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Plutarch's Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans, commonly called Parallel Lives
Parallel Lives
or Plutarch's Lives, is a series of biographies of famous men, arranged in tandem to illuminate their common moral virtues or failings, probably written at the beginning of the second century AD.[1] The surviving Parallel Lives
Parallel Lives
(Greek: Βίοι Παράλληλοι, Bíoi Parállēloi) comprises 23 pairs of biographies, each pair consisting of one Greek and one Roman, as well as four unpaired, single lives. It is a work of considerable importance, not only as a source of information about the individuals described, but also about the times in which they lived.

Contents

1 Motivation 2 Contents

2.1 Foundation myth

2.1.1 Parentage and youth 2.1.2 Conflict with Amulius 2.1.3 Fratricide 2.1.4 The war with the Sabines 2.1.5 Union with the Sabines 2.1.6 Death of Romulus

3 Biographies

3.1 Key to abbreviations

4 Chronology of the Lives 5 Reception 6 References 7 External links

Motivation[edit] As he explains in the first paragraph of his Life of Alexander, Plutarch
Plutarch
was not concerned with writing histories, but with exploring the influence of character, good or bad, on the lives and destinies of famous men. He wished to prove that the more remote past of Greece could show its men of action and achievement as well as the nearer, and therefore more impressive, past of Rome.[2] His interest was primarily ethical, although the lives have significant historical value as well. The Lives was published by Plutarch
Plutarch
late in his life after his return to Chaeronea
Chaeronea
and, if one may judge from the long lists of authorities given, it must have taken many years to compile.[3] Contents[edit]

Third Volume of a 1727 edition of Plutarch's Lives, printed by Jacob Tonson

The chief manuscripts of the Lives date from the 10th and 11th centuries, and the first printed edition appeared in Rome in 1470.[4] Thomas North's 1579 English translation was an important source-material for Shakespeare. Jacob Tonson
Jacob Tonson
printed several editions of the Lives in English in the late 17th century, beginning with a five-volume set printed in 1688, with subsequent editions printed in 1693, 1702, 1716, and 1727.[citation needed] The most generally accepted text is that of the minor edition of Carl Sintenis in the Bibliotheca Teubneriana (five volumes, Leipzig 1852-1855; reissued without much change in 1873–1875).[citation needed] There are annotated editions by I. C. Held, E. H. G. Leopold, Otto Siefert and Friedrich Blass and Carl Sintenis, all in German; and by Holden, in English.[3] Several of the lives, such as those of Epaminondas
Epaminondas
and Scipio Africanus, are lost,[5] and many of the remaining lives are truncated, contain obvious lacunae and/or have been tampered with by later writers.[citation needed] Plutarch's Life of Alexander is one of the few surviving secondary or tertiary sources about Alexander the Great, and it includes anecdotes and descriptions of incidents that appear in no other source. Likewise, his portrait of Numa Pompilius, an early Roman king, contains unique information about the early Roman calendar.[citation needed] Plutarch
Plutarch
has been criticized for his lack of judicious discrimination in his use of authorities, and consequent errors and inaccuracies, but he gives an abundance of citations and, incidentally, a large number of valuable pieces of information, which fill up numerous gaps in historical knowledge obtained elsewhere.[citation needed] He has been praised for the liveliness and warmth of his portrayals, and his moral earnestness and enthusiasm, and the Lives have attracted a large circle of readers throughout the ages.[3]

Foundation myth[edit] Plutarch's Life of Romulus
Romulus
is a significant source of the Roman foundation myth. Parentage and youth[edit] Plutarch
Plutarch
adds details to the royal scandal behind the infant Romulus and Remus' abandonment in the wilderness. He quotes Diocles of Peparethus and Pictor in writing that when Numitor and Amulius stood to inherit the throne, the twin's great grandfather gave his sons a choice between the throne and the treasures that had been brought back from Troy. Numitor chose the throne, but when he was overthrown, he ended up with neither. Along with the two names mentioned by Livy for the twins' mother, Plutarch
Plutarch
tells us she may also have been named Ilia. The boys were the issue of Amulius himself, who raped his niece while wearing his armor. Upon the discovery of her pregnancy, her cousin Antho, the king's daughter convinced him to spare her life. He suggests that Faustulus may have been the name of the servant charged with the drowning of the twins, as opposed to their adopted father. He names the site where the boys are brought back to dry land by Tibernius as Kermalus, formerly Germanus (from the Latin word for twin). In addition to the common tale, Plutarch
Plutarch
relates a version from Dionysius where the twins' mother was Larentia, a woman famous for her beauty, and their father Hercules. She was forced to spend the night with the hero as his reward for winning a dice game with the keeper of his temple. In the morning, he threw her out and told her to befriend the first man she meets. He was Tarrutius, a wealthy elderly childless bachelor. They slept together, ended up marrying and were together until his death. Faustulus was, in this account, in the employ of Amulius. The basket in which they were abandoned bore a bronze inscription of their names and was kept by Faustulus, however, the inscription had worn off, but it was hoped that it might be used to determine their true parents. Numitor and others possibly knew the secret of the twins origin and Numitor had them educated in Gabii. Romulus
Romulus
was the more dominant of the two. They were defiant toward the authorities and instead of being highwaymen preying on other thieves, here they were portrayed as vigilante protectors of their neighbors. In a story from Caius Ancilius, on one occasion, the twins had lost their flock and had set out after them naked so their sweat wouldn't slow them down. Because they were guided by Faunus, the god of nature, this inspired the later festivals Conflict with Amulius[edit] A dispute between herdsmen loyal to Numitor and Amulius is at the heart of this version. The twins sided with Amulius. Remus was captured when Romulus
Romulus
was elsewhere. When Faustulus learned that Remus has been taken to Numitor, he went to Alba with the basket in which the infant twins were abandoned. It bore a copper plate with an engraving that had long been effaced. He was stopped by the city guards at the gate. The servant charged with abandoning the twins happened to be present and saw the basket, immediately going to inform the king. When brought before Amulius, Faustulus tries to fool the king by telling him the twins were alive elsewhere and the basket was being brought to their mother Ilia. Citing Fabius and Diocles, Plutarch
Plutarch
writes that Amulius sent a man close to Numitor to ask if he had had any word that the twins were alive. However, when he arrived, he saw Remus and Numitor together and warned them. They incited the people against the king just as Romulus arrived with an army of supporters to attack the city. The king was promptly overwhelmed and killed. Fratricide[edit] Plutarch
Plutarch
claims that many slaves and fugitives were already following the twins when they set forth and were motivated by the Alban unwillingness to allow their cohorts to remain. He adds that some sources indicate that Romulus
Romulus
lied about the 12 birds he saw during the contest with Remus. Remus was killed either by his brother, or Celer, Romulus' man, who then fled to Tuscany
Tuscany
with so much haste that his name became the Latin word for speed. Also killed was Faustulus' brother Pleistinus. The war with the Sabines[edit] In the account of the Battle of the Lacas Curtius, the Roman line broke not because of Hostilius' death, but because Romulus
Romulus
was struck by a stone to the head. He rallied the men after recovering. When the women intervened to stop the fighting, some of them had children in their arms. The women not only ended the battle, but brought food and water, cared for the injured and introduced their husbands to their fathers. It was agreed that the Sabine women had no duty but to spin for their husbands from then on. Union with the Sabines[edit] According to Plutarch, the two kings were in full agreement on all except one: the royal response to the crime committed by members of Tatius' relatives against the Laurentian ambassadors. Some of Tatius' relatives killed a group of ambassadors from Laurentium
Laurentium
when their attempt to rob them went wrong. Romulus
Romulus
wanted to punish the men with death promptly, and Tatius did not. Later, while sacrificing with Romulus
Romulus
in Lativium, friends of the ambassadors attacked and killed Tatius, but spared Romulus, praising his sense of fairness. Tatius was given a royal burial, however Plutarch
Plutarch
reports that there were no efforts to punish his killers. He cites one source that claims that the assassins were brought by Laurentium
Laurentium
authorities to Romulus but he declined to punish them. Rome was later visited by a series of plagues, and when it spread to Laurentuim, it was thought to be a result of the injustice in the death of Tatius and the ambassadors. Both cities brought to justice the parties involved in the two attacks, and Romulus
Romulus
performed rights to purify the cities. Rome was weakened by the plague and this prompted Camerium to invade. In one version of the war with Fidenae, Romulus
Romulus
did not raze the city, but instead declared it a colony and sent 2500 Romans to live there. Death of Romulus[edit] Plutarch
Plutarch
recounts several versions of the death. In one, he died peacefully after a long illness. In another, he committed suicide by poison. He recounts two versions wherein he died violently, either by assassins who smothered him at home during the night, or by senators who lured him to the Temple of Vulcan where they killed and dismembered him and each disposed of a small part of his corpse, hidden in their robes. He details the motivations of the senate, saying there was anger toward his demeanor toward them and disregard toward their legal sovereignty in diplomacy and legal proceedings. In the version cited by Livy, the gods themselves were suggested to have intervened. He retells one variant wherein the emotions of the public were assuaged not only by the oath of Proculus Julius
Proculus Julius
to have seen the deified king, but also by an apparently divine force that quieted the anger and suspicions toward the nobles. It descended upon the city and the Romans accepted and worshiped Romulus
Romulus
as Quirinus. Romulus
Romulus
was 54 years old when he disappeared. Biographies[edit]

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Plutarch
Plutarch
structured his Lives by alternating lives of famous Greeks with those of famous Romans. After such a set of two (and one set of four) lives he generally writes out a comparison of the preceding biographies. The table below links to several English translations of Plutarch's Lives available online;[1] see also "Other links" section below. The LacusCurtius site has the complete set; the others are incomplete to varying degrees. There are also four paperbacks published by Penguin Books, two with Greek lives, two Roman, rearranged in chronological order and containing a total of 36 of the lives. Key to abbreviations[edit]

D = Dryden

Dryden is famous for having lent his name as editor-in-chief to the first complete English translation of Plutarch's Lives. This 17th-century translation is available at The MIT Internet Classics Archive. These translations are linked with D in the table below; those marked (D) in parentheses are incomplete in the HTML version.

G = Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg
Project Gutenberg
contains several versions of 19th-century translations of these Lives, see: https://www.gutenberg.org/catalog/world/authrec?fk_authors=342 and https://www.gutenberg.org/etext/14114 The full text version (TXT) of the English poet, Arthur Hugh Clough's revision of Dryden's translation is available (via download) at Gutenberg. These translations are linked with G in the table below.

L = LacusCurtius

LacusCurtius has the Loeb translation by Bernadotte Perrin (published 1914‑1926) of part of the Moralia
Moralia
and all the Lives; see http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Plutarch/home.html These translations are linked with L in the table below.

LV = LibriVox

LibriVox
LibriVox
has many free public domain audiobooks of the Parallel Lives, Volumes I, II, and III. see Parallel Lives
Parallel Lives
public domain audiobook at LibriVox These translations are linked with LV in the table below.

P = Perseus Project

The Perseus Project has several of the Lives, see: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cache/perscoll_Greco-Roman.html The Lives available on the Perseus website are in Greek and English according to the Loeb edition by Bernadotte Perrin; and/or in English according to an abbreviated version of the Thomas North translations[2]. This last edition concentrates on those of the Lives Shakespeare
Shakespeare
based his plays upon: Thomas North's translation of most of the Lives, based on the French version of Jacques Amyot
Jacques Amyot
published in the 16th century, preceded Dryden's translation mentioned above. These translations are linked with P in the table below.

Greek

Theseus
Theseus
D G L P LV Lycurgus (D) G L Solon
Solon
D G L P Themistocles
Themistocles
D G L P Pericles
Pericles
(D) G L P Alcibiades[3] (D) G L P Timoleon
Timoleon
(D) G L Pelopidas
Pelopidas
D G L Aristides
Aristides
D G L P Philopoemen
Philopoemen
D G L Pyrrhus (D) G L Lysander
Lysander
D G L P Cimon
Cimon
D G L P Nicias
Nicias
D G L P Eumenes D G L Agesilaus (D) G L Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great
(D) G L P Phocion
Phocion
D G L Agis D L and Cleomenes D L   Demosthenes
Demosthenes
D L Demetrius
Demetrius
(D) L Dion (D) L Aratus
Aratus
(D) L and Artaxerxes D L

Roman

Romulus
Romulus
D G L Numa Pompilius
Numa Pompilius
D G L Poplicola D G L Camillus (D) G L Fabius Maximus D G L Coriolanus
Coriolanus
(D) G L P Aemilius Paulus
Aemilius Paulus
(D) G L Marcellus D G L Cato the Elder
Cato the Elder
D G L Flamininus
Flamininus
D G L Gaius Marius
Gaius Marius
(D) G L Sulla
Sulla
(D) G L Lucullus
Lucullus
(D) G L Crassus (D) G L Sertorius
Sertorius
D G L Pompey
Pompey
(D) G L Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
(D) G L P1 P2[4] Cato the Younger
Cato the Younger
(D) G L Tiberius Gracchus
Tiberius Gracchus
D L and Gaius Gracchus
Gaius Gracchus
D L Cicero
Cicero
(D) L Mark Antony
Mark Antony
(D) L P Brutus (D) L P Galba
Galba
D L and Otho
Otho
D L

Comparisons

D G L D G L D G L (N/A) D G L D G L D G L D G L G L D G L (N/A) D G L D G L D G L D G L D G L (N/A) (N/A) D L   D L D L D L (N/A)

Notes

^ The last line of the table contains the four "unpaired" lives, as mentioned above. ^ The Perseus project also contains a biography of Caesar Augustus appearing in the North translation, but not coming from Plutarch's Parallel Lives: P ^ Though the majority of the Parallel Lives
Parallel Lives
were written with the Greek hero (or heroes) placed in the first position followed by the Roman hero, there are three sets of Lives where this order is reversed: Aemilius Paulus/Timoleon, Coriolanus/ Alcibiades
Alcibiades
and Sertorius/Eumenes. ^ At the time of composing this table there appears some confusion in the internal linking of the Perseus project webpages, responsible for this split in two references.

Chronology of the Lives[edit]

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The following chronology of legendary and historical figures whose biographies appear in the Lives is organized by date of death, as birth dates in antiquity are more often uncertain. All dates are BC except Galba
Galba
and Otho.

Theseus
Theseus
1264–1204 Romulus
Romulus
771–717 Numa Pompilius
Numa Pompilius
d. 673 Lycurgus c. 700 – 630 Solon
Solon
638–558 Poplicola d. 503 Coriolanus
Coriolanus
c. 475 Aristides
Aristides
530–468 Themistocles
Themistocles
524–459 Cimon
Cimon
510–450 Pericles
Pericles
495–429 Nicias
Nicias
470–413 Alcibiades
Alcibiades
450–404 Lysander
Lysander
d. 395 Camillus 446–365 Pelopidas
Pelopidas
d. 364 Agesilaus 444–360 Artaxerxes c. 440 – 358 Dion 408–354 Timoleon
Timoleon
411–337 Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great
356–323 Demosthenes
Demosthenes
384–322 Phocion
Phocion
402–318 Eumenes 362–316 Demetrius
Demetrius
d. 283 Pyrrhus 318–272 Agis c. 245 Cleomenes d. 219 Aratus
Aratus
271–213 Marcellus 268–208 Fabius Maximus 275–203 Philopoemen
Philopoemen
253–183 Flamininus
Flamininus
228–174 Aemilius Paulus
Aemilius Paulus
229–160 Cato the Elder
Cato the Elder
234–149 Tiberius Gracchus
Tiberius Gracchus
c. 164 – c. 133 Gaius Gracchus
Gaius Gracchus
154–121 Gaius Marius
Gaius Marius
157–86 Sulla
Sulla
138–78 Sertorius
Sertorius
c. 123 – 72 Lucullus
Lucullus
118–56 Crassus 115–53 Pompey
Pompey
106–48 Cato the Younger
Cato the Younger
95–46 Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
100–44 Cicero
Cicero
106–43 Brutus 85–42 Mark Antony
Mark Antony
83–30 Galba
Galba
3 BC – 69 AD Otho
Otho
32 AD – 69 AD

Reception[edit] Of the biographies in Parallel Lives, that of Antonius has been cited by multiple scholars as one of the masterpieces of the series.[6][7][8] In 1895, George Wyndham
George Wyndham
wrote that the first rank consists of the biographies of Themistocles, Alcibiades, Marius, Cato, Alexander, Demetrius, Antonius, and Pompey.[9] Peter D'Epiro praised Plutarch's depiction of Alcibiades
Alcibiades
as "a masterpiece of characterization."[10] Academic Philip A. Stadter singled out Pompey and Caesar as the greatest figures in the Roman biographies.[11] References[edit]

^ James Romm (ed.), Plutarch: Lives that Made Greek History, Hackett Publishing, 2012, p. vi. ^ Life of Alexander 1.2 ^ a b c  Rines, George Edwin, ed. (1920). "Lives, Parallel". Encyclopedia Americana.  ^ Pade, Marianne. The Reception of Plutarch's Lives in Fifteenth-Century Italy Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2007. http://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/distributed/R/bo14317199.html ^ "Translator's Introduction". The Parallel Lives
Parallel Lives
(Vol. I ed.). Loeb Classical Library Edition. 1914.  ^ Shakespeare's Principal Plays. Century Company. 1922.  ^ Stadter, Philip A., ed. (2002). Plutarch
Plutarch
and the Historical Tradition. Routledge. p. 159. ISBN 1134913192.  ^ Plutarch
Plutarch
(1906). Plutarch's Lives of Coriolanus, Caesar, Brutus, and Antonius: In North's Translation. Translated by North, Thomas. Clarendon Press.  ^ Plutarch
Plutarch
(1895). Plutarch's Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans, Volume 1. Translated by North, Thomas. D. Nutt.  ^ D'Epiro, Peter (2010). The Book of Firsts: 150 World-Changing People and Events from Caesar Augustus
Caesar Augustus
to the Internet. Anchor Books. p. 38. ISBN 0307388433.  ^ Brice, Lee L.; Slootjes, Daniëlle, eds. (2014). Aspects of Ancient Institutions and Geography: Studies in Honor of Richard J.A. Talbert. BRILL. p. 38. ISBN 9004283722. 

External links[edit]

Wikisource
Wikisource
has original text related to this article: Lives

Greek Wikisource
Wikisource
has original text related to this article: Βίοι Παράλληλοι

University of Chicago English text of Plutarch's Parallel Lives. Parallel Lives
Parallel Lives
of the Noble Greeks and Romans public domain audiobook at LibriVox

v t e

The works of Plutarch

Works

Parallel Lives Moralia Pseudo-Plutarch

Lives

Alcibiades
Alcibiades
and Coriolanus1 Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great
and Julius Caesar Aratus of Sicyon
Aratus of Sicyon
/ Artaxerxes and Galba
Galba
/ Otho2 Aristides
Aristides
and Cato the Elder1 Crassus and Nicias1 Demetrius
Demetrius
and Antony1 Demosthenes
Demosthenes
and Cicero1 Dion and Brutus1 Fabius and Pericles1 Lucullus
Lucullus
and Cimon1 Lysander
Lysander
and Sulla1 Numa and Lycurgus1 Pelopidas
Pelopidas
and Marcellus1 Philopoemen
Philopoemen
and Flamininus1 Phocion
Phocion
and Cato the Younger Pompey
Pompey
and Agesilaus1 Poplicola and Solon1 Pyrrhus and Gaius Marius Romulus
Romulus
and Theseus1 Sertorius
Sertorius
and Eumenes1 Agis / Cleomenes1 and Tiberius Gracchus
Tiberius Gracchus
/ Gaius Gracchus Timoleon
Timoleon
and Aemilius Paulus1 Themistocles
Themistocles
and Camillus

Translators and editors

Jacques Amyot Arthur Hugh Clough John Dryden Philemon Holland Thomas North

1 Comparison extant 2 F

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