- Gebundene Ausgabe: 623 Seiten
- Verlag: Harvard Univ Pr (27. Juli 1985)
- Sprache: Englisch
- ISBN-10: 0674991109
- ISBN-13: 978-0674991101
- Größe und/oder Gewicht: 10,2 x 2,5 x 15,2 cm
- Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 2 Kundenrezensionen
- Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 154.118 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
Lives, Volume VII: Demosthenes and Cicero. Alexander and Caesar (Loeb Classical Library) (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – 27. Juli 1985
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Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende
About the Introducer
VICTOR DAVIS HANSON has written extensively on both ancient Greek and military history; his ?fteen books include The Western Way of War and Between War and Peace. He is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a professor of classics at California State University, Fresno.
"From the Trade Paperback edition.
The opinion expressed in another review on this site that the book is not worth reading because Plutarch is not faithful to the "facts" is just ridiculous. Plutarch is a classical author. Should the editor or translator write a new Greek text with the amendments that he personally thinks more adequate? To discuss the value of Plutarch's report is the task of classical scholars and ancient historians, not of online reviews.
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The Loeb series date back to the turn of the last century. They are designed for people with at least some knowledge of Greek or Latin. They are a sort of compromise between a straight English translation and an annotated copy of the original text. On the left page is printed the text in Greek or Latin depending on the language of the writer and on the right side is the text in English. For somebody who knows even a little Greek or Latin these texts are invaluable. You can try to read the text in the original language knowing that you can correct yourself by looking on the next page or you can read the text in translation and check the translation with the original for more detail. While some of the translations are excellent mostly they are merely serviceable since they are designed more as an aid to translation rather than a translation in themselves. Most of them follow the Greek or Latin very closely. These books are also very small, maybe just over a quarter the size of your average hardcover book. This means that you'll need to buy more than just one book to read a complete work. They are also somewhat pricey considering their size. The Loeb Collection is very large but most of the more famous works can be found in better (and cheaper) translations elsewhere. If you want to read a rarer book or read one in the original language then you can't do better than the Loeb Editions.
There are 11 volumes of Plutarch's Lives as well as a further 16 of his Moralia in the Loeb series which includes all his known works. Plutarch is without doubt my favorite Classical author. His books are personal, entertaining, and he just comes across as a generally warm and friendly guy. That last part is very rare in Classical authors. His most famous works are his Lives. These were basically mini-biographies of famous men. The writing of Lives was very popular in Antiquity with Suetonius being perhaps the most famous example. What makes Plutarch's different however is the way that he captures the character and the ability of his subjects. Unlike other Lives which divide their subject into topics and then record these out of context, Plutarch's ones follow a chronological order. He also took more care over them than others did. Lives were considered less reputable than Histories but Plutarch treated his like mini-Histories. The interpretation might be different but he is rarely caught out in errors except where his sources make the same errors. Also unlike most Classical writers he doesn't go overboard on the moralizing. These works were written to educate and instruct but the basic lessons are simple enough and he only goes into ethical conclusions in his comparison after each paired life.
This is one of the rare times where I really think that the Loeb translations are the best ones out there. While these works are available for cheaper elsewhere (Modern Library Volumes 1 and Volume 2) they are generally based off the Dryden translation. Avoid the Dryden translation. It is very old (1683) and a lot of these "new" translations are simply the Dryden translation with a few spelling and wording changes to make it sound more modern. While the Loeb translations may seem older (the 1910s) they are at least written in modern English translated directly from the Greek. The Penguin ones are better but for some reason they felt the need to split them up by era (On Sparta [Lycurgus, Agesilaus, Agis, Cleomenes, and some Spartan Sayings], The Rise and Fall of Athens [Theseus, Solon, Themistocles, Aristides, Cimon, Pericles, Nicias, Alcibiades, Lysander], The Age of Alexander [Agesilaus, Pelopidas, Dion, Timoleon, Demosthenes, Phocion, Alexander, Demetrius, Pyrrhus], The Makers of Rome [Coriolanus, Fabius Maximus, Marcellus, Cato the Elder, Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus, Sertorius, Brutus, Mark Antony], Rome in Crisis [Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus, Sertorius, Lucullus, Younger Cato, Brutus, Antony, Galba, and Otho], The Fall of the Roman Republic [Marius, Sulla, Crassus, Pompey, Caesar, Cicero]). These were dual Lives. They paired off famous Greeks with famous Romans and compared their careers, the idea being that they had similar virtues and vices. Splitting them up like that ruins the original intent of the author and removes the analysis after each pair. Even when the comparison seems forced it is at least evident why Plutarch included what he did.
Demosthenes and Cicero. Alexander and Caesar.
This collection of four lives is further connected by the fact that the two orators opposed the two conquerors, raising important moral questions about freedom and democracy. Demosthenes, a great speaker who was cowardly by nature, saw Alexander and his father Philip as no better than barborous tyrants, while Cicero, who also lacked the military virtues, fought a verbal war to preserve the Roman Republic. Although being spared by their opponents, both Demosthenes and Cicero were finally hunted and killed by their successors.
By today's standards we would condemn Alexander and Caesar as ruthless, bloodthirsty tyrants, however, judging these two great men outside their historical context is grossly unfair. Without Alexander, the Greeks would have continued to fight their petty wars and Hellenic culture would have remained confined to a small corner of the Mediterranean. As for Caesar's usurpation of power, it was vital for Rome's survival to separate government from politics as the constant electioneering, bribery, partisan strife, riots, plots, and military coups were causing anarchy at the heart of the Republic.
Writing at a time when a strong Imperial system was safeguarding Hellenic culture and prosperity throughout the Mediterranean, it is not surprising that Plutarch saw Alexander and Caesar in such a positive light.
Whatever message he may wish to convey, Plutarch's writing is full of delights, focusing on character traits, interesting quotes, great events, and always going off on those wonderful tangents about natural history, superstitions, or the customs of far away countries.
These are four interesting biographies. But why buy 4 when there are volumes with 8 or 9, or even ALL the 'Lives' of Plutarch?
He uses written and oral sources to construct the life stories of four important historical figures, Demosthenes, Cicero, Alexander, and Caesar. These are all great personalities, with virtues and vices, wtih strengths and weaknesses, and Plutarch shows both the negative and the postive sides of their character and actions.
Plutarch is both a historian and a storyteller. In this sense he is no different than the popular biographers and historians of today. In addition, he does not detach himself form the events and people he writes about; he frequently makes moral judgements. He praises them when they do something praiseworthy, and he criticizes them when they do something deplorable. That is also not different from the way the current popular historians and biographers approach their topics. Don't Stephen Ambrose or David McCullough also make moral judgements about the people they write about? Don't they also emotionally attach themselves to the people and events they examine? Isn't that what makes their books such a pleasure to read?
Plutarch's books are a pleasure to read, too. That's why they have been popular for more than eighteen hundred years.
A parallel recounting of the stories of persons whose lives had some striking similarities (thus leading to comparison and contrast) is a clever method, and it is difficult to understand why it is hardly ever used today.
The Greek used by Plutarch is relatively easy to understand; the translation is good and, albeit more than eighty years' old, is appealing to today's reader.
So, if you want to improve, or work on, your Ancient Greek, this book is for you.
If you are interested in the history of 4th-Century B.C. Ancient Greece, and the conflicts, intrigues, interpersonal clashes, political systems, and cultural values of that period, this book is for you.
And, finally, if you enjoy reading intriguing life stories, well told, this book is definitely for you.