Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 258
Parallel Lives is a series of biographies of great personages penned by Plutarch, a first century Roman essayist.
Among the character profiles is that of Theseus, the founder of Athens. Born from a royal lineage, Theseus is described by Plutarch as both strong and brave.
Another person profiled by Plutarch is Solon, the Athenian statesman and poet. Solon's early dabbling in poetry was done for trivial matters and entertainment but, as he grew older, took on increasingly serious tones designed to "correct, chastise, and stir up the Athenians to noble performances."
The Spartan naval commander Lysander is also described by Plutarch. Presented as virile and stoic, Lysander is the son of Aristoclitus. Plutarch uses his biography of Lysander to describe the warrior's wartime exploits. His death is later greeted by the Spartans as that befitting a hero. According to Plutarch:
The poverty also of Lysander being discovered by his death made his merit more manifest, since from so much wealth and power, from all the homage of the cities, and of the Persian kingdom, he had not in the least degree, so far as money goes, sought any private aggrandizement, as Theopompus in his history relates, whom any one may rather give credit to when he commends than when he finds fault, as it is more agreeable to him to blame than to praise.
Other biographies and character sketches presented in Parallel Lives include those of Lycurgus, Thermistocles, Pericles, Alcibiades, Pelopidas, Timoleon, Artaxerxes, Aratus, Dion, Agis, Cleomenes, Demosthenes, Demetrius, Aristides, Philopoemen, Pyrrhus, Cimon, Nicias, Agesilaus, Eumenes, and Phocion.
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