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Publisher's Summary

Plutarchs's (46-120 A.D.) epic chronicle of the lives of great Grecians and Romans. Beginning with the founding of Rome and Athens, the lives of the men who created the ancient world are brought to life in this new, high quality recording. Greats such as Romulus, Pericles, Theseus, Lycurgus, and many others come alive as their politics, economy, and their individual stories play out in the time of the Ancients. This translation by John Dryden, which is considered by scholars to be the quintessential translation.

Public Domain (P)2014 B.J. Harrison

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  • Jeff
  • Sonoma, Ca, United States
  • 12-20-14

Learn from the Titan's of Ages Past

No wonder this was one of Ben Franklin’s favorite books.

In Plutarch’s Lives, the listener is introduced to a selection of the most famous Greeks and Romans of the classical world, including men like Caesar, Alexander, Pompey and Cicero (part 2) and Lycurgus, Themistocles, Cato and Romulus (part 1). Plutarch succeeds in incorporating many of the accounts and anecdotes of his day to give us instructive portraits of the men, faults and all. As the officiating priest at Delphi, Plutarch had the perfect moral and social credit to make judgments and comparisons among these heroes (or villains) and gives us his honest judgment in each case.

While certain credence is given to providence in determining the fates of men, Plutarch focuses on the character traits and decisions that led to success or failure. He is refreshingly honest; when his account relies upon myth (such as with Romulus) he tells the reader plainly.

What really struck me when listening was how little has changed in 2,000 years. Despite the long years and obvious culture gap there is still much we can relate to. Just like Lycurgus, visionaries of today still strive to realize socialist utopias on earth. Just like Timoleon and Philopoemon, men today are still willing to fight and die for the cause of democracy. Just like Themistocles, Crassus and Alcibiades the talents and charisma that lead modern celebrities to fame so often conceal equally great character flaws. Just like the rabble of old, the masses today are still fickle and willing to listen to whatever crazy theory that the Tribunes (or congressmen) feed them. This is a book that is still wonderfully relevant to the modern reader.

If I had to complain, I wish the biographies had been organized into a continuous historical narrative. I’m something of an amateur history buff and still had trouble jumping among characters from the Peloponnesian, Persian, Punic and Social wars. In addition, I know that much of Plutarch’s work has been lost but still felt that many important characters such as Augustus, Hannibal and Socrates were sorely missed. Finally, the John Dryden translation is classic but many listeners may not be comfortable with 17th century English.

B.J. Harrison was a great choice for this production; his voice is lively, engaging and confident, allowing the reader to be absorbed into the narrative.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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TABLE of CONTENTS here:

Any additional comments?

Section 3 @ 00:00 = Theseus<br/>Section 6 @ 01:19 = Romulus<br/>Section 9 @ 02:42 = Comparison of Theseus & Romulus <br/><br/>Section 10 @ 02:53 = Lycurgus<br/>Section 14 @ 04:25 = Numa<br/>Section 17 @ 05:33 = Comparison of Lycurgus & Numa<br/><br/>Section 18 @ 05:48 = Solon <br/>Section 21 @ 06:58 = Publicola<br/>Section 23 @ 07:45 = Comparison of Solon & Publicola <br/><br/>Section 24 @ 07:54 = Themistocles<br/>Section 27 @ 09:09 = Camillus<br/> (no comparison exists)<br/><br/>Section 31 @ 10:48 = Pericles<br/>Section 35 @ 12:38 = Fabius Maximus<br/>Section 38 @ 13:46 = Comparison of Pericles & Fabius Maximus<br/><br/>Section 39 @ 13:52 = Alcibiades<br/>Section 43 @ 15:37 = Coriolanus<br/>Section 47 @ 17:18 = Comparison of Alcibiades & Coriolanus<br/><br/>Section 48 @ 17:29 = Timoleon<br/>Section 52 @ 19:08 = Aemilius Paullus<br/>Section 55 @ 20:37 = Comparison of Timoleon & Aemilius Paullus<br/><br/>Section 56 @ 20:42 = Pelopidas<br/>Section 59 @ 22:03 = Marcellus<br/>Section 62 @ 23:25 = Comparison of Pelopidas & Flaminius <br/><br/>Section 63 @ 23:33 = Aristides <br/>Section 66 @ 24:48 = Cato the Elder<br/>Section 69 @ 26:05 = Comparison of Aristides & Cato<br/><br/>Section 70 @ 26:19 = Philopoemen <br/>Section 72 @ 27:09 = Flamininus<br/>Section 74 @ 28:09 = Comparison of Philopoemen & Flaminius <br/><br/>Section 75 @ 28:15 = Pyrrhus<br/>Section 79 @ 29:54 = Marius<br/> (no comparison exists)<br/><br/>Section 83 @ 31:47 = Lysander<br/>Section 86 @ 33:01 = Sulla<br/>Section 90 @ 34:45 = Comparison of Lysander & Sulla<br/><br/>Section 91 @ 34:56 = Cimon<br/>Section 93 @ 35:52 = Lucullus<br/>Section 97 @ 37:50 = Comparison of Cimon & Lucullus <br/><br/>Section 98 @ 37:59 = Nicias<br/>Section 101 @ 39:22 = Crassus<br/>Section 104 @ 40:52 = Comparison of Nicias & Crassus

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Great men in great age

Neither did Plutarch 's masterful writing,nor the narrator 's charming narration ,fail to present before us the memorable greatness and the honorable glory of the heroes of Greek and Rome.

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great conversation

Fifty-four years after translating Ceasar's Gaulic Wars without a "pony," I expected tough reading. But so pleasantly surprised was I by this performance of Vol. 1 that I intend to proceed to Vol. 2 eventually.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful