Analysis

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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 210

Parallel Lives, commonly referred to simply as Lives, is a collection of biographies written by Plutarch, the famous Greek philosopher known largely for his moralistic writings. Parallel Lives, his most famous work, explores the decisions of moral significance made by famous Greeks and Romans. Moreover, it compares their characters. Perhaps most significantly, it explores the influence of character on the lives and destinies of these men. Plutarch states this as his purpose in writing the biographies in the first paragraph of his biography on Alexander the Great.

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Though Plutarch was clear about his purpose, he appeared to have multiple concerns while writing these texts. Primarily, his concern was to convey morals rather than simply relate historical facts. He also wanted to encourage respect between the Greeks and Romans and highlight the Greeks’ accomplishments. Plutarch’s concern with the influence of character on destiny spoke to the common man, as he told of the decisions made by people of importance during crucial points in their lives. His books were widely read and highly influential, particularly with children. Thus, by illustrating the importance of character, Plutarch used the books for moral instruction. He offered judgments on behaviors and actions, and he highlighted patterns of behavior that led to good and bad consequences.

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