Read Makers of Rome: Nine Lives ( Coriolanus, Fabius Maximus, Marcellus, Cato the Elder, Tiberius Gracchus, Gaius Gracchus, Sertorius, Brutus & Mark Antony) by Plutarch Ian Scott-Kilvert Online


These nine biographies illuminate the careers, personalities and military campaigns of some of Rome's greatest statesmen, whose lives span the earliest days of the Republic to the establishment of the Empire. Selected from Plutarch's Roman Lives, they include prominent figures who achieved fame for their pivotal roles in Roman history, such as soldierly Marcellus, eloquentThese nine biographies illuminate the careers, personalities and military campaigns of some of Rome's greatest statesmen, whose lives span the earliest days of the Republic to the establishment of the Empire. Selected from Plutarch's Roman Lives, they include prominent figures who achieved fame for their pivotal roles in Roman history, such as soldierly Marcellus, eloquent Cato and cautious Fabius. Here too are vivid portraits of ambitious, hot-tempered Coriolanus; objective, principled Brutus and open-hearted Mark Anthony, who would later be brought to life by Shakespeare. In recounting the lives of these great leaders, Plutarch also explores the problems of statecraft and power and illustrates the Roman people's genius for political compromise, which led to their mastery of the ancient world....

Title : Makers of Rome: Nine Lives ( Coriolanus, Fabius Maximus, Marcellus, Cato the Elder, Tiberius Gracchus, Gaius Gracchus, Sertorius, Brutus & Mark Antony)
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ISBN : 9780140441581
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 366 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Makers of Rome: Nine Lives ( Coriolanus, Fabius Maximus, Marcellus, Cato the Elder, Tiberius Gracchus, Gaius Gracchus, Sertorius, Brutus & Mark Antony) Reviews

  • J.G. Keely
    2019-04-30 15:31

    A delightful, colorful, and personal history of the politics of Rome. Clearly, Plutarch was an adherent of the Great Man Theory, and he was lucky to have plenty of them to choose from.Plutarch's history is anecdotal, collecting all the common stories about the men who defined Rome (and Greece, in other volumes). It is an unusual way to write a history, or an autobiography, but it has the benefit of telling us a great deal about the empire, its people, and their stories, even if the biographical elements must be taken with a grain of salt.Plutarch is not as plainly partisan as Sallust, but neither does he achieve the cold detachment of Caesar (whether it was true humility or masterful construction is another debate). Plutarch intends his biographies as odes to the many virtues of man, and instructional book on how to live well, with the implicit assumption that famed, successful men always live well.This is the main drawback of Plutarch's style: the acceptance of grand, virtuous stories about men, who like all of us, were in the end, only human. He does sometimes include more minute and humorous details, which always help to pleasantly round out his portraits.Reading these roughly in order, and in comparison with other views from the time (when they exist) is very profitable, and Plutarch gives us a lot of stories that we wouldn't have if not for him. It is a benefit to have them at all, but it is unfortunate that we cannot confirm or compare many of them.Indeed, the lives of some of these men and the details of their periods are known only by reference to Plutarch, and perhaps some fragments here and there. The collection is vital if one wants any real comprehension of Rome, but it also reminds us just how little of their history survived to reach us.I'll have to finish the extant Roman lives, and the Greek ones as well. They are certainly worthwhile for any classicist.

  • Eadweard
    2019-05-14 22:23

    Gracchi brothers: Two of the most interesting characters of the mid to late Republic. Sertorius: Interesting guy, should be as well known as Sulla and Marius, don't know if he is.Brutus & Antony: They had the most riveting and probably the longest biographies. So much fun to read.

  • Joe
    2019-05-15 20:20

    Plutarch selects nine figures from the earliest Republic to the Empire under Octavian. Plutarch's choice shows his perception on Roman virtues- perhaps best exemplified through the courage and leadership skills of Fabius and Sertorius. Moreover, Plutarch's admiration for the 'idea of Rome', the thought that as Rome grew, the individual perished, is seen throughout. The great men of Rome were borne by this idea, and this played an important part in Plutarch's choosing of the men. It should also be noted that the original biographies, Parallel Lives, were compared to the great men of Greece, who Plutarch saw as demonstrating virtue; a living ideal.Instead of providing an overview of each character, I will list the virtues and vices that of the men I found interesting:Coriolanus:Although losing his father at a young age, it did not prevent him from leading a virtuous life. He was indifferent to hardship, to pleasure, and the temptation of money. However his self-assertion led others to find him harsh and overbearing. Nonetheless, he personified manly valour.Finding himself with distinction and honour at a young age, he continued to pursue his ideal self. His ambition served only to spur him to greater efforts. Fabius Maximus:From a young age Fabius had a gentle nature, something which was not recommended for a Roman. Some, however, could see his greatness of spirit, lion-like temper and unshakeable resolution which lay in the depths of his soul. His actions were calculating, proceeding from a sound based judgement; steadfast and resolute. He was later known as Cunctator, the lingerer, for his tactics during the Second Punic War.MarcellusFighting appealed to his temperament, and he was assured on the battlefield. He excelled at single combat, killing every opponent that challenged him. He was awarded the spolia opima, and pursued Hannibal until his death. "when [Hannibal] heard that Marcellus had been killed, he immediately hurried to the spot and stood for a long time by the dead body, admiring its strength and beauty." Cato the ElderBorn as Priscus, he was named Cato later on his life on account of his wisdom and experience. He trained himself to follow a sober mode of living, and possessed a tough constitution and a strong body. He served in his first campaign at the age of seventeen, and was a formidable fighter. On active duty he drank water, and when he was thirsty he would ask for vinegar, or when his strength was exhausted add a little wine. He was attracted to the ideals of simplicity and self-discipline. "a man who observed the ancestral custom of working his own land, who was content with a cold breakfast, a frugal dinner, the simplest clothing, and a humble cottage to live in, and who actually thought it more admirable to renounce luxuries than to acquire them- such a person was conspicuous by his rarity."

  • Mathew Walls
    2019-04-27 21:05

    These Romans are crazy.Despite knowing very little about the Roman republic before reading this book I found it very easy to understand roughly the various positions and terms, and it's all very easy to read and both interesting and entertaining. It's pretty clear that Plutarch didn't let facts get in the way of a good story (especially in the case of Mark Antony) but there are plenty of footnotes throughout the book and an appendix specifically related to the historical facts of the life of Mark Antony. It's left me keen to read more of Plutarch's Lives.One warning though, the Kindle edition of this book is just appallingly edited. It's full of OCR and formatting errors and doesn't appear to have been so much as proofread, so I'd recommend a print version. Also, I don't know why it's called "Makers of Rome", the title doesn't fit at all.

  • Jesse
    2019-05-04 19:28

    When all the wealth of the Antigonid dynasty fell into Roman hands during the mid 2nd century, there was a lot of corruption. The Gracchi brothers meant to set that straight - introducing a land bill that would make Ted Turner cringe, Tiberius Gracchus represented what the republic could've been. Along with his brother, Gaius, these two champions of the people were brutally murdered, setting the stage for the incredibly dramatic and disgusting power politics of the first century. Instead of a people's republic, the tribunate was torn asunder from the real decision-making process as the military element took complete control of the state, and Ceasarism was born.

  • Masen Production
    2019-05-11 17:23

    “I believe that lucky are those who get to dwell on thoughts and instances that have been left behind by Plutarch. There are many flaws in his renditions and when narrating the Mark Anthony & Cleopatra chapter one can see and feel his animosity to them through words and characterization that is alien to his other characters. Once again he has taken us into the souls of the Romans who were resolute in their beliefs and stood up what they perceived was needed of them. Finally losing the perspective that started them on the course. These men shaped the future of Rome and the way it went from a democracy towards one man rule. I strongly recommend this book. ”

  • Sean Chick
    2019-05-06 15:25

    A wonderful collection of biographies. I am impressed by Plutarch's ability to describe the best and worst of each man, in particular in regards to Cato and Fabius. His dislike for Antony comes through though, and that biography strikes me as too long. Yet even there he admits that Antony had some talents and high points. It is nice to see a man who does not veer between hagiography and a hatchet job, both of which are too common nowadays (as in the last 400 years).

  • Michael
    2019-04-26 21:16

    Compelling reading. One reviewer remarked on the difficulty of the writing. My translation by Scott-Kilvert was easy to read and follow. The Romans valued military prowess and politics and both were in continuous flux. Not many leaders died of old age but were killed in war, died by their own hand, or were the victim of political assassination.Read the section on Mark Antony and based on your response, continue or not with the other biographies.This entire book is well worth reading.

  • Justin
    2019-05-15 16:28

    Not being familiar with the works of Plutarch, I made the mistake of buying this abridged version rather than the complete Parallel Lives. This was the only problem I had with the book and I'm not sure I'm being fair by giving it just four stars. The extant 23 lives must make a large book and I suppose it wouldn't sell as well as a limited selection. [ Update: it seems the complete 'Lives' cannot be had for love or money, though there are larger, two-volume sets. ]The translation is highly readable and the footnotes give additional information and correct a lot of Plutarch's inaccuracies, though I would have liked to see even more of them.* It was also nice to find the footnotes conveniently located at the bottom of each page rather than at the end of the chapter or the book, as Penguin often seems to do now. In such cases I either have to interrupt the flow of the reading just to see what I'm missing, or try to go back to the footnotes later, after I've lost a lot of their context. I honestly don't know what publishers are thinking.The writing of Plutarch is slightly more interesting than Suetonious and far less monotonous than Livy, though I wouldn't credit his accounts with too much accuracy. Compared with these authors and others like Tacitus, Polybius, and Gibbon, Plutarch almost seems like an ideal introduction to Roman history, with just a few caveats. Firstly, before reading the Lives you should at least be aware of the general timeline of republican Rome, and have some knowledge of the events taking places. The wars of Hannibal, the proscriptions of Sulla, the political campaigns of the Gracchi and the Civil Wars are all casually alluded to by Plutarch as common knowledge at the time. You'll also want to know something about the political system of Rome and the different offices involved as well as the structure and geography of the Roman world. On review it occurs to me that the editor of this book did not include a lot of context for the Lives, and that a stranger to the era could easily have been lost - although a quick overview on wikipedia should be enough to start off.Another setback for beginners ( though a very minor one ) is that the narratives of this particular volume seem to stand slightly stage left of the central actors. Which is not to say that any of them are minor characters, but that each seems to play the secondary role of his era. Thus we have biographies for Fabius rather than Scipio and Hannibal, and Brutus and Antony rather than Caesar and Octavian. For someone who's already acquainted with the principle actors, this makes the selection even more interesting, not less, but someone new to Roman History might wonder why they aren't reading about the victors, rather than the defeated. Naturally of course such a distinction can only be made in hindsight - at the time there would have been no way of knowing that Sertorius was not the first man of his age, or that Antony was not destined to be the first Roman Emperor.That in itself, I suppose, is one of the best reasons to read the book. *You can never have too many footnotes.

  • Elliott Bignell
    2019-05-07 14:16

    I am struck again and again how lively the writing of the ancients still seems today. This is another one of those occasions. The Romans are a fascinating bunch anyway, if not always easy to love, but this collection of nine of the Lives truly animates them and makes them seem to occupy the room with one.Two of the Lives covered here have awoken in the English-speaking consciousness through their treatment by Shakespeare - not to mention by Richard Burton and Liz Taylor. Through "Julius Caesar" and "Anthony and Cleopatra" the names of Brutus and Mark Anthony have become almost household. Shakespeare alone can apparently not carry the sole responsibility for their dramatisation. Plutarch himself was more interested in painting a lively portrait than in strict academic method, and of course these lives were outright dramatic. The translator includes some notes on the Life of Mark Anthony which draw on other sources and show where Plutarch has bent the facts a little to make the account fizz, but these almost serve to highten the drama. In particular, I learned from the notes of the religious symbolism of the Asp which may have taken Cleopatra's life and at the same time pointed to her deification.The Romans were intriguing characters, alternatively iron-hard military men, principled Republicans prepared to die rather than fall under the sway of a new King, ruthless opportunists prepared to kill or spare life based on calculated expediency and gluttonous hedonists devoted to their pleasures. Mark Anthony, in particular, seems to have been at once a talented military leader, greedy for power, while having an appealing weakness for women. And wine. And song. Brutus is a revelation in the nearness to which this familiarly political idealist came to military victory over the triumvirate of Anthony, Octavius and Lepidus. Then there is the stern asceticism of the censorious Cato, the sacrifice and ideals of the Gracchi, the patient methodology of Marcellus in grinding down Hannibal and the martial ferocity of Coriolanus. All of them come to life in Plutarch's hands.I will most definitely be reading more Plutarch when I get the chance.

  • Julian Meynell
    2019-05-23 18:04

    This is a selection from Plutarch's parallel lives focusing on notable Romans of the Republic. Interestingly, three of the lives covered here were the direct inspiration for Shakespeare - Coriolanus, Brutus and Marc Anthony. Plutarch knows how to spin a yarn and furthermore how to make a character come vividly to life. In effect his writing provides short but memorable sketches which focus on character. Plutarch is also not an intellectual slouch and will occasionally spit out fascinating observations. However, it is clear that his talents are in the short essay because he is not really interested in proposing complex theses.I'm not sure if reading a selection of Plutarch's Parallel Lives is the best way to come at Plutarch. In particular, it removed the central conceit of two lives being contrasted completely as these were always paired Greek and Roman lives. But I am currently learning more about the Roman Republic, a period of time which I had known far less well than the Empire and this is why I read this selection.Whether or not this selection is the place to start with Plutarch, he is well worth reading and can be consumed in bite size pieces.

  • Sean Mooney
    2019-04-29 14:31

    Broken into short stories of various leaders from the Roman Republic Plutarch examines individual Romans who had a profound effect upon the history of the Republic. All of the tales are wonderfully romantic and have been the basis of a wealth of literature and prose since they were written. If you read nothing else from this collection you must read the chapters on the Gracchi, Gauius and Tiberius. Their story incites such passion in me as it recounts the eternal battle between the masses and the rich and powerful, and how two brothers made every effort to break the back of aristocratic control of government. Anyone who has passion for government and the rights of man will feel empowered by their stories.

  • Ainsley
    2019-04-23 20:11

    What a good idea by the editors of Penguin Classics to move away from Plutarch's pairing of Greek and Roman statesmen by virtues (a sometimes questionable process) and move toward grouping the Lives by theme. This book is a good companion to the Fall of the Roman Republic and contains some of Plutarch's most arresting portraits, including my favourite, the life of Mark Antony. A great read if you are interested in old school portraits of morality, sources of inspiration for Shakespeare or Roman history in general. If you are interested in all three, this is a delightful read.

  • Jax
    2019-04-22 20:25

    Dunno if it was Plutarch or the translator but the writing style is atrocious. The footnotes by the editor explaining the parts where Plutarch had his info wrong makes me wonder if i can trust anything he wrote. anyway, I only read it for one chapter and a person who had taken the book out from the library at some point before me and gone through and underlined about 90% of the chapter. sweet. not.

  • Matthew Colvin
    2019-05-12 21:33

    There is no more delightful retailer of anecdotes than Plutarch. Many memorable phrases and quotations found their way into my file of commonplaces for future reference. It's also nice to have the history of Rome in one's head: many of the greatest political writers and thinkers have had Plutarch as the foundation of their political thought.

  • Anthony Dalton
    2019-04-27 18:28

    Plutarch vividly brings to life some of the most significant personalities of the Roman Republic. His observations and often cutting bias provide interesting insight into the characteristics and motivation of some of the most eminent figures of Ancient Rome.

  • Emily (Infinite Lives, Infinite Stories)
    2019-05-19 15:18

    Packed full of information. I had to read this book for my college western civilization class. Though it was a little cumbersome and tedious to read, I found it to be quite an interesting read. For me, it took a few reads for me to understand the syntax.

  • David
    2019-05-22 19:18

    The continuation of the end of the Roman Republic - the seedy side of Rome

  • Shahid
    2019-05-01 21:23


  • Ani
    2019-05-04 22:26

    I had to read brutus' life for English and could barely understand it... and I'm simply not particularly interested in this topic- I just felt like I needed to justify myself in giving it 1 star

  • Joshua
    2019-04-29 14:25

    A classic, must read for anyone interested in the history of Rome. Learn life lessons from some of the great figures of Roman history.

  • Lance
    2019-05-05 20:10

    Love Plutarch. You can see where Shakespeare gets so much of his material.

  • Jeffry
    2019-04-28 20:13

    Given how little we have how do I rate the ancient sources other than "must read?"

  • Michael
    2019-05-03 20:23

    Very Good. Like Plutarch's style.

  • Drake
    2019-05-21 18:22

    Very well written and informative. Clear and enjoyable.

  • Douglas Wilson
    2019-05-05 20:29

    Quite good.

  • Jodi
    2019-05-14 15:05

    Good for academics and those seeking a new understanding of Rome. it is better to read the Greek and roman lives next to each other but not necessary.