From Dryden's Plutarch.

I have been adding things from miscellaneous scraps on my computer to this Tumblr. The following is a text file of notes on, and quotations from, some chapters of Dryden’s Plutarch from several years ago.


That the vulture is the cleanest bird. Never kills, eating only carrion. Never eats other birds.

Lycurgus was sent for by the Spartans because “kings indeed we have who wear the marks and assume the titles of royalty, but as for the qualities of their minds, they have nothing by which they are to be distinguished from their subjects.”

the institution of iron money

That city is well-fortified which hath a wall of men instead of brick.


…it is irrational and poor-spirited not to seek conveniences for fear of losing them, for upon the same account, we should not allow ourselves to like wealth, glory, or wisdom, since we may fear to be deprived of all these: nay, even virtue itself, than which there is no greater nor more desirable possession, is often suspended by sickness or drugs.

The way which, the moderns say, the Athenians have of softening the badness of a thing, by ingeniously giving it some pretty and innocent appelation, calling harlots, for example, mistresses, tributes customs, a garrison a guard, and the jail a chamber, seems originally to have been Solon’s contrivance, who called canceling debts Seisacthee, a relief, or disencumbrance.

–fitting his laws to the state of things, and not making things to suit his laws.


…when in company where people engaged themselves in what are commonly though the liberal and elegant amusements, he was obliged to defend himself against the observations of those who considered themselves highly accomplished, by the somehwat arrogant retort, that he certainly could not make use of any stringed instrument, could only, were a small and obscure city put into his hands, make it great and glorious.

the Gauls were drawn to Rome b/c the really liked wine and wanted to find the land of the grape (camillus)


many times…. when we are pleased by the work, we slight and set little by the workman or artist himself, as, for instance, in perfumes and purple dyes, we are taken by the things themselves well enough, but do not think dyers and perfumers otherwise than low and sordid people. It was not said amiss by Anistothones, when people told him that one Ismenias was an excellent piper. “It may be so,” said he, “but he is a wretched human being, otherwise he would not have been an excellent piper.” And King Philip, to the same purpose, told his son Alexander who once at a merry-meeting played a piece of music charmingly and skillfully, “Are you not ashamed, son, to play so well?” For it is enough for a king or prince to find leisure sometimes to hear others sing, and he does the muses quite honour enough when he pleases to be but present, while others engage in such exercises and trials of skill.

Although they say, too, that Zeuxis once, having heard Agatharcus the painter boast of dispatching his work with speed and ease, replied, “I take a long time.” For ease and speed in doing a thing do not give the work lasting solidity of exactness of beauty; the expenditure of time allowed to a man’s pains beforehand for the production of a thing is to rebound by way of interest with a vital force for the preservation when once produced.

For which reason Pericles’ works are especially admired, as having been made quickly, to last long.