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Robert Lamberton; Foreword by John Herington

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Written around the year 100, Plutarch’s Lives have shaped perceptions of the accomplishments of the ancient Greeks and Romans for nearly two thousand years. This engaging and stimulating book introduces both general readers and students to Plutarch’s own life and work.

Robert Lamberton sketches the cultural context in which Plutarch worked—Greece under Roman rule—and discusses his family relationships, background, education, and political career. There are two sides to Plutarch: the most widely read source on Greek and Roman history and the educator whose philosophical and pedagogical concerns are preserved in the vast collection of essays and dialogues known as the Moralia. Lamberton analyzes these neglected writings, arguing that we must look here for Plutarch’s deepest commitment as a writer and for the heart of his accomplishment. Lamberton also explores the connection between biography and historiography and shows how Plutarch’s parallel biographies served the continuing process of cultural accommodation between Greeks and Romans in the Roman Empire. He concludes by discussing Plutarch’s influence and reputation through the ages.

Robert Lamberton is professor and chair of classics at Washington University in St. Louis. He is also the author of Hesiod in the Hermes series.

“An excellent book that offers real literary and historical criticism, sound scholarship, and an interesting interpretation of Plutarch’s contribution and attitude.”—Frances B. Titchener, Utah State University

“Lamberton . . . is as charming as his author, and a tactfully corrective guide. In clear, well-organized prose he explains Plutarch the man, as thinker, educator, and Delphic priest. He reminds readers that ancient historical portraiture was rooted in rhetoric and the moral encomium: what Plutarch’s readers demanded of history was very different from our own assumptions. Finally, Lamberton introduces us to the major dialogues and their links with Platonic philosophy.”—Choice

“Robert Lamberton’s Plutarch condenses and presents many facets of Plutarch’s life and work into a sophisticated and well-written volume that is accessible to a variety of audiences. . . . With its reasonable size and price and its range of scholarship, this volume will be an attractive addition to any Plutarch fan’s library.”—Rebecca R. Benefiel, Classical World

“This is a delightful little book. Lamberton is thoroughly familiar with and sympathetic to his subject; perceptive insights abound, and it is nicely written.”—History: Reviews of New Books

"Merits the serious attention of any Plutarchist."—Hubert M. Martin, Jr., Religious Studies Review

“Lamberton’s work gives readers an inviting introduction to Plutarch, one that takes him seriously as a thinker, helps us orient ourselves within his world, and offers us practical examples of how to proceed, once we have larger questions in view. His pages also yield concrete evidence of the treasures such investigations can unearth.”—Albert Keith Whitaker, The Classical Bulletin

"Lamberton’s book, a primer in the excellent Yale University Press series for students of the classics, give a comprehensive, clear account of this influential man of letters."—Peter Stothard, Times Literary Supplement
ISBN: 9780300088113
Publication Date: January 11, 2002
240 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/4

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