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AD 46—c. AD The work features 50 biographies of notable historical figures, 46 of which are paired, as a way of drawing out their character through comparisons. Plutarch was particularly interested in exploring the moral character of his subjects through anecdotes about key moments in their lives, and wrote on themes such as heroism, stoicism and the relationship between the individual and the state.


North dedicated his book to Queen Elizabeth I, with the disclaimer that he did not presume to be able to teach her anything, but rather had made this book to benefit her subjects. Shakespeare, in this play obsessed with Roman values, frequently takes his lead from Plutarch and North. However, Shakespeare also makes some significant changes. In Plutarch, the civil unrest is about the lack of protection against usury the unfair practices of money lenders such as charging extortionate rates of interest.

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Furthermore, Plutarch paints a more sympathetic version of the people, for example relating that some of them bear wounds from previous military service where Shakespeare makes them non-combatants. Page describes Lupercalia, the February festival in progress in Act 1, Scene 2, in which Antony has stripped for the race and Caesar asks him to touch Calpurnia. All Rights Reserved. OSO version 0. University Press Scholarship Online. Sign in. Not registered? Sign up. Publications Pages Publications Pages. Search my Subject Specializations: Select And yet he was for some time conversant in the schools, and had a controversy with Socrates the philosopher about the art of disputing, - not so much for the sake of contention as for the profit of arguing, as Xenophon tells us in his Commentaries of Socrates.

At the request of some citizens, he wrote orations by which they defended their suits at law. Some say that he was the first that ever did any thing of this nature. For it is certain there is not one judicial oration extant written by any orator that lived before him, nor by his contemporaries either, as Themistocles , Aristeides , and Pericles ; though the times gave them opportunity, and there was need enough of their labour in such business.

Plutarch’s Lives

Not that we are to impute it to their lack of ability that they did nothing in this way, for we may inform ourselves of the contrary from what historians relate of each of them. Besides, if we inspect the most ancient of those known in history who had the same form and method in their pleadings, such as Alcibiades, Critias , Lysias , and Archinous, we shall find that they all followed Antiphon when he was old. For being a man of incomparable sagacity, he was the first that published instructions about oratory; and by reason of his profound learning, he was surnamed Nestor. Caecilius , in a tract which he wrote about him, supposes him to have been Thucydides ' pupil, from what Antiphon delivered in praise of him.

He is most accurate in his orations, in invention subtle; and he would frequently baffle his adversary unawares, by a covert sort of pleading; in troublesome and intricate matters he was acute and sharp; and as he was a great admirer of ornamental speaking, he would always adapt his orations to both law and reason. He was born the time of the Persian war and of Gorgias the rhetorician, being somewhat younger than him.

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And he lived to see the subversion of the popular government in the commonwealth which was wrought by the four hundred [ B. But there are some who tell us, that he was put to death by the Thirty Tyrants; and among the rest, Lysias, in his oration for Antiphon's daughter, says the same; for he left a little daughter, whom Callaeschrus claimed for his wife by the law of propinquity.

And Theopompus likewise, in his Fifteenth Book of Philippics , tells us the same thing. But this must have been another Antiphon, son of Lysidonides, whom Cratinus mentions in his Pytine as a rascal. But how could he be executed in the time of the Four Hundred, and afterward live to be put to death by the Thirty Tyrants?

There is likewise another story of the manner of his death: that when he was old, he sailed to Syracuse , when the tyranny of Dionysius the First was most famous; and being at table, a question was put, what sort of brass was best. When others had answered as they thought most proper, he replied, That is the best brass, of which the statues of Harmodius and Aristogeiton were made. The tyrant hearing this, and taking it as a tacit exhortation to his subjects to contrive his ruin, he commanded Antiphon to be put to death; and some say that he put him to death for deriding his tragedies.

This orator is reported to have written sixty orations; but Caecilius supposes twenty-five of them to be spurious and none of his. Platon , in his comedy called Peisander , traduces him as a greedy man. He is reported to have composed some of his tragedies alone, and others with Dionysius the tyrant. While he was poetically inclined, he invented an art of curing distress of the mind, as physicians can provide cures of bodily diseases.

And having at Corinth built him a little house, in or near the market, he set a notice over the gate, to this effect: that he had a way to cure distress of men's minds by words; and let him but know the cause of their malady, he would immediately prescribe the remedy, to their comfort. But after some time, thinking that art not worth his while, he betook himself to the study and teaching of oratory.

There are some who ascribe the book of Glaucus of Rhegium concerning Poets to him as author. His orations concerning Herodes, against Erasistratus concerning Peacocks, are very much commended, and also that which, when he was accused, he penned for himself against a public indictment, and that against Demosthenes the general for moving an illegal measure.

He likewise wrote another speech against Hippocrates the general; who did not appear on the day appointed for his trial, and was condemned in his absence. Caecilius has recorded the decree of the senate for the judicial trial of Antiphon, passed in the year in which Theopompus was archon of Athens [ B. Demonicus of Alopece was clerk; Philostratus of Pallene was president.

Andron moved in regard to those men, - Archeptolemus, Onomacles, and Antiphon, whom the generals had declared against, for that they went on an embassy to Lacedaemon, to the great damage of the city of Athens, and departed from the camp in an enemies' ship, and went through Deceleia by land, - that they should be apprehended and brought before the court for a legal trial.

Therefore let the generals, with others of the senate, to the number of ten, whom it shall please the generals to name and choose, look after these men to present them before the court, that they may be present during the proceedings. Then let the Thesmothetes summon the defendants to appear on the morrow, and let them open the proceedings in court at the time at which the summonses shall be returnable. Then let the chosen advocates, with the generals and any others who may have any thing to say, accuse the defendants of treason; and if any one of them shall be found guilty, let sentence be passed upon him as a traitor, according to the law in such case made and provided.

And this was to be their punishment: that they should be delivered to the eleven executioners, their goods confiscated, the tenth part of them being first consecrated to Athena ; their houses to be levelled with the ground, and in the places where they stood this inscription to be engraved on brass, '[The houses] of Archeptolemus and Antiphon, traitors. And besides all this, that their posterity should be accounted infamous, bastards as well as their lawful descendants; and he too should be held infamous who should adopt any one of their descendants for his son.

And that all this should be engraved on a brass tablet, and that tablet should be placed where that stands on which is engraved the decree concerning Phrynichus. ANDOCIDES , the son of Leogoras, [and grandson of that Andocides] who once made a peace between the Athenians and the Lacedaemonians , from either the Cydathenian or the Thorian deme, of a noble family, and, as Hellanicus tells us, the offspring of Hermes himself, for the race of Heralds belongs to him.

On this account he was chosen by the people to go with Glaucon, with twenty sail of ships, to aid the Corcyraeans against the Corinthians [ B. But in process of time he was accused of some notorious acts of impiety, as that he was of the number of those who defaced the statues of Hermes and divulged the sacred mysteries of Demeter.

Plutarch's Lives: Parallelism and Purpose

And besides, he had been before this time wild and intemperate, and had once been seen in night-time revelry to break one of the statues of Hermes; and when on his trial he refused to bring his slave to examination whom his accusers named, he not only remained under this reproach, but was also on this account very much suspected to be guilty of the second crime too. This later action was laid to his charge soon after the expedition of the navy sent by the Athenians into Sicily [ B.

For, as Cratippus informs us, when the Corinthians sent the Leontines and Egestians to the Athenians, who hesitated to lend them assistance, they in the night defaced and broke all the statues of Hermes which were erected in the market. To which offence Andocides added another, that of divulging the mysteries of Demeter. He was brought to his trial, but was acquitted on condition he would reveal who were companions with him in the crime.

In which affair being very diligent, he found out who they were that had been guilty, and among the rest he accused his own father.

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He proved all guilty, and caused them all to be put to death except his father, whom he saved, though in prison, by a promise of some eminent service he would do to the commonwealth. Nor did he fail of what he promised; for Leogoras accused many who had acted in several matters against the interest of the commonwealth, and for this was acquitted of his own crime.

Now, though Andocides was very much esteemed of for his skill in the management of the affairs of the commonwealth, yet his inclinations led him rather to traffic by sea; and by this means he contracted friendship with the kings of Cyprus and other great princes. At which time he secretly stole a girl from the city, the daughter of Aristeides , and his own niece, and sent her as a present to the king of Cyprus. But suspecting he should be called in question for it, he again stole her from Cyprus, for which the king of Cyprus took him and locked him up in prison; whence he broke loose, and returned to Athens, just at that time when the four hundred conspirators had usurped the government.

By whom being confined, he again escaped when the oligarchic government was broken up. But when the Thirty Tyrants were uppermost, he withdrew to Elis , [] and there lived till Thrasybulus and his faction returned into the city [ B.

And after some time, being sent to Lacedaemon to conciliate a peace, he was again suspected of wrongdoing, and on that suspicion banished. He himself has given an account of all these transactions, in his orations, which he has left behind him. For some of them contain his defence of himself in regard to the mysteries; others his petition for restoration from exile; there is one extant on Endeixis or information laid against a criminal ; also a defence against Phaeax, and one on the peace.

He flourished at the same time as Socrates the philosopher. He was born in the seventy-eighth Olympiad , when Theogenides was archon of Athens [ B. There is an image of Hermes, called from his name, being given by the tribe Aegeis; and it stood near the house where Andocides dwelt, and was therefore called by his name.

This Andocides himself was at the charge of a cyclic chorus for the tribe Aegeis, at the performance of a dithyramb. And having gained a victory, he erected a tripod on a high point opposite to the limestone statue of Silenus. His style in his orations is plain and easy, without the least affectation or any thing of a figurative ornament. His father was by birth a Syracusan ; but partly for the love he had to the city, and partly in condescension to the persuasions of Pericles the son of Xanthippus , who entertained him as his friend and guest, he went to live at Athens, being a man of great wealth.

Some say that he was banished from Syracuse when the city was under the tyranny of Gelon. Lysias was born at Athens when Philocles , the successor of Phrasicles, was archon [ B. At his first coming, he was educated among the most noble of the Athenians. But when the city sent a colony to Sybaris , which was afterwards called Thurii , he went thither with his other brother Polemarchus, his father being now dead for he had two other brothers, Euthydemus and Brachyllus , that he might receive his portion of his father's estate.

Parallel Lives

This was done in the fifteenth year of his age, when Praxiteles was archon [ B. There then he stayed, and was brought up under Nicias and Teisias , both Syracusans. And having purchased a house and received his estate, he lived as a citizen for thirty-three years, till the year of Cleocritus [ B. In the year following, when Callias was archon [ B. Lysias, being accused of favouring the Athenians, was banished with three others of his association; and coming to Athens, in the year wherein Callias succeeded Cleocritus [ B. But after the fight at Aegospotami , when the Thirty Tyrants had usurped the government, he was banished thence, after he had remained in Athens seven years.

His goods were confiscated; and having likewise lost his brother Polemarchus, he himself escaped by a back door of the house in which he was kept for execution, fled to Megara and there lived. But when the citizens endeavoured to return from Phyle , he also behaved himself very well, and appeared very active in the affair, having, to forward this great enterprise, deposited two thousand drachmas of silver and two hundred shields, and being commissioned with Hermas, he maintained three hundred men in arms, and prevailed with Thrasylaeus the Elean, his old friend and host, to contribute two talents.

Upon entering the city, Thrasybulus proposed that, for a consideration of his good service to the public, he should receive the rights of citizenship: this was during the so-called time of anarchy before Eucleides [ B. Which proposal being ratified by the people, Archinus objected that it was against the laws, and a decree without authority of the senate.

He led the remainder of his life in the rank of an Isoteles or citizen who had no right to vote or hold office , and died at last at Athens, being eighty-three years old, or as some would have it, seventy-six; and others again say, that he lived above eighty years, till after the birth of Demosthenes. It is supposed he was born in the year of Philocles [ B.

There are four hundred and twenty-five orations which bear his name, of which Dionysius and Caecilius affirm only two hundred and thirty to be genuine, and he is said to have been overcome but twice in all.