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Roman Lives: A Selection of Eight Roman Lives (Oxford World's Classics) Reissue Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0199537389
ISBN-10: 0199537380
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Philip A Stadter is Falk Professor in the Humanities at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Greek --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Reissue edition (March 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199537380
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199537389
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 1.2 x 5.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,032 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This fine, well-edited translation would be THE translation to get for Plutarch's best Roman lives ... IF they had included the Life of Cicero. (Soldiers outweigh orators in the Oxford hierarchy.) As it is, the Penguin "Fall of the Roman Republic" anthology remains useful.
That said, Oxford has been kicking Penguin tail with its scholarly, up-to-date translations of classical texts. Penguin has been sprucing up its backlist some, but I always look for an Oxford first, if there is one.
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Format: Paperback
This is an excellent translation of a timeless classic. The notes are well done and thorough and the introduction is very helpful whether you are a scholarly type or an interested lay reader. The only qualm I have is that it was often hard to know when the action of each life took place. This is a minor glich, however, and does not hinder from the overall enjoyment of the work. The lives are biography, history, psychology, comedy, tragedy and farce all in one. Plutarch's narrative is brisk and never dull; he mixes anecdotes and interpretation deftly, but never forces the reader one way or the other. He is a masterful essayist and biographer and these works can be read repeatedly with enjoyment each time. Highly recommended.
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For someone like myself who had not read Plutarch's lives and who was not as familiar with Roman history as perhaps I should be, this edition was a wonderful introduction. The translation is clear and dramatic of Plutach's biographies and personality studies (along with the times and political controversies) that resulting in the fall of the Repulbic and the establishment of the Empire. But, and there is a but, these biographies are only the most familiar selection of Plutarch's Roman biographies and the choice has been made by the translator-editor. I like to read in completeness, and for that reason this edition is a four star, and is sending me back to Plutarch in another edition to read those biographies that the editors choose not to include.
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This is a very easy to read translation of Plutarch's classic work. Nice cover. Clear printing. Well bound. If you haven't read these short works on the Greeks and Romans, you should. There is much to learn from their triumphs and their failures. For future leaders, scholars and politicians, much can be learned from those who came before. Recommended. (As well as, Greek Lives)
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Format: Paperback
I hate Plutarch, if only because he is indispensable. His numerous Lives are all that is left of large sections of Greek and Roman history, or are essential corroboration for other, scarce sources.

To modern readers, Plutarch can easily sound annoying. His portraits are invariably red-cheeked and gleaming-eyed. Vice and virtue are his main measures of men (and the few women). `These two young men were remarkably similar in terms of their courage and self-restraint - and also their generosity, eloquence, and high principles,' he begins on the Gracchi. `The younger Marius revealed the extent of his savagery and brutality in the continued slaughter of the best and most distinguished men of Rome,' is how he concludes on Marius. Politics are first and foremost personal, and portents and dreams are invariably full of meaning. Yet this is excellent, colourful, and entertaining biography. The characters jump out of the page. The times are evoked magnificently. Some people like to see in Plutarch timeless lessons on human psychology and behaviour; without going so far, his Lives certainly provide unmatched insights into the thoughts and beliefs of the ancients.

As to history, one needs to be aware how this came to us. In antiquity, works were copied in schools, especially of rhetoric. Thus what ensured they were reproduced in large numbers, and had a chance of survival in the ensuing Dark Age, was style, not content. Likewise, medieval copyists, all monks, were interested in the moral lessons of the works they preserved. (There are exceptions to this: invaluable papyri were found intact in the Egyptian desert; but these are rare.) Plutarch passed both the stylistic and moral tests. But he lacks the structure of a Thucydides or a Polybius.
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This is the best single translation of Plutarch I've seen to date. Waterfield's selection of lives traces the final years of the Roman Republic very well. My only complaint is that Waterfield's edition excludes some major Roman lives -- Brutus, Cicero, Cato the Younger, to name a few.

Plutarch writes history as a tale, which is why "Roman Lives" will appeal to fiction lovers and historians alike. The battles are well told, especially Caesar & Pompey's. To this reviewer's mind, Aumilius Paullus is the most noble of all, while Antony is the worst. But the greatest life of all, no doubt, is Caesar. The life of Caesar (read along with those of Pompey and Marc Antony) are the richest depiction of the "lust to dominate" imaginable. Caesar is genuinely admirable, remarkable in every way, and Plutarch kind of likes him. But he is Rome incarnate, for good or ill.
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