Selected Lives

Front Cover
Wordsworth Editions, 1998 - Fiction - 871 pages
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Plutarch of Chaeronea is one of the great storytellers of antiquity, a writer whose ability to create unforgettable scenes matches the grandeur of his subject matter. The heroes of his Lives were the great men of antiquity, often greatly flawed, but with tragic depth and epic stature. Thomas North's translation, one of the most splendid works of sixteenth-century English prose, presents a vigorous and passionate version of the Lives whose qualities so attracted Shakespeare that he used North as his major source for Julius Caesar, Coriolanus and Antony & Cleopatra. This collection includes all the Lives which Shakespeare used and a selection of others which aim to show the variety and range of Plutarch's writing.
  

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Contents

Life oj Theseus
3
Life of Romulus
39
Comparison of Theseus with Romulus
79
Life of Coriolanus
137
Comparison of Alcibiades with Coriolanus
179
Life ofMarius
235
Life ofNicias
293
Life of Crassus 333
377
Life offulius Caesar
467
Life of Demosthenes
533
Life of Cicero
563
Comparison of Cicero with Demosthenes
613

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About the author (1998)

PLUTARCH. c.46--c.125 Considered by many to be the most important Greek writer of the early Roman period, Plutarch was a member of a well-to-do Greek family, a chief magistrate, a priest at Delphi, and an exceptionally well-read individual. His philosophical views were based on those of Plato and, although a Greek, he esteemed the achievements and attributes of the Romans. By the time Plutarch's works were published for the first time in the eleventh century, some had already been lost. He wrote innumerable essays on philosophical, historical, political, religious, and literary subjects, 78 of which survive today and are known collectively as the "Moralia." He is known primarily, however, for his Parallel Lives of Greeks and Romans, which consists of 50 biographies---23 of prominent Greeks, 23 of Roman leaders, and 4 separate lives---accompanied at intervals by short comparative essays. Although historical information is included in the work, Plutarch wrote it originally to inspire emulation in youth, so the emphasis is on character, moral choice, and anecdote. Sir Thomas North's 1579 translation into English of Parallel Lives became an important source for William Shakespeare which he used for three plays, Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra, and Coriolanus.

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