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Plutarch's Lives Volume 1 (Modern Library Classics) Paperback – April 10, 2001
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Original Language: Greek
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Top Customer Reviews
I recommend the Modern Library edition because it's complete (with the two volumes, that is) and because the Dryden translation is very colorful even though it's old-school -- you're bound to pick up a lot of cool vocabulary. Also, don't quite know how to put it, but his translation just seems more...classic. It fits, get it.
Like all great books, this one can be read on innumerable levels. First, there is the moralising philosophy that is perhaps the principal purpose of the author to advance - each life holds lessons on proper conduct of great and notorious leaders alike. You get Caesar, Perikles, and Alcibiades, and scores of others who are compared and contrasted. Second, there is the content. Plutarch is an invaluable source of data for historians and the curious. Third, there is the reflection of religious and other beliefs of the 1C AD: oracles and omens are respected as are the classical gods. For example, while in Greece, Sulla is reported as having found a satyr, which he attempted unsuccesfully to question for its auguring abilities during his miltary campaign in Greece! It is a wonderful window into the mystery of life and human belief systems. That being said, Plutarch is skeptical of these occurances and both questions their relevance and shows how some shrewd leaders, like Sertorious with his white fawn in Spain, used them to great advantage.
Finally, this is a document that was used for nearly 2000 years in schools as a vital part of classical education - the well-bred person knew all these personalities and stories, which intimately informed their vocabulary and literary references until the beginning of the 20C. That in itself is a wonderful view into what was on people's minds and how they conceived things over the ages.Read more ›
"The Dryden Translation" - this unusual phrasing (which appears on the cover) has become the traditional descriptor for this version of the Lives. In fact, Dryden is not, properly speaking, the translator of this book. In one article in Wikipedia he is described as an overseer for the edition and in another as editor-in-chief, but he is also described as having simply "lent" his name to the enterprise. I am still researching this, but I should not be surprised if Jacob Tonson, the publisher, was not more involved in editing than was Dryden. [Update: I have found some indications that Dryden may have had a fairly significant editorial role -- see "Dryden as Cambridge Editor" by Arthur Sherbo in Studies in Bibliography, Vol 38, (1985) pp 251-261.Read more ›
Warmly recommended. Though it takes real effort at times to continue, it is well worth the slog.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very interesting, but you need to take Plutarch with a grain of salt. He is not always totally accurate. But it is good and interesting reading.Published 17 days ago by Sue Ferdig
Wonderful to go back in time and read such a classic. You can't help but wonder if Shakespeare read this when writing.
It was all there!
I like the fact that it helps me with homeschooling. It gives me guidelines for me (the teacher) to discuss with my children on a topic I am not familiar with.Published 3 months ago by Kindle Customer
This is an essential book to trace the foundations of Western culture. Parts of it are surprisingly current in their analysis of our on-going political malaise. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Phil Scott
The greatest and most instructive compilation of biographies of the leading figures from the classic world (translated by one of the greatest writers of the English speaking world)... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Bookreview79
The text is so tightly leaded it is difficult to read. All the great content and insights are there, of course. They need no further reviews. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Gordon Cohn
Read raw history, like a time capsule. Find references to the real historical events like the movie '300' and Gladiator.Published 10 months ago by Gregory F. Shay
Who can resist the biographies of ancient Greeks and Romans when they are compared to each other. Plutarch speaks to us today. Read morePublished 12 months ago by THOMAS JENSEN