Book Review: The Makers of Rome by Plutarch (Penguin Classics)

I am currently on an arc of reading Latin classics I have not read but always wanted to. I finished the first one a few days ago, the Penguin Classics edition of The Makers of Rome by Plutarch. It is not a complete copy of Plutarch’s Lives however, it only includes the lives of nine Romans, Coriolanus, Fabius Maximus, Marcellus, Cato the Elder, Tiberius Gracchus, Gaius Gracchus, Sertorius, Brutus, and Mark Antony.

Plutarch writes in an engaging style that is very easy to read and the translator does an outstanding job of converting the Latin into English while keeping his style. Plutarch is not always historically accurate; he has a tendency to dramatize at times. Overall, this is an excellent work though and a great book to start reading the Latin classics.

I really enjoyed the book and it showed me a different side of some historical events I was aware of. The two Lives of the Gracchi were particularly revealing to me. I have read of the Gracchi and the failure of their proposed reforms but Plutarch led to me to think about the episode in a different light.

The common perception is that the old classics are boring and dry reads. I found Plutarch’s Lives to be anything but boring and highly recommend the Lives to anyone whether casual reader or experienced historian. It is a lively and engaging account of life in ancient Rome.