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John Milton Short BIOGRAPHY - A man of letter - 17th Centuries Greatest Poet

Such a man, again, was Cassius Scaeva, who, in the battle at Dyrrhachium, had his eye struck out with an arrow, his shoulder transfixed with one javelin and his thigh with another, and received on his shield the blows of one hundred and thirty missiles. In this plight, he called the enemy to him as though he would surrender. Two of them, accordingly, coming up, he lopped off the shoulder of one with his sword, smote the other in the face and put him to flight, and came off safely himself with the aid of his comrades.

Again, in Britain, when the enemy had fallen upon the foremost centurions, who had plunged into a watery marsh, a soldier, while Caesar in person was watching the battle, dashed into the midst of the fight, displayed many conspicuous deeds of daring, and rescued the centurions, after the Barbarians had been routed. Then he himself, making his way with difficulty after all the rest, plunged into the muddy current, and at last, without his shield, partly swimming and partly wading, got across.

Caesar and his company were amazed and came to meet the soldier with cries of joy; but he, in great dejection, and with a burst of tears, cast himself at Caesar's feet, begging pardon for the loss of his shield. Again, in Africa, Scipio captured a ship of Caesar's in which Granius Petro, who had been appointed quaestor, was sailing. Of the rest of the passengers Scipio made booty, but told the quaestor that he offered him his life.

Granius, however, remarking that it was the custom with Caesar's soldiers not to receive but to offer mercy, killed himself with a blow of his sword. Sometimes, Plutarch quotes directly from the De Bello Gallico and even tells us of the moments when Caesar was dictating his works. In the final part of this Life , Plutarch counts Caesar's assassination, and several details. The book ends on telling the destiny of his murderers, and says that Caesar's "great guardian-genius" avenged him after life.

Plutarch's Life of Pyrrhus is a key text because it is the main historical account on Roman history for the period from to BC, for which neither Dionysius nor Livy have surviving texts.


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Plutarch stretches and occasionally fabricates the similarities between famous Greeks and Romans in order to be able to write their biographies as parallel. The lives of Nicias and Crassus, for example, have little in common except that "both were rich and both suffered great military defeats at the ends of their lives". In his Life of Pompey , Plutarch praises Pompey's trustworthy character and tactful behaviour in order to conjure a moral judgement that opposes most historical accounts.

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Plutarch delivers anecdotes with moral points, rather than in-depth comparative analyses of the causes of the fall of the Achaemenid Empire and the Roman Republic , [25] and tends on occasion to fit facts to hypotheses [ citation needed ]. On the other hand, he generally sets out his moral anecdotes in chronological order unlike, say, his Roman contemporary Suetonius [25] and is rarely narrow-minded and unrealistic, almost always prepared to acknowledge the complexity of the human condition where moralising cannot explain it.

The remainder of Plutarch's surviving work is collected under the title of the Moralia loosely translated as Customs and Mores.

It is an eclectic collection of seventy-eight essays and transcribed speeches, including On Fraternal Affection —a discourse on honour and affection of siblings toward each other, On the Fortune or the Virtue of Alexander the Great —an important adjunct to his Life of the great king, On the Worship of Isis and Osiris a crucial source of information on Egyptian religious rites , [26] along with more philosophical treatises, such as On the Decline of the Oracles , On the Delays of the Divine Vengeance , On Peace of Mind and lighter fare, such as Odysseus and Gryllus , a humorous dialogue between Homer 's Odysseus and one of Circe 's enchanted pigs.

The Moralia was composed first, while writing the Lives occupied much of the last two decades of Plutarch's own life. The customs of Romans and Greeks are illuminated in little essays that pose questions such as 'Why were patricians not permitted to live on the Capitoline? In On the Malice of Herodotus Plutarch criticizes the historian Herodotus for all manner of prejudice and misrepresentation. It has been called the "first instance in literature of the slashing review. The Romans loved the Lives , and enough copies were written out over the centuries so that a copy of most of the lives has survived to the present day.

An ancient list of works attributed to Plutarch, the 'Catalogue of Lamprias' contains works, of which 78 have come down to us.

There are traces of twelve more Lives that are now lost. Plutarch's general procedure for the Lives was to write the life of a prominent Greek, then cast about for a suitable Roman parallel, and end with a brief comparison of the Greek and Roman lives. Currently, only 19 of the parallel lives end with a comparison, while possibly they all did at one time.

Also missing are many of his Lives which appear in a list of his writings, those of Hercules, the first pair of Parallel Lives , Scipio Africanus and Epaminondas , and the companions to the four solo biographies. Even the lives of such important figures as Augustus , Claudius and Nero have not been found and may be lost forever. Plutarch was a Platonist , but was open to the influence of the Peripatetics , and in some details even to Stoicism despite his criticism of their principles.

In opposition to Stoic materialism and Epicurean atheism he cherished a pure idea of God that was more in accordance with Plato. He strongly defends freedom of the will, and the immortality of the soul. Platonic-Peripatetic ethics were upheld by Plutarch against the opposing theories of the Stoics and Epicureans. His attitude to popular religion was similar. The gods of different peoples are merely different names for one and the same divine Being and the powers that serve it.

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Plutarch's writings had an enormous influence on English and French literature. Shakespeare paraphrased parts of Thomas North 's translation of selected Lives in his plays , and occasionally quoted from them verbatim. Jean-Jacques Rousseau quotes from Plutarch in the Emile, or On Education , a treatise on the education of the whole person for citizenship.

Rousseau introduces a passage from Plutarch in support of his position against eating meat: "'You ask me,' said Plutarch, 'why Pythagoras abstained from eating the flesh of beasts Ralph Waldo Emerson and the Transcendentalists were greatly influenced by the Moralia and in his glowing introduction to the five-volume, 19th-century edition, he called the Lives "a bible for heroes". When the manners of Loo are heard of, the stupid become intelligent, and the wavering, determined. Montaigne 's Essays draw extensively on Plutarch's Moralia and are consciously modelled on the Greek's easygoing and discursive inquiries into science, manners, customs and beliefs.

Essays contains more than references to Plutarch and his works. James Boswell quoted Plutarch on writing lives, rather than biographies, in the introduction to his own Life of Samuel Johnson. Plutarch's influence declined in the 19th and 20th centuries, but it remains embedded in the popular ideas of Greek and Roman history. One of his most famous quotes was one that he included in one of his earliest works.

Jacques Amyot 's translations brought Plutarch's works to Western Europe. He went to Italy and studied the Vatican text of Plutarch, from which he published a French translation of the Lives in and Moralia in , which were widely read by educated Europe. The complete Moralia was first translated into English from the original Greek by Philemon Holland in In , John Dryden began a life of Plutarch and oversaw a translation of the Lives by several hands and based on the original Greek. This translation has been reworked and revised several times, most recently in the 19th century by the English poet and classicist Arthur Hugh Clough first published in One contemporary publisher of this version is Modern Library.

In , English brothers John and William Langhorne published "Plutarch's Lives from the original Greek, with notes critical and historical, and a new life of Plutarch" in 6 volumes and dedicated to Lord Folkestone. Their translation was re-edited by Archdeacon Wrangham in the year From to , an American classicist, Bernadotte Perrin , [46] produced a new translation of the Lives for the Loeb Classical Library.

The Moralia is also included in the Loeb series, translated by various authors. Penguin Classics began a series of translations by various scholars in with The Fall of the Roman Republic , which contained six Lives and was translated by Rex Warner. Note: just main translations from the second half of 15th century. In , Hieronymus Emser translated De capienda ex inimicis utilitate wie ym eyner seinen veyndt nutz machen kan, Leipzig. The biographies were translated by Gottlob Benedict von Schirach — and printed in Vienna by Franz Haas, — Following some Hebrew translations of selections from Plutarch's Parallel Lives published in the s and the s, a complete translation was published in three volumes by the Bialik Institute in , and The first volume, Roman Lives , first published in , presents the translations of Joseph G.

The second volume, Greek Lives , first published in presents A.

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Three more biographies presented in this volume, those of Solon , Themistocles and Alcibiades were translated by M. The third volume, Greek and Roman Lives , published in , presented the remaining biographies and parallels as translated by Halevy. It completes the translation of the known remaining biographies. In the introduction to the third volume Halevy explains that originally the Bialik Institute intended to publish only a selection of biographies, leaving out mythological figures and biographies that had no parallels.

Thus, to match the first volume in scope the second volume followed the same path and the third volume was required. Some editions of the Moralia include several works now known to have been falsely attributed to Plutarch. Despite being falsely attributed, the works are still considered to possess historical value. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Ancient Greek historian and philosopher. John Milton.