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Bill Thayer

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This webpage reproduces one of
The Parallel Lives


published in Vol. VII
of the Loeb Classical Library edition,

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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Plutarch: Life of Alexander

Plutarch's Sources

Since Plutarch wrote around 100 A.D., over 400 years after Alexander, he can hardly be considered a primary source. At the same time, he appears to have been very careful in his research, and may be the best source now extant. For the details, see the Plutarch section of the excellent multi-page analysis at Livius of the sources for the life of Alexander, to which I would only add two further sources not mentioned in that essay but specifically cited by Plutarch himself: actual letters of Alexander and Olympias (III.7.6, III.8.1, III.17.8, III.20.9, III.22.2‑5, IV.27.8, V.39.7, VIII.55.7), and — thank you, Paul Keyser — the Memoirs of Aristoxenos (III.4.4); and a number of less direct references. Whether these documents are real or fictional, whether cited first-hand or from an intermediate source, is a matter of judgment and scholar­ship.

The Text on LacusCurtius

This site is a transcription of the English translation of Plutarch's work by Bernadotte Perrin as printed in pp223‑439 of Vol. VII of the Loeb Classical Library edition of the Parallel Lives, published in 1919. I have no intention of transcribing the original Greek text: the paucity of readers of ancient Greek out there make it a case of diminishing returns. (As it turned out, about a year after I put the English text onsite, the Greek appeared online, and is linked in the header bars.)

As almost always, I retyped the text by hand rather than scanning it — not only to minimize errors prior to proofreading, but as an opportunity for me to become intimately familiar with the work, an exercise which I heartily recommend: Qui scribit, bis legit. (Well-meaning attempts to get me to scan text, if success­ful, would merely turn me into some kind of machine: gambit declined.)

This transcription has been minutely proofread. In the table of contents below, the sections are therefore shown on blue backgrounds, indicating that I believe the text of them to be completely errorfree. As elsewhere onsite, the header bar at the top of each chapter's webpage will remind you with the same color scheme. Should you spot an error, however . . . please do report it.

Since the Book was too long for a single webpage and had to be split up, I took advantage of that to present it in seven pages corresponding as closely as possible to the eight surviving Books of Quintus Curtius, and like them, numbered III thru X. Notice, by the way, how Plutarch at one point covers in a few paragraphs the material in two entire Books of Curtius.

Parallels Books 6 and 7 of Curtius.


The copyright expired in 1947, or in 1975 if it was renewed, and the work is in the public domain.

Chapter and Section Numbering, Local Links

The chapters are indicated by large numbers; the traditional page and section numbering is given in small numbers: it should be noted that the latter, corresponding to the pagination of an old standard edition, could be accurately placed in the Greek text, but their placement in any translation must of necessity be approximations.

Both numberings are marked by local links, according to a consistent scheme; you can therefore link directly to any passage. Similarly, for citation purposes, the Loeb edition pagination is indicated by local links and made visible in the right margin.


Although the Loeb edition occasionally notes a textual difficulty or an alternative reading, it provides no apparatus criticus. I have not seen any of the scholar­ly editions: at some point I may go to one and reproduce its apparatus, but for now, in view of diminishing returns in terms of its slight use to the overwhelming majority of Web users, I've decided not to.

As elsewhere on my site, to streamline display of the text and simplify searches, editorial [square brackets] signifying text to be deleted are rendered in a paler colour; and <angled brackets> signifying added emendations are shown in a slightly different color, shown in the sourcecode as <SPAN CLASS="emend">.

[image ALT: The head of a young man, rather dishevelled and with a very intense expression. It is a detail of the Alexander Mosaic in Pompeii (Italy), and is said to be a portrait of Alexander the Great.]

The background of the icon I use to indicate this work is the same shade of purple I use in the Roman Gazetteer section of the site as the background for Roman monuments of the Imperial period, to which our author belongs; the motif of the icon itself is the portrait of the man identified as Alexander in the famous Roman mosaic in Pompeii.

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Site updated: 10 Dec 16