The Selection of Plutarch's Lives

Nov 2012
429
Wiltshire
#1
A more casual topic of discussion...

Are there any omissions or inclusions in Plutarch's Lives that you find interesting? Personally, I've alway thought it a little strange that Scipio Africanus doesn't merit a Life of his own.

Discuss. :)
 

Otranto

Ad Honorem
May 2013
2,083
Netherlands
#2
You mean unpaired? Because Scipio was part of the Parallel Lives.

Plutarch is more of a moralist than a biographer. If he excludes someone, I assume that's because someone else already served his moralist purposes.

I wanted more legendary characters but, as Plutarch says, you can only go back so far before history becomes incredible. So personally I'm happy with how it is.
 

Otranto

Ad Honorem
May 2013
2,083
Netherlands
#4
Yeah, it didn't survive, but it was written according to an introduction I read. What may be strange though, is why it didn't survive, but I wouldn't know.

By paired I meant, he paired most of his Lives with other Lives (to compare them with each other), but he also wrote a few single Lives (with no comparison).

By the way, does anyone know how bad Clough / Dryden's translation is? I like how it reads, but am I missing many subtleties?
 
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Otranto

Ad Honorem
May 2013
2,083
Netherlands
#6
The Greeks and Romans he compares seem fairly dissimilar in some instances. Like why would Lysander be compared with Sulla?
Comparisons are contrasts too. Sylla performed "more glorious deeds," and Lysander committed "fewer faults." What they had in common was being "founders of their own greatness." Lysander is praised for his princely character, temperance and chastity, and Sylla criticized for tyranny and adultery. But what they have again in common, is that they expected others not to live according to their example. The "debauchee" Sylla attempts to restore "sober living" among his citizens, and the "temperate" Lysander "filled Sparta with the luxury he disregarded."

If you can't guess Plutarch's points from the lives themselves, his comparisons at the end will give them.
 
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Oct 2013
117
Tellurem
#7
I believe Scipio Africanus was paired with Epaminondas of Thebes. I've only read Pericles, but I'll certainly be reading more of them.
 
Oct 2015
874
Virginia
#9
"Josephus" and "Otranto" are right. The paired biographies of Epaminondas and Scipio, probably the first ones written, are lost; as are four of the "comparisons" (Themistocles/Camillus, Pyrrhus/Marius, Alexander/Caesar, Phocion/Cato the younger).

22 parallel lives (including the "foursome" (Aegis, Cleomenes/the Gracchi brothers)) and four single biographies have survived. But the Epaminondas/Scipio pair, the introduction and dedication of "Parallel Lives", and possibly as many as 12 other single biographies have been lost.
 
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