The Ancient Library
 

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ROMAN PERIOD. 461

each pair contains the life of a Greek and a Roman, and is followed by a comparison, fffryKpuris, of the two men: in a few pairs the comparison is omitted or lost. He seems to have considered each pair of lives and the parallel as making one book (Pip\iov). When he says that the book of the lives of Demosthenes and Cicero was the fifth, it is the most natural interpretation to suppose that it was the fifth in the order in which he wrote them. It could not be the fifth in any other sense, if each pair composed a book. We have also the lives of Artaxerxes Mnemon, Ara-tus, Galba, and Otho, which are placed in the editions after the forty-six lives. A life of Homer is also attributed to him, but it is not printed in all the editions. The following lives by Plutarch are lost: Epaminon-das, Scipio, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Vitellius, He-siod, Pindar, Crates the Cynic, Dai'phantus, Aristomenes, and the poet Aratus.

The authorities for Plutarch's Lives are incidentally indicated in the lives themselves. He is said to quote 250 writers, of whom about eighty are those whose works are either entirely or partially lost. The ques­tion of the sources of Plutarch's Lives has been examined by Heeren.1 Plutarch must have had access to a good library, and if he wrote all Kis Lives during his old age at Chaeronea, we must infer that he had a large stock of books at command. Being a Greek, and an educated man, he could not fail to be well acquainted with all the sources for his Greek Lives; and he has indicated them pretty fully. His acquaintance with the sources for his Roman Lives was less complete, and his handling of them less critical. Perhaps no work of antiquity has been so extensively read in modern times as Plutarch's Lives. The reason of their popular­ity is that Plutarch has rightly conceived the business of a biographer: his biography is true portraiture. Other biography is often a dull, tedious enumeration of facts in the order of time, with perhaps a summing up of character at the end. The reflections of Plutarch are neither imperti­nent nor trifling; his sound good sense is always there ; his honesty of purpose is transparent; his love of humanity warms the whole. His work is and will remain, in spite of all the fault that can be found with it by plodding collectors of facts and small critics, the book of those who can nobly think, and dare and do.

Plutarch's other writings, above sixty in number, are placed under the general title of Moralia, or ethical works, though some of them are of an historical and anecdotical character, such as the essay on the malignity (KUKOTjfleia) of Herodotus, which neither requires nor merits refutation, and his Apophthegmata, many of which are of little value. Eleven of these essays are generally classed among Plutarch's historical works. Among them, also, are his Roman Questions or Inquiries, his Greek Questions, and his Lives of the Ten Orators. But it is likely enough that several of the essays which are included in the Moralia of Plutarch are not by him. At any rate, some of them are not worth reading. The best of the essays included among the Moralia are of a different stamp. There is no philosophical system in these essays : pure speculation was 1 De Fontibus, &c., Vit. Parallel, &c., Gottingen, 1820, 8vo.

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