The Age of Caesar: Five Roman Lives
Plutarch is really the father of biographies. His Lives, a collection of writings about the influential men of Greek and Roman civilization, are still used as some of the best source documents for the ancient world. This book is a new translation of five of these biographies: those of Pompey, Caesar, Cicero, Brutus, and Antony. All of these men were instrumental in the fall of the Roman Republic and the genesis of the Empire. Reading about the lives of these men gives you an intimate view of how their personalities and actions shaped the course of history.
While this book is very interesting from a historical standpoint, it is a little dry and hard to read. Plutarch, while a groundbreaking author for his time, seems to have few scruples about straying from the truth, adding extraneous information, relying on hearsay, or bolstering the reputation of those he admires with positive spin. For anyone used to reading modern biographies that at least attempt a balanced perspective, this is a little alarming! However, this book is a good introduction to Plutarch and his era, and it’s an important work to begin to understand the cultural perceptions of the leaders of the time.
W. W. Norton & Company
Plutarch • James Romm, Editor • Pamela Mensch, Translator • Mary Beard, Foreword