Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Rise and Fall of Athens: Nine Greek Lives Paperback – September 30, 1960
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Penguin Classics has broken up Plutarch's LIVES into several different books, each focused on a particular historical genre. The current one places its emphasis on Athens. The book covers 7 Athenians (Solon, Themistocles, Aristides, Cimon, Pericles, Nicias, Alcibiades), 1 mythological figure (Theseus) and 1 Spartan (Lysander).
The inclusion of Lysander is due to the fact that Lysander was the primary instrument by which the Spartans conquered the Athenians in 404BCE. Athens would never again be a major player on the world stage, so the section on Lysander's life is one of transitions.
All of the essays in this book are the standard by which contemporary historians write on the world of ancient Greece. That makes this book a must for persons who are even remotely interested in classical history. Even if you were to only read one book on the Greeks, this one might be the one to grab. The book is THAT influential.
There are many versions of Plutarch's "Lives" and the traditional versions (maybe the original?) render one Roman life in comparison with one Greek life evincing similar traits or historical characteristics. In this Penguin Series the tendency has been to divide the Greek and Roman lives into seperate works.
I loved his Roman lives unequivocally and I love this one as well, but Plutarch makes a better writer the more he moves from myth to factual lives. In this sense his early lives like Thesseus and Solon are less interesting than those of Nicias, Alcabiades, Lysander and Themistocoles. Plutarch is best when he is working with solid sources, not mythology.
But, to his credit, his early mythical lives reflects a very sceptical note, one as befits the subject matter. Later when he is citing Xenophon, and Plato, his lives are exciting in the extreme (I shall always remember the utter destruction of Nicias and his expeditionary force to Syracuse, by Gyllipus and his Syracusian allies). The corruption of Lysander by money, and the general message perhaps in this tome -- the danger of overextended wars in far flung lands not supported or understood by the people.
All in all this book puts the "C" in Classic.
In Athens, the vicious battle between the few and the many, the haves and have-nots, equality and liberty was fought through two political parties: the aristocrats (oligarchs) supported by Sparta, Socrates, Plato and the priests (`the power of the ruler as the image of the god') on the one hand, and on the other hand, the democrats.
The Greek cities were evidently united against their common enemy, Persia, whose policies aimed at defeating the Greek outright or at inciting them to destroy one another. But the cities fought one another even in foreign countries (e.g. for the gold mines in Thrace). It all ended with Niceas's disastrous expedition in Sicily and Lysander's bloody victory over Athens.
Plutarch's book is still very actual indeed. He shows us Pericles as the first Keynesian, organizing huge public works and `transforming the whole people into wage-earners', or the anti-scientific stance of religion (`natural philosophers belittled the power of the gods by explaining it away as nothing more than the operation of irrational causes').
Plutarch is an excellent psychologist: `people as so often happens at moments of crisis, were ready to find salvation in the miraculous rather than in a rational course of action'.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The nature of the polis has been floating around my head of late. The clear decline of American democracy has been chronicled from the Classical perspective by the late Senator... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Gregory Alan Wingo
I'm a college prof and assign Plutarch to my students. The Penguin editions are not as good as the Oxford ones. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Leslie
As with any historical work, this edition of Plutarch should be reviewed for two things: the quality of the edition, including the translation, introduction, notes, etc, and how... Read morePublished on November 17, 2013 by Doktor Faustus
I live in NY and I recently bought three books for my HIS1001 class from 3 different sellers all in one day last week. Read morePublished on February 7, 2012 by Nan Chen
I was reading a 19th cent' historical novel about General Custer during his Civil War period where reference was made as to whether a person was "well read" or not. Read morePublished on July 11, 2011 by DANA W. VAN VALIN
I just got back from the Greek Isles last year. This book is better than those I bought and looked at there.Published on January 17, 2011 by Hcezc