Plutarch : lives that made Greek history

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During his lifetime, his writings and lectures made him a celebrity on top of his role as priest of Apollo and mayor of the town of Chaeronea. Throughout the centuries, Plutarch has been referenced so frequently and in so many ways that some scholars estimate only a third or half of his works actually survive today. This collection contains the complete texts in their Loeb Classical Library editions, translated by Bernadotte Perrin.

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Each text includes the original Greek and the English translation for easy side-by-side comparison. Use the dictionary lookup tool to examine difficult English words used by the translator or challenging Greek words used by Plutarch. Students of literature, history, and philosophy will enjoy these works and appreciate their significance. Sample Pages: 1 2 3 4 5. This volume contains the Greek text of the parallel biographies of Pericles and Fabius Maximus, and Niclas and Crassus. This volume contains the Greek text of the parallel biographies of Alcibiades and Coriolanus, and Lysander and Sulla.

This volume contains the Greek text of the parallel biographies of Agesilaus and Pompey, and Pelopidas and Marcellus. This volume contains the Greek text of the parallel biographies of Demosthenes and Cicero, and Alexander and Caesar. This volume contains the Greek text of the parallel biographies of Sertorius and Eumenes, and Phocion and Cato the Younger. This volume contains the Greek text of the parallel biographies of Demetrius and Antony, and Pyrrhus and Caius Marius.

This volume contains the original Greek text of the parallel biographies of Agis and Cleomenes, Tiberius and Caius Gracchus, and Philopoemen and Flamininus. This volume contains the original Greek text of the parallel biographies of Aratus, Artaxerxes, Galba and Otho. Justice, even if slow, is sure. In those earlier times, to use the words of Hesiod, 3 "work was no disgrace," nor did a trade bring with it social inferiority, and the calling of a merchant was actually held in honour, since it gave him familiarity with foreign parts, friendships with foreign kings, and a large experience in affairs.

Thales is said to have engaged in trade, as well as Hippocrates the mathematician; and Plato defrayed the expenses of his sojourn in Egypt by the sale of oil. Then later, he put philosophic maxims into verse, and interwove many political teachings in his poems, not simply to record and transmit them, but because they contained justifications of his acts, and sometimes exhortations, admonitions, and rebukes for the Athenians.

By winds the sea is lashed to storm, but if it be Unvexed, it is of all things most amenable. But what contributed still more to their honour and fame was the circuit which the tripod made among them, its passing round through all their hands, and their mutual declination of it, with generous expressions of goodwill. It proved to contain a golden tripod which Helen, on her voyage from Troy, is said to have thrown in there, when she called to mind a certain ancient oracle. First the strangers had a dispute with the fishermen about the tripod, and then their cities took up the quarrel and went at last to war, whereupon the Pythian priestess of Apollo told both parties in an oracle that the tripod must be given to the wisest man.

But Thales declared that Bias was a wiser man than he, and the tripod was sent to Bias. From Bias, in his turn, it was dispatched to another, as wiser than he.

So it went the rounds and was sent away by each in turn, until at last it came to Thales for the second time. Finally, it was carried from Miletus to Thebes and dedicated to Ismenian Apollo. These, then, are the more common versions of the tale. But some say that the gift thus passed from hand to hand was not the tripod now seen at Delphi, but a bowl sent there by Croesus; and others that it was a beaker left there by Bathycles.

On Solon's replying that it was better to make one's friendships at home, "Well then," said Anacharsis, "do thou, who art at home, make me thy friend and guest. This was when he was already engaged in public affairs and compiling his laws. But the results justified the conjecture of Anacharsis rather than the hopes of Solon.

It was Anacharsis, too, who said, after attending a session of the assembly, that he was amazed to find that among the Greeks, a the wise men pleaded causes, but the fools decided them. When Solon asked what news there was at Athens, the man, who was under instructions what to say, answered: "None other than the funeral of a young man, who was followed to the grave by the whole city. But be not dismayed at this story, for it is not true. Indeed, even virtue, the most valuable and pleasing possession in the world, is often banished by sickness and drugs.

Lives that Made Greek History

And Thales himself, though unmarried, was nevertheless not wholly free from apprehension, unless he also avoided having friends, or relations, or country. For the soul has in itself a capacity for affection, and loves just as naturally as it perceives, understands, and remembers. It clothes itself in this capacity, and attaches itself to those who are not akin to it, and just as if it were a house or an estate that lacks lawful heirs, this craving for affection is entered and occupied by alien and illegitimate children, or retainers, who, along with love for them, inspire anxiety and fear in their behalf.


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But others have borne the loss of noble sons without terrible sorrow or unworthy conduct, and have conformed the rest of their lives to the dictates of reason. Such men do not even enjoy what they long for when they get it, but are filled with continual pangs, tremors, and struggles by the fear of future loss. However, we must be fortified not by poverty against deprivation of worldly goods, nor by friendlessness against loss of friends, nor by childlessness against death of children, but by reason against all adversities.

This, under present circumstances, is more than enough on this head. Solon could not endure the disgrace of this, and when he saw that many of the young men wanted steps taken to bring on the war, but did not dare to take those steps themselves on account of the law, he pretended to be out of his head, and a report was given to the city by his family that he showed signs of madness.

When Solon had sung it, his friends began to praise him, and Peisistratus in particular urged and incited the citizens to obey his words. They therefore repealed the law and renewed the war, putting Solon in command of it. Having sailed to Cape Colias with Peisistratus, he found all the women of the city there, performing the customary sacrifice to Demeter. He therefore sent a trusty man to Salamis, who pretended to be a deserter, and bade the Megarians, if they wished to capture the principal women of Athens, to sail to Colias with him as fast as they could.

The Megarians were persuaded by him, and sent off some men in his ship. The result was that not a man of them escaped, but all were slain, and the Athenians at once set sail and took possession of the island. But the Megarians in the city of Salamis, hearing only an uncertain report of what had happened, armed themselves hurriedly and set out for the place, at the same time dispatching a ship to spy out the enemy.

At the same time, with the rest of his Athenians, he engaged the Megarians on land, and while the fight was still raging, the crew of the ship succeeded in capturing the city.

Lives that Made Greek History - Plutarch, James S. Romm, Pamela Mensch - Google книги

Namely, an Attic ship would approach the island in silence at first, then its crew would make an onset with shouts and cries, and one man in full armour would leap out with a shout of triumph and run to the promontory of Sciradium to inform those who were attacking by land. Hard by that place is the temple of Enyalius 10 which was erected by Solon. For he conquered the Megarians, and all who were not slain in the battle were released on parole.


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Accordingly, most writers say that the fame of Homer favoured the contention of Solon; for after himself inserting a verse into the Catalogue of Ships, he read the passage at the trial thus:— " Ajax from Salamis brought twelve ships, And bringing, stationed them near the Athenian hosts. For the Megarians bury their dead facing the east, but the Athenians facing the west.

However, Hereas the Megarian denies this, and says that the Megarians also turn the faces of their dead to the west. And what is still more important than this, he says that the Athenians use one tomb for each body, whereas the Megarians like the early inhabitants of Salamis place three or four bodies in one tomb. But he was even more admired and celebrated among the Greeks for what he said in behalf of the temple at Delphi, namely, that the Greeks must come to its relief, and not suffer the people of Cirrha to outrage the oracle, but aid the Delphians in maintaining the honour of the god.

Those who were outside of sacred precincts were stoned to death, and those who took refuge at the altars were slaughtered there; only those were spared who made supplication to the wives of the archons. The survivors of the followers of Cylon also recovered strength, and were forever at variance with the descendants of Megacles. At this particular time the quarrel was at its height and the people divided between the two factions.

Those who were alive were banished, and the bodies of the dead were dug up and cast forth beyond the borders of the country. During these disturbances the Megarians also attacked the Athenians, who lost Nisaea, and were driven out of Salamis once more. The city was also visited with superstitious fears and strange appearances, and the seers declared that their sacrifices indicated pollutions and defilements which demanded expiation. Therefore the men of his time said that he was the son of a nymph named Balte, and called him a new Cures. They say that he gave directions for his burial in an obscure and neglected quarter of the city's territory, predicting that it would one day be the market-place of Miletus.

Well then, Epimenides was vastly admired by the Athenians, who offered him much money and large honours; but he asked for nothing more than a branch of the sacred olive-tree, with which he returned home. All the common people were in debt to the rich. For they either tilled their lands for them, paying them a sixth of the increase whence they were called Hectemorioi and Thetes , or else they pledged their persons for debts and could be seized by their creditors, some becoming slaves at home, and others being sold into foreign countries.

But the most and sturdiest of them began to band together and exhort one another not to submit to their wrongs, but to choose a trusty man as their leader, set free the condemned debtors, divide the land anew, and make an entire change in the form of government.

They saw that he was the one man least implicated in the errors of the time; that he was neither associated with the rich in their injustice, nor involved in the necessities of the poor. They therefore besought him to come forward publicly and put an end to the prevailing dissensions. And yet Phanias the Lesbian writes that Solon of his own accord played a trick upon both parties in order to save the city, and secretly promised to the poor the distribution of land which they desired, and to the rich, validation of their securities.

It is also said that a certain utterance of his which was current before his election, to the effect that equality bred no war, pleased both the men of substance and those who had none; the former expecting to have equality based on worth and excellence, the latter on measure and count. Many citizens, too, who belonged to neither party, seeing that it would be a laborious and difficult matter to effect a change by means of argument and law, were not reluctant to have one man, the justest and wisest of all, put at the head of the state.

Euboea they argued had formerly found this true of Tynnondas, and so had the Mitylenaeans, now that they had chosen Pittacus to be their tyrant. To his friends he said, as we are told, that a tyranny was a lovely place, but there was no way down from it.

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When his net was full of fish, amazed, he would not pull it in, All for lack of spirit, and because he was bereft of sense. Nay, where a condition was as good as it could well be, he applied no remedy, and introduced no innovation, fearing lest, after utterly confusing and confounding the city, he should be too weak to establish it again and recompose it for the best. Therefore when he was afterwards asked if he had enacted the best laws for the Athenians, he replied, "The best they would receive.

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For in these he proudly boasts that from the mortgaged lands " He took away the record-stones that everywhere were planted; Before, Earth was in bondage, now she is free. For when he had set out to abolish debts, and was trying to find arguments and a suitable occasion for the step, he told some of his most trusted and intimate friends, namely, Conon, Cleinias, and Hipponicus, that he was not going to meddle with the land, but had determined to cancel debts.

This brought Solon into great condemnation and odium, as if he had not been imposed upon with the rest, but were a party to the imposition. For it was found that he had lent so much, and he was the first to remit this debt in accordance with his law. Some say that the sum was fifteen talents, and among them is Polyzelus the Rhodian. But his friends were ever after called " chreocopidae ," or debt-cutters.

But Lycurgus was eleventh in descent from Heracles, and had been king in Lacedaemon for many years.