Most helpful critical review
23 of 31 people found the following review helpful
Plutarch 5 Stars Penguin 1 Star
on 7 July 2007
I got this book because my original copy of Plutarch's Lives, a 19th century edition of John and William Langhorne's excellent translation, is falling apart through continued use over the years.
Of course the ideas, anecdotes, and examples that Plutarch used continue to be fascinating, but the whole tone of Rex Warner's translation is low grade. I get the feeling that it's all been dumbed down in the forlorn hope of weaning glue-sniffers from council estates onto classical literature.
Compare this example from the "Life of Caesar," following the battle before the camps at Dyrrachium when Pompey failed to press his advantage.
Warner has Caeser flatly saying:
"Today the enemy would have won, if they had a commander who was a winner"
while the Langhornes put the same thing with much more poetry and gravitas:
"This day victory would have declared for the enemy, if they had had a general who knew how to conquer"
Rather than paying Warner for his flat, dull, safely literal, and dumbed down transaltion, Penguin should simply have used the 18th century Langhorne version which they could have used for free, and then cut the price to the consumer.