Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Makers Of Rome: Nine Lives (Penguin Classics) By Plutarch

The Makers of Rome: Nine Lives (Penguin Classics)

The Makers Of Rome: Nine Lives (Penguin Classics) By Plutarch

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Product Description

These nine biographies illuminate the careers, personalities and military campaigns of some of Rome's greatest statesmen, whose lives span the earliest days of the Republic to the establishment of the Empire. Selected from Plutarch's "Roman Lives", they include prominent figures who achieved fame for their pivotal roles in Roman history, such as soldierly Marcellus, eloquent Cato and cautious Fabius. Here too are vivid portraits of ambitious, hot-tempered Coriolanus; objective, principled Brutus and open-hearted Mark Anthony, who would later be brought to life by Shakespeare. In recounting the lives of these great leaders, Plutarch also explores the problems of statecraft and power and illustrates the Roman people's genius for political compromise, which led to their mastery of the ancient world.

Product Details
  • Amazon Sales Rank: #24452 in Books
  • Brand: Penguin Group USA
  • Published on: 1965-10-30
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Dimensions: .1 pounds
  • Binding: Paperback
  • 368 pages
Editorial Reviews

About the Author
Plutarch's life spanned the second half of the 1st century AD. He was highly educated in rhetoric and philosophy at Athens but his deep interest in religion led him to Delphi, where he was eventually appointed a priesthood. He travelled, most crucially to Rome, where he lectured and made friends of considerable influence. He wrote and taught throughout his life. Ian Scott-Kilvert was Director of English Literature at the British Council and Editor of Writers and their Works. He has tranlsated three other of Plutarch's works for the Penguin Classics. He died in 1989.

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews

33 of 35 people found the following review helpful.
5Great stuff!
By D. Roberts
Plutarch is one of the more reliable and trustworthy historians that ancient Rome has to offer. After his death, the great emperor Hadrian bestowed upon him ingratiating respect and admiration. These are excerpts from his infamous "Lives." In this book we get a historical documentary on such personages as the Gracchus brothers, Coriolanus, Brutus, Cato the Elder, Sertorius and Mark Anthony. Of particular interest to the military historian are his accounts of Fabius Maximus and Marcellus (two of the Roman generals who squared off against Hannibal).

I would recommend this book as a must-read for any and all people who take a curiosity in the Roman empire. Plutarch fills in a lot of the "gaps" of common knowledge re: what happened after Julius Caesar's assasination insofar as Brutus, Cassius, Octavion and Mark Anthony are concerned. The brief section on Sertorius intrigued me as he is a figure whom I was not familiar with at all. The bravery of the Gracchs brothers (which they probably inherited from their grandfather, Scipo Africanus) is extolled, as well it should be. And, to top it off, we even get to find out why Coriolanus was a Mama's boy. Plutarch's "Makers Of Rome" is a very informative book which covers a lot of ground in just a few pages.

25 of 27 people found the following review helpful.
5Nine Fascinating "Lives" By Plutarch
By AntiochAndy
Plutarch is one of the most popular ancient historians. His straightforward style and flair for the dramatic make his biographies of ancient Greeks and Romans both informative and entertaining. In fact, a number of Shakespearean characters are based on Plutarch's writings. It was his fondness for dramatic appeal that prompted the "semi-fictional" rather than purely factual treatment of history for which he is known. His intent was not so much to record historical events as it was use character and dramatic examples of success and failure to illustrate moral lessons.

Plutarch was not an eyewitness to the events he recorded. Although he was a prominent scholar and civil servant and traveled widely, he spent most of his life in Chaeronea in central Greece. Further, his subjects all lived 200 or more years before him. He had a wide variety of sources, but conflicting evidence and an occaissional paucity of detail gave him ample opportunities to dramatize or embellish his work.

In his "Lives", Plutarch pursued two major themes. One was the tenacity of Rome in war. Despite military setbacks, Rome always stayed the course and prevailed in the end. Whether it was Hannibal, Pyrrhus, gallic tribes or whoever, Rome outlasted them. The second was Rome's political genius and ability to compromise. In contrast to the Greeks, who always fought among themselves and brought about their own downfall, Romans managed to put aside their differences and stand together when necessary.

The "Lives" were originally written in pairs, matching a Greek and a Roman whose lives paralleled each other in Plutarch's estimation. For example, he paired the lives of Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar. To most modern readers, these pairings seem artificial. Instead, translator Scott-Kilvert has chosen to group together nine Roman biographies that collectively extend through the period from the beginnings of the Republic to the establishment of the Empire and illustrate Plutarch's two major themes.

These "Lives" are fascinating reading. Find out how the strategy of Fabius Maximus enabled Rome to defeat Hannibal and why the Gracchi brothers were killed. This book is a must for anybody with an interest in Roman history. Beyond that, though, Plutarch's straightforward and dramatic style will appeal to many casual readers, as well. Give it a try. Highly recommended.

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful.
5Eminently readable, with timeless lessons in leadership!
By A Customer
This is a superb translation, very readable, and full of moral lessons in leadership. I found the concepts and traits put forth by Plutarch, in describing the nine varied personalities in this book, to be both absorbing and thought provoking. In fact, upon reflection, I wonder if the conveyance of a "code of honor" was not in fact one of his aims in writing his parallel lives (certainly Roman virtues are highlighted in these particular lives). This book should be a "must read" for anyone, even a casual reader, interested in ancient or Roman history.

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