ABRIDGED AND ANNOTATED FOR SCHOOLS
WITH HISTORICAL INTRODUCTIONS
V. F. ALLEN.
GINN & COMPANY.
Entered, according to Act of Congress, m the year 1886, by
in the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.
Typography by J. S. Cushing & Co., Boston, U.S.A.
Pbbsswobk by Ginn & Co., Boston, U.S.A.
Life of Plutarch ....... vii
Themistocles ........ 1
Pericles . . . .... . . 38
Alexander . . . . . ' . . „ . 67
coriolanus . . . . . . . . 117
Sertorius . . . . . . . . 211
C^SAR . 250
Index to Notes ....... 327
Pronunciation of Proper Names . . . .331
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BY permission of Little, Brown & Co., Clough's trans-
lation of the Lives, with the exception of about half
a dozen lines, has been followed in this edition.
The historical unity has been steadily kept in mind, and
it is believed that nothing of importance has been sacri-
ficed in the omissions.
While there may be a difference of opinion as to
whether the man makes the epoch or the epoch the man,
it will be generally agreed that the personality of a great
man will always prove one of the most interesting and
useful centres around which to group historical events.
A few brief notes have been given, supplying such
information only as may not be readily gathered from the
text. In looking up special information on any point, one
is apt to get too much interested in the matter, and so
annotate much more fully than is necessary for the under-
standing of the text. Notes are often, in this way, more
harmful than helpful, as they tend, to draw the pupil's
attention from the proper object of study.
It may be worthy of mention that Plutarch rarely ever
gives a date, which would seem to indicate that in his
mind dates were of very little importance compared with
the facts themselves.
In our study of History at the present time we seem to
have inverted the order, requiring our children to learn
a great multiplicity of dates instead of impressing upon
them a few great facts.
Plutarch possesses a remarkable faculty of seizing upon
the strong points of a character, and presenting them in
such a calm and candid way as to leave a very vivid im-
pression upon the mind.
It is hoped that this book may lead many to read his
As to the value of such reading and the influence it had
on his own mind, we are fortunate in being able to pre-
sent Plutarch's experience as given in his Timoleon.
" It was for the sake of others that I first commenced
writing biographies ; but I find myself proceeding and
attaching myself to it for my own ; the virtues of these
great men serving me as a sort of looking-glass, in which
I may see how to adjust and adorn my own life. Indeed,
it can be compared to nothing but daily living and asso-
ciating together; we receive, as it were, in our inquiry,
and entertain each successive guest, view
Their stature and their qualities,
and select from their actions all that is noblest and wor-
thiest to know.
Ah, and what greater pleasure could one have ?
or, what more effective means to one's moral improve-
ment? My method is, by the study of history, and
by the familiarity acquired in writing, to habituate my
memory to receive and retain images of the best and wor-
thiest characters. I thus am enabled to free myself from
any ignoble, base, or vicious impressions, contracted from
the contagion of ill company that I may be unavoidably
engaged in, by the remedy of turning my thoughts in a
happy and calm temper to view these noble examples."
LIFE OF PLUTAECH.
Abridged from Clough's Edition.
ri iHE plain facts of Plutarch's own life may be given in
-^ a very short compass. He was born, probably, in the
reign of Claudius, about a.d. 45 or 50. His native place
was CJiaeronea, in Boeotia, where his family had long been
settled and was of good standing and local reputation.
He studied at Athens under a philosopher named Ammo-
nius. He visited Egypt. Later in life, some time be-
fore A.D. 90, he was at Rome " on public business," a
deputation, perhaps, from Chaeronea. He continued there
long enough to give lectures which attracted attention.
To Greece and to Chseronea he returned, and appears to
have spent in the little town, which he was loth " to make
less by the withdrawal of even one inhabitant," the remain-
der of his life. He took part in the public business of the
place and the neighborhood. He was archon in the town,
and officiated many years as a priest of Apollo, apparently
He was married, and was the father of at least five chil-
dren, of whom two sons, at any rate, survived to manhood.
His greatest work, his Biographies, and several of his
smaller writings, belong to this later period of his life,
under the reign of Trajan. Whether he survived to the
time of Hadrian is doubtful. All that is certain is that
he lived to be old.
A remarkable anecdote is related in his discourse on
Vlii LIFE OF PLUTARCH.
Inquisitiveness. Among other precepts for avoiding or
curing the fault, " We should habituate ourselves," he
says, " when letters are brought to us, not to open them
instantly and in a hurry, not to bite the strings in two, as
many people will, if they do not succeed at once with their
fingers ; when a messenger comes, not to run to meet him ;
not to jump up, when a friend says he has something new
to tell us ; rather, if he has some good or useful advice to
give us. Once when I was lecturing at Rome, Rusticus,
whom Domitian afterwards, out of jealousy of his repu-
tation, put to death, was one of my hearers; and while
I was going on, a soldier came in and brought him a letter
from the Emperor. And when every one was silent, and
I stopped in order to let him read the letter, he declined
to do so, and put it aside until I had finished and the
audience withdrew; an example of serious and dignified
behavior which excited much admiration."
His wife was Timoxena, the daughter of Alexion. The
circumstances of his domestic life receive their best illus-
tration from his letter addressed to this wife, on the loss of
their one daughter, born to them, it would appear, late in
life, long after her brothers. " Plutarch to his wife, greet-
ing: The messengers you sent to announce our child's
death, apparently missed the road to Athens. I was told
about my daughter on reaching Tanagra. Everything
relating to the funeral I suppose to have been already
performed ; my desire is that all these arrangements may
have been so made, as will now and in the future be most
consoling to yourself. If there is anything which you
have wished to do and have omitted, awaiting my opinion,
and which you think would be a relief to you, it shall be
attended to, apart from all excess and superstition, which no
LIFE OF PLUTARCH. ix
one would like less than yourself. Only, my wife, let ma
hope, that you will maintain both me and yourself within*
the reasonable limits of grief. What our loss really amount*
to, I know and estimate for myself. But should I find'
your distress excessive, my trouble on your account will '
be greater than on that of our loss. I am not a ' stock or
stone,' as you, my partner in the care of our numerous
children, every one of whom we have ourselves brought up
at home, can testify. And this child, a daughter, born to
your wishes after four sons, and affording me the oppor-
tunity of recording your name, I am well aware was a
special object of affection."
The sweet temper and the pretty ways of the child, he pro-
ceeds to say, make the privation peculiarly painful. " Yet
why," he says, *' should we forget the reasonings we have
often addressed to others, and regard our present pain as
obliterating and effacing our former joys ? " Those who
had been present had spoken to him in terms of admiration
of the calmness and simplicity of his wife's behavior. The
funeral had been devoid of any useless and idle sumptu-
osity, and her own house of all display of extravagant
lamentation. This was indeed no wonder to him, who
knew how much her plain and unluxurious living had sur-
prised his philosophical friends and visitors, and who well
remembered her composure under the previous loss of the
eldest of her children, and again, " when our beautiful
Charon left us." " I recollect," he says, " that some ac-
quaintance from abroad were coming up with me from the
sea when the tidings of the child's decease were brought, and
they followed with our other friends to the house ; but the
perfect order and tranquillity they found there made them
believe, as I afterwards was informed they had related.
X LIFE OF PLUTARCH.
that nothing had happened, and that the previous intelli-
gence had been a mistake."
The Consolation (so the letter is named) closes with
expressions of belief in the immortality of each human
He seems to have busied himself about all the little
matters of the town, and to have made it a point to under-
take the humblest duties. After relating the story of
Epaminontias giving dignity to the office of Chief Scav-
enger, " And I, too, for that matter," he says, " am often a
jest to my neighbors, when they see me, as they frequently
do, in public, occupied on very similar duties ; but the story
told about Antisthenes comes to my assistance. When
some one expressed surprise at his carrying home some
pickled fish from market in his own hands, It is, he
answered, for myself. Conversely, when I am reproached
with standing by and watching while tiles are measured
out, and stone and mortar brought up. This service^ I say,
is not for myself^ it is for my country."
Even in these, the comparatively few, more positive and
matter-of-fact passages of allusion and anecdote, there is
enough to bring up something of a picture of a happy
domestic life, half academic, half municipal, passed among
affectionate relatives and well-known friends, inclining
most to literary and moral studies, yet not cut off from the
duties and avocations of the citizen.
In reading Plutarch, the following points should be
remembered. He is a moralist rather than a historian.
His interest is less for politics and the changes of empires,
and much more for personal character and individual
actions and motives to action; duty performed and re-
warded : arroqjance chastised, hasty anger corrected ; hu-
LIFE OF PLUTARCH. xi
manity, fair dealing, and generosity triumphing in the
visible, or relying on the invisible world. His mind in his
biographic memoirs is continually running on the Aris-
totelian Ethics and the high Platonic theories, which
formed the religion of the educated population of his
The time itself is a second point ; that of Nerva, Trajan,
and Hadrian ; the commencement of the best and happiest
age of the great Roman imperial period. The social system,
spreading over all the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea, of
which Greece and Italy were the centres, and to which the
East and the furthest known West were brought into
relation, had then reached its highest mark of advance and
consummation. The laws of Rome and the philosophy of
Greece were powerful from the Tigris to the British
islands. It was the last great era of Greek and Roman
literature. Egictetus was teaching in Greek the virtues
which Marcus Aurelius was to illustrate as emperor. Dio
Chrysostom and Arrian were recalling the memory of the
most famous Attic rhetoricians and historians, and while
Plutarch wrote in Chseronea, Tacitus, Pliny the Younger,
Martial^ and Juyenal were writing at Rome. It may be
said too, perhaps, not untruly, that the Latin, of the metro-
politan writers, less faithfully represents the general spirit
and character of the time, than what came from the pen of
a simple Boeotian provincial, Avriting in a more universal
language, and unwarped by the strong local reminiscences
of the old home of the Senate and the Republic. Tacitus
and Juvenal have more, perhaps, of the " antique Roman "
than of the citizen of the great Mediterranean Empire.
The evils of the imperial government, as felt in the capital
city, are depicted in the Roman prose and verse more
xu LIFE OF PLUTARCH.
vividly and more vehemently than suits a general repre-
sentation of the state of the imperial world, even under the
rule of Domitian himself.
It is, at any rate, the serener aspect and the better era
that the life and writings of Plutarch reflect. His language
is that of a man happy in himself and in what is around
him. His natural cheerfulness is undiminished, his easy
and joyous simplicity is unimpaired, his satisfactions are
not saddened or imbittered by any overpowering recollec-
tions of years passed under the immediate j)i'esent terrors
of imperial wickedness. Though he also could remember
Nero, and had been a man when Domitian was an emperor,
the utmost we can say is, that he shows, perhaps, the
instructed happiness of one who had lived into good times
out of evil, and that the very vigor of his content proves
that its roots were fixed amongst circumstances not too
indulgent or favorable.
Much has been said of Plutarch's inaccuracy ; and it
cannot be denied that he is careless about numbers, and
occasionally contradicts his own statements. A greater
fault, perhaps, is his passion for anecdote ; he cannot for-
bear from repeating stories, the improbability of which he
is the first to recognize; which, nevertheless, by mere
repetition, leave unjust impressions. He is unfair in this
way to Demosthenes and to Pericles, against the latter of
whom, however, he doubtless inherited the prejudices which
Plato handed down to the philosophers.
It is true, also, that his unhistorical treatment of the
subjects of his biography makes him often unsatisfactory
and imperfect in the portraits he draws. Much, of course,
in the public lives of statesmen can find its only explana-
tionlin their political position ) and of this Plutarch often
LIFE OF PLUTARCH. xiii
knows and thinks little. So far as the researches of modern
historians have succeeded in really recovering a knowledge
' of relations of this sort, so far, undoubtedly, these biog-
raphies stand in need of their correction. Yet in the un-
certainty which must attend all modern restorations, it is
agreeable, and surely, also, profitable, to recur to portraits
drawn ere new thoughts and views had occupied the civil-
ized world, without reference to such disputable grounds
of judgment, simply upon the broad principles of the
ancient moral code of right and wrong.
Making some little deductions in cases such as those that
have been mentioned, allowing for a little over-love of
story, and for some considerable quasi-religious hostility to
the democratic leaders who excited the scorn of Plato, if
we bear in mind, also, ^Jhat in narratives like that of
Theseus] he himself confesses his inability to disengage
fact from fable, it may be said that in Plutarch's Lives the
readers of all ages will find instructive and faithful biog-
raphies of the great men of Greece and Rome. Or, at any
rate, if in Plutarch's time it was too late to think of really
faithful biographies, we have here the faithful record of
the historical tradition of his age. This is what, in the
second century of our era, Greeks and Romans loved to
believe about their warriors and statesmen of the past. As
a picture, at least, of the best Greek and Roman moral
views and moral judgments, as a presentation of the results
of Greek and Roman moral thought, delivered not under
the pressure of calamity, but as they existed in ordinary
times, and actuated plain-living people in country places
in their daily life, Plutarch's writings are of indisputable
value ; and it may be said, also, that Plutarch's character,
as depicted in them, possesses a natural charm of pleasant-
XIV LIFE OF PLUTARCH.
ness and amiability which it is not easy to match among
all extant classical authors.
The present translation is a revision of that published at
the end of the seventeenth century, with a life of Plutarch
written by Dryden.
Theodorus Gaza, a man learned in the Latin tongue,
and a great restorer of the Greek, who lived above two
hundred years ago, deser\res to have his suffrage set down
in words at length ; for the rest have only commended
Plutarch more than any single author, but he has extolled
him above all together.
'Tis said that, having this extravagant question put to
him by a friend, that if learning must suffer a general
shipwreck, and he had only his choice left him of preserv-
ing one author, who should be the man he would preserve,
he answered, Plutarch; and probably might give this
reason, that in saving him, he should secure the best col-
lection of them all.
The epigram of Agathias deserves also to be remem-
bered. This author flourished about the year five hun-
dred, in the reign of the Emperor Justinian. The verses
are extant in the Anthologia, and with the translation of
them I will conclude the praises of our author ; having
first admonished you, that they are supposed to be written
on a statue erected by the Romans to his memory.
Chseronean Plutarch, to thy deathless praise
Does martial Rome this grateful statue raise,
Because both Greece and she thy fame have shared,
(Their heroes written, and their lives compared).
But thou thyself couldst never write thy own ;
Their lives have parallels, but thine has none.
INTRODUCTION TO THEMISTOCLES.
Greece is one of the smallest countries in Europe, and
one of the most famous. The whole of its territory is not
so large as the State of Maine ; but there has never been a
nation that has surpassed it in art, philosophy, literature,
and warlike deeds. So we see that greatness does iDt
depend upon size.
Greece is a peninsula, running from north to south, with
a great many deep bays and excellent harbors. Particu-
larly there is one place where two bays, the one to the
east, the other to the west, come so near each other that
there is only a narrow isthmus to connect the peninsula at
the south with the mainland at the north. Just at this
isthmus was situated the famous city of Corinth, and the
peninsula at the south was called the Peloponnesus^ or
Island of Pelops. Greece is a very mountainous country,
and is divided by the mountain chains into a great many
little valleys. In each of these valleys was a city, and
each city was wholly independent of all others ; sometimes
the neighboring cities were united into a kind of league,
but even in this case each little city could do about as it
pleased. There were, however, two cities which had a
larger territory than others, and greater power. These
2 PLUTARCH'S LIVES.
were Sparta, in the Peloponnesus, and Athens, north of
the isthmus. Of course these two cities were rivals and
enemies, and they were at the head of two rival and hos-
Sparta and Athens were very different in character and
in institutions. Spfajrtaiwas governed by an aristocracy of
soldiers. The Spartan's car,ed nothing for art or literature,
and very li; tlo ior hurbarjity, All their ambition was for
power and military glory; and when they had gained
power, they were very cruel and unjust in using it. The
Athenians, on the other hand, were democratic. Every
citizen had equal rights in the government, and they were
distinguished for intelligence and culture. It was the
common people of Athens for whom their noble works of
art and literature were designed.
But the hostility of Athens and Sparta did not break
out until a later date. In early times Sparta was acknowl-
edged by every one to be the most powerful city in Greece,
and to have a right to take the lead in all common enter-
prises. And this acknowledged leadership of Sparta con-
tinued until the most famous of these common enterprises,
the union of the Greek cities to resist the Persian inva-
The Persian wars began about five hundred years before
Christ. Persia was at this time the greatest empire in the
world, and the greatest empire too that there had ever
been, as it embraced all of Asia that lay west of Hindo-
stan, and also Egypt in Africa, and Thrace in Europe.
Thrace had been very recently conquered by the Persian
king Darius, and both here and in Asia Minor there were
a number of Greek cities, which had been made subject to
Persia. But the Greeks were used to governing them-
selves, and they did not like the despotic rule of Persia.
In the year 500 the Ionic cities of Asia Minor broke out in
a revolt, and were aided by the Athenians, for Athens too
was an Ionian city. It did not take Darius long to sup-
press this revolt and reconquer the cities of Asia; and
then he determined to punish the Athenians for the assist-
ance they had sent.
The great army sent by Darius against Athens came in
the year 490, crossed the jEgean Sea, and landed on the
coast a few miles from Athens. It did not seem possible
that the little city of Athens could resist the forces of this
mighty empire. They had but a small army of 10,000
men, with only 1,000 auxiliaries from Platsea. But they
were brave and well disciplined, and they had a skilful
general, named Miltiades. The little army, fighting for
their homes and their liberties, completely routed the great
army, and forced them to take their ships and go back to
Asia. This was the famous battle of Marathon. So com-
pletely were the Persians beaten, that it was ten years
before they came back again ; and in the meantime Darius
had died, and had been succeeded by his son Xerxes.
Miltiades too was dead, and the great man in Greece was
n^HE birth of Themistocles was somewhat too obscure
-■- to do him honor. His father, Neocles, was not of the
distinguished people of Athens, and by his mother's side,
as it is reported, he was base-born.
It is confessed by all that from his youth he was of a
vehement and impetuous nature, of a quick apprehension,
and a strong and aspiring bent for action and great affairs.
The holidays and intervals in his studies he did not spend
in play or idleness, as other children, but would be always
inventing or arranging some oration or declamation to
himself, the subject of which was generally the excusing
or accusing his companions, so that his master would often
say to him, "You, my boy, will be nothing small, but
great one way or other, for good or else for bad." He
received reluctantly and carelessly instructions given him
to improve his manners and behavior, or to teach him any
pleasing or graceful accomplishment, but whatever was
said to improve him in sagacity, or in management of
affairs, he would give attention to, beyond one of his
years, from confidence in his natural capacities for such
things. And thus afterwards, when in company where
people engaged themselves in what are commonly thought
the liberal and elegant amusements, he was obliged to de-
fend himself against the observations of those who con-
sidered themselves highly accomplished, by the somewhat
arrogant retort, that he certainly could not make use of
any strmged instrument, could only, were a small and
obscure city put into his hands, make it great and glorious.
In the first essays of his youth he was not regular nor
happily balanced ; he allowed himself to follow mere nat-
ural character, which, without the control of reason and
instruction, is apt to hurry, upon either side, into sudden
and violent courses, and very often to break away and
determine upon the worst ; as he afterwards owned him-
self, saying, that the wildest colts made the best horses, if
they only get properly trained and broken in. There are
those who relate that to deter him from public business,
and to let him see how the vulgar behave themselves
towards their leaders when they have at last no farther
use of them, his father showed him the old galleys as they
lay forsaken and cast about upon the sea-shore.
Yet it is evident that his mind was early imbued wdth
the keenest interest in public affairs, and the most passion-
ate ambition for distinction. Eager from the first to ob-
tain the highest place, he unhesitatingly accepted the
hatred of the most powerful and influential leaders in the
city, but more especially of Aristides, who always opposed