Saturday, April 9, 2022

Plutarch's Parallel Lives

PARALLEL LIVES (Plutarch, Greco-Roman, c. 100 CE)

Plutarch's Parallel Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans comprises 23 pairs of biographies. Each one pairs a leading Greek with a similar Roman, such as Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar. After each pair he usually appends an essay comparing the two (or in one case, a grouping of four). In addition to the pairs, two more unpaired names are usually added, plus two from a previous set of biographies, making 50 in all.

  • Plutarch himself was a Greek philosopher, historian, biographer, and priest at the Temple of Apollo in Delphi, born in the Roman era (c. 46-after 119 CE).
  • The average reader would recognize many of these names, like Theseus, Romulus, Solon, Pericles, Pompey, Cicero, Mark Anthony, Brutus, and others.
  • The Lives are Plutarch's second biographical work; only fragments survive of the first, Lives of the Roman Emperors.
  • Plutarch wrote another well-known work, the Moralia, a collection of essays and speeches.


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