displace them when they had forfeited the "Mandate of Heaven," a kind of "Social Contract" with the divine rather than with mankind. Then, this cycle would repeat itself over the millennia. His personal life was occasioned by tragedy due to his intellectual honesty in the "Li Ling Affair." Two Chinese generals were sent to the north to battle the fierce Xiongnu hordes against whom the Great Wall was constructed, Li Ling and the brother-in-law of the Emperor. They met disaster and their armies were annihilated, ending in the capture of both. Everyone at Court blamed the disaster on Li Ling in order to exonerate the Emperor's relative, but Sima Qian, out of respect for Li Ling's honor disagreed publicly and was predictably sentenced to death by Emperor Wu. A noble like Sima Qian could have his death sentence commuted by payment of a large fine or castration but since he was a poor scholar he could not afford the fine. Thus, in 96 BC, on his release from prison, Sima chose to endure castration and live on as a palace eunuch to fulfill his promise to his father to complete his histories, rather than commit suicide as was expected of a gentleman-scholar. As Sima Qian himself explained in his famous "Letter to Ren An:"“If even the lowest slave and scullion maid can bear to commit suicide, why should not one like myself be able to do what has to be done? But the reason I have not refused to bear these ills and have continued to live, dwelling in vileness and disgrace without taking my leave, is that I grieve that I have things in my heart which I have not been able to express fully, and I am shamed to think that after I am gone my writings will not be known to posterity. Too numerous to record are the men of ancient times who were rich and noble and whose names have yet vanished away. It is only those who were masterful and sure, the truly extraordinary men, who are still remembered. ... I too have ventured not to be modest but have entrusted myself to my useless writings. I have gathered up and brought together the old traditions of the world which were scattered and lost. I have examined the deeds and events of the past and investigated the principles behind their success and failure, their rise and decay, in one hundred and thirty chapters. I wished to examine into all that concerns heaven and man, to penetrate the changes of the past and present, completing all as the work of one family. But before I had finished my rough manuscript, I met with this calamity. It is because I regretted that it had not been completed that I submitted to the extreme penalty without rancor. When I have truly completed this work, I shall deposit it in the Famous Mountain. If it may be handed down to men who will appreciate it, and penetrate to the villages and great cities, then though I should suffer a thousand mutilations, what regret should I have?”— Sima Qian JULIUS CAESAR: HISTORY AS AUTOBIOGRAPHY AND AUTOMYTHOLOGYJulius Caesar was famous for writing accounts of his own military campaigns, most notably in his "History of the Gallic Wars." Curiously, he writes of himself in the third person. Though a personal history, his writing contains little introspection or deep analytical thought and is rather the action-drama of the campaign, with special care to show his own personal courage and leadership. Before the 20th century most European schoolboys would read the work as part of their efforts to learn Latin in Grammar School. Later famous leaders such as Winston Churchill also followed in Caesar's tradition in writing history alonside making it, for which he received the Nobel Prize. Caesar's work is worth reading and exciting in parts, though sometimes becoming repetitive in the minutiae of the endless conflicts. THE GREAT ROMAN HISTORIES: LIVY, POLYBIUS, TACITUS, SEUTONIUS AND AMMIANUS MARCELLINUSThe thousand-year history of the Roman Republic and Empire can be gleaned from these five great historians in the order presented. For the earliest history of the founding of the Roman Republic from the 6th-4th Centuries BC Livy (59BC-17 AD) in his "Ab Urbe Condita Libri" (From the Founding of the City) is the best source, tracing the saga from the tale of Aeneas fleeing from fallen Troy to the Rape of the Sabine Women, Romulus & Remus, the tyranical Tarquin Kings, the Founding of the Republic, the evolution of the Roman Constitution and up to the sack of the city by the Gauls in the 4th Century BC. Though ancient history is presumed to be boring, I surprisingly found Livy's account surprisingly lively, almost a "can't put down read."Polybius (200-118 BC) then picks up the story in his "The Rise of the Roman Empire" tracing the three Punic Wars with Carthage, Hannibal's campaign over the Alps and Rome's entanglement with the collapsing Greek Empire of Seleucis, Macedon and the Ptolmeys until attaining supremacy over the entire Mediterranean. Polybius is a surprisingly modern historian who saw as his challenge to write a "universal history" similar to that of our age of Globalization in which previously separate national histories became united in a universal field of action with integrated causes and effects. He was a Greek who was arrested and taken to Rome and then became intimate with the highest circles of the Roman Senate and a mentor to the Scipio family of generals. He like Thucydides then attempts to tell the "inside story" of how Rome rose to universal dominance in its region, and how all the parts of his world became interconnected in their power relations. Tacitus (56-117 AD) continues the story after the fall of the Republic and rise of the Roman Empire under the emperors. Along with his contemporary Seutonius who published his "History of the Twelve Caesars" in 121 AD, he tells of the founding of the Empire under Julius Caesar, the Civil Wars of Augustus involving Mark Anthony & Cleopatra, the Augustan "Golden Age" and the descent into unbelievable corruption, degeneration, homicidal and sexual madness and excess under Caligula and Nero, followed by a return to decency under Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius. The endstory of the Roman Empire is reflected in Ammianus Marcellinus (395-391 AD) who wrote in the time of Julian the Apostate who unsuccessfully tried to shake off Christianity and restore the old pagan and rationalist traditions of Classical Greece and Rome. PLUTARCH, THE GREAT HISTORICAL BIOGRAPHERPlutarch (46-120 AD) is most famous for his historical biographies in "Parallel Lives" or simply "Lives." He was, like Polybius, a Greek scholar who wished to open understanding between the Greek and Roman intellectual communities. His "Parallel Lives" consists of character portraits and life histories of matching pairs of great Greeks and great Romans such as Alexander and Caesar, hoping to enhance appreciation of the greatness of each. Much of Shakespeare's knowledge of the classical world reflected in his plays such as "Julius Caesar," "Anthony and Cleopatra" and "Coriolanus" came from reading Plutarch in translation. His character analyses are always insightful and engaging to read. His biographical method was also used by the great near-contemporary Sima Qian of Han Dynasty China. IBN KHALDUN, ISLAMIC PIONEER OF MODERN HISTORY, SOCIOLOGY AND ECONOMICSOne of the blind spots in our appreciation of World History is the underappreciation of the contributions of Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406) and many other Islamic and non-Western thinkers, including Rashīd al-Dīn Fadhl-allāh Hamadānī (1247–1318), a Persian physician of Jewish origin, polymathic writer and historian, who wrote an enormous Islamic history, the Jami al-Tawarikh, in the Persian language, and Ala'iddin Ata-Malik Juvayni (1226–1283) a Persian historian who wrote an account of the Mongol Empire entitled Ta' rīkh-i jahān-gushā (History of the World Conqueror). Of these Ibn Khaldun was the greatest and a theoretical forerunner of our modern approaches to history, far ahead of his time and little appreciated in either the Western or the Islamic world until recently. His greatest work is the The "Muqaddimah" (known as the Prolegomena) in which he anticipated some of the themes of Marx in tracing the importance of the influence of economics on history, including the conflict between the economic classes of the nomadic pastoral and herding peoples, the settled agriculturalists and the rising urban commercial class. Like Marx he stressed the importance of the "economic surplus" of the agricultural revolution and the "value-added" of manufacture, which allowed the rise of the urban, military and administrative classes and division of labor. He stressed the unity of the social system across culture, religion, economics and tradition. He even anticipated some of the themes of Darwin and evolution, tracing human progress in its First Stage of Man "from the world of the monkeys" towards civilization. Toynbee called the Muqaddimah the greatest work of genius of a single mind relative to its time and place ever produced in world history. THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE MONGOL EMPIRE"The Secret History of the Mongol Empire" was precisely that, a private history written for the family of Ghengis Khan recording its rise and expansion from Ghengis Khan's humble personal origin to an empire stretching from China to Poland and Egypt. Its author is unknown but it contains an engaging account of the Khanate, the royal family and its traditions and the incredible expansion of its domain. While not a theoretical work it provides a useful missing link in our understanding of the Mongol Empire as a beginning stage of modern Globalization and a conduit for sharing between civilizations, East and West, and, unfortunatelyh for the transmission of the Black Plague across the world. THE GREAT MODERNS: GIBBON, MARX, SPENGLER & TOYNBEEThe "must read" classics of modern World History include the work of Edward Gibbon "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" which traces its fall to a decline in civic virtue, decayed morals and effeminacy amoung the public and the debilitating effects of Christianity vis-a-vis the rationalism of the Greek-Roman heritage. Marx, of course is central to modern history, not only formulating the laws of social development based on economics, class conflict and the transition from agricultural to capitalist economies, but also formulating the revolutionary program of Communism. Oswald Spengler was a remarkable German amateur historian whose "Decline of the West" traced a theory of "organic civilizations" that have a birth, blossoming, limited lifespan and death like all living creatures. He held this to be a cyclical universal historical process of civilizations now exemplified by the West entering the stage of spiritual exhaustion and collaps in warfare. Arnold Toynbee charted a similar process analyzing 26 civilizaitons across all human history, but differed with Spengler in that he believed moral reform and a return to Christian ethics could revive the West and forestall its decline. SPIRITUS MUNDI AND WORLD HISTORYIn my own work, the epic contemporary and futurist novel Spiritus Mundi World History plays a central role as various characters such as Professor Riviera in the Mexico City Chapter and Prof. Verhoven of the Africa chapters discourse on human history, evolution, evolutionary biology and the rise of civilization, culminating with the quest of the protagonists led by Sartorius to establish a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly for global democracy, a globalized version of the EU Parliament as a new organ of the United Nations. World Literature Forum invites you to check out the great historians of World History and World Literature, and also the contemporary epic novel Spiritus Mundi, by Robert Sheppard. For a fuller discussion of the concept of World Literature you are invited to look into the extended discussion in the new book Spiritus Mundi, by Robert Sheppard, one of the principal themes of which is the emergence and evolution of World Literature:For Discussions on World Literature and n Literary Criticism in Spiritus Mundi: http://worldliteratureandliterarycrit...Robert SheppardEditor-in-ChiefWorld Literature ForumAuthor, Spiritus Mundi NovelAuthor’s Blog: http://robertalexandersheppard.wordpr...Spiritus Mundi on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17...Spiritus Mundi on Amazon, Book I: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CIGJFGOSpiritus Mundi, Book II: The Romance http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CGM8BZGCopyright Robert Sheppard 2013 All Rights Reserved

  • Yann
    2018-11-21 23:05

    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 couvrant un millénaire, rendues plus vivantes que jamais, quel sujet plus alléchant ? A mi-chemin entre le portrait et la biographie, elles relatent certes les faits les plus importants, mais en mettant l'accent sur tous les traits et anecdotes qui peuvent donner une idée du caractère, des mœurs et des mouvements de l'âme. L'idée de comparer systématiquement les destins d'un grec et d'un romain est très intéressante, car l'esprit est plus sensible lorsqu'il s'efforce d'identifier des différences que lorsqu'il ne reçoit qu'une information isolée. L'Histoire, dépouillée de son austérité, devient plus claire, car la mémoire retient plus facilement des caractères humains qu'une chronologie. L'abondance de digressions passionnantes fortifie l'érudition sans qu'il en coûte la moindre peine, mais c'est surtout l'édification morale qui donne à cette œuvre son plus grand prix. Plutarque n'hésite pas à peser longuement la valeur des actes de ces hommes hors du commun, et il est impossible de ruminer ces textes sans en tirer quelque fruit: on se surprend souvent à fermer le livre pour méditer, comme le jeune Michelet, et bien d'autres lecteurs avant lui.

  • Stupac
    2018-11-27 19:44

    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 many of the "lives." On controversial details, he often gives both conflicting accounts, which is a nice touch. I personally really enjoyed the reading of Theseus and Romulus, the founders of Athens and Rome respectively. But all of them are valuable into the insight of history, and of how people considered these almost mythical heroes. These days you don't even need a book to read ancient works, you can find all of Plutarch's works online here:http://www.livius.org/pi-pm/plutarch/...

  • Greg
    2018-11-24 17:43

    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 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.

  • James
    2018-11-24 17:02

    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 degree, the very archetype of classical wisdom, but it is his brilliant and sympathetic understanding of human nature that stands out upon reading his lives. His original intention was to instruct others, but as he wrote he found that it was he himself who was deriving profit and enjoyment from "lodging these men one after another in his house."

  • Rick Davis
    2018-12-09 20:58

    Plutarch is a fantastic storyteller and historian. He is usually careful to cite his sources and he frequently discusses variant accounts of events, but, far from being a dry academic, he brings the men he writes about to vibrant life. He also doesn't mind spicing his stories up with some gossip, although he usually notes when his stories deviate from what is historically probable. He places both the virtues and vices of famous men on display, and allows the reader to see the comparisons between men of different times and stations as they encounter the same ethical dilemmas and temptations. No wonder this book was for centuries considered required reading for young people.

  • Steven Peterson
    2018-12-08 20:45

    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. His death, by suicide, was designed to avoid his having to lead a fleet against the Greek fleet. The work continues with a depiction of the great Pericles, followed by the story of Alcibiades. Alexander the Great is also discussed, along with a handful of other noble Greeks. This is a wonderful introduction to classical Greece. For those interested in a deeper sense of the roots of Western civilization, this provides a nice entrée.

  • Tony
    2018-11-23 18:08

    PLUTARCH’S LIVES. (2nd Century A.D.) Plutarch. **.This was one of those books that make me wonder why we assign stars at all. After all, what makes me give this one two stars when one-star would have been sufficient? Don’t know. Back in my freshman year in college (1957) we were required to take a liberal arts course. The course as titled “Arts and Ideas.” That might have been the title of the book used for the course, too. It consisted of a selection of excerpts from the full span of history – from ancient times up to the present. We were exposed to lots of stuff that most of us had never heard of before, in small enough doses that we were able to get through the course without incurring any major cases of mental breakdown in our class. I remember that there were two examples of ‘lives’ from Plutarch’s work, and that I thought they were interesting – though at the time I didn’t have enough classical knowledge to appreciate them. Here I am today with about the same level of classical knowledge, and I thought I’d give some of the other biographies a whirl. It turns out that the reason I don’t have any greater classical knowledge is that most of it is boring, and was written by people for readers of their time. The edition I have was the translation by Dryden, issued by Modern Library in one of their ‘Giant’ editions. It is over 1200 pages long! I managed to skim over a few of the lives and remembered that I was just as confused in 1957 as I am today. Why has this work maintained its status as a key book of classical Greece and Rome? Plutarch didn’t know any of the people he wrote about; his work was based on popular belief at the time – that and maybe his collection of “Hush-Hush Magazines” that he kept in his basement. Plutarch reviewed each life as he could determine it and made comparisons between a Greek and a Roman figure. I didn’t count the number of personalities he reviewed, but there were a lot. He wasn’t really interested in each of his subjects achievements, but in the way their characters were revealed by the way they reacted to life in general. He could then conclude that this was a good person and that was a bad person. I’d hate to have him on my academic review committee! If you need to learn more about what Plutarch thought about each person and their moral ethic, then you need to read this book. I’d recommend waiting until the Classic Comics version come out. I was surprised that our local library branch had two copies of this book. I checked with the chief librarian and learned that the last time one of them was checked out was in 1997. The other copy was never checked out. It doesn’t surprise me. I also checked out the other reviews on Goodreads, and found that there was only one review that gave the book two stars. I have to give her credit for having the courage to call it like she saw it. Needless to say, this work is not light reading. It is also not enjoyable reading. It may contain information that you are looking for to fill out a term paper, but how would you find out? There were apparently a lot of raves about the Dryden translation, but I saw nothing to rave about. His translation reads as if he first translated it into Chinese, then into English. Enough.

  • Nancy
    2018-12-06 22:02

    #Classic filled with important information about iconic figures.Plutarch's LivesReading this book takes discipline, after 100 pgs...my eyes glaze over. C'est fini!Review

  • Þróndr
    2018-12-13 15:51

    "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 himselfe] that he lodged these men one after another in his house, entering into consideration of their qualities, and that which was great in either of them, choosing and principally taking that which was to be noted, and most worthy to be knowne in their sayings and deeds." - This quote is from Sir Thomas North’s Life of Plutarch in his 1631 translation of Plutarch, and in many ways it sums up this reading experience really well for me. After checking out two different translations, I ended up choosing the one by Aubrey Stewart and George Long. (The other was the so-called 'Dryden Translations', which, because it was done by several different people, is of a somewhat uneven quality. The language in that version is also relatively archaic. I may return to it though.) While I can’t say anything about the quality of the translations from Greek, the language in the Stewart/Long version flows smoothly, their respective introductions were interesting and the notes to the text were useful. As for Plutarch himself, his Parallel Lives is an incomparable work, and his insights and profound understanding of human nature, makes it, in addition to its obvious historical value, something far more than simply a collection of short biographies. Plutarch has an ethical as well as historical interest in his pairing of Lives of the famous Greeks and Romans, and in the adjoined Comparisons (those that are still extant), just as often contrasts the achievements and characters of his subjects as much as he aims to show their resemblances.I had already read the Life of Lycurgus (in the Penguin Classics series of Plutarch translations), so I read the Life of Numa and the Comparison of Numa with Lycurgus first. Because of this, I ended up reading about Theseus and Romulus last, and that proved a good choice, since they somehow stand apart anyway because of their distinct mythological character. The Stewart/Long translation is just as readable as the more modern translations (found in e.g. the Penguin Classics), so if you want the entire series of Plutarch’s Parallel Lives, for which there are many good reasons, this is a very good choice. And it’s no drawback that it’s available for free download for Kindle (and in other formats). I’ll end this by letting Plutarch speak for himself: "I do not write Histories, but Lives; nor do the most conspicuous acts of necessity exhibit a man's virtue or his vice, but oftentimes some slight circumstance, a word, or a jest, shows a man's character better than battles with the slaughter of tens of thousands, and the greatest arrays of armies and sieges of cities. Now, as painters produce a likeness by a representation of the countenance and the expression of the eyes, without troubling themselves about the other parts of the body, so I must be allowed to look rather into the signs of a man's character, and thus give a portrait of his life, leaving others to describe great events and battles." - (From the introduction to the Life of Alexander.)This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

  • Matt
    2018-12-07 18:42

    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 into a couple volumes (or 11 if you want to shell out the money for the incomparable Loeb collection).He is considered one of the first biographers and is credited with preserving the views that Roman citizens had of these prominent figures. However, as history, it is suspect. Plutarch, much like Herodotus, loves the story more than the facts. His Lives are filled with inconsequential anecdotes next to tales of military campaigns. But the anecdotes are not inconsequential to Plutarch. Since he is more interested in moral development, the quiet moments of distinguished men are considered to be more indicative of character than their accomplishments on the world stage. Unfortunately, according to people who really know their history, the recitations of the more historically significant events contain inaccurate dates and events, which relegates Plutarch to an archiver of perception rather than fact. For some, this may be just as interesting.Plutarch’s purpose fits with his time. His life was during the time of Middle Platonism. The good was something that was inherent and could be seen in the mind. Therefore, men of quality could be learned from if,in turn, we are in a place to accept our failings“…for high and noble minds seldom please the vulgar…” (pg. 764, The Comparison of Lucullus with Cimon). I was hoping after this first one hundred, two hundred or three hundred pages, I’d get into the rhythm of this book and it would read easier. I didn’t and it didn't. This translation was assembled by John Dryden in the 17th century and was revised by the English poet A.H. Clough in the 19th century. And it feels like it. It’s dry and ponderous. But maybe Plutarch was too. I don’t read Latin so I’m stuck with what’s given to me. This is probably best read in pieces as it was originally compiled. Short comparisons between two lives. It was not originally intended as an 800 page monolith.And this is just Volume 1._______________________________My favorite passage came out of the life of Marcus Cato and it's not even about him: The little country house of Manius Curius, who had been thrice carried in triumph, happened to be near his farm; so that often going thither, and contemplating the small compass of the place, and plainness of the dwelling, he formed an idea of the mind of the person, who being one of the greatest of the Romans, and having subdued the most warlike nations, nay, had driven Pyrrhus out of Italy, now, after three triumphs, was contented to dig in so small a piece of ground, and live in such a cottage. Here it was that the ambassadors of the Samnites, finding him boiling turnips in the chimney corner, offered him a present of gold; but he sent them away with this saying;that he, who was content with such a supper, had no need of gold; and that he thought it more honorable to conquer those who possessed the gold, than to possess the gold itself. pg. 503.

  • Steve Hemmeke
    2018-12-12 20:03

    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 barbarous songs of victory, were any way terrible to men that knew how to fight and were resolved to come hand to hand with their enemies.... The first step towards victory undoubtedly is to gain courage."- "By this moderation of his [Themistocles yielding his command to a Spartan in the war with Persia] he was the chief means of the deliverance of Greece."- "Of two who courted his daughter, he preferred the man of worth to the one who was rich, saying he desired a man without riches, rather than riches without a man."Plutarch has a unique insight into the human condition.- "At length the Athenians banished him.... not so much to punish the offender as to mitigate and pacify the violence of the envious."Then again, he also delights in ambition, glory, and barbarism. They are willing to make human sacrifice before a battle to appease the common folk.- Themistocles finds refuge with Xerxes, years after tricking him in battle! Xerxes never learned of the deception, and Themistocles continues to take advantage of him for his own self-preservation when his own city turns against him.- When Xerxes asks him to fight against the Greeks years later, he kills himself, at age 65. This is considered honorable.Overall, Plutarch's worldview exalts the state beyond proportion, often to the denigration of the family. His political and human insight is often helpful, but set to the purpose of immortalizing heroes and cities of man, rather than the living God.

  • Rob
    2018-11-21 20:01

    (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, reading between the lines there's a lot to be learned about the Roman conception of heroism, statesmanship, oratory and religion. So much of what this work established became accepted historical practice for so long -- such as the "great man theory of history" which has only been truly fought against in recent years -- that it's important for anyone interested in historiography to at least be familiar with Plutarch. So I'm going to say this is like the other Ancient Greek books I've been working myself through -- perhaps not a pleasant read to a modern eye, but an important historical document that (however inadvertently) provides a fascinating look into the world it was written in, a world that was the foundation of our present society.

  • Sylvia
    2018-12-11 18:42

    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 Rome after the founding by Romulus. His laws were focussed on peace and prosperity. Lycurgus's laws lasted over five hundred years, but at the end the city state of Sparta vanished. Numa's laws were forgotten almost immediately after his death and Rome started to make war on its neighbouring countries, but created through the war the Roman Empire. Next chapters will focus on Alexander the Great and Julius Ceasar.

  • Victoria
    2018-11-19 21:06

    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 discussion after reading this book was to determine how St. John's and the USNA match up with the societies of Solon and Lycurgus.

  • Keeko
    2018-11-29 20:51

    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 thinking, "So and so did that a couple of thousand years ago. I read it in Plutarch." New dogs and old tricks.

  • umberto
    2018-11-30 17:07

    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.

  • Yann
    2018-11-15 16:57

    Monumental, fabuleux, fondamental. Bon à pleurer. Un seule reproche : cette satané édition sabre la moitié des dialogues !

  • Derek
    2018-12-01 20:03

    Seriously one of the most taxing fucking dreadful reading experiences of my life. The content is absolutely amazing and terribly interesting, but it took so much mental energy to plough through a single sentence that I couldn't bear to even THINK about reading the second volume. It's a shame, really. I found Plato challenging, but at least his syntax wasn't a fucking gymnastic routine in and of itself most of the time. Plutarch is the literary equivalent of a geezer who has a tendency to go off on tangents and The World's Most Interesting Man. It's horrifically compelling.Commas? This translation has GOT some motherfucking commas. This shit will make your eyes bleed. And all the while, you fucking masochist, you'll say: "Boy, this is interesting, I need to keep going." And so it goes.

  • Greg Santana
    2018-12-01 20:09

    Not the best stories yet. Some nice story about the origin of Roman, but not many. Mostly Greek Generals from Peloponesian war.

  • Kelly Nielsen
    2018-11-20 18:53

    Amazing. One of the saddest things in life is knowing that other great works like this were destroyed over time as in the Library at Alexandria, and lost forever.

  • Yk
    2018-12-07 19:07

    As a child, this book instills in me the notion how to make a heroic decision and aver cowardly debaucheries. Highly recommend.

  • Milo
    2018-11-30 19:49

    Took nearly a month to read Volume 1 of Plutarch's Lives. I don't think I'll be getting around to Volume 2 any time soon (if at all).I picked this book up from the library because I was doing research on Shakespeare/Fletcher's The Two Noble Kinsmen and I saw that the first of the "Lives" was on Theseus, a secondary character in 2NK. And, because I don't like to leave a book unfinished, I plowed through all of Volume 1 even though it didn't particularly interest me.Like many ancient texts, this one dates itself. Supposedly all these biographies are of respected role models... but times have changed, and we wouldn't necessarily look up to all these people today. Of course, I'm also biased, since they were all soldiers, commanders, politicians, leaders, and the like... and those aren't the kinds of people whom I usually look up to.There were a few occasional observations in the book that were real gems. Unfortunately, everything else just blurred together — to the point where I would set the book down for five minutes, pick it back up, and barely recognize the paragraph I just finished.

  • Bmanning
    2018-12-14 16:47

    Plutarch's Lives is a series of biopics of some of the greatest statesman of Greece and Rome. Virtue ethics, which maintains that a just person is a person with a well-ordered soul, is its basis. The soul is the seat of our disposition and consists of different parts some of which will predominate in different proportions, depending on the individual. A well-ordered soul is a soul which inclines its possessor towards right action and thought. All of Plutarch's subjects possess the potential for a well-ordered soul and often do have well-ordered souls. Some can be classed as having well-ordered souls simply, if we make reasonable exception for human fault. All of them display brilliance of soul, even if they do not always live up to their potentials; Alcibiades is a good example (however, a proper ethical inventory of Alcibiades would have to consider how his beauty, for instance, might make it more difficult for him to be virtuous; quality of soul--->ethical grade is not correct).Virtue ethics so understood is essential for contemporary times. It is difficult to convey the fact, and the tragedy of the fact, of how drastically, radically, monumentally, different life was back then. Modernity is shut to its charms and the consequent loss of possibility for human life is devastating. Allan Bloom recounted how a student said it was impossible to imagine contemporary men at a banquet dining and discussing their deepest longings; modernity is so denuded, raped, pillaged, of eros and elevation of soul that the suggestion of it is risible. I agree. Eros is the seat of the most elevated thought and sentiment, and brilliance and greatness of soul, it is possible for a human being to possess. Reviving it in all its beauty, in individuals with souls well-constituted by nature, is the sine qua non of the maintenance of western civilization. Plutarch is a reasonable place to start addressing ourselves to this immensely grave task.'I began the writing of my "Lives" for the sake of others, but I find that I am continuing the work and delighting in it now for my own sake also, using history as a mirror and endeavoring in a manner to fashion and adorn my life in conformity with the virtues therein depicted' -Plutarch

  • Kenneth
    2018-11-18 16:42

    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 telling the story of great men and through that showing us how others have "actually" lived good lives. It's "actually" because Plutarch was not the most modern of historians. If you're interested in what some people thought of the lives of Alexander or Lycurgus or Sulla in the 2nd Century A.D. it's certainly useful, but not so much if you're out to learn what the lives of Alexander, Lycurgus, and Sulla were like in actuality. In addition to the moralism, the Lives also possess an anthropological aspect. The bulk of them are Greek heroes paralleled with Romans. 2nd Century is a little fuzzy for me but it was definitely well into the dominance of the Roman empire. In a sense he's reminding the Romans of the value of Greek culture, while authorizing Roman rule by showing Greeks that they too had their heroes.I haven't read anything of Plutarch's in the original (honestly my Greek's nowhere near adequate) so I can't speak for the value of particular translations in regard to their accuracy. I can say that I've read a couple versions of the Lives and of them the John Dryden translation is probably the most appealing to my sense of aesthetics. When I first came to it the prose felt a little older than I was used to, made reading the text itself pleasurable in addition to the pleasure that might be derived from what the words are actually saying.

  • Jim
    2018-12-08 18:58

    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 discussed in Volume I, starting with Theseus and Romulus (the legendary founders of Athens and Rome respectively).For me the most engaging and downright entertaining chapters involved the lives of Alcibiades (Alkibiades) and Caius Marcius Coriolanus both alternating between being complete heroes to disgusting zeros...these guys could easily be Hollywood fodder. These chapters are followed by the (really) good guys, Timoleon and Aemilius, the heroes of Sicily and Roman Macedonia respectively. For me these are not names that jump out at me...it required a little outside reading to fill in some of the blanks (thanks, Wikipedia).It took me a long time to warm-up to this book, but once I did adjust to the somewhat stilted dialogs, it picked-up speed. The translation to English (from the original Greek) was made in 1894 by Aubrey Stewart and George Long, and wears well to this day.I look forward to reading more of these biographies, particular the lives and comparison of Alexander and Julius Caesar.Good book...a fair amount of work, but well worth it.

  • Nicholas Spies
    2018-12-13 19:40

    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 years, and worthy enough to be put in the company of all manner of other people worthy of being remembered, until this day and beyond.The Lives is a doorway to a world of possible choices that have been presented to extraordinary people, an account of their decisions and the consequences of these decisions, all driven by principles and beliefs held deeply, and hence of profound importance as a moral education of many dimensions. That this was recognized by generations of scribes to whom we owe the preservation of this work is a given. That The Lives has survived countless and often contradictory factions down to our own time is a testament to its perceived value through the ages. We should honor all the nameless people who have brought this treasure to us, and ourselves heed the moral instruction that is implicit in the lives of the many people it depicts from so long ago.

  • Patrick
    2018-12-03 19:44

    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 presented in a series of books that gave an account of one Greek and one Roman life, followed by a comparison of the two. Included are Romulus and Theseus, Pompey and Agesilaus, Dion and Brutus, Alcibiades and Coriolanus, Demosthenes and Cicero, and Demetrius and Antony.Plutarch was a moralist of the highest order. "It was for the sake of others that I first commenced writing biographies," he said, "but I find myself proceeding and attaching myself to it for my own; the virtues of these great men serving me as a sort of looking glass, in which I may see how to adjust and adorn my own life."The first of the two volumes in this translation by John Dryden presents Theseus and Romulus, Pericles and Fabius, Alcibiades and Coriolanus, Aristides and Marcus Cato, and Lysander and Sylla, among others.