He persuaded an ox to renounce eating beans by merely whispering in the animal’s ear, and a she-bear to give up eating human flesh. He also forced a white eagle to descend from the clouds, and subdued him by stroking him gently with the hand, and by talking to him.
The Samian Philosopher exhorted his disciples to abstain from beans on account of several different reasons. The rationale for this proscription is explained from eight different perspectives:
1. A physiological explanation: Fava beans produce flatulence, which is disturbing to those who seek mental calm, particularly before sleep.
2. A pathological explanation: Beans may cause acute haemolytic anaemia in genetically predisposed individuals.
3. A political explanation: The ban of beans was meant to curb the itch for power and profit associated with public office.
4. An unclean explanation: As beans were slang for testicles, Empedocles perpetuated their prohibition to temper sexual pursuits.
5. A mystical explanation: Aristotle believed that the reason for the ban is because beans bind souls to earth.
6. A biochemical explanation: The high nitrogen contents of beans makes their protein border on the animal kingdom.
7. An esoteric explanation: Their magnetism dulls the inner man and stifles the psychic man, says Blavatsky.
8. An etymological explanation: The name of the bean itself gives away the true reason for its notable ban by the Samian Master.
Truth is wiser than the wise. The antipathy that sometimes exists even among kindred substances is clearly demonstrated in the case of the Mexican pomegranate. Milo of Croton holds the pomegranate or matter tightly in one hand, while extending the other in prayer to the goddess of matter. The difference between the bells of the heathen worshippers, and the bells and pomegranates of the Jewish worship is also explained.
The old Athenians loved beans so much that they even worshipped a Bean-Man. But those initiated to the Eleusinian Mysteries were ordered to abstain from domestic birds, fishes, beans, pomegranates, and apples, says Porphyry.
Claims that Pythagoras was not a strict vegetarian are counterbalanced by Apollonius Tyanaeus:
Counterpoise 1. The story of the fishermen as retold by Porphyry suggests that Pythagoras absolutely abstained from fish.
Counterpoise 2. Eudoxus maintains that Pythagoras not only abstained from animal flesh, he also kept clear of butchers and hunters.
Counterpoise 3. Apollonius of Tyana, more Pythagorean than Pythagoras himself, has always maintained his purity by shunning animal flesh as well as animal clothing.
Counterpoise 4. Following Pythagoras’ example, Apollonius sacrificed a bull made out of frankincense.
Counterpoise 5. Noting that men and beans arose out of putrefaction, Pythagoras forbid the consumption of beans as well as of human flesh.
Counterpoise 6. Five centuries later, the Cappadocian Adept sternly rebuked the gladiatorial barbarities of the Athenians that were taking place in the Theatre of Dionysus Eleuthereus on the southern slope of their Acropolis.
Counterpoise 7. He provided evidence of the utter futility of human sacrifices and of cocks, pigs, and bulls being unworthy vehicles of divination.
The ban of beans is far older than Pythagoras, as evidenced by the Orphic Hymn to Earth, where the sacrificer is ordered to fumigate from every kind of seed, except beans and aromatics.
Pompey, Caesar, Cicero, Brutus, Antony: the names still resonate across thousands of years. Major figures in the civil wars that brutally ended the Roman republic, their lives pose a question that haunts us still: how to safeguard a republic from the flaws of its leaders.
This reader’s edition of Plutarch delivers a fresh translation of notable clarity, explanatory notes, and ample historical context in the Preface and Introduction.
Ian Scott-Kilvert's and Christopher Pelling's translations are accompanied by a new introduction, and also includes a separate introduction for each biography, comparative essays of the major figures, suggested further reading, notes and maps.
These new and revised translations by W. Jeffrey Tatum and Ian Scott-Kilvert capture Plutarch's elegant prose and narrative flair. This edition also includes a general introduction, individual introductions to each of the Lives and Comparisons, further reading and notes.
The Rise of Rome is the penultimate title in Penguin Classics' complete revised Plutarch in six volumes. Other titles include Rome In Crisis, On Sparta, Fall of the Roman Republic, The Age of Alexander and The Rise and Fall of Athens (forthcoming 2014).
This epic chronicle by Plutarch (A.D. 46-120) continues with the lives of great Grecians and Romans. These biographies of the men who created the ancient world are brought to life in this new, high-quality recording. Legends such as Caesar, Alexander, Cicero, Demosthenes, and many others come alive as their politics, economy, and their individual stories play out in the time of the ancients. This translation is by John Dryden and is considered by scholars to be the quintessential translation.
Plutarchs's (46-120 A.D.) epic chronicle of the lives of great Grecians and Romans. Beginning with the founding of Rome and Athens, the lives of the men who created the ancient world are brought to life in this new, high quality recording. Greats such as Romulus, Pericles, Theseus, Lycurgus, and many others come alive as their politics, economy, and their individual stories play out in the time of the Ancients. This translation by John Dryden, which is considered by scholars to be the quintessential translation.
The Life of Alexander is one of many notable Greek figure biographies written by Plutarch in his series “Parallel Lives”. Alexander is arguably one of the most notable Greek figures, immortalized in stories and legends that are commonly used in mythology classes today. With the lingering feeling of discontent after the Persian invasion and the political unrest that surrounded him, his life made for an interesting topic in Plutarch’s works. Parallel lives is often lauded as one of the most reliable references to Alexander’s life that is currently available.
The Romans hated Pompey’s greedy father, Strabo, with a vengeance. Yet when Pompey rose in prominence, Plutarch notes that he developed the opposite character, and the Romans loved him for it. Pompey had many great accomplishments in his military and political life, but his legacy lies in forming the First Triumvirate with Crassus and Caesar. When the alliance eventually dissolved, and Pompey fled from Caesar to his death, the Roman world would never be the same.
The Roman statesman Sulla had the nickname “Felix,” meaning “lucky.” Yet his accomplishments were more a matter of brute force than good fortune. He put an end to a civil war, declared himself dictator, and used his power to bring Rome back to its former value system, purging thousands of Roman enemies along the way. Plutarch’s biography of Sulla shows how one man’s use of force to obtain political power influenced many who came after him, most notably Julius Caesar.
In “The Life of Cicero,” Plutarch details the priceless contributions Cicero made to Roman society. He translated the works of Greek philosophers into Latin, gained acclaim as an orator and lawyer, and was elected to office. Politics ultimately got the better of him, however, and his life ended in assassination while in exile. Cicero’s ideas live on through his body of work, but to learn about the man himself, Plutarch’s biography is an excellent starting point.
The Roman general Marcus Licinius Crassus formed the First Triumvirate with Caesar and Pompey. The collaboration proved difficult, as egos clashed amidst the wars the men waged. Yet Crassus proved himself to be the linchpin of their alliance in the age when Roman Republic became Roman Empire; after his death, Caesar turned on Pompey, the partnership dissolved. Plutarch’s account of Crassus’ life unfolds like a drama, documenting the trials and triumphs of one of Rome’s most powerful men.
Mark Antony’s personal life was almost as storied as his immensely successful political career. In Plutarch’s biography, the most striking sections revolve around Antony’s relationship with Cleopatra. Plutarch’s characterization inspired Shakespeare, whose play Antony and Cleopatra would not be the same without its influence. With such close ties to Shakespeare, it’s no wonder that the “The Life of Antony” holds great literary merit all its own.
Julius Caesar peaked as one of the most powerful generals in Roman history. In “The Life of Caesar,” Plutarch attempts to capture the greatness of this man on paper. With stirring prose, he documents Caesar’s military might and rousing spirit. The biography ends with the details of Caesar’s assassination, but Plutarch’s assures readers that the murderers eventually paid for the deed.
Cato the Elder rose from his Plebeian ancestry to become a great Roman senator, orator, and historian. While he was the first in his family to hold elected office, Cato proudly declared that his military roots made bravery a family trait. Plutarch praises him for his actions as a father, his strength as an orator, and his wise ethics, but he criticizes his behavior toward animals and slaves. While there are several historical biographies of what Cato did, this entry in Parallel Lives creates an intimate portrait of who Cato was in character and in practice.
Phocion is one of the many Grecian Politician’s lives detailed in Plutarch’s Parallel Lives stories. Phocion, also known as “TheGood” was known for being one of the most beloved and change-inspiring Greek politicians of his time. Elected a military stratego many times, his prowess within the army was highly regarded. His fierce opposition to many of theruling classes and his willingness to fight for what he believed in was ultimately what lead to his execution.
Gaius Marius was pivotal to many of the ways in which we know Rome today. His impact on Rome is noted in Plutarch’s The Life of Marius, from his time served as General to his time served as Statesman. His blessed life began as a child with a legend – that he found clutch of eagles containing seven chicks, and therefore Jupiter was assuring his seven elections to senate. Though, all the war and political unrest that ensued his six elections followed him only seventeen days into his seventh election – when he died of Pleurisy.
The story of Romulus is perhaps the most noteworthy entry in Plutarch’s Parallel Lives. According to legend, Romulus and his brother Remus founded Rome after being raised by a “she-wolf,” though Plutarch notes that this word was also used to describe sexually immoral women. “The Life of Romulus” shows how it is impossible to separate the man from the myth. For this reason, Plutarch’s portrait of Romulus argues that legends often have as great an influence on culture as the truth.
Plutarch wrote all the biographies in Parallel Lives with a certain flair for valuing characterization over strict historical documentation. “The Life of Brutus” was no exception. By painting a complex portrait of the man behind Julius Caesar’s assassination, Plutarch provided Shakespeare with the dramatic character sketch he needed to write the play Julius Caesar. For fans of Classics, this literary masterpiece is not one to miss.
In contrast to some of the other, bloodier names listed in Plutarch’s Parallel Lives, Demosthenes was a great orator and politician. The Life of Demosthenes starts out uniquely, detailing Demosthenes’ commitment to his study – one so fierce that he built an underground study room and shaved half his head so he wouldn’t go outside. All this was to take his guardians to court for not allowing him to take gymnastics, but his education went on to help him in the end. Going on to write speeches for the greatest politicians, Demosthenes made his mark on Ancient Greece through his craft.