The Age of Caesar

Five Roman Lives

Plutarch (Author), James Romm (Editor, Bard College), Pamela Mensch (Translator)

With a Foreword by Mary Beard

Overview | Formats

A brilliant new translation of five of history’s greatest lives from Plutarch, the inventor of biography.

Pompey, Caesar, Cicero, Brutus, Antony: the names resonate across thousands of years. Major figures in the civil wars that brutally ended the Roman republic, their lives still haunt us as examples of how the hunger for personal power can overwhelm collective politics, how the exaltation of the military can corrode civilian authority, and how the best intentions can lead to disastrous consequences. Plutarch renders these history-making lives as flesh-and-blood characters, often by deftly marshalling small details such as the care Brutus exercised in his use of money or the disdain Caesar felt for the lofty eloquence of Cicero.

Plutarch was a Greek intellectual who lived roughly one hundred years after the age of Caesar. At home in the world of Roman power, he preferred to live in the past, among the great figures of Greek and Roman history. He intended his biographical profiles to be mirrors of character that readers could use to inspire their own values and behavior—emulating virtues and rejecting flaws. For Plutarch, character was destiny for both the individual and the republic. He was our first master of the biographical form, a major source for Shakespeare and Gibbon.

This edition features a new translation by Pamela Mensch that lends a brilliant clarity to Plutarch’s prose. James Romm’s notes guide readers gracefully through the people, places, and events named in the profiles. And Romm’s preface, along with Mary Beard’s introduction, provide the perfect frame for understanding Plutarch and the momentous history he narrates.

Book Details

  • Hardcover
  • January 2017
  • ISBN 978-0-393-29282-4
  • 6.6 × 9.6 in / 432 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide

Other Formats

  1. Book CoverThe Age of Caesar: Five Roman Lives


Endorsements & Reviews

“This reader’s edition of Plutarch’s Lives brings to life the captivating personalities and topsy-turvy politics of the late Roman Republic. Fluid and poised, Pamela Mensch’s translation does a fine job conveying the measured power of Plutarch’s prose. The introduction—authored by one of the most distinguished ancient historians of her generation—masterfully sets the scene, and James Romm’s notes will be an invaluable resource for readers.” — Daniel Padilla Peralta, author of Undocumented

“The formidable duo of Romm & Mensch have pulled it off again—accomplishing with ease the tricky feat of making some of the best biographies from the best biographer of the ancient Roman world newly accessible in fresh, accurate, intelligently commented translations to a readership extending well beyond the usual Classicist suspects.” — Paul Cartledge, author of Thermopylae: The Battle that Changed the World

The Age of Caesar is a fine translation of Plutarch’s biographies of five of the most tragic figures in ancient history. This will become the new standard.” — Ian Morris, author of War! What Is It Good For?