The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans, Volume 1
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
Plutarch's 'Parallel Lives,' written at the beginning of the second century A.D., form a brilliant social history of the ancient world. They were originally presented in a series of books that gave an account of one Greek and one Roman life, followed by a comparison of the two: Theseus and Romulus, Alcibiades and Coriolanus, Demosthenes and Cicero, Demetrius and Antony. Plutarch was interested in the personalities of his subjects and on the way their characters molded their actions, leading them to tragedy or victory. He was a moralist of the highest order. 'It was for the sake of others that I first commenced writing biographies,' he says, 'but I find myself proceeding and attaching myself to it for my own; the virtues of these great men serving me as a sort of looking-glass, in which I may see how to adjust and adorn my own life.' Plutarch was a man of immense erudition who had traveled widely throughout the Roman Empire, and the Lives are richly anecdotal and full of detail. They were the principal source of Shakespeare's Roman plays.
fifty drachmas a head. Upon the whole account, there remained two hundred and forty Romans unexchanged, and the senate now not only refused to allow money for the ransoms, but also reproached Fabius for making a contract, contrary to the honour and interest of the commonwealth, for redeeming men whose cowardice had put them in the hands of the enemy. Fabius heard and endured all this with invincible patience; and, having no money by him, and on the other side being resolved to keep his word with
owe their greatest achievements to good fortune, or their own prudence and conduct. The affairs of the Syracusans, before Timoleon was sent into Sicily, were in this posture; after Dion had driven out Dionysius the tyrant, he was slain by treachery, and those that had assisted him in delivering Syracuse were divided among themselves; and thus the city by a continual change of governors, and a train of mischiefs that succeeded each other, became almost abandoned; while of the rest of Sicily, part
sustained the roof with his fist, broke it in the middle, so that the house fell and destroyed the children in it; and being pursued, he fled into a great chest, and, shutting to the lid, held it so fast, that many men, with their united strength, could not force it open; afterwards, breaking the chest to pieces, they found no man in it alive or dead; in astonishment at which, they sent to consult the oracle at Delphi; to whom the prophetess made this answer,— “Of all the heroes, Cleomede is
have the reins held by such a moderating hand as is able to divert the fury another way, and that your native city and the whole Sabine nation should possess in you a bond of goodwill and friendship with this young and growing power?” With these reasons and persuasions several auspicious omens are said to have concurred, and the zeal, also, of his fellow-citizens, who, on understanding what message the Roman ambassadors had brought him, entreated him to accompany them, and to accept the kingdom
The Romans anciently called their priests Flamines, by corruption of the word Pilamines, from a certain cap which they wore, called Pileus. In those times Greek words were more mixed with the Latin than at present; thus also the royal robe, which is called Læna, Juba says, is the same as the Greek Chlæna; and that the name of Camillus, given to the boy with both his parents living, who serves in the temple of Jupiter, was taken from the name given by some Greeks to Mercury, denoting his office of