Thursday, May 29, 2008

Adieu, Plutarch

Technically, I ought not to write that I have finally finished reading Plutarch. I have completed his monumental, 925-page Lives, as of 10:35 last night, and previously read Volume One of his Moralia. But the latter work continues in 15 more volumes. 15! I could qualify for a senior citizen discount at Barnes and Noble by the time I hit Vol. 16.

I had to special order that Volume One and no doubt would have to do so for the rest. Maybe I will, maybe I won't. After all, I am very curious as to his explanation for why Women [supposedly] "eat not of the midrib of lettuce." Just one of the many miscellany of his massive Moralia.

It's time to move on to the next author on the list, chronologically, the historian Tacitus, whose life spanned, in part, the first and second centuries A.D., a momentuous age. He was a boy when one Paul of Tarsus ran afoul of Nero; by the time he died, the religion that Paul had preached had outgrown its crib and was looking for a world to rule.

I have enjoyed Plutarch, I most certainly have. In particular, I appreciate how the lives of Women, both noble and flawed, intertwine with the lives of the men that he officially chronicles.

In fact, it is in reference to Cornelia, Mother of the Gracchi, that he shares these final words of the book:

"A noble nature and education avail to conquer any affliction; and though Fortune may often be more successful, and may defeat the efforts of virtue to avert misfortunes, it cannot, when we incur them, prevent our bearing them reasonably."


Chase March said...

Great job! 15 volumes sounds like quite the task. Maybe it is time to move on for now, and come back it later if you so choose. Anyway, thanks for sharing some of the knowledge of this great thinker.

Eastcoastdweller said...

Chase, I've just long felt it to be sad, that certain great books have survived wars, fire and all the vicissitudes of history, only to go unread in the modern era for no good reason.

Then again, I have been pleasantly surprised this week to learn that there are still many people who apparently do read such books by choice.

Rebecca was quite familiar with the details of the life of Cleopatra, for example. And a friend with whom I recently had lunch, when I mentioned Demosthenes, whose life is recounted by Plutarch, said to me, "Wasn't he the guy who put pebbles in his mouth to force himself to speak more clearly?"

Sure enough, that anecdote appears right there in Plutarch, as I discovered for myself in further reading.

Janice Thomson said...

I actually downloaded Plutarch's Moralia a couple months ago and hope to read it soon - I have read bits and pieces of him such as 'On Peace Of Mind'. This world would do well to read the books of the ancients like Plutarch, Aristotle, Plato etc etc.

kat said...

adieu Plutarch......

hello ????...

what about Kierkegaard?