This is our favorite rendition of Plutarch's Lives. Instead of including all fifty biographies, Weston focuses only on twelve of Plutarch's most famous subjects. His work is therefore able to retain a great deal more of the character of Plutarch's original narrative than more highly condensed versions. Since Plutarch was a moral philosopher as well as a biographer, retaining the tone and dialogue of the original collection is key to understanding his contribution to Western thought. Plutarch's complete lives run over a thousand pages. This is an excellent condensation.
PELOPIDAS SETTING OUT FOR THEBES.
This book aims at presenting, for the reading of boys and girls, a version of certain selected narratives from the immortal Lives of Plutarch.
In making the selection, the writer has been guided by the wish to choose those lives which appear to him to be most likely to interest young readers, and which also exhibit most clearly, either by example or contrast, the beauty of patriotism and the nobility of the manly virtues of justice, courage, fortitude, and temperance.
The selected lives have been freely retold. The discursive reflections, in which Plutarch frequently indulges, have been generally omitted; so also have many proper names not necessary to the full understanding of the stories. But, While much has been omitted, the writer has not presumed to add matter, other than seemed necessary to explain the importance or bearing of events, or to make the narrative clear to young readers. He trusts, therefore, that the version here presented retains much of the manner and method of Plutarch, and especially that the distinctive quality of that author which, to many readers throughout the ages, has given form and substance and a living reality to the heroes of ancient story, otherwise but the shadows of great names, has not been sacrificed.
He trusts, too, that his young readers may realise from Plutarch how little the essential things of life have changed during twenty centuries and more of the world's history; that, though trireme has given place to ironclad, and javelin-flight to bullet-hail, Salamis and Marathon called for the same wisdom, foresight, and courage as Trafalgar and Waterloo; and that to-day our country may demand from us, according to the measure of our abilities, service as unselfish and self-sacrificing as that which the noblest heroes of ancient Greece and Rome rendered to the lands whose history their deeds illumine for all time.
W. H. W.