Wednesday, April 15, 2009

universal sympathy with genius...

Some time ago I bought "Emerson's Plutarch" by Emund G. Berry, from Alibris (I have written here before about how much I love used books-I was surprised to find in this volume an inscription from the author, "To both at 201 S. Maple, where I worked on this sometimes in the bedroom. With love, Edmund"). Published in 1961, the book describes the vicissitudes in Plutarch's reputation and calls Emerson the last great Plutarchian.
The Boston Unitarians from Adams to Emerson loved Plutarch( AD 46 – 120) for his moral Lives, and, to a lesser but sometimes important degree, his Moralia. A Hellenist, Plutarch had wide ranging interests, was a great popularizer, often taught in maxims and epigrams and he has a quality best described as genial that makes him very attractive.
A couple of quotes from Emerson:
"Plutarch cannot be spared from the smallest library; first because he is so readable, which is much; then that he is medicinal and invigorating. The lives...are what history has of best..."

"Plutarch's memory is full, and his horizon wide. Nothing touches man but he feels to be his; he is tolerant even of vice, if he finds it genial..."

"Plutarch is not a profound mind; not a master in any science; not a lawgiver...not a leader of the mind of a generation, like Plato or Goethe. But if he had not the highest powers, he was yet a man of rare gifts. He had the universal sympathy with genius which makes all his victories his own."

Have a great day and blessings.

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