Essays

Front Cover
Penguin Adult, 1992 - History - 430 pages
1 Review
Plutarch of Chaeronea, suggests Ian Kidd in his introduction to this superb selection, "has a strong claim to be regarded as the best essayist of the Graeco-Roman world."

Born at the very heart of Greece - between Athens and Apollo's shrine at Delphi - in the mid-40s of the first century AD, Plutarch combined an intense love of his locality and family with a cosmopolitan outlook that embraced the whole Roman Empire. His enclyclopaedic writings form a treasure trove of ancient wisdom, yet his strong religious feelings and deeply humanist temper give them all a compelling and individual voice. Whether he is offering abstract speculation or practical ethics, fresh and arresting reflections on anger and flattery, military versus intellectual glory or the reasoning powers of animals, Plutarch's personality and charm constantly shine through. Above all, concludes Kidd, his essays remain magnificently readable, works that "can still entertain, instruct, stimulate and educate us and also introduce us to one of the most attractive characters in classical literature."

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About the author (1992)

Plutarch (c.50-c.120 AD) was a writer and thinker born into a wealthy, established family of Chaeronea in central Greece. He received the best possible education in rhetoric and philosophy, and traveled to Asia Minor and Egypt. Later, a series of visits to Rome and Italy contributed to his fame, which was given official recognition by the emperors Trajan and Hadrian. Plutarch rendered conscientious service to his province and city (where he continued to live), as well as holding a priesthood at nearby Delphi. His voluminous surviving writings are broadly divided into the 'moral' works and the Parallel Lives of outstanding Greek and Roman leaders. The former (Moralia) are a mixture of rhetorical and antiquarian pieces, together with technical and moral philosophy (sometimes in dialogue form). The Lives have been influential from the Renaissance onwards.
Robin Waterfield is a graduate of Manchester University and studied Greek philosphy at King's College, Cambridge. He is currently writing a major biography of Kahlil Gibran.

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