Long considered an essential title in classical literature, Plutarch’s Lives have, unfortunately, fallen out of favor among many contemporary readers and educators. Most translations have rendered Plutarch’s original language, which is so energetic in the Greek, quite dryly in English, thus relegating these classic tales to the dusty bookshelves of specialists. However, this new translation by C. Scot Hicks and David V. Hicks (The Emperor’s Handbook, The Lawgivers) brings Plutarch’s original tales to life, making them accessible for today’s readers and students thanks to their highly readable rendition of Plutarch’s prose. Featuring thorough commentary on the historical context of two great men, as well as maps, illustrations, and background about Plutarch, The Statesmen will introduce a new generation of readers to this truly essential and enjoyable writer.
In The Statesmen we are moving from the idealized and legendary past of Ancient Greece and Rome described in The Lawgivers (the first volume in this series) into great periods of crisis for each civilization, the final days of the independent Greek city-state and the final days of the Roman Republic. The statesmen in question, Phocion of Athens and Cato the Younger, were for Plutarch men of uncommon personal integrity, who did all they could to save their respective states from tyranny, ultimately paying with their lives. In so doing they typify the ideal statesmen. In the case of Cato the Younger, we have Plutarch’s life of the one Roman who most consistently opposed the rise of Julius Caesar and came to represent that resistance for his own generation and the generations that followed. As such, this volume forms an introduction to volume three in this series which will include Plutarch’s Life of Caesar and Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.