Nine of Plutarch's Roman Lives--Coriolanus, Fabius Maximus, Marcellus, Cato the Elder, Tiberius Bracchus, Gaius Gracchus, Sertorius, Brutus, and Mark Antony--illustrate the courage and tenacity of the Romans in war and their genius for political compromise, from the earliest years of the Republic to the establishment of the Empire.
Plutarch's parallel biographies of the great men in Greek and Roman history are cornerstones of European literature, drawn on by countless writers since the Renaissance. This selection provides intimate glimpses into the lives of these men, revealing why the mild Artaxerxes forced the killer of his usurping brother to undergo the horrific "death of two boats"; why the noble Dion repeatedly risked his life for the ungrateful mobs of Syracuse; why Demosthenes delivered a funeral oration for the soldiers he had deserted in battle; and why Alexander self-destructed after conquering half the world.
Whether he is offering abstract speculations or practical ethics, reflections on the benefits of military versus intellectual glory, or the reasoning powers of animals, Plutarch's encyclopedic writings form a treasure trove of ancient wisdom.
Nine Greek biographies illustrate the rise and fall of Athens, from the legendary days of Theseus, the city's founder, through Solon, Themistocles, Aristides, Cimon, Pericles, Nicias, and Alcibiades, to the razing of its walls by Lysander.