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Born at the very heart of Greece-between Athens and Apollo's shrine at Delphi-in the mid-40s of the first century CE, Plutarch combined an intense love of his locality and family with a cosmopolitan outlook that embraced the whole Roman Empire. His encyclopaedic writings form a treasure trove of ancient wisdom, yet his strong religious feelings and deeply humanist temperament give them all a compelling and individual voice. Whether he is offering abstract speculation or practical ethics, fresh and arresting reflections on anger and flattery, military versus intellectual glory or the reasoning powers of animals, Plutarch's charm and personality constantly shine through. Above all, concludes Kidd, his essays remain magnificently readable, works that 'can still entertain, instruct, stimulate and educate us and also introduce us to one of the most attractive characters in classical literature'.
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