Saturday, October 13, 2012

Why Parallel Lives?

"I began the writing of my "Lives" for the sake of others, but I find that I am continuing the work and delighting in it now for my own sake also, using history as a mirror and endeavouring in a manner to fashion and adorn my life in conformity with the virtues therein depicted. For the result is like nothing else than daily living and associating together, when I receive and welcome each subject of my history in turn as my guest, so to speak, and observe carefully "how large he was and of what mien,"( As Priam admired Achilles, Iliad) and select from his career what is most important and most beautiful to know.

"And oh! what greater joy than this canst thou obtain,"
and more efficacious for moral improvement? Democritus says we ought to pray that we may be visited by phantoms which are propitious, and that from out the circumambient air such only may encounter us as are agreeable to our natures and good, rather than those which are perverse and bad, thereby intruding into philosophy a doctrine which is not true, and which leads astray into boundless superstitions. But in my own case, the study of history and the familiarity with it which my writing produces,enables me, since I always cherish in my soul the records of the noblest and most estimable characters, to repel and put far from me whatever base, malicious, or ignoble suggestion my enforced associations may intrude upon me, calmly and dispassionately turning my thoughts away from them to the fairest of my examples."

PLUTARCH "The Life of Aemilius" 
(Save the picture at your desktop and then click "Zoon In" to read a bio of Plutarch)

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